Tag Archives: christian living

Debt Forgiveness

“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back.” “You fly, I’ll buy.” “Quid pro quo.” “You buy this time, I’ll buy next time.” Ever used any of these expressions? Of course you have. We all do favors for favors. It’s an offer to help in exchange for help. You’ll give them what they want if they’ll give you what you want. Everybody wins. We all play the game, but what we forget is that Jesus changed the rules on it. He expects us to do for others who have no ability to pay us back.

You see, there’s no reward in doing something for others who can pay you back. It’s not really a blessing if you get a favor in return. Part of our Christian DNA should be to do for others who are unable to pay us back. It should be a part of who we are and be a regular thing we do. When Jesus was describing who got into Heaven, this is what He said in Matthew 25-35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me” (AMPC).

In all of these examples, it was about helping someone out who couldn’t return the favor. He mentioned several times in the Gospels that we were to give without expecting anything in return. When you think about it, Jesus did that for us. He set the example of giving at a high cost for those who couldn’t pay Him back. If you’ve accepted Him as your savior, then He paid your debt for sin in full. There’s no way to repay Him for that. The best thing we can do is to follow His example. Give to those who can’t repay you, and don’t hold it over their head.

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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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Remain In Christ

I was helping my son study for his science test this week. They’re studying flowers, plants and tree systems right now. He had to know about photosynthesis, chlorophyll, and all the parts of the plant. As I’m quizzing him, I kept thinking, “Why does an 11 year old need to know this? Why do any of us need to know this?” However, I kept asking him the questions. What do roots do? They supply water and nutrients to the plant. What is the process by which plants receive pollen so they can produce fruit? Pollination. Somewhere in the questioning, I began to see us as the plants with our need for deep roots and being pollinated by other believers.

In John 15, Jesus was giving His final instructions to the disciples before He was arrested. He had just told them that He was going away to prepare a place for us. Then He promised to send the Holy Spirit. He followed that up by telling them that He is the vine, we are the branches and God is the gardener. In verse 4 He said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me” (NLT). The vine is the main channel those roots give the nutrients to and unless the branches are attached to it, they can’t receive their nutrients, produce fruit or live.

God expects you and I to remain attached to Christ. He expects fruit from our lives. We can’t allow ourselves to become detached from our source. Colossians 2:7 reminds us to let our roots grow deep in Christ. We need to get our nutrients from Him and our water from His Word. We need to be around other believers in Life Groups breaking down Scriptures so we understand them better and produce fruit in our lives. If you’re not producing fruit right now, take a look at your roots. Make sure you’re grounded in Him and feeding your soul the proper nutrients. In His final sermon before His death, Jesus wanted us to know that trouble will come, distractions will arise, but we must remain in Him no matter what.

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A Call To Repentance

I’m reading through the “Killing Kryptonite” devotional by John Bevere. In it he said, “Repentance means changing our mind so deeply that it changes our personality from the core of our being.” As I read that, I thought about today’s world. Our culture is just the opposite of that. As a society, we celebrate and encourage people to be who you are. The problem with that is that we are encouraging them to identify with their Adamic nature rather than the image of God that is in them. We encourage people to suppress the new creation God is trying to bring out in order to celebrate their sinful nature.

When God called us to repentance, He called us to leave behind our Adamic nature so we can identify with His fingerprint on our life. Repentance means to turn around and go the opposite direction. We are not just called to accept Jesus, but to repent as well. The old life is gone and God turns you into a new creation from the core of who you are. There is a transformation God wants to do in each one of us, but it’s up to us to turn away from the fingerprint of Adam on our life, which is a spiritual cancer that God wants to put into remission.

Acts 20:21 says, “I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus” (NLT). Repentance and confessing faith in Jesus go hand in hand. We change identities when these two things happen so that we become who God created us to be. We walk away from who we once were, and leave the path we were on in order to become a new creation and be Spirit led. Your transformation starts with salvation then begins when you turn around and walk towards the life God has for 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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Refusing To Assimilate

When we go to Israel with our church, part of the trip is to see the sights. The other part is to get to know the people. We visit with Israeli’s, Muslims living in Israel, Christian Arabs, Messianic Jews, Jews and immigrants. The immigrants are brought in and placed in high rise apartment buildings where for a couple of years they are taught the language, the customs and the culture. Once completed, they become citizens. The process works well except for people from Ethiopia. They struggle to assimilate into a first world country. It’s difficult for Ethiopians to go from a rural, agrarian lifestyle to the high paced world of what we are accustomed to live in. They actually have their own building, farm land and a different time table to help them adjust since they don’t readily accept the culture.

