Tag Archives: calling

The Least Obvious

Years ago I hired the most unlikely candidate for the position I had open. Everyone else walked through my office door with a suit on, a resume in hand and a plan of action. He walked in empty handed wearing some slacks and a button down. Everyone else sat up straight, looked me in the eye and gave confident answers. This gentleman sat with his knees wide open, with his head resting on his hand and elbow on his knee. I don’t think he looked me in the eye once. When it came time to hire, i couldn’t get him off my mind. He had the wrong appearance, but he had the right attitude and answers. The things he lacked were easily coachable. I hired him and years later he went on to be very successful in the company.

Jesus didn’t pick the obvious choices either to be His disciples. Instead of going into the Temple to find disciples, He went into the villages. Instead of looking for the most educated, He chose the least educated. Instead of choosing the religious people, He chose some blue collar guys and a couple of societal outcasts. His choices made people questions His Messiahship. Jesus, like His Heavenly Father, was looking at the intangibles. He was looking at the heart of people. It turns out that the disciples He chose turned the world upside down with His message and even gave their lives for Him. I’m not sure that would have happened if He went with the obvious choices.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 says, “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do” (NLT). God has chosen and called you, yes YOU! You may feel unqualified and unable to do anything for Him, but He sees beyond our inabilities and insecurities. He looks into our heart and gives us the ability to step into our calling. The time for excuses is over. The time for stalling is done. He is the one who makes you worthy of your calling even if you feel like the least likely choice for it. He has a history of changing lives, and the world, with the least obvious people. You are empowered and commissioned. Step into it by faith and He will give you the strength to do all He prompts you to do.

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Accepting God’s Burden

After speaking to a group, a young lady came up to speak to me. She asked, “How do I know what God’s burden is in my life?” It’s a great question that many of us want to know. I asked her if there was an injustice in the world or problem that she saw that breaks her heart or causes her to lose sleep. If there’s a burning desire to remedy it, that’s usually God laying His burden on our heart. It could be an un reached people group that needs the Gospel or the hungry needing food. When we start losing sleep over it and being consumed with it, that’s God wanting to use you in that area to make a difference.

Nehemiah was a man who was minding his own business and doing his job when God gave him a burden. In Nehemiah 1:3-4 he wrote, “They said to me, ‘Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.’ When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven” (NLT). He didn’t ignore that desire. He went to Jerusalem and rebuilt its walls so that those who lived there would have protection. It wasn’t easy, and he faced opposition, but he kept at it until it was done.

In Matthew 11:30, Jesus said, “For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light” (AMP ). God’s burdens are different from the ones we put on ourselves. The ones we place on ourselves look inward, but God’s look outward to help others. For some, they come suddenly like Nehemiah. For others, you may have been carrying it for years. God’s desire is to partner with each of us to do His work in this world, to make a difference in the lives of someone. What has God been showing you that needs to be repaired or corrected. It may be large or small, but either way, it needs you. I don’t know that you’ll feel qualified or ready to do it, but don’t let that stop you. Accept His burden and get started making a difference.

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Compliant Disobedience

I once worked at a place where you had to wear a dress shirt and a tie every day. There was a guy who didn’t like the rule. He would try to show up without a tie. He was told that each time he showed up without one, he’d be sent home to get one and would be docked that time on his check. Instead of simply complying, he decided to dig his feet in. He showed up the next time in a clown tie. It was extra wide and short. When confronted, he said that the rules simply said he had to wear a tie, and this was a tie. I refer to this behavior as compliant disobedience. He’s following the rules while being disobedient in the process. It was an outward expression of his internal attitude.

The book of Jonah tells a similar story. God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh to pronounce judgment on it. Instead of complying, he went the opposite direction in a ship. The Lord caused a great storm to rock the boat, Jonah was found to be the problem and they tossed him overboard. The Bible says the Lord prepared a great fish to come swallow him and return him to shore. The Lord told him the same instructions. He obeyed, but still had disobedience in his heart. When Nineveh repented, God forgave them. Once again his disobedient attitude showed through. God tried to get through to him, but we don’t really know how the story ends. The book stops with God having the last word.

