Tag Archives: busy

1 VS. 100

Do you ever get to the point where your problems become overwhelming? There are times and periods in life when I just can’t seem to shake free of a cycle of problems. It depletes my energy and saps my spirit. To stop and look at everything in front of me and see a never ending line of things coming at me can easily leave me feeling depleted. It feels like I’m on that show “1 vs. 100” sometimes, except there’s no cash prize at the end of the line of things I’m facing. What I usually forget during those times is that I’m not facing it alone.

In II Kings 6, the king of Aram was trying to attack Israel, but God kept showing Elisha their plans and Israel averted them. The king was angry and wanted who in his army was the traitor. When someone told him that it was Elisha who was giving away their position and plan, he mobilized his entire army and went to attack Elisha. That next morning, Elisha’s servant woke up and went outside. When he saw an entire army camped against them, he panicked. He was overwhelmed and didn’t know what they would do.

I love Elisha’s response to him in verse 16 when he comes outside and sees the army. He said, “Don’t be afraid! For there are more on our side than on theirs!” (NLT). Then Elisha asked God to open his servant’s eyes, and he saw an army of horses and chariots of fire. The army didn’t defeat Elisha that day because God was on his side. Elisha remained calm under the pressure of being in a 1 vs.100 type situation because he knew that God was with him. He didn’t panic, but instead trusted.

When facing those insurmountable odds, instead of panicking, we need to remember that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world (I John 4:4). In those moments when I feel overwhelmed and outnumbered by my problems, my prayer is that God would open my eyes to see He’s on my side. I need to know that I’m not going to be defeated and that God has everything under control. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1 vs 100 or 1 vs 1,000,000, when God is on our side, there are more on our side than on theirs!

Photo by Menglong Bao on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a 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.

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More Important Things

Sometimes we will host a large group of people in our home for a birthday party or some other event. My personality style wants to make sure everyone is taken care of. I go around making sure people have what they need, empty the trash, put out more food, etc. at the end of the night, after we’ve cleaned everything and head to bed, my wife will sometimes ask, “Who all did you get to talk to? Did you visit with your aunt? Or did you get to visit with this person?” More often than not, my answer is, “No one. I was too busy.”

In my business, I forget to slow down and engage with people. My mind says that for people to have a good time, there needs to be food out, plates cleaned up, and the trash has to be taken out. Most of that can be done after the party, but it’s hard for me to let go. I get distracted by all there is to do, and then end up not interacting with my guests the way I should. I find that I have a lot in common with Lazarus’ sister Martha.

She hosted a party for Jesus and His disciples in Luke 10. While she was cooking food, taking out the trash, picking up plates, and such, her sister Mary was just sitting there interacting with Jesus. I’m sure she asked her for a help a few times before she complained to Jesus. She said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work?” (NLT) She was socked by Jesus’ answer I’m sure because it goes against her personality.

In verse 41-42, Jesus said, “But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’” God is less concerned with our busyness in making sure things get done than with our interaction with Him. Yes, things need to get done, but there are more important things out there. Sitting at Jesus’ feet is one of them.

You and I can get so caught up in the work of ministry and the life of a Christian that we forget to spend time with Jesus. When we fail to interact with Jesus, it’s easy to begin to think our work is what impresses God and others. It’s time each of us stopped the things that keep us busy and spend time interacting with Jesus. I think we’ll find direction and become more productive when we do. Doing Kingdom work is good, but it needs to come after we’ve spent time in His presence. 

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Intimate Conversations 

I like to tell people that I’m the busiest person I know. I carry two phones with three numbers attached to them. I work a full time job, write, do ministry, and drive for Uber at night. I look around though, and see other people who are just as busy. Somehow in our world, we equate busyness with value. The more we do, the greater we are. Even in the Church, we have adopted this mentality with ministers and lay leaders. We are always on the clock, we never take a sabbatical, and we never say “no” to anything or anyone.

That’s not the example Jesus gave us for ministry. Even though He was very busy and sought after, Luke 5:16 says, “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer” (NLT). The model He gave us was to step away from our duties often to spend time alone with the Father. He understood that it is not wise to continually give without going to the Father for a refill. As our lives become more busy, our intimate conversations alone with God in our prayer closet should increase.

Revival is coming and we need to be in the habit of stepping aside from all the distractions to spend time alone in prayer. Performing miracles, leading the lost to the cross, caring for the poor, and preaching are not supposed to take the place of our quiet time with God. He wants us to understand that busyness equals distractions and distractions keep us from going into our prayer closet. We can’t have the power of God flowing through us until we have been intimate with Him. God has always valued alone time with Him more than our busyness for Him.