In Daniel 1, King Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem and took the best looking, brightest young men of Israel back to Babylon. Daniel was among those captured. The king said, “Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men. Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon” (NLT). He was trying to assimilate them into Babylonian culture. Most men were indoctrinated, but Daniel and his three friends refused to assimilate. They showed that it is possible to live and learn in a culture without accepting it and allowing it to change your beliefs.

Romans 12:2 says, “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes” (TPT). We live in a culture that is trying to get us to change our beliefs, our way of thinking and our way of living. It is trying to get the Word of God to conform to its standards rather than the

other way around. We cannot allow ourselves to be shaped into its mold which is why we must be transformed from the inside out. We can go through all the indoctrination of our culture and still live a life that is holy and acceptable to Christ. In order to have the resolution that Daniel had, we must be empowered by the Holy Spirit and have a steady diet of God’s Word going into our mind. It’s not easy to do, but is necessary as believers to live according to God’s laws and customs rather than the world’s.

Photo by Gabriel Rodrigues on Unsplash

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Think Differently

Several years ago, Apple was floundering as a company. They had lost their soul and direction. They decided to bring Steve Jobs back as the CEO to see if he could turn it around. One of the things he did after revamping their product line was to change advertising agencies. The agency that won pitched him the idea of the now famous “Think Different” campaign. The commercial showed different geniuses from history with a voice that started off, “There are people who see the world differently. They see things in new ways.” While the commercial went on to advertise Apple, it reminds me that you and I as Christians are called to think differently.

Proverbs 23:7 tells that our thoughts determine who we are. We must then learn how to control them or at least stop the negative thoughts that lie to us. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we must bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We can’t just allow idle thoughts or negative thoughts to float around in our heads. We must capture them and change them. It’s easier said than done, I know, but it starts with challenging the thoughts that don’t line up with what God says. When those thoughts come in, you counter with who God says you are and what He’s promised to us as believers. God knows that one way to change our lives is through changing our thoughts.

Isaiah 8:11 says, “The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does” (NLT). Why would God do that? Because we are called to be and live differently than the world. We are to be set apart and to see the world in a different way. We are to change culture rather than to be a reflection of it. The only way to do that is to think differently and to see the world as God does. He transforms us by the renewing of our thoughts and in turn, we transform the world. Don’t get caught up today thinking and seeing the world the way others do. Pray and ask God to change how you think and see so that it reflects how He thinks and sees. In turn, you’ll begin to fulfill your purpose and help others along the way.

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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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Seasoning The World

I read an article a few years ago about a guy who went through the drive through at a Chick-fil-A in Abilene, Texas. When he picked up his order at the window, he handed the cashier ten $100 bills. The employee was shocked. They had seen people pay it forward before, but never like this. She asked him why he was doing it. He replied, “Monday’s are tough, and I want everyone to have a good day.” Because he paid it forward, they were able to give 88 customers prepaid food. Some people cried because of the blessing. Their day had been rough and this gesture turned it around. One act of blessing made a world of difference in people’s lives.

In Matthew 14, John the Baptist had been killed. Jesus wanted to be alone to mourn His cousin, but people followed Him. Instead of getting mad, He healed their sick and taught them truths. All day long, the crowd grew until there were thousands. By evening, the disciples were ready to disperse the crowd to send them away to eat. Jesus told them to feed the crowd. They knew it would cost more money and food than they had. They looked around and found a boy with fives loaves and two fish. Jesus blessed them, broke them and had the disciples serve them. After feeding the crowd with it, Jesus had the disciples go pick up the leftovers so nothing would be wasted. Over 5,000 people were blessed that day by the boy’s generosity.

In Matthew 5:13 Jesus said, “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage” (MSG). Each day we have several opportunities to eave a good taste in their mouth about Godard Christians. You may not have a $1,000 to give, but you have something. God can take whatever you’re willing to give and multiply it in someone’s life in order to bless them. It can be words of life, lunch or anything God puts on your heart. We have to quit thinking about what we don’t have and think about the interaction and how they will see God through us. Go out today looking to bring out the God-flavors in this world. You never know what miracle you will see or what impact it will have.

Photo by Max Kleinen on Unsplash

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Building Project

Many times in the New Testament Paul refers to us as buildings, while Peter says we are Living Stones with Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone. We are both buildings under construction and builders. Jude 1:20 says, “But you, my friends, keep on building yourselves up on your most sacred faith. Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit” (GNT). We must be edifying ourselves daily building up our faith and ourselves. We cannot afford negative self talk that tears down what God is trying to get us to build. Shame, self loathing and self condemnation have no place in our minds. We must be working to build ourselves up through the Holy Spirit.

We are also to help each other in this construction project. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (NLT). How do speak and treat other Christians? Are your words building up or tearing down? Many times we all get to the point where we need help from the Body of Christ. We need someone else to lift us up, carry the load and to speak life into us. There are believers you know who need you to build them up today. They need a verse that God put on your heart to share, a kind word or a note that says you’re praying for them. Don’t be afraid to reach out and help someone in their building process.

