Tag Archives: christian living

Receiving Feedback

In one of my previous jobs, we had a saying: Feedback is a gift. One of the ways feedback was encouraged was after a presentation among your peers, you had to give yourself feedback in front of everyone. When you were done, one of your peers would give you feedback as well. One of the hardest things to do was to stand there, smile and accept it, especially when it wasn’t right from your perspective. The others didn’t know your intent. They could only see your actions, and that’s what they gave feedback on. Every once in a while, someone would lose their cool during this process. It wasn’t ever a good thing to argue with the feedback someone was giving you. They could usually see something you were blind to.

In today’s world, giving someone feedback is a huge risk. No one wants to be corrected, but every one of us needs it. Galatians 6:1 tells us that if we see someone overtaken in sin, those who are spiritual should gently restore that person in love. Many times we’ve sinned or have offended someone without really knowing it. We can’t see it ourselves because we know our own intent, but don’t realize how our actions came across to someone else. It’s best to receive corrections in an humble spirit, rather than a defensive one, so that we can grow. God has placed people around us with the ability to see things in our blind spots.

The psalmist of 141, who was just as human as we are, prayed in verse 5, “When one of your godly lovers corrects me or one of your faithful ones rebukes me, I will accept it like an honor I cannot refuse. It will be as healing medicine that I swallow without an offended heart. Even if they are mistaken, I will continue to pray” (TPT). This is the attitude we should all have. Even if their wrong, we should put them on blast. Accept it, thank them for their concern and then pray and ask God to show you if there is something they see that you don’t. Receiving feedback and correction is a gift that should never be taken lightly. It’s God’s way of keeping us on His path.

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The Tension Of Today

You and I are constantly living between the tension of our well known past and our unknown future. When we look at our past, we often see the things that can discredit us and prevent us from having a promising future. When we look to the future, it can be overwhelming. There are so many possibilities that many times we experience paralysis through analysis. We don’t always know where that next step is or how to take it. We often get stuck here worried that our past will weigh us down, and fearing that we’re not prepared for the future. It’s a constant struggle that so many of us live with.

The good news is that your past doesn’t change God’s future for you. God has a plan and a purpose for your life. The tension you feel is designed to draw you closer to Him. No matter how close you get to God, that tension will always be there because there’s always another level of faith you can grow into. The deeper your faith and trust in God gets, the more He trusts you with. Jesus Himself told us that when we learn to be faithful in the little things, He will trust us with the bigger things.

Psalm 139:5 says, “You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me” (TPT). God has His hand on your life. He has already prepared the path for you to walk down. It’s up to you to step out in faith and trust Him. I love that this verse shows He’s also going behind you to make sure your past decisions that weren’t so great won’t harm you. You can keep moving forward knowing He has your future in His hands. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Corrie Ten Boom reminds us to never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

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Gaining Internal Confidence

The heart is known as the seat of our emotions. Our emotions dictate our words and actions. You can tell a lot about what’s in people’s heart simply by listening to them and watching their actions. When I hear people talk down to themselves or beat themselves up, it bothers me because it’s a reflection of how they truly feel about themselves. I went to compliment a kid recently about how well he performed and he replied, “I was terrible. I’m no good. I don’t know why I did it.” My heart broke because he’s already let his self talk destroy his confidence. I tried to speak life into him, but more than anything, he needed a change in his heart to readjust his thinking.

Proverbs 14:26 says, “Confidence and strength flood the hearts of the lovers of God who live in awe of him, and their devotion provides their children with a place of shelter and security” (TPT). It’s amazing how much we can accomplish when we have confidence and mental strength. So many of us struggle with an internal picture of who we are. We must remember that we are made in God’s image. The greater picture we have of God, the greater picture we will have of ourselves. A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”

The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength. To love Him with all of our heart, we need to know Him more. The more we know Him, the more we will live in awe of Him. It’s no coincidence that He listed the heart first. Everything stems from there: our relationship with God, our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with others. If you need confidence in any of those areas, it starts with knowing God. You get to know Him more through reading the Bible, prayer and sitting quietly in His presence. Learning to do these three things won’t just change you, it’ll have a generational effect as well.

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The Right Tools

Recently we were going to sand some floors down to refinish them. The cost to pay someone to do them was astronomical. We decided to do them ourselves. The cheapest way to do them was by hand. That would take forever so we went to rent a machine. I saw the machine I wanted and asked about it. He said it would do the job well, but they were out of sandpaper for it. He grabbed a “less aggressive” machine and then the sandpaper for it. As he rang it up, the sandpaper alone was over $100. I couldn’t believe the price. I had to remind myself that having the right tool was worth the money.

Proverbs 14:4 says, “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest” (NLT). Having oxen would require feeding them, watering them, housing them and ultimately cleaning up after them. Many people would look at the down side of owning them and choose not to get them. On the other hand, without them it would be difficult to plow the land or to bring in the harvest. There’s give and take in everything. It’s up to us to count the cost and to understand you get what you pay for, even if the cost is ongoing. In an agricultural society, if you wanted an abundant crop, you needed to invest in oxen.

