Tag Archives: christian living

Putting Out Fires

When I was a young boy, I learned how to build a fire. I was so excited that I wanted to show my friend. We went into the woods behind his house, gathered wood up and then I built a magnificent fire. What I didn’t know yet was how to put a fire out. We decided to smother it…with hay. That worked great…for a few seconds. Before too long, the fire was getting out of hand. We ran back into his house, past his mom, to get his brother who was two years older than us. We tried again to put it out, but couldn’t. A neighbor saw the smoke and called the fire department. They showed up and got it under control, but not before about an acre was burned.

I tell you that story because so many times we’ve set fire to things in our lives and things are being consumed by it. Every time we try to put it out, it only makes things worse. From the time we are little, we are taught to be independent, to suck it up and to handle our own business. What we forget is that we have a helper who can put out the fires in our lives, but we’re too busy trying to put them out ourselves. Like scared children, we don’t go to the One who can truly help. We go to others to help us, but they can’t resolve the problems we’re facing. All the while, God is there waiting on us to cry out to Him for help.

Psalm 50:15 says, “Honor me by trusting in me in your day of trouble. Cry aloud to me, and I will be there to rescue you” (TPT). God should not be our last resort when things aren’t going right. He deserves and wants to be our first call. He’s more than able to resolve whatever you’re going through, but you must call out to Him and trust Him. If you’re so caught up in what’s going wrong and you don’t have the strength to pray yourself, call on a friend to pray for you. You don’t have to fight the fires in your life by yourself. You have a Heavenly Father who loves you and wants to rescue you.

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

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Seasons Of Life

Did you know that there are four seasons to farming? In the Spring, it’s the time of planting. The soil is tilled and seeds are placed at the right depth and spacing. In the Summer, it’s critical to make sure the crops are getting the right amount of water, fertilizer and sunlight. With the Fall comes the harvest. It’s about gathering in the produce at the peak of ripeness and then ripping out the old stalks so the ground can be infused with organic matter. Then, when the winter comes, the land has an opportunity to rest. You also spend this time repairing your tools and getting ready for the next Spring.

As I read that, I can’t help but think of the seasons of our life. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us there is a time and a season for everything. That includes our lives. Some of us are in a season of planting and preparing for what’s coming. Some of us are in a season of working on growing what we’ve planted. Some of us are in a season of harvest where we are reaping the benefits of what we’ve done. Others are in a season of rest where things in your life have been ripped up and it’s time to make repairs so you can plant again. Have you ever considered what season you’re in and the responsibilities God has given you for that season?

Proverbs 10:4 says, “Know the importance of the season you’re in and a wise son you will be. But what a waste when an incompetent son sleeps through his day of opportunity!” (TPT) God has you in this season for a purpose. In every season you find yourself in, there are things you should be doing for that season as well as things to prepare for the next season. Ask God to give you wisdom to know the things you should be doing in your season. Every season comes and goes. You will not be in this season forever, so make the most of it. Don’t let the opportunity of what God is trying to do in your life during this season pass by.

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

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Pushing Through To Victory

One of the things I love about sports is the struggle. In each game, the teams are trying to build up momentum to score and keep things moving in their favor. You can almost always see when something happens that either takes momentum away from a team or gives it to a team. The fight is not just about winning. It’s about getting momentum to keep winning. There are some teams, despite not having much momentum, that somehow will their way to victory against the odds. There’s something in them that won’t let them quit and they push through to win. Those are the games you walk away from wondering how they did it.

In life, all of us face battles. All of us go through struggles. Inside each one of us there is a constant battle between our flesh and our spirit. There’s the struggle between doing what’s right and what we want to do. There are also battles with addiction that many of us go through. In each case, we’re looking for momentum and victory. If we’re honest, there are days where we know we want to win, but we just don’t have the strength to push through. Momentum often feels like it’s against us and it’s easier to just give in. On those days, we have to learn to psych ourselves up, put our rally cap on and find a way to push through.

Psalm 44:5 says, “Through your glorious name and your awesome power we can push through to any victory and defeat every enemy” (TPT). We have victory in the name of Jesus, but you and I still have to show up and fight. David didn’t defeat Goliath because he picked up five stones and stood on the battlefield. He won it because he ran towards his enemy and slung the stone. You and I must face our giants head on and attack them through the name of Jesus. Victory is possible. You can defeat your adversary, but you have to fight. God is for you and has given you the weapons and armor you need to win. You’ve got to put them on, use them and push through in the name of Jesus and you will find victory.

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Enduring The Storm

Ever so years ago I lived in Cairo, Egypt. At certain times I would be about my business when I would notice people begin to scurry and panic a bit. I would then turn around to look at the dessert to see a dust storm coming. It would look like a huge brown wall from ground to sky getting bigger as it approached. I was given a warning when I first moved there. I was told that if I ever saw that, take cover and wait it out in a building. If I got caught in it, I wouldn’t be able to see and could get lost or possibly die.

Some storms that come into our lives are like that. They come when we least expect them and they’re blinding. If we don’t act quickly, we can lose sight of where we are going, lose our way, or feel like we’d rather die. These storms that pop up out of nowhere can be very dangerous if we don’t take shelter from them. You never know how long they’ll last, but if you’ve taken shelter in God, you can weather any storm.

Most of the early chapters of Isaiah are about the Lord’s wrath against cities and countries. It’s about destruction that God is going to bring on the ungodly. But in chapter 25, Isaiah begins to praise the Lord for His awesome power and ability to destroy. In verse 4, he reminds us who God is in the storm. He wrote, “But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat” (NLT).