How is your attitude toward what God has asked you to do? 2 John 1;6 says, “And this is love: that we walk in accordance with His commandments and are guided continually by His precepts. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should [always] walk in love” (AMP). God isn’t looking for compliant disobedience. He’s looking for you to obey out of love for Him. Our attitudes show up in our behaviors, but even still God always looks at the intent of our heart. Don’t be like Jonah or the tie guy. Trust God’s plan, be thankful He’s wanting to use you and obey while walking in love. He’s not done writing your story yet. How it’s written depends on your obedience.

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Place And Position

God has placed in each one of us a feeling that lets us know we were meant for more. It’s a holy calling that reminds us to keep moving forward and that the place where we are now is only temporary. He uses places in our lives to prepare us for positions He wants to give us. However, when we become discontent in the place we’re in, the enemy plays to our sympathies telling us we deserve a higher position. His plan is two fold. First, he wants to get you out of the place you’re in prematurely before God has finished His work. Secondly, he wants to make you desire a position that is different than the one God has for you in order to slow you down in your progress towards God’s plan.

David’s place was a pasture. The position he was preparing for was king. He had to remain in the pasture watching sheep facing lions and bears in preparation for being king. He had to go into a valley to face a giant, and he lived in caves running from King Saul. I’m sure his mind was telling him he deserved his position in the palace while he lived in those caves, but he didn’t give into the voice. He trusted God’s plan and timing for him to receive the position. Each time the position presented itself to him to take, he stayed in his place waiting for God to open the door. Because of that, God honored him in the position of king more than any other king.

In Mark 10, James and John wanted the position of Jesus’ right and left in the new kingdom. Jesus asked if they were able to endure the suffering that comes with those positions. Ignorantly they said yes. In verses 39-40 Jesus said, “You will certainly drink from the cup of my sufferings and be immersed into my death, but to have you sit in the position of highest honor is not mine to decide. It is reserved for those whom grace has prepared them to have it” (TPT). They wanted a position before they were prepared in their place. The beautiful thing Jesus illustrated here is that grace prepares us in the place we are in now for the position He has for us in the future. His grace is sufficient to guide you and strengthen you in the place you’re in right now so He can give you the positions He’s planned for you. Be patient and trust His plan and ignore the sympathetic lies of the enemy.

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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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The Two Balconies

Several years ago my wife and I felt like God asked us to make a change. The problem was we liked where we were. It was comfortable and we didn’t want to make this change. God let us know again that we needed to make the change. We explained to God that we didn’t want to, hoping He would understand. He didn’t. Life began to be uncomfortable. We became more miserable the longer we held out. Finally we agreed, but we wanted it to be on our terms. We made the change even though we were unhappy about it. It took months for us to figure out God was trying to bless us, but our comfort and stubbornness were standing in the way.

2 Samuel 11:1 says, “In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites…However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem” (NLT). The next verse says David was so comfortable there that he took a nap. He was supposed to leave Jerusalem and go to war, but he put his comfort ahead of his calling. After he took his nap, he stepped out onto his balcony and saw Bathsheba taking a bath. Because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, he committed adultery with her. Then when she got pregnant, and her husband wouldn’t sleep with her when he was called home from the war, David had him killed. He faced severe consequences for his disobedience that started on the balcony of comfort.

In Luke 24:49, Jesus told about 500 people to go to Jerusalem to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit. Acts tells us about 120 of them went to the Upper Room and waited. Then after they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, Acts 2 says that Peter and the disciples went outside on the balcony to address the crowd. About 3,000 we’re saved that day because they had obeyed what Jesus had spoken to them. This balcony reminds me of the blessings of obedience. Jeremiah 7:23 says, “Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!” Your obedience is more important than your comfort. The balcony of obedience leads to God’s promises.

