Tag Archives: bible

Hard Knocks University

When people ask where I went to school, I often say, “Hard Knocks University.” For the longest time, it seemed that life kept knocking me down. No matter what I did, I couldn’t gain ground. In fact, it felt like the bottom kept falling out from underneath me. I learned that the only way to fail Hard Knocks University is to quit. I also learned that the only way to graduate was to get closer to God. The troubles we face in life can either make us bitter or better. We get to choose by how we respond when we keep getting knocked down.

For me, I let it push me closer to God. I found myself praying more asking God for the wisdom to make better decisions. I also started reading the Bible more. I knew there were principles in it that could help with the things I was facing, so I began to consume the Bible looking for answers. What I got was a deeper relationship with God and the promise that He wouldn’t abandon me in my troubles. I began to put my focus on Him instead of my problems, and then I began telling my problems about Him instead of the other way around.

The Psalmist must have graduated Hard Knocks University too. Psalm 119:71 says, “My troubles turned out for the best – they forced me to learn your textbook” (MSG). If you’re in the toughest school around, let it draw you closer to God and His textbook. He probably won’t take the troubles away as quick as you like, but you are guaranteed that He will walk through them with you. Failure can’t be an option, and you don’t want to keep taking the same course. If you want to graduate, you’re going to have to read the textbook. I recommend you start with a chapter in Proverbs each day to get the wisdom you need.

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Seeking Wisdom

My son recently asked me, “Dada, do I have a lot of knowledge?” I replied, “Yes, for someone your age. What you really want though is wisdom.” He then wanted to know what wisdom was and how to get it. I explained that knowledge was easy to come by, but wisdom only comes in one of two ways. You can gain it from learning from your mistakes or God can give it to you. Since we all make mistakes, we all have the opportunity to gain wisdom. The problem is that most of us would rather beat ourselves up over failure rather than to see it as a place to grow.

Most of us are familiar with the story of Solomon. When he became king of Israel, God let him ask for one thing. Solomon asked for wisdom to rule the people, and God blessed him for that request. I believe you and I can ask for that too. This world is getting more complicated by the minute, and Christians are in need of wisdom now more than ever. Pray that God would give you wisdom over your finances, your relationships and how you share the Gospel. I believe God will honor that prayer.

Here are some Bible verses on wisdom.

1. Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor; never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.

ROMANS 12:10-13 AMP

2. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 2:6 NLT

3. Get wisdom—it’s worth more than money; choose insight over income every time.

Proverbs 16:16 MSG

4. Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people].

EPHESIANS 5:15 AMP

5. But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.

James 1:5 GNT

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Searching For God

If something is lost in the house, my wife will tell you I’m not the greatest choice to search for it. I can look everywhere and not find it. Then a minute later, she’ll find it in an area where I looked. What’s the difference? I’m looking at things, and she’s searching for things. Unless there are lights from Heaven shining down on it, and angels singing, I’m not going to find it by scanning the area. When she searches, she’s lifting things up and going through everything.

So many of us search or seek God using my method. As believers, we are to continually seek God’s face and search for Him with our lives. We need to be God chasers who pursue His presence like the pearl of great price. I believe God rewards us and takes us to deeper levels of maturity when we seek out and search Him to know Him better. We can’t be satisfied with a surface level knowledge of who He is. There are greater depths to be searched and only those committed to searching Him out will know them.

Here are some Bible verses on searching for God.

1. But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!”

Psalms 40:16 NLT

2. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 HCSB

3. For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel, “Seek Me [search diligently for Me and regard Me as more essential than food] so that you may live.”

AMOS 5:4 AMP

4. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.

Acts of the Apostles 17:27 NLT

5. Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually [longing to be in His presence].

1 CHRONICLES 16:11 AMP

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The Plumb Line Of Truth

One of the classes I train has me ask, “Is this your truth,” at the end of each section. If someone says it’s not their truth, I’m to engage them to find out why they don’t believe what I just taught. I’m looking for their objection to the truth I’ve presented. My goal is to not just get them to accept the truth, but to go back and implement that truth into their life. We always act on what we believe, so it’s important to know what the truth is before we act.

We live in a world where the lines of truth are constantly being blurred. Over the last two generations, Truth has gone from something we all accepted as a whole to what each of us believes individually. What I’ve learned is that truth is truth no matter what I believe personally. I can choose to not believe in gravity, but that doesn’t stop me from coming back to the ground when I jump. There are still universal truths in our world whether people choose to believe them or not.

