Tag Archives: calling

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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Doing Your Work

Several years ago I worked in early childhood education. One of the first things I learned (and had to keep learning) was to never do for a child what a child can do for themselves. I like things to move along quickly. Watching a child do a task they were new at was painstakingly slow. It was a lot quicker for me to step in and do it for them, but in doing so, I was robbing them of increasing their ability to do the task. I had to learn to coach them through the process rather than to just sit back and watch them struggle. Some kids wanted me to do everything, liked the help, some ignored me and others insisted they didn’t want my input. Ultimately i embraced my role to empower them.

As Christians we’re not much different than the kids I used to work with. We’re slow moving on the tasks God asks us to do. When He sends help, we may push back because of our pride. Many times we just want God to do all the hard work while we sit back and enjoy the fruits of His labor. There are also times where we simply ignore what He’s asking us to do. He write it off telling ourselves that the voice isn’t God. Ultimately we need God’s help in completing and fulfilling our purpose. He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us and to help us as we accomplish His will.

Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure” (AMP). One of the notes in my Bible for this verse says that while God supports us, it is our responsibility to do the work He called us to. No one else is going to do what you’re called to do. It is your part to play in the story God is writing. He’s there to guide, help and support you through it, but He’s not going to do for you what you can do and are called to do. Listen for His voice as He guides you, strengthens and energized you to fulfill His purposes for your life.

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Being Courageous

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You Are Qualified

One of the things I’m pretty good at is trying to disqualify myself from what God has called me to do. I find myself telling God why I can’t do something. “Sorry, God. My past disqualifies me from doing that. I don’t know how to do that. I’m not the right person for that. There are so many other people who would be better at it than me.” I can go on all day giving God excuses why i can’t do something. Part of it comes from a place where I’m fully aware of all my shortcomings. Another part comes from fear of the unknown. In either case, I believe God looks past those things. He sees our heart, and He bases His calling and qualifications on that instead of the things we think they should be based on.

If you find that your try to disqualify yourself when God calls, you’re in good company. Moses argued with Him for a while in Exodus 3-4. He tried to use his past, his lack of training, that no one would listen, that he had a speech impediment and more. God still kept pushing and ultimately he submitted. Jeremiah is another. The book starts off in the fifth verse of the first chapter with God calling him and qualifying him. He said, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations” (NLT). However, Jeremiah didn’t agree with God’s assessment. He pushed back, “O Sovereign Lord, I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” These two, like so many of us, tell our creator why we can’t be used for the purpose He created us to fulfill. Thankfully God is patient with us and His purpose will prevail.

In Jeremiah 1:7, God replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young, (insert your excuse here)’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.” God is speaking that to us today too. God is greater than your shortcomings and the excuses you give. His Spirit in you is all the qualification you need. Obedience is what matters. He doesn’t have the wrong person to accomplish His will. Remember God knew you before you were born. He knew about all the things you point to as disqualifications, and He still set you apart, created you with purpose and called you. Quit giving Him excuses and try submitting. Pray, “Lord, I can think of a million reasons why you’ve got the wrong person, but because you are the one calling me, I submit to your will and calling for my life. Empower me to do all you’ve called me to do. Place people around me to help me accomplish all you need me to.” Remember, God doesn’t make mistakes, so neither you, nor your calling are one.

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Parentheses in the Bible verse are mine.

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Work Diligently

One of the moments I remember most from high school was being in a locker room in Waco, Texas before the basketball state championship. Everyone was nervous feeling the weight of the game we were about to play. Coach walked in with The Dallas Morning News newspaper folded up. He said, “I want y’all to hear this article. It says, ‘The State Championship is a mere formality for (our opponent). (Our school) lacks the height and the talent to keep up.’” Something happened in that moment. He said, “Go prove them wrong!” We started banging on the lockers and screaming. We came out of that locker room a force to be reckoned with and won the game. We were all of a sudden motivated to win, but it was the discipline we learned in practice that gave us the victory.

Motivation is a good thing, but it doesn’t keep you going. When we first accept Jesus, find our calling or discover our God given purpose, our motivation is high. When it comes down to working it out, getting things moving or bumping into roadblocks on the way, motivation does very little to keep us on the path. It’s the daily disciplines that do that. Motivation is emotional and depends on success to stick around. Discipline is willpower and depends on determination to move despite how you’re feeling. God gives us the mountain top, emotional experiences because we need the motivation from time to time, but He expects us to be disciplined to continue through the valleys of not being able to hear Him or sense His direction for our lives.

Proverbs 30:25 says, “The feeble ant has little strength, yet look how it diligently gathers its food in the summer to last throughout the winter” (TPT). He keeps working for the future despite the present, and is a good example for us. You may have lost your motivation along the way to doing what God called you to, but let me encourage you to begin small, disciplined steps to move you towards it. Find five things you can do daily that will keep you moving towards the place where God is calling you, and do them no matter what. The ant is considered wise and a hard worker in this Scripture because he does the necessary work before the winter arrives. So you and I need to be working while we can towards the place God is leading us. Motivation may give you momentum, but discipline will keep you going when you’re not feeling it.

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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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