Tag Archives: christian living

Receiving God’s Strength

Have you ever felt like you had to be strong for someone? What happened? After a while, your strength ran out. Whether we’re fighting our own battles or helping someone else fight there’s, we’re not supposed to do it in our own strength. We are to find that kind of strength in the Lord. When the Bible tells us to be strong, the word usually means to receive strength. You and I need to ask God to give us His strength and grace for each situation because it is made perfect in our weakness. Trying to do everything in our own strength will leave us depleted, burnt out and open to attacks. We receive His strength when we’re humble enough to know we need it and ask for it. He’s willing to give it to us, but we must realize our limitations and ask.

Here are some Bible verses on receiving God’s strength.

1. May you be made strong with all the strength which comes from his glorious power, so that you may be able to endure everything with patience. And with joy give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to have your share of what God has reserved for his people in the kingdom of light.

Colossians 1:11-12 GNT

2. May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality].

Ephesians 3:16 AMP

3. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 NLT

4. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26 ESV

5. Finally, build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power.

Ephesians 6:10 GNT

Photo by Julian Santa Ana on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Acts Of Worship

One of my favorite authors says that he takes off his shoes when he sits down to write because he considers that place holy ground. He says that he worships God with each keystroke. I’ve often thought of that and wondered, “What are my acts of worship? Do I take them as seriously as He does?” I don’t think we have to remove our shoes for every act of worship, but I do think we need to recognize when we are worshiping God. Worship is more than a slow song at church. It’s an act of love done to honor God that’s often a sacrifice of some kind. It requires a conscious effort on our part to put God’s needs ahead of our own.

When’s the last time you worshiped God with your life? Any act of obedience with the right heart is an act of worship. Consider all that God has done for you. There is nothing you can do to repay Him, but you can thank and honor Him by living your life in a way that pleases Him. You can rescue those who are perishing spiritually and physically as a way to worship Him. We don’t worship to earn our salvation though. It is the response of a grateful heart. Each act of worship is different because each of us have different skills and burdens that drive our worship. The important thing is to make sure we offer these things consciously as worship to God. Whether you’re working to end human trafficking, giving your tithe, serving the homeless or staying home to raise your children, do it as an act of worship and God will bless it.

Let us be thankful, then, because we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Let us be grateful and worship God in a way that will please him, with reverence and awe.

Hebrews 12:28 GNT

Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Even Though

In 2008, Heather Dormiden was running the 600 meter race for the Big Ten championship. She was out front with about 200 meters to go when she tripped and fell flat on her face. Instead of being mad at herself or being embarrassed and staying down, she decided to finish the race. Team points were important and her university was close to the top. She had to finish to get any points. She began to sprint as fast as she could. She started passing other racers which made her push harder. In the last 50 meters, she said she found a gear she didn’t know she had. Hearing the roar of the crowd energized her as she sprinted towards the finish line. To everyone’s amazement, Heather won the race even though she fell because she didn’t give up when she fell down.

In Genesis 39, Joseph’s brothers resented him. He was clearly his father’s favorite son out of 12. He had been given a bright, colorful coat so all the world would know it. Then he started having dreams that his brothers and his parents would bow down to him. The brothers had enough. They seized him and threw him into a cistern while they decided how to kill him. A caravan was passing by on its way to Egypt when they decided to sell him as a slave. He was purchased by a man named Potiphar and put to work. Instead of sulking and being bitter, he worked hard. Verse 2 says, “The Lord was with Joseph, and he [even though a slave] became a successful and prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian” (AMP). Joseph prospered even though he was a slave because he worked hard where he was and received the Lord’s favor.

Proverbs 24:16 says, “For the lovers of God may suffer adversity and stumble seven times, but they will continue to rise over and over again” (TPT). Even though you’ve fallen down, get back up. Even though life has felt you blow after blow, get back up. Even though things are hard, God will bless you when you keep getting back up. You have a race to run with an eternal prize. I know what it’s like to have the bottom keep falling out until you hit rock bottom. It’s not easy to get back up, but we’re not alone and we don’t have to do it in our strength. Call on the Holy Spirit to rise up in you when you feel like you can’t. Ask for God’s favor as you rise. The race isn’t won by the fastest, the most gifted or the wealthy. It’s won by those who continue to rise even though they fall because God favors those who trust in Him for His strength when they are weak.

Photo by Elisa Kennemer on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Being Invisible

I love practical jokes. The more elaborate, the better. I saw a video of a practical joke where a magician was performing in a park to a crowd. Everyone was in on it except for the person who walked up and joined the crowd. After a bit, the magician needed a volunteer. The person who walked up was chosen. After he made them “disappear”, a person from off screen would come and interrupt the show and take the magician away. While the magician was away, two people would come up and take a selfie in front of the chair. When the unsuspecting person saw the phone, the didn’t see themselves and thought they were invisible. Some who “disappeared” had fun with it, but most panicked when no one could see them. They desperately tried to get people to acknowledge them, but the crowd who was in on it, pretended they weren’t there. When the magician felt they had enough, he would return and make them “appear” again.