I was talking with a man recently about truth, and I brought up Jesus in Pilate’s court in John 18. When Jesus said that He came to testify to the truth, Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (GNT) I wish the Bible would have recorded Jesus’ answer. We know from John 14:6 that Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the life. Also in John 1, we read that Jesus is the Word Of God made flesh. He, and the Bible, are our absolute truth in this world. It is the plumb line in a world that has lost its direction.

The reason you use a plumb line in construction is because your eyes can deceive you. In the same way, the Word Of God is our plumb line in this world. Our eyes can deceive us, and it can be difficult to determine what truth is. Psalm 33:4 says, “The words of the Lord are true, and all his works are dependable.” We must know God’s Word if we are going to use it as a plumb line to build our lives on the rock of truth. Otherwise, we will be like the foolish man who build his house on the shifting sands of what culture believes at the moment.

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Trusting God

Trust is one of those things that’s a little different for everyone. Some people give it freely, while other make people earn it. Either way, when you trust someone, you tend to be more vulnerable with them and have a stronger relationship. Think of someone you trust right now. How does that relationship compare to others? Trust is essential in any real relationship. That’s why you and I must learn to trust God.

If we are going to have a real relationship with God, trust has to be what it’s built on. We often call it faith in religious circles, but what we are really saying is that we trust God with our lives. Just like an interpersonal relationship, the more trust you have, the deeper the relationship is. God is calling each of us to trust His plan for our lives no matter what our current circumstances are saying.

Here are some Bible verses on trusting God.

1. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

Psalms 13:4-5 NLT

2. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 HCSB

3. But blessed is the man who trusts me, GOD, the woman who sticks with GOD. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers— Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 MSG

4. The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith [our ability to confidently trust in God and in His power].”

LUKE 17:5 AMP

5. So then, those who suffer because it is God’s will for them, should by their good actions trust themselves completely to their Creator, who always keeps his promise.

1 Peter 4:19 GNT

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Plant The Right Seeds

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

My son and I planted a small vegetable garden in our yard. It continues to be a source of lessons to me and him. As we were eating dinner out recently, he pulled the lemon off my drink, pulled out the seeds and said, “Here you go, Dada. We can plant these and get lemons from our garden.” At first I was impressed that he made the correlation that seeds inside of fruits and vegetables are what grow and make the plants. Then, as I thought more about it, there was a deeper truth. Only lemon seeds can produce lemons.

That’s knowledge that you and I don’t think often about. We know it as a law of nature, but not as a spiritual law. We know that if we plant watermelon seeds, we’ll grow watermelons every time. But somewhere along the line, we think we can break that law with spiritual seeds. We think we can plant seeds of discontentment and somehow reap peace. Worse yet, we think we can skip out on paying tithes and reap the benefits of giving.

The same law that causes a physical seed to reproduce itself works in the spirit realm as well. What you sow, that shall you also reap. If you want more peace in your life, sow peace into the lives of others. If you want joy, put the work in to make it happen. The great thing about seeds is that when one is planted, several are reproduced. You rarely get a one to one ratio. One kernel of corn can produce a stalk that has several ears containing hundreds of kernels each. You won’t get the benefit of multiplication until you plant the seed where no one sees it.

In Luke 6:38 Jesus said, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (NLT). He talks of giving just like a harvest from planting seeds. Whatever you plant, it’s going to be multiplied and given back to you. Make sure you plant the right seeds, cultivate the soil they’re in and your harvest will come guaranteed

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Exchanging God’s Truth

Next to Black Friday, the day after Christmas is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Why? Because it’s the day people take back the gifts someone else gave them, and exchange them for what they want. It doesn’t matter that someone else looked high and low for the perfect gift. We want what we want, and now we can take what was given to us and use it to get something else. It’s a day full of long lines and enticing sales.

Mankind has been doing something like this since God gave us the gift of His Son. We have tried to exchange His gift for something that doesn’t make us change. We want the benefits of Him sending His Son without the cost to our lives. Paul said it best in Romans 1:25, “They exchange the truth about God for a lie” (GNT). People like certain parts of the Bible, but they don’t like others so they exchange them for things they want to believe.

We can’t get caught up in doing this ourselves. It’s easier to want to exchange God’s truths for things we want to believe, but that isn’t how God operates. The good news is that Paul goes on to tell us that God is patient with us. Romans 2:4 says, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (NLT). Even when we try to exchange God’s truths, He is patient.

What ways have you tried to exchange God’s truths? We’ve all done it. I believe we can pray, and ask God to open our eyes to His truths. We can ask for help from the Holy Spirit to help us live the lives we were called to live. God Loves each one of us and is patient with us. We are capable of living the life He called us to through the power of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8). Our lives are the most fruitful and fulfilled when we accept His truths instead of exchanging them.

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