Think of Martha and Mary. Martha was the one who welcomed Jesus into their home and as Luke 10:40 says, “was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.” Mary was the one who was just sitting at the Lord’s feet listening. When Martha complained that she was doing all the work, the Lord replied, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it.” Each of us need to discover what that is as well. We need to take time often to just sit at the feet of Jesus, away from the distractions, and listen. That is what Jesus values and what we should value as well.

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Before You Start

I, like you, have a pretty busy day and week ahead of me. From the moment I woke up I started thinking of all the things I need to do to accomplish everything today. My mind races to find solutions to scheduling conflicts, deadlines, and how to be in two places at once. I’ve got a to-do list a mile long and a very short time to accomplish it. With all of that happening, do I have time for God?

It’s tough not to put God on a back burner on busy days. He’s the easiest one to “reschedule”, but He’s the last one I need to reschedule. “He’ll understand”, I reason in my mind. “I’ll read my Bible and pray later,” I tell myself. The truth is that I won’t have the time later either. If I don’t make Him a priority right now, I won’t make Him one later. If I don’t slow down now and take time to reflect on Him and His Word, I won’t do it.

God told David in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” David was a king and I’m sure he had a lot on his plate too. He would cry out to God in times of need and celebration. He would throw those 911 prayers up to Heaven like you and I often do. “God, I have a lot to do today. Help me to get it all done”, is what we pray. God wants more than that. He wants us to stop, take a moment and spend some time with Him.

In the world we live in, it’s easy to mix up the temporary with the eternal. It’s easy to reverse their importance. Today, stop, breathe, meditate on His Word, and thank Him. Rest in His arms before you do anything else. Give Him more than a 911 prayer and truly thank Him for another day of life. Thank Him that you even have things on your schedule. Know that He is God and really that’s what matters more than anything else I’ll accomplish today.

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Tired Of Being Busy

Time. It’s the one thing everyone has the same amount of each day. It’s also the thing most of us wish we had more of. There’s always someone or something that is after our time. Since we can’t make more of it, we have to choose daily what to sacrifice because we can’t do everything we want. Usually we cut out time with meaningful relationships including God. “I’ll pray extra tomorrow, God,” we promise. “I’ll take off work early tomorrow so we can go do that thing,” we tell our significant other. Yet, we have no idea what tomorrow will bring.

I know what it’s like to be pulled in every direction, to have my inbox full, to have reports that need to be run, to own a phone that won’t stop buzzing, from people who need answers, to have a child who needs attention, friends who want to hang out and a spouse who just wants some quiet time with me. It gets overwhelming at times. It’s hard to know how and what to prioritize. There’s so much that has to be done, so little time to do it in and not enough of me to go around. Sound familiar?

Lazarus’ sister Martha felt that way too. In Luke 10:40, the Bible says, “Martha, overly occupied and too busy, was distracted with much serving; and she came up to Him (Jesus, who was in her house) and said, ‘Lord, is it nothing to you that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me, to lend a hand and do her part along with me. (AMP)'” She was wore out doing all the things that were required of her and wanted some help from her sister who was just sitting there listening to Jesus. She was tired and crying for help.

Jesus’ response was strange. He didn’t tell Mary to help her out. He didn’t chastise her either for not serving The Lord. In fact, He got onto Martha who was the one being busy for Him. He said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it…and it won’t be taken from her. (MSG)” He told her that her busyness was “nothing”. He told her that being busy was not what He was looking for. He wanted someone who would use their time getting to know Him. He wanted someone who would stop what they were doing and listen. The one essential thing He said was to sit at His feet.

I get caught up in the lies that Martha believed. In my mind, I think that busyness for God equals greatness with God. I think serving Him through works equals righteousness. Those things are great, but what He really wants is that thing that everything else wants. Time. He wants you to spend time with Him more than He wants you to be busy about His work. He wants you to sit and listen instead of being so distracted by everything you’re doing. He’s not interested in us getting stressed by doing Kingdom work nearly as much as He is at having us relax at His feet. He understands that time is our most valuable asset and He wants us to use it to draw close to Him.

What will you do with your time today?

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Busy For God

Have you ever been rocked by a single question? There was a question asked last night that I’m still wrestling with the answer to. It was, “Are you just being busy for God or are you fulfilling your calling?” It’s a very humbling question. When you think about it, how much of what we do is just busy work and how much is truly fulfilling our calling? I believe each person has a calling on their life to do something. Each person was created unique for a reason only they can fulfill.