Each one of us has a purpose to fulfill. You can do it with the natural tools you’ve been given (like sanding the floor by hand) or you can invest in yourself to increase the effectiveness of those tools. Going to school, taking a class, buying books and other ways to increase your effectiveness will cost you. It’s up to you to make sure you use the right tools for what you’re called to do and to invest in your future. There are pro’s and con’s to everything. That’s why we’re encouraged to count the cost physically and spiritually. Investing in the right tools for whatever God is calling you to will translate to your effectiveness.

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Being Resolute

Several years ago, we were in the hospital as my mom was dying. The doctor brought the whole family into a room and explained the seriousness of her problem. He told us there was nothing more they could do, and then he talked about hospice care. After he left, my dad kept us in the room. He said, “I still believe in miracles, but we need to be prepared if God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want Him to. You need to each determine in your hearts now that you will not be bitter against God if she passes away.” I thought it was an odd thing for him to tell us until she passed away and bitterness tried to creep in.

Determining what you’re going to do ahead of time is critical. When temptation comes, it’s too late to decide what you’re going to do. Unless you’ve determined in your heart how you’re going to handle it, we usually end up succumbing to it. You can’t just think, “Oh, I’ll never fall for that.” You need to determine in your heart what you will do and say in times of temptation. Jesus had determined to use the Word of God. We on,y have three of Hos temptations recorded in Scripture, but we have His responses too. Each time He was able to fight temptation with knowing what God’s Word says. The Psalmist said that if we will hide His Word in our hearts, it will Nelly us not to sin.

Psalm 119:112 says, “I have determined in my heart to obey whatever you say, fully and forever!” (TPT) That’s a great thing to determine, but it only works if you’ve spent time in God’s Word to know what He says and if you’ve determined ahead of time. Each of us will face various temptations for the rest of our lives to hurt our relationship with God. When you made a commitment to Christ, you committed to following Him for the rest of your life. Shouldn’t you also commit to obeying everything He says? God’s love language is obedience. If you haven’t done so, determine today that you will obey Him for the rest of your life and that you won’t give into to temptation.

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Opened Eyes

In 2 Kings 6, Elisha and his servant are inside a house having just woken up. The servant goes outside for something and realizes they are surrounded by an army. He calls for Elisha out of fear. Elisha steps outside and the servant wants to know what are they going to do. Elisha calmly replies, “Don’t worry. There are more on our side than theirs.” I’m sure the servant looked confused until Elisha prayed in verse 17, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” (NLT) All of a sudden, the servant could see into the spiritual realm and saw that the army around them was surrounded by God’s army.

There’s more to this life than you and I can see. I like that prayer and often pray it for myself. I want my eyes opened to see the things God wants me to see. I want to see if there’s something in God’s Word I’m missing or if there’s a connection throughout Scripture that I haven’t seen. I also want to see if there’s someone in my path that needs me to speak to them. You never know what God might show you if you ask Him to open your eyes to the things He wants to show you. I don’t want to live my life with blinders on. I want my eyes opened to see everything God is desiring to show me.

Here are some Bible verses on wanting opened eyes.

1. Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.

Psalms 25:4 NLT

2. If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

Proverbs 29:18 MSG

3. Give me more revelation of your ways, for I see your love and tender care everywhere.

Psalms 119:64 TPT

4. Turn my eyes away from vanity [all those worldly, meaningless things that distract—let Your priorities be mine], And restore me [with renewed energy] in Your ways.

PSALMS 119:37 AMP

5. Open my eyes to see the miracle-wonders hidden in your word.

Psalms 119:18 TPT

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Choosing Freedom

Freedom is not something that is uniquely American. It was instituted by a God Himself. His desire is that all of us live free lives. We are the ones who constantly put ourselves in bondage through our actions. We are the ones who put ourselves in position to let others bind us up. God has called us to live free lives according to Galatians 5:1. So why do we do the things that take us away from freedom? Why do we lament the past when we were slaves instead of celebrating the freedoms we currently enjoy?

It’s a problem that goes back as far as time. When the children of Israel were set free from the bondage of Egypt, they cried out, “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted.” In their freedom, they looked back on their time of slavery as a positive thing. They didn’t grasp what it meant to be free, so they would have rather gone back into slavery than to have lived in the freedom that God had granted them. It sounds absurd, but are we so different?

We let what other people have said or done to us imprison us in our minds and actions. We let the past dictate our present. God has set us free, but we allow unforgiveness to hold us down and rob us of freedom. We allow grudges and pain to keep us from trusting anyone. When that happens, we hold ourselves back from the future God has for us. We let what man has done to us rob us of the blessings of freedom. We hold ourselves back in that prison not wanting to get out because it’s safer to stay there. Freedom requires action on our part to move forward and to stay free.

Galatians 5:13-15 says, “Use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows… Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom” (MSG). Selfishness is the doorway to imprisonment. Serving others is the way to staying free. When we help others, despite how many times we’ve been taken advantage of, we walk in freedom. When we hold back because of things that have happened, we allow that freedom to slip away. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” As Christians, we can’t sit around and do nothing and stay free.

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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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