Just like I was able to run into a building when a dust storm was coming, we can find our reprieve in Him. Too many times though, we try to fight the storm in our own strength. We try to weather it on our own. I can tell you that’s very tiring and will wear you out. I’ve tried that strategy. I ended up laid out on my living room floor exhausted from the battle before I cried out to the Lord for shelter. In our own strength we can’t endure very long, but we are stubborn and try it anyway.

It takes humility to admit you can’t do it on your own. You can choose to humble yourself and seek God for shelter or the storm can humble you. God would rather we admit up front that there’s nothing we can do on our own to fight the storm. He would rather we admit we can’t do it in our own strength, and that we go to Him for His. Don’t let pride stand in your way and keep you from praying, “Lord, I need you to shelter me from this storm. I can’t endure it on my own. I need your help.” When we humble ourselves, He is faithful and His grace is sufficient to cover you and to help you endure.

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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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Defining Qualities

Did you know that in every group of people you are a part of regularly, you are known for something? You have a personal brand that people identify you by. It can be a good brand or not in their eyes. You may be known as the funny person in the group, the wise one with all the answers, the one who keeps the group together, etc. Have you ever stopped to think how others define you? What qualities stand out to them? For many of us, this is a blind spot in our lives that we rarely get a glimpse into unless we ask or someone let’s us know. We usually think we are known for one thing, but others know us by something else.

Have you ever considered what you want to be known for? Have you thought about what you would want your epitaph to say? I know that sounds a bit morbid, but if you start with the end in mind, you can make changes now that will get you there. You can do things that improve certain qualities in your life so they become who you are. You can also do things to minimize other qualities that detract from who you’re trying to be. It all starts with recognizing what you’re known for now and what you want to be known for.

Proverbs 3:3 says, “Do not let mercy and kindness and truth leave you [instead let these qualities define you]” (AMP). The Bible recommends these three as things we should be known for. Do others consider you as a merciful person? Do they think you’re kind? What about truthful? If you want to improve your influence in other people’s lives, begin to cultivate these three qualities. Nurture them, give them room to grow and they will begin to define you. Every one of us are known for something by others. The more godly the qualities we’re known for, the easier it is to point others to Him.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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God’s Good Grace

I’m constantly reminded that it’s not how good I am, it’s how good God’s grace is. No matter how hard I try, I’m incapable of not sinning. Temptation shows up when I’m most vulnerable and begs me to indulge. Immediately guilt consumes me and tells me what a failure I am. When I say, “I’ll just seek God’s forgiveness,” it whispers back, “You just sinned. Do you think He’ll forgive you right now? You’re not really repentant.” The lies try to keep me from the grace God wants to give me. The sin wants to pile up until I feel like I’m not worthy. The goal is to get me to give up without a fight or to keep me trying to create my own righteousness until I give up.

This is a pattern so many of us face all the time. There’s a constant battle going on trying to make us think we can live a sinless life, resist all temptations and make God proud of us. When we lose it, we end up covered in guilt and shame. In Psalm 40:12, David described it by saying, “Evil surrounds me; problems greater than I can solve come one after another. Without you, I know I can’t make it. My sins are so many! I’m so ashamed to lift my face to you. For my guilt grabs me and stings my soul until I am weakened and spent” (TPT).

Can I just remind you that God loves you for who you are and not for who you’re trying to be? I’m not saying we shouldn’t seek help or find ways to break sin addictions in our lives. I’m saying God sent His son to die on the cross to pay for our sins while we were still sinners. He loves us in our imperfect state and makes His grace available to us without a waiting period. Isaiah 61:10 says, “I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness” (NLT). Don’t let guilt consume you when you fail. Instead, ask God to clothe you in salvation and righteousness.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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In Desperate Need

Recently two Florida teens were swimming in the ocean when they were pulled away from shore. They found themselves two miles from shore. The waves were choppy and the current was strong. After treading water for two hours, their strength was giving out. Hope was gone as reality was setting in. In desperation they cried out to God, “If you really have a plan for our lives, just bring something!” It was about that time that a boat named “The Amen” was going by, thought they heard something in the water and found them. They were rescued from their situation and returned safely to shore.

I haven’t been in a situation like that before, but I have been desperate for God to answer in a hopeless situation. Desperate prayers cut through our religious jargon we like to say to God. They are the most authentic prayers and that’s why I believe God answers so many of them. Our need for God to move will increase our faith in Him and His ability to intervene. God desires that we would have that same desperation for Him even when our circumstances aren’t dictating that need. We are all eternally hopeless without Him. It’s time our lives, our prayers and our relationship with Him reflected that kind of desperation.

Here are some Bible verses on desperation.

1. I was desperate for you to help me in my struggles, and you did!

Psalms 120:1 TPT

2. When the woman realized she couldn’t hide any longer, she came and fell trembling at Jesus’ feet. Before the entire crowd she declared, “I was desperate to touch you, Jesus, for I knew if I could just touch even the fringe of your robe I would be healed.”

Luke 8:47 TPT

3. For when I was desperate, overwhelmed, and about to give up, you were the only one there to help. You gave me a way of escape from the hidden traps of my enemies.

Psalms 142:3 TPT

4. GOD is good, a hiding place in tough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help, No matter how desperate the trouble.

Nahum 1:7 MSG

5. When I had nothing, desperate and defeated, I cried out to the Lord and he heard me, bringing his miracle-deliverance when I needed it most.

Psalms 34:6 TPT

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