God is not pleased when we’re just being busy for Him. His desire is that each of us fulfill His calling for us. I think of Martha and Mary and how Jesus came to visit them. Luke 10:40 says, “Martha overly occupied and too busy was distracted with much serving. (AMP)” We can get to the point that our business for God becomes a distraction more than it is a help. Martha’s was serving Jesus, but that wasn’t her calling. She was busy, but not productive.

Another story from the Bible that came to mind was from I Samuel 14. Saul was outnumbered by the Philistines and wasn’t sure what to do. His son Jonathan got his armor bearer and decided to go attack the entire Philistine army themselves. While Saul prayed and acted busy for God, Jonathan went to fulfill his call. When Jonathan attacked, Saul and his men didn’t know what was happening. They took a count of everyone and found Jonathan was missing. Saul called decided to pray again while the battle raged. He finally joined his son once the Philistines were running.

We can use prayer to keep us from doing what God called us too. We can use serving in God’s house to be busy for God while running from our calling. There are a number of things we can use to be busy while not fulfilling our calling. Just because we don’t get in a boat and head the opposite direction like Jonah doesn’t mean we aren’t in the same boat as he is when we are busy doing things for God instead of doing what He told us.

I know it’s scary to think about what God called you to do. I know there’s lots of questions you have about how, when and where. Don’t get so scared of your calling that you hide behind being busy instead of following that call. God isn’t pleased with that. That’s not what you were created for. You will never be fulfilled in that role and you will grow weary. Chances are you won’t be very productive either. Martha wasn’t. She wanted Mary to leave her calling to come help her. She was busy serving, but not productive. Saul was busy praying, but not productive. Is serving important? Yes. Is praying important? Yes. But you can’t hide behind them when God said, “Go!”

What things are you using to be busy for God instead of fulfilling your calling? Are you truly fulfilled doing those things or do you feel like there’s more? You can serve in the house of God and still not fulfill what you were called to do. Remember there are others who are waiting on the other side of your obedience. They can’t move forward until you do. Leave those things that you’re using to be busy and start doing what you were made to do. No one else can do it because that’s why you were created. Live a fulfilled life by following your calling.

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What Are Your Priorities?

In order to teach people to prioritize their time, I do a little demonstration with them. I have them hold a paper plate and then ask them what all they are involved in or have going on in their lives. Each time they name something, I place an object on the plate they are holding. Sooner or later one of two things happen. Either the plate slips out of their grasp or it buckles and everything ends up on the floor.

It’s a great demonstration of what happens when we’re involved in more things than we have time for. We either need a bigger plate, fewer things on our plate or to find a way to prioritize the things on our plate better. Each one of us lead busy lives. We have more demands on us than ever before. The question is, “What falls off your plate first when life gets crazy?”

For too many of us the answer is God. We get so caught up in making a living that we forget why we are living and what we were created for. Our goal is not retirement. I’m not saying don’t save up for retirement. I’m saying it shouldn’t be such a priority that you fail to give God your time. I know what it’s like to work so hard that on your only day off you want to sleep in instead of going to church. It’s also easier to hit the snooze button than to wake up and pray.

The problem is that we’ve not made God a priority. I heard someone recently say, “We’ve made God a luxury and not a necessity.” When that happens and things need to be cut in our lives, He’s one of the first things to go. God must become a priority in each of our lives or the balancing act with the plate is all for nothing. Job 1:21 reminds us that we were naked when we came into this world and we’ll be naked when we leave. If we can’t take it with us, why have we made it such a priority in our lives?

What we do take with us is our soul. Romans 14:12 says that each one of us will give a personal account to God for what we’ve done and how we’ve lived. What we do on earth for God will echo in eternity. He should be our number one priority in life followed by doing the things that matter for eternity. We still have to provide for our families and to do the things necessary to live. It’s finding the right priority that is the key to living the way God intended us to live. There is a way to balance the things in your life without having them fall on the floor.

It starts with having God at the center of your life. When you make Him your number one priority in your life, you begin to see what matters and what doesn’t. You learn what matters for eternity and what doesn’t. You begin to see where things belong in your life. You find the balance He wants you to have. You may have to let go of some things you have as a high priority right now. You may find you’ve been focusing on the wrong things and need to put different things on your plate.

To help you determine how you prioritize things in your life, I ask again, “What falls off your plate first when life gets crazy? What falls off last?” The answer to these questions is where you currently have your priorities. What order do you want or need your priorities to be in? What changes can you make today to begin to put them in the right order? Putting God in the center will help you to find the balance you’re looking for.

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