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Being Faithful

One thing we all hope to hear one day is, “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).” The word “faithful” to me is key in this sentence. There are so many things that are entrusted to us by God that we must be faithful over. We can’t just manage what He’s given us. We need to be dedicated and devoted to growing them. Remember the Parable of the Talents”? To be faithful over something is more than burying it in the sand. God has called us to be faithful to Him, our life in union with Him and to these things He has entrusted to each one of based on our abilities.

Here are some Bible verses on being faithful.

1. Whoever is faithful in small matters will be faithful in large ones; whoever is dishonest in small matters will be dishonest in large ones.

Luke 16:10 GNT

2. And don’t be intimidated by those who are older than you; simply be the example they need to see by being faithful and true in all that you do. Speak the truth and live a life of purity and authentic love as you remain strong in your faith.

1 Timothy 4:12 TPT

3. When he arrived and saw how God had blessed the people, he was glad and urged them all to be faithful and true to the Lord with all their hearts.

Acts 11:23 GNT

4. Be faithful to pray as intercessors who are fully alert and giving thanks to God.

Colossians 4:2 TPT

5. So until I come, be diligent in devouring the Word of God, be faithful in prayer, and in teaching the believers.

1 Timothy 4:13 TPT

What has God called you to be faithful over?

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Restoring Your Courage

One of the words God uses over and over in the Bible is courage. He wants us to be courageous when doing what He asks. One of my favorite passages is in Joshua 1. Verse 7 says, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do” (NLT). Success starts with being strong and courageous, but what does it mean to have courage?

The simple definition is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s the ability to keep going when things aren’t going the way you thought they should. It’s the most difficult thing to have when you need it the most. If you’ve lived life at all, you’ve been discouraged. You’ve lost battles you thought you should have won. You’ve suffered defeat after defeat and wondered where the strength comes from to keep going. How do you find courage in those times?

In those moments, I simply prayed that God would just help me to take the first step, which was survival. We often think of courage as this great thing, but I believe it’s found in facing a new day, taking one more step or breathing one more time. It says, “I’m not going down. I’m not giving up!” Where do we get that courage from in those moments? As I’ve said, I found it in prayer and through God’s help.

Psalm 3:3 says, “But you, O Lord, are always my shield from danger; you give me victory and restore my courage” (GNT). God will restore your lost courage and give you the victory when you ask. Quit worrying about trying to win the war, and focus on getting courage from God to win today’s battle. Keep God’s Word in your heart, and be careful to obey it. Then, as Joshua 1:7 says, you will have success and victory.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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A Forward Looking Perspective

Unfortunately, one of the promises Jesus gave us was written in John 16:33. He said that we would have trouble in this world. Yet somehow we always seemed surprised when we encounter troubles and set backs. I’m one of the biggest offenders. I like things to happen on schedule, the way I planned them, with no disruptions or issues. When things happen that mess up my plans, or I run into a period when nothing seems to go right, I lose my calm demeanor. I complain, and I let people and God know I’m not happy. My focus switches from long term to immediate, and in doing that, I lose my eternal perspective as well. In those times, I allow my troubles to block my view of God.

Consider Abraham. Hebrews 11:8 reminds us that God called him to leave his home where he had grown up and where his family was. God didn’t even tell him where he was going. He just said that He would show it to him. He and his wife Sarah lived in the land God promised him as a foreigner all his life. There was even a famine in the land that God took him to which forced him to leave for a period. Verse 10 says, “Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God” (NLT). Even when things didn’t happen the way he thought they should or in his timing, he kept looking past his troubles to God’s promises.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul starts out by saying they were pressed on every side by troubles, but they were not crushed. He continues talking about how constant his troubles are and that he keeps going and pushing forward. Then in the final verse of the chapter he writes, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” He is teaching us to keep an eternal perspective by looking past our current situation. We must rely on God’s promises when things are going wrong. Our faith in what God says should give us the strength to persist even in times of trouble. Don’t allow today’s issues cause you to lose sight of tomorrow’s fulfilled promises.

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P.S. Jesus also promised in John 16:33 that He has overcome this world and its troubles.

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Pushing Past Fear

I remember the day we were in chapel in high school when they announced that a girl was going to come up and sing a special. We all looked at each other and said, “She can sing? She doesn’t even talk!” About that time, this shy girl was escorted up on stage. She looked terrified and the microphone was shaking in her hand. Without warning, and with no music playing, she started singing. It was incredible! We sat there shocked as she sang this song. As soon as it was over, we all jumped to our feet and cheered. She went on to win several singing competitions and is a worship pastor at a church today.