In Genesis 16, Abraham and Sarah had been told by God they would have a child. After waiting and trying and not seeing they answer, they preempted God’s plan. Sarah gave her maid, Hagar, to her husband in order to have a child. After her son was born, Hagar taunted Sarah to the point that Sarah kicked her out, but God saw her and comforted her. She called Him El Roi the God who sees me. He then sent her back. Several years later Sarah gave birth to Isaac. When he was weaned, she had Abraham kick out Hagar and her son. Hagar found herself in a desperate situation in the desert. Her resources were gone and she had no hope. Right when she was giving up, God showed up and showed her an oasis of water to meet her needs. God proved to her again that she was not invisible to Him and that He cared for her.

Psalm 33:18-19 says, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine” (ESV). I want you to know that no matter how dire your situation, how depleted your resources are and how invisible you feel, God sees you. His eye is on you. Continue to hope in Him and He will deliver you from the famine you’re in. He has not forsaken you. He has not forgotten you. In my own life, I’ve found that God uses those desperate, wilderness places to reposition us and to build our faith in Him. You may feel invisible to the world around you, but God sees you. What feels like and ending is often God creating a new beginning for you.

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Discipleship

Becoming a follower of Jesus isn’t a one time event. Jesus told us that we would need to take up our cross daily in order to follow Him. Being a disciple is to constantly choose to sacrifice your desires for His. In Greek, the language the New Testament was written in, the word disciple is mathetes. According to Strong’s Concordance it means, “a learner; a disciple, a follower of Christ who learns the doctrines of Scripture and the lifestyle they require.” What’s crazy is that Jesus didn’t tell us to go into all the world to make Christians. He told us to make disciples. We are to be followers of Christ who learn Scripture and live a life that daily reflects it. Paul said it was something we must press on for because it’s not an easy decision to make and live up to, but it’s who we’re called to be.

In Luke 18, Jesus encountered a man we’ve dubbed “the rich, young ruler”. He asked Jesus, in verse 18 he asked, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially and morally good], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” (AMP) Jesus responded by telling him to follow the commandments in the Old Testament. The man wasn’t satisfied because he knew there was something more than following rules to being a disciple and follower of Jesus. So Jesus told him, “You still lack one thing; sell everything that you have and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk].” The man walked away sad because he wasn’t willing to take his next step in discipleship. He was ready to accept the Bible and Jesus as Lord, but unwilling to daily follow Him. Being a disciple is a matter of the heart.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.” What do you center your life on? Is it your desires or His? Do you seek Him for direction for your life or do you allow Him to lead? To me, that last question is the difference in being a Christian and a disciple. The rich, young ruler was asking for direction, but unwilling to let Jesus lead his life. He lived life according to the Bible, but his heart kept him from experiencing the fullness of Christ. He valued his life, possessions and desires more. He wasn’t willing to nail them to the cross and follow Jesus fully. We’re all faced with that choice as Christians. Are we satisfied with being saved or do we truly want to become like Him learning Scripture and the lifestyle it requires? It’s a daily choice each of us must make.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Psalm 23

If you’re like me, you memorized Psalm 23 as a kid and have been quoting it since. I’m all for memorizing Bible verses and teaching them to children. However, sometimes we can lose the significance of passages when we’ve read them or heard them so many times. Even though I’ve read the Bible through several times, one of the things I do is pray before reading. I ask God to help me see it with fresh eyes, to open my mind to understand it and to give me revelation knowledge of it. I don’t want to skip through stories or chapters just because I know what happens or can recite from memory. On those especially, I take my time pouring over every word and digging through it using commentary tools as well as original language meanings.

Psalm 23 starts with, “The Lord is my shepherd.” First of all, this is a declarative statement. He’s not just saying it. He’s confessing it and making a statement. The Lord IS my shepherd. It’s not might be or could be. Then he personalizes it. The Lord is MY shepherd. Our mind likes to tell us that God cares for everyone but us. That’s a lie! He is your personal shepherd who knows your personal needs and takes care of them so that you shall not want. Quit skipping out on asking God to meet your needs because there are so many others who have more important or desperate needs. He is YOUR shepherd and is able to shepherd others as well as you on a personal level. Their needs are no more difficult to answer to Him than yours. There aren’t levels of needs to Him, but there are different levels of faith and trust in Him as your shepherd.

The next verse says that He makes me lie down in green pastures. God knows you need rest at times because you’re always on the go. He wants to lead us to a peaceful place to just be. It’s a place where you put down the facade and the mask. You don’t have to be “on” all the time. He instituted the Sabbath for a reason. Since we ignore it, He is still trying to shepherd us to rest because our shepherd knows we need it. He also tries to lead us to still waters. These waters are a place of refreshing. He understands that we need to experience times of refreshing. We try to say we don’t deserve it or we have too much to do to stop and be refreshed, but your shepherd created you and knows what you need. Quit fighting Him and let Him lead you. Quit making excuses and trust Him. When you do, He’ll restore your soul, guide you through the darkest places, prepare a table for you and anoint you so that goodness and mercy will be with you all the days of your life. It all starts with declaring and letting Him be your shepherd.