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3 Questions To Ask Yourself (Tenth Anniversary)

This was the first devotion I wrote for this site.

1.When is the last time you exercised your faith?

I mean really exercised it. I want you to think of how much you make a year. Got the number in your head? Now think of one thing that costs that much. Imagine buying that one thing and then giving it away. It would hurt right?

Mary had purchased a perfume that cost a years worth of wages and poured it out on Jesus’ feet (John 12:3). Doing what God had asked her to do didn’t make sense to her or anyone else at the time. She wasn’t afraid to go big with her faith. God is looking for obedience from us. He wants us to exercise our faith. In order to do that, we must first spend time at the feet of Jesus to know his will and desire for us.

2. When is the last time you gave up what you wanted for the Kingdom?

In John 12:24, Jesus compared Himself to wheat and said because He was going to die, He would produce many others and yield a great harvest. We have to truly learn to die to ourselves and put the kingdom mission above our own mission. If you want to get a great harvest, it starts with dying to yourself.

That is easier said than done. In order to do that, we have to gain perspective. We have to understand God’s plan for the world and accept our role in that plan. Each person has a role. Paul said that some plant, some water and some harvest. Rarely does doing something for God bring you glory and attention. To get a harvest in your life, give up your desires and vision for His. It will be life changing.

3. Are you willing to do something for God without getting recognized for it?

In John 12:27, Jesus knew he was on a mission and he was troubled and distressed over it. He asked Philip and Andrew if He should pray and ask the Father to save him from what was coming. He then recognized that what He had been asked to do was for God’s glory. He submitted to the will of the Father even though He knew that it would bring Him pain and shame.

God sees the whole picture and the full ripple effect of what He is asking you to do. All we see is that we are being thrown into a pond of water that is over our heads. We have to be willing to complete the mission for His glory, not ours. If we have the wrong motivation, fear will keep us from doing what He wants.

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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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Tenth Anniversary: God Is Your Source

This week I’m reflecting on ten years of writing devotions. In the early days of writing, my mind was beginning to be consumed with fear. I felt the pressure of coming up with something to write about each day. I made a list in my phone of possible topics that I would add to. I would ask friends what they thought I should write about. Some mornings I sat there frozen, not knowing what to write, and feeling the pressure of an audience expecting something from me. Doing what God asked me to do was making me miserable and fearful – neither of which come from God.

I went to a writer’s conference hoping to gain insight. When I went to the registration table, they gave me a ticket to have a private breakfast with William Paul Young, writer of “The Shack”. Over breakfast, I explained my predicament. He gently told me that I was approaching God the wrong way. I was looking at Him as a well that could run dry. Instead, God is a never ending river of creativity. He said, “If you go to God’s creative river each day with an empty bucket and pray, ‘God, here’s my bucket. Would you fill it up with what you want to say,’ He will do it. You are going to have to spend time at His feet in order to do that.” Immediately I felt freedom and the fear left me.

What I realized is that God is the source of creativity, not me. I was trying to do what He asked me to in my own strength, creativity and knowledge. That was creating a mental mess. Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord who rules over all” (NET). Whatever God has called you to do, He has called you to do it in His strength, not yours. Yes, you must show up and do the work, but you are not the source, He is. Don’t let the fear of your inadequacy take over your mind. Instead, go to God each and every day, recognizing He is the source, and ask Him to fill that bucket with whatever you need to fulfill what He’s called you to. It will free you up and restore the joy of your calling.

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The Importance Of Excellence

It was a sculptor named Frederic Bartholdi who designed and built the Statue of Liberty. It was built and then dedicated in New York City In 1886. It would be nearly 20 years later when the Wright brothers first took flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Yet, when building the Statue of Liberty, Bartholdi refused to cut corners, especially on the head of Lady Liberty. To think that someone would ever be able to see the top of her head never crossed his mind, but he took the time to put the same amount of work and detail up there. When you’re driven by excellence, you focus even on the details you don’t think that others will see. You understand that when you get the small details right, the big problems rarely show up.

My personal motto is, “If it has my name on it, it needs to be done with excellence.” If I’m going to spend my time working on something, I want to make sure I don’t cut any corners or do a job that will reflect poorly on me. In my mind, I think about how the things I do don’t just reflect myself, but God. As a person who bears the name Christian, I should also be concerned about the reputation of the One whose name I bear. According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, each one of us are given gifts by God in order to help each other. If we’re going to maximize our gifts and their effects in the lives of others, it’s important that we understand how to use them and that we focus on using them well. We should never take these gifts lightly.

Galatians 6:4 says, “Let everyone be devoted to fulfill the work God has given them to do with excellence, and their joy will be in doing what’s right and being themselves, and not in being affirmed by others” (TPT). You have work that God has called you to do through the unique gifts He has equipped you with. If you don’t use them, or do your work half heartedly, you diminish the ripple affect into the lives of others. To have the greatest impact on this world, we each need to know our giftings and operate in them with the excellence they deserve. Put time into perfecting the details, even the ones you think no one will ever see. You never know what God will do or how He May bless your commitment to doing all things with excellence.

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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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Waiting On God

Have you ever felt ill equipped to do something? Maybe you did your part to get ready for it, but you didn’t have the right tools to be successful. I’ve had that happen before. I had to lead a meeting, but when I arrived to the location, there wasn’t a projector. If they couldn’t see my PowerPoint slides, they wouldn’t be able to understand what I was discussing. It was one of those moments where you have to get really creative or pray that someone had a spare projector somewhere. Thankfully that was the case and I was able to give them the info they needed.

When it comes to fulfilling your purpose, the same thing can happen. There’s only so much you can do before you need God to do what only He can do. The problems come when we stop being patient and start trying to get creative in doing God’s part. We try to equip ourselves for what He wants to accomplish through us, but like Saul’s armor on David, it doesn’t fit. I’ve found that moving forward before God has done His part often complicates things and can have long lasting consequences.

In Hebrews 13:21, the writer prays and reminds us, “May the God of peace provide you with every good thing you need in order to do his will” (GNT). You have a part and God has a part. Learn to do your part and then have patience while God does His. He will give you what you need when you need it. I know it feels like you need it sooner or that you need to step in and help Him, but wait on Him. The Bible is full of people who didn’t wait and tried to do God’s part. Today, purpose in your heart that you will trust God to provide the thing you’re missing to accomplish His will and that you will wait until He gives it to you.

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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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Imperfectly Perfect

Almost all of us have something we don’t like about ourselves. We can be very critical of ourselves and often see ourselves in a negative light. Whether it’s aN imperfection, a defect, a tick or impediment, it’s important to remember that God doesn’t see that the same way you do. We often see these things as limitations or as distractions, but God sees past those things we dislike about ourselves. He even has a way of wanting to use us for His purposes that may even expose that thing we struggle with. What we see as a hinderance, He sees as an opportunity for us to trust Him and rely on Him rather than ourselves.

In Exodus 4, God is calling Moses to be His spokesperson to Egypt on behalf of the enslaved Israelites. One slight problem though: Moses has a speech impediment. He stutters. He uses that to try to disqualify himself from being used by God. It doesn’t work. In verse 9, God says, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say” (NLT). Notice how God doesn’t heal the impediment. He has the ability to, but He doesn’t. He wanted to use Moses despite the issue, and He wants to use you too.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” You are His masterpiece, imperfections and all. What you see as an imperfection, He sees as a priceless work of art that is able to be used for His purposes. We must learn to see ourselves the way He sees us. We can give excuse after excuse to Him about how He has the wrong person or how these imperfections limit our ability to be used by Him, but His purpose will prevail. What you see as a limitation, He sees as an opportunity to trust Him. You are not defective. You are a masterpiece created with a purpose. Like Moses, we need to submit to it despite our “flaws”.

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