The Bible is full of people who were timid and shy about using their gifts and talents. Moses had a speech impediment, but God chose him to lead Israel out of slavery and through the desert. Timothy is another example. He was young and inexperienced, but God chose him to be a pastor. Paul’s letters to him were always encouraging him to continue to step out in faith into his calling despite his fear. I grew up quoting several of Paul’s messages to him because I needed to hear those words. We simply cannot allow fear to hold us back from using the gifts God has given us.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God doesn’t want us to be shy with His gifts, but bold and loving and sensible” (MSG). Almost every other version starts out with, “God has not given us a spirit of fear.” In the verse before, Paul reminds Timothy to fan his gifts into flames. We fan them into flames by pushing through the fear and doing what God put into us to do. Almost anyone who uses their gifts experiences fear. The ones who push past that spirit and embrace God’s spirit of power, love and a sound mind get to experience the satisfaction of fulfilling their purpose. It’s up to each one of us to find the encouragement we need, step out in faith and do what God has created us to do. Pushing past the fear isn’t easy, but it is necessary.

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God’s Refinement Process

On a recent trip, I was able to see some of Michelangelo’s work. Leading up to it, they had one of his quotes up on the wall. It said, “I saw the angel in the marble, and I carved until I set him free.” It reminded me of another quote I had read by another sculptor named Rodin. He said, “I choose a block of marble and chop off what I don’t need.” These artists start off by seeing something hidden deep inside the rock. They then start knocking off big chunks. As it gets closer to what they’re trying to create, the take off smaller and smaller pieces. Then they sand it down to get it just right.

It reminds me of God’s refinement process. He is an artist as well looking to set free our potential and purpose. The Bible refers to Him as a potter with us as the clay. I once watched a potter work. He put the lump of clay in the center of his wheel. He molded it and shaped it beautifully. He then began to take out the middle so that it could be a vessel. Finally, he added in designs to this incredible piece. After he was done, he held it up to applause from the crowd. He then looked at us and crumbled the clay back into a ball. He said, “Until this goes through fire, it will never fulfill its purpose.”

1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner” (MSG). God’s refinement process includes removing big chunks from our lives, sanding, shaping and other detailed work. However, it also includes going through fiery trials. If you’re in a season of fire or feel like chunks of your life are falling away, remember that God is at work in you setting free your potential and purpose. You must goes through God’s refinement process to receive the promises of God.

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Giving Mercy

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The Seeds Of Good Deeds

When you think of Christians who are known for their good deeds, Mother Teresa usually tops the list. She is someone who gave her life to those who were less fortunate than herself. While she is certainly the most famous, she’s not the only Christian to be known for her good deeds. In fact, each of us should be doing things for others, not as a requirement for salvation, but as a fruit of it. Giving to others should spring out of our love for God.

When I look at my own circle of friends, I’ve got friends who care for orphans, feed the homeless, provide disaster relief around the world, are surrogate mothers for those who can’t have children, run foster homes, who give money sacrificially, are missionaries and so much more. Jesus said we would be known for our love and our fruit. To do good deeds, you don’t have to do big things that change the world. Just do something that changes the world for one person at a time.

Romans 7:4 says, “And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God” (NLT). When we become Christians, each of us are capable of producing a harvest of good deeds. The only way to get any harvest is by planting seeds. Look around you today. See where you can plant seeds of God’s love in other people’s lives through a good deed. This world needs to see more of God’s love, and you and I are the ones He’s called to do it.

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Displacing God

One day Archimedes was getting in his bathtub to take a bath. As he got in, the water spilled out over the sides. All of a sudden, he jumped up and yelled, “Eureka!” He thought he had discovered the law of displacement which is if you put one thing into the same space, it will displace the other thing in that space. Another example is from an article I read this week where fast food workers were tired of people asking to top off their drinks. Instead, they would take the cup and add ice to push their drink to the top. The unknowing customers happily left thinking they got more to drink. Now customers are feeling cheated because their drink was simply displaced by ice

In Luke 12, Jesus gave an illustration to show that our lives cannot be measured by our possessions. He told of a wealthy man who had a farm and had years of bumper crops come in. When his barn was full, he decided to build a bigger barn to hold all his crops so he could just sit back, relax and enjoy life with no worries. God showed up and called him a fool. He said, “This very night the messengers of death will demand to take your life. Then who will get all the wealth you have stored up for yourself?” (TPT) He had begun to trust in all these things and money he had earned in his life. In essence, they had displaced God in his life much like the ice in the cup.

In the next verse, 21, Jesus continued, “The same thing will happen to all those who fill up their lives with everything but God.” Each of us have things in our life that are displacing God. Sometimes it’s ourselves. Remember, John the Baptist in John 3:30 said that he needed to decrease so Christ could increase. It’s the law of displacement. Anything that we fill our lives with other than God, displaces Him. It could be money, possessions, work, relationships or whatever. If it takes our attention away from God, if it gets us to trust in something else besides Him or if it fills our mind, it displaces God. Take a look at your life to see what it’s filled with. If you want more of God, you’re going to have to displace them so God can occupy that space.

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Emptying Your Plate

In one of the classes I used to teach, I would have people write down all the things they’re responsible for doing. I would then bring one person up, hand them a styrofoam plate and ask them to read their list item by item. As they read each one, I would place something on their plate. We would continue going as I piled things up until the plate broke or things started falling off. It was a visual example of how we have too much on our plates, of how we drop the ball on things and of the importance of delegation. Just because something is on our plate, it doesn’t mean we can’t del agate that responsibility to someone else who has room on their plate and has the capacity to take care of it.

One of the Scriptures we like to quote often is Luke 16:10. It says, “The one who faithfully manages the little he has been given will be promoted and trusted with greater responsibilities. But those who cheat with the little they have been given will not be considered trustworthy to receive more” (TPT). We rightly associate it with money, but it’s also referring to our time, our resources and responsibilities. If our plate is too full in any of those areas, it’s a sign that we’re not managing those things well and that we can’t be given more of what God wants to entrust to us. Part of managing it well is delegation, letting go and being efficient. We say we want more from God, yet we continue to hold onto the little which doesn’t create room for the greater things.

Take a look at all things that are on your plate and ask God for wisdom in how you manage what He’s given you. Ask Him to help you let go of the little things you’ve outgrown, but are still holding onto. Most of the time, God wants to open the windows of Heaven to give us more, but we don’t have the time or room to receive them because we’re holding onto the smaller things longer than we should. I love the old saying, “If God can get it to me, God can get it through me.” The problem we run into in that is the second half. We’ve become a dam that stops up the things God has gotten to us. We are channels, not dams. Receive from God, manage it well then release. It’s the cycle of gaining more from God.

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The Gift Of Self

In Dr. Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Love Languages,” one of the languages is Receiving Gifts. Just like verbal languages, there are different dialects. In this particular one, a dialect is the Gift of Self. It’s where you put everything else that you need to do aside for a bit and simply give your spouse your time. You may have a ton to do with deadlines approaching, however, when you put that stuff aside and give yourself to your spouse, it speaks volumes. It tells them they are more important than anything else you have to do. It signals to them that they are your priority. The Gift of Self is a powerful expression of love especially when it doesn’t come natural for you.

In Luke 10, Jesus and his disciples were visiting a small village outside of Jerusalem called Bethany. They were met by a woman named Martha who invited them to her home. Martha immediately went to work to prepare a large dinner to fed all these people. The more she worked in the kitchen, the more she realized her sister wasn’t in there helping her. Mary was in the other room sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to everything He had to say. I’m sure Martha cleared her throat a few times to get Mary’s attention,. Maybe she even gave her some ugly looks. When those didn’t work, she told Jesus to tell Mary to come help her. In verses 41-42 Jesus replied, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her” (TPT).

It’s easy to get distracted by all the things we have to do. Sometimes those things are for the Lord Himself, but what’s more important is giving Him the Gift of Self. We must choose to set aside the things we have to do in order to sit at Jesus’ feet. We must make time with Him our priority. We lead very busy lives, but when you compare the things you have to do with eternity, sitting at the feet of Jesus is what will matter most. We all can get better at managing our schedules so that we’re in control of our time. We all can get better at being undistracted while we give ourselves and our time to the Lord. It starts with making our time with Him a priority, and then building the rest of our schedule around that. When we give Jesus the Gift of Self, He does the same back to us.

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