Finally, we’re to allow God room on our job site. Acts 20:32 says, “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.” Take time to read God’s Word and to pray inviting God to build on His Son in your life. He uses the best materials and knows just what you need. Make sure He is involved in the day to day operations of your life. We’re all under construction and need His input and help in our life. Remember that unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain (Psalm 127:1). Give Him free access to do what He needs to do and your life will be built according to the blueprints He has for you.

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The Gatekeeper Mentality

If you’ve ever had to do cold calling for sales, you know that step one is to try to get past the gatekeeper. The person who answers the phone at a business has the job of making sure only good calls get through. They try to protect the boss from as many sales calls as possible in order to protect their time. The disciples fell into this type of thinking when it came to Jesus. When the little children wanted to see Him, they tried to prevent it. I’m sure there were thousands who wanted to get close to Him, so they adopted a gatekeeper mentality.

In Luke 18:35-43, Jesus was about to walk into Jericho. The disciples and a huge crowd were around Him. A blind man heard the commotion and called out to Jesus. The crowd tried to hush him, but he got louder. Finally Jesus heard him and asked him what he wanted. He said, “Lord, I want to see!” (NLT) Jesus healed him and then went into Jericho going throughout the town. As he passed down one street, there was another man who wanted to see, but he couldn’t because of the crowd. Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus. When Jesus saw him, He offered to go to his house. The same crowd of Jesus’ followers was displeased and let Jesus know it. Zacchaeus wasn’t worthy of Jesus’ time or grace in their eyes.

Jesus responded in Luke 19:9-10, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” It was a reminder to them and to us that we are not His gatekeepers. Our job isn’t to keep people from Him, but to lead them to Him. We must lose the mentality that sees people as unworthy or beyond His grace. We all have a need for it and He died so that none would perish. Just because someone sins differently than you, it doesn’t disqualify them from the forgiveness He offers. We need to lose the gatekeeper mentality and usher as many people as we can to Him.

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Set Your Mind

I enjoy watching competition shows like America’s Got Talent. When magicians come on, I try to keep my eyes on their hands knowing they rely on distractions to do some of their tricks. Sometimes I even watch it in slow motion trying to see how they pull off these tricks. Even with my utmost concentration, I still miss it at times. I think that’s why the Bible tells us so many time to set our mind and to fix our thoughts. God knows our enemy is great at slight of hand and distraction. He’s trying to get our minds off of the truth in order to fall for his shell game. When we take our mind off of heavenly things, we can fall for temptation, lose trust in God and make wrong choices. It’s critical that you and I set our minds on the truth of God’s Word.

Here are some Bible verses on setting your mind.

1. Brothers and sisters, do not be children [immature, childlike] in your thinking; be infants in [matters of] evil [completely innocent and inexperienced], but in your minds be mature [adults].

1 Corinthians 14:20 AMP

2. For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].

Romans 8:5 AMP

3. Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.

Philippians 4:8 TPT

4. So then, have your minds ready for action. Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:13 GNT

5. Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].

Colossians 3:2 AMP

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A Life Of Love

Several years ago I was attending the Catalyst conference. Bob Goff was one of the speakers. When he finished his part, he gave each of us a copy of his book “Love Does”. It’s a collection of stories from his life where he decided to love people and say yes to their requests. It turns out when you look at each interaction as God opening a door for you, you’ll live an adventurous life. Because God loves people, Bob loves people. In this book he shares some incredible ways he has shown love to others and the impact it has had on them. I laughed out loud throughout the book. I also was brought to tears several times. Most importantly, it challenged me to dig deeper to find ways to show love.

If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’ve probably heard 1 Corinthians 13 read. However, Paul didn’t write that chapter for married couples. He wrote it to believers on the importance of loving your neighbor in the context of spiritual gifts. Verse 1 reads, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]” (AMP). God has given each of us spiritual gifts to edify and to love. Our world needs us to love them the way God loves them. Instead we’re guilty of seeing our differences and allowing those to divide us. We need to remember verse 5. It says, “It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.” Loving others God’s way looks like this.

In John 13:34, Jesus says, “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another.” The word for love that Jesus and Paul used in these is agape. This word isn’t referring to a love based out of emotion. It a love that does things for the benefit of another person while seeking the best for them regardless of you you feel. That’s the kind of love God calls you and I to. If we can’t or won’t love others extraordinarily with that kind of love, Paul said our lives will sound like a clanging cymbal causing a distraction rather than a sweet sound that brings music to people’s ears. Jesus didn’t ask us to live this way. He commanded it. There’s a difference there, and if we want to make a difference, it starts with living a life of love.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If you’d like to read my thoughts on “Love Does”, I wrote about it here.

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