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Speaking In Faith

Several years ago I taught a psychology of sales class. As part of the curriculum, we dealt with the rejection that all sales people face and how to overcome it. One of the methods was to speak out loud positive things about yourself that you wanted to happen. One exercise in particular had participants write down one attribute they wanted to be stronger in. They would get up in front of the group and say, “I am more courageous!” Then the rest of the crowd would shout back, “You are more courageous!” They were then encouraged to keep repeating it at home over and over until they became whatever it was that they chose in order to get it into their subconscious. Psychologists have proven that you can change your behavior, your mindset and even your attributes by creating new neuropathways for your thoughts to travel down. In order to do that, you had to create new paths and those began by speaking out in faith, if you will, about the new way you wanted your brain to think.

The apostle Paul was a person who faced a lot of adversity after he converted to Christianity. He was thrown in prison, he was whipped five times, beaten with a rod three times, stoned, shipwrecked, put in dangerous situations and so much more. If anyone had a reason to speak negatively, it was him. Yet despite all the troubles he had, he held firmly to his faith and spoke words of faith to the churches of that time. He stayed faithful to God despite what his circumstances were. In prison, he sang praises. In storms, he encouraged others, In pain, he trusted in God’s grace. In whatever he faced, he reminded himself that nothing could ever separate him from the love of God. He knew that his words were powerful not only for himself, but for others as well. He wrote many of his letters, which are the books of the New Testament in the Bible, from prison. He understood the importance of staying faithful to God and speaking words of faith in the most trying times. If Paul did it, so should we.

Psalm 116:10-11 says, “Even when it seems I’m surrounded by many liars and my own fears, and though I’m hurting in my suffering and trauma, I will stay faithful to God and speak words of faith” (TPT). Like Paul and this psalmist, you and I must stay faithful to God and speak in faith about all He has done and will do. Many times our situation and circumstances stand opposed to who God is and what we know of Him. In those times, we must trust in the unchanging nature of God rather than what our physical eyes and mind are telling us. We should sing praises and Bible verses out loud to get them into our mind and subconscious. Remember that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Don’t be afraid to read the Bible out loud, to pray out loud and to sing out loud when you feel surrounded by your circumstances. You will find strength, encouragement and faith to keep moving forward and to keep trusting in God’s plan for your life.

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Receiving Help

Have you ever noticed that some of the most trying times in your life have been the most humbling? I can think of multiple times in my life where I was going through some difficult things and I couldn’t even look up. What was going on inside was affecting my outside. The thing that burdened my mind felt like a giant weight on my back. I shuffled around and often didn’t even feel like I had the strength to get up and face the day. By contrast, when I’m carefree, I’m upright, looking around, smiling and saying hello to everyone I meet. There are two different postures here that my body takes based on what’s going on inside. In the good times it’s easy to sing and enjoy life, but I’ve learned that in the most difficult seasons, I need to sing praises even more. Singing praise songs shifts my internal perspective from the weight I’m under to my need for the One who can help me through it. My focus is no longer on my problems, but on the One who has the solution. Praise reminds me that when I can’t, God can.

I love that the stories of David in the Bible share both his triumphs and his pains. His psalms reflect that too. He didn’t just write them when things were going to plan and when he was on top of the world. Many were written in times of desperation. In each of them, he continued to pour his heart out to God knowing He was the only one He trusted to help him. The psalms he left behind for us to read are great prayers, songs and reminders to look to God in times of plenty and in times of pain. I go to them pretty often because I know that they often give me words for the way I’m feeling, they give me prayers when I don’t know how to pray in those seasons and they give me encouragement as they remind me to put my hope in God. Even when we feel abandoned under our heavy load, the psalms remind us that God has not forgotten us and is our strength in time of need.

One such psalm I love in the last one that David wrote which is a psalm of praise and full of reminders. Psalm 145:14 reminds us, “The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads” (NLT). There is help for us when we’ve fallen down under our heavy load and feel like we should just stay down. God is there with an outstretched hand ready to lift us up. He sends people to pray for us, to encourage us and to help carry the load. However, it always requires us to reach out and take His hand and accept the help He sends. It can be quite humbling at times to admit we need help, or to accept that we can’t do it on our own. In those times I remind myself not to let my pride stand in the way of my progress and growth. I’ve learned that many times my struggles are an attempt to remind me to trust in God rather than my own strength. It’s a way for me to learn to accept help rather than to give it. Receiving help is as much an act of obedience as giving it. Don’t let pride stand in your way during those times.

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The Gift Of Self Control

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There Is A Purpose

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:3-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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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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Taking Initiative

After speaking at a high school chapel service, a young girl came up to me and asked how she could know what her calling was. I told her to find her holy discontentment and start there. She still seemed a little confused, so I asked her to think about things that break her heart when she sees them. Then I gave her some advice I heard Andy Stanley give: Do for one what you wish you could do for many. Sometimes we look at an entire problem, feel inadequate and give up. You may not be able to eradicate hunger in the world by yourself, but you can feed one person. Start there. Do for one what you wish you could do for many. When you prove you can be faithful helping one, God will empower you to help many. It all starts with one.

I can’t help but think of King David wanting to show kindness to Saul’s family. When he found out Jonathan had a son that was still alive, he had him brought in. Historically, when a new family took over the throne, they wiped out the bloodline of the previous ruling family. Jonathan’s son thought that was what was going to happen to him when the king summoned him. However, David placed himself in this young man’s shoes and decided to show him kindness. If the roles had been switched, he would have appreciated kindness to his grandson. He then did for one what he wanted to do for any in Saul’s line; he gave him a seat at the king’s table and restored his family’s property.

I know you probably grew up reciting the Golden Rule and were taught to treat others the way you want to be treated, but what if you used it as a measuring stick for fulfilling your calling? I love the perspective that The Message gives it in Matthew 7:12. It says, “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.” When you have found your holy discontentment, do for one what you wish people would do for you if you were in that situation. Quit making the excuse that the problem is too great, you don’t have the resources to make a difference or that you’re not ready. Find one person in that situation and do what you can. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but you have to start. Put yourself in their shoes, think of what you would like for someone to do for you, take the initiative and do it.

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Worry Is A Choice

Did you know that worrying is a choice? When we worry, we make an agreement with ourselves to spend precious energy and brain power on something that may or may not happen. We’re choosing to allow something to consume our thought life. We lose focus on the present and forget about what’s happening right now in exchange for worrying about an unknown future. We get consumed by the what if’s and all the possible solutions to something that hasn’t happened yet. I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I’ve chosen to let worry keep me up at night, consume my energy and cause me to hoard things so that I can be prepared for whatever.

In Exodus 16, the Israelites had been traveling for a month and a half after leaving Egypt. They began to worry where their next meal was going to come from. They were so worried that they reasoned it was better to be a slave and know where your meals were come from than to trust in God. They were blinded by worry to all He had done for them to set them free. So God offered them mana each day, but they could only get enough for that day. God was testing them with this instruction to see if they would quit worrying and trust in His provision. Many let worry grip their heart and chose to get more than a day’s worth. When they did, the mana became an expression of what was going on in their heart and it rotted. God provided this daily meal until they crossed the Jordan and ate of the produce in the Promised Land.

In Matthew 6, Jesus taught the disciples to pray one of the most famous prayers in the world. In it, he taught us to pray, “Give us this day, our daily bread” (KJV). Again, He was teaching us to trust in God’s provision for today. The chapter ends with verse 34 where Jesus says, “Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself” (TPT). This imperative statement reminds us that we need to choose not to worry and to trust God. Instead of being guided by worry, remind yourself of all God has done in the past, and trust in His provision for today. He will give you your daily bread.

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Goodness In Action

I was just telling my son, that Romans is my favorite book in the Bible. It’s full of so many treasures and some outright blunt speaking from Paul. One of which is Romans 2:4. It says, “Are you [actually] unaware or ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness leads you to repentance [that is, to change your inner self, your old way of thinking—seek His purpose for your life]?” (AMP) Through this verse, Paul revealed part of our salvation process and the change in our heart and mind that led us to seeking forgiveness for our sin. When you think back to when you received Jesus as your savior, there was kindness or goodness in action from God towards you that led you towards trusting in Him. That kindness created a change of heart in you. That same kindness that God demonstrated to you is the same kindness listed in the Fruits of the Spirit that we are to display to others.

In Genesis 43, Joseph’s brothers returned to Egypt for more grain. Joseph showed them kindness by feeding them at his own home. They knew they didn’t deserve this kindness as their consciences reminded them of what they had done to their brother. After having lunch with them, he planted a cup in Benjamin’s bag that was found later after they left. When he said Benjamin had to go to jail, Judah stood up and offered an act of kindness by saying he would take the punishment for Benjamin. When Joseph saw this, he knew their hearts had changed and he revealed himself to them. Forgiveness and restoration took place because kindness (goodness in action) was demonstrated when they didn’t deserve it.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you” (AMP). It’s not just God’s kindness that leads to repentance, it’s our goodness in action and forgiveness that points them to Jesus too. Who in your life least deserves kindness from you? We are to readily and freely forgive others just as Jesus readily and freely forgave us. We need to show kindness to those who have wronged us rather than to seek revenge. Pray for wisdom from God to help you forgive others and to show you ways to express His kindness to those who wronged you and to others you meet. We know that when others see our good works and goodness in action, they’ll glorify God and turn to Him.

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Acceptable To God

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Bouncing Back

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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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Moving God’s Boundaries

I read a news article recently about a farmer in Belgium. He was out plowing his field one day when he came across a stone that was where he was trying to work. He stopped plowing, moved the stone about 7 feet and went back to work. A little while later, a person was hiking in the woods near his home and saw the stone had been moved. He called the authorities and alerted them. It turns out that it wasn’t just any stone he moved. It was a stone that marked the border between Belgium and France. He inadvertently made Belgium about 7 feet wider. When he told them what happened, they all laughed, but told him to put it back, which he promptly did.

Saul, who was the first king of Israel, tried to move the boundaries that God had set too. When God told him to kill all the animals in a military campaign, he spared the best ones and the king. When he was confronted by the prophet, he said he only spared them in order to sacrifice them to God. In another instance, the prophet had told him to wait before going to battle until he arrived to make a sacrifice. When the prophet didn’t show up exactly on time, Saul began to panic. He saw his men deserting him before the battle. He offer the sacrifice himself which was against the direct order given to him and the Law of Moses. When Saul moved the boundaries because of his impatience and self reliance, God took the kingdom from him.

Proverbs 22:28 says, “The previous generation has set boundaries in place. Don’t you dare move them just to benefit yourself” (TPT). What boundaries that God has set have you moved because it was convenient for you? We all test boundaries and move them trying to enlarge our own territory. The problem is that when we do, we’re shrinking God’s territory in our lives. Our flesh is constantly at war with our spirit fighting over that boundary. It’s time that we moved the boundaries back to where God established them. If we truly want to thrive and to live the life God created us to live, we need to obey what God has said and to become dependent on Him rather than ourselves. God established our boundaries for a reason. We must respect them and obey them even when we don’t understand.

I read a news article recently about a farmer in Belgium. He was out plowing his field one day when he came across a stone that was where he was trying to work. He stopped plowing, moved the stone about 7 feet and went back to work. A little while later, a person was hiking in the woods near his home and saw the stone had been moved. He called the authorities and alerted them. It turns out that it wasn’t just any stone he moved. It was a stone that marked the border between Belgium and France. He inadvertently made Belgium about 7 feet wider. When he told them what happened, they all laughed, but told him to put it back, which he promptly did.

Saul, who was the first king of Israel, tried to move the boundaries that God had set too. When God told him to kill all the animals in a military campaign, he spared the best ones and the king. When he was confronted by the prophet, he said he only spared them in order to sacrifice them to God. In another instance, the prophet had told him to wait before going to battle until he arrived to make a sacrifice. When the prophet didn’t show up exactly on time, Saul began to panic. He saw his men deserting him before the battle. He offer the sacrifice himself which was against the direct order given to him and the Law of Moses. When Saul moved the boundaries because of his impatience and self reliance, God took the kingdom from him.

Proverbs 22:28 says, “The previous generation has set boundaries in place. Don’t you dare move them just to benefit yourself” (TPT). What boundaries that God has set have you moved because it was convenient for you? We all test boundaries and move them trying to enlarge our own territory. The problem is that when we do, we’re shrinking God’s territory in our lives. Our flesh is constantly at war with our spirit fighting over that boundary. It’s time that we moved the boundaries back to where God established them. If we truly want to thrive and to live the life God created us to live, we need to obey what God has said and to become dependent on Him rather than ourselves. God established our boundaries for a reason. We must respect them and obey them even when we don’t understand.

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