Photo by Sam Carter on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Walk In Power

One of the things we forget as believers is that the Holy Spirit lives in us. 1 John 4:4 says that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. God is all powerful and He not only lives in us, but He gives His power and authority to us as well. It’s time you and I started walking in that authority and power. We have victory in Jesus! We have authority in Jesus! We are not defeated. We will overcome because He has given us that power. We can face any situation with confidence because He lives in us and is greater than anything we face. Going forward, we need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Here are some Bible verses on the power you’ve been given.

1. But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 TPT

2. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].

2 Timothy 1:7 AMP

3. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.

Philippians 4:13 GNT

4. But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.

Acts 1:8 AMP

5. A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

Ephesians 6:10 NLT

Photo by Jordan Donaldson | @jordi.d on Unsplash

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Be Faithful Now

My wife and I watched History Channel’s “Men Who Built America”. The show discusses several titans of industry during Reconstruction after the Civil War up to the early 1900’s. It was incredible to see what these men did and how they operated. It was also eye opening how they would do anything to make money. Because of them, we have a lot of the labor and antitrust laws. They were often ruthless in their pursuit, but two men changed their tune as they got older and began trying to make a difference by give away their fortune to philanthropic causes and charities. J.P. Morgan gave away around $900 million in today’s money and John D. Rockefeller gave away around $540 million. To this day their philanthropic causes live on.

In Luke 16, Jesus told the story of a rich man who had a manager of his affairs. It turned out the manager was wasting the money so the rich man called him to account. The guy was afraid of being unemployed and didn’t want to beg so he cut what each person owed with all of his boss’s debtors. He figured he would make friends before he left so that he would have a place to land. The boss was impressed with how shrewd he was. Then in verse 9, Jesus said, “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home” (NLT). While Jesus doesn’t discourage us from being rich or making money, He does encourage us to give and make a difference with what we have.

In the next two verses Jesus continued, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” Sometimes we think we need to be rich to make a difference or to give, but this verse clearly tells us to be faithful with what we have, even if it’s a little. Many of us pursue more money and better jobs, but how can we handle that if we’re not making a difference with what we have. The same is true with our spiritual gifts. Many people look for ministries that are in the spotlight or get lots of attention, but God is looking to see if we can be faithful when no one sees. When we are faithful with a little, He trusts us with a lot.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Trusting God’s Truth

Sometimes we confuse the facts with the truth and we start to believe the wrong thing. A fact is simply a subset or fraction of what the truth is. They’re like a piece of the puzzle, but they don’t show the whole picture. They can tell us what’s going on in that moment of our life, but the truth is that a momentary situation in our life doesn’t define who we are. This is important because our enemy uses facts against us like a lawyer to destroy our faith and trust in what God is doing, or going to do, in our lives. He uses facts to distract us and to try to disqualify us from God’s promises. He tried to use facts against Jesus while tempting Him, but each time Jesus countered with the truth of God’s Word.

In Genesis 15, the fact is that Abram and Sarai were barren and couldn’t have children. The truth was that God had already promised Abram that he would be the father of many nations. The facts were that they were too old to conceive, but the truth was that God was still moving on their behalf. Even Abram had trouble believing the truth. In verse 2 he prayed, “But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth” (NLT). Then God reaffirmed the truth that he would have a son and many descendants. Verse 6 tells us that Abram believed the Lord and it was counted as righteousness because he trusted the truth over facts.

In John 8:31 Jesus said, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” What facts have you been believing over God’s truth? Facts have a way of binding us up and preventing us from being free. Today, I want you to start believing and trusting in God’s truth instead of the facts your current situation is telling you. If God has promised it, no facts can ever stop it. Be free from their grip on you today. Say out loud that you believe God’s truth. Repeat out loud what God’s promise is to you. Quit quoting facts and start confessing God’s truth. We must be like Abram where we believe despite what our current situation is telling us. God counts that kind of faith as righteousness. When we do, He blesses us and sets us free.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Seeking The Reward

Our brains are wired to seek rewards. Seeking and obtaining these rewards create habits in our lives. When you wake up, if you have the habit of hitting the snooze button, your brain has been conditioned to seek the reward of nine more minutes of sleep. If you love working out, your brain loves the endorphins that are released and how your body will look. Scientists have observed the brain during these activities and see what they’ve nicknamed the pleasure center of the brain light up when it gets the reward. It gets addicted to that feeling which makes habits hard to break. If you want to change a habit, don’t just take away the reward, create a reward for the new habit.

Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, endured some pretty harsh things. He was beaten several times within an inch of his life. He was sent to prison, rejected, stoned, attacked, shipwrecked and more for his faith. How did he keep going? He found a way to let his brain know that there was a reward in Heaven coming. In Philippians 3:10-11 he explained his reward by writing, “And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead” (AMP). He always looked for the reward in becoming more like Christ and being with Him one day.

Jesus set out a reward for us too. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.” If you look at what you’ve been seeking after instead of God’s kingdom, you will see the reward your brain is after. Jesus is offering us a greater reward by seeking Him first. Like Paul, we need to retire our brains, by allowing our minds to be transformed (Romans 12:2). When we put His needs ahead of our own, He rewards us with becoming more like Him and by taking care of all these things that cause us to worry.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized