In high school, I played basketball, but our school was very small. One night we were playing a much larger school and we were down by 20 at the half. Coach threw the door open coming into the locker room. He screamed, “Are y’all scared of them because they’re taller than you? Are you scared because they’re more athletic? It must be something because you’ve quit. You’re a bunch of quitters! If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a quitter…If you quit, I quit!” He stormed out as loudly as he came in. Our captain said, “Let’s Open with the starting five in a Black Diamond defense. Lets get out there and win!” Coach returned halfway into the third and we won that game that night because we got back out there and played hard.
Not long after the Israelites defeated Jericho, they went to fight a small town. They only sent 10% of their warriors. The other city beat them, chased them down and embarrassed them. Joshua returned to the camp and fell on his face before the Lord. He laid there all day giving up. In Joshua 7:10 the Lord said to him, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this?” (NLT) God told him to get back up, fix the problem, get back out there and fight. After finding and removing sin in the camp, they went back to that town and soundly defeated them.
How do you deal with defeat? Do you quit, hide or get depressed? One defeat doesn’t not define you. Ax God told Joshua, you need to get back up, make adjustments and get back out there. Your life is not over. There is still a lot of fight in you, plus you’re not fighting alone. God is with you. 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). No matter how many times you’re defeated or fall flat on you’re face, get back up and fight. Don’t quit. You’re victory is ahead.
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When God called to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3, He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (NKJV). God then asked Moses to return to Egypt where the Lord would perform miraculous signs and wonders. Moses argued with God and gave excuses as to why he couldn’t speak to Pharaoh. Eventually, God convinced Moses. He then spoke to Pharaoh, God performed 10 plagues and the Israelites were set free from their bondage because of the things God did.
Fast forward 40 years and Israel is finally permitted to enter the Promised Land. They cross the Jordan and begin to prepare to attack Jericho. While Joshua is surveying it, the Lord appears to him in Joshua 5:15 and says, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” Did you catch the difference? When Moses met God, he had to remove both sandals. When Joshua met with Him, he only had to remove one. I believe it’s because with Moses, God was doing all the work, and with Joshua they were going to work together to subdue Canaan.
I believe God wants you and I to participate with Him in living an overcoming life. We can’t sit back and wait for Him to do all the work. You and I are going to have to step out and face some giants. We are going to have to attack some walled cities in our life. The great news is that God will fight our battles if we’ll have enough faith to get onto the battlefield. If we’re going to live An overcoming life, we’re going to have to quit making excuses and letting fear make our decisions. If God is for you, who can be against you? It’s time to quit camping by the Jordan and to fight for the land God promised you.
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What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? What dream would you go after? So many times fear of failure or being defeated is what holds us back from chasing after the things God put in our heart. Back in the early 2000’s, I started writing devotionals. There were no blogs really, and social media was yet to come. I figured I would just email them out to friends and whoever wanted them. I asked about five people if they’d be interested. One person replied, “Please don’t put me on any list. I get enough junk mail as it is.” I didn’t write for 10 years after that. I quit chasing after something God put in me because of something someone else said.
After the Israelites left Egypt, God reminded them that He had promised them land. It was a good, beautiful, fertile land, but they would have to fight to take possession of it. They were guaranteed victory if they were willing to fight for it. Instead 10 of the 12 spies came back confirming what God said about the land, but they were afraid of the giants and walked cities in the land. It took forty years before they had an opportunity again. This time, the spies were told how fearful everyone was of them, and it boosted their confidence. In Joshua 2:24, they reported back, “The Lord has given us the whole land for all the people in the land are terrified of us” (NLT).
The only thing that changed was that they quit listening to fear and started listening to God. That’s exactly what you and I need to do. No, it won’t be easy. Yes, there will be some struggles and battles ahead when you chase after what God has put in you, but you are guaranteed victory in the long run. God is ready to act on your behalf, but you have to be the one to step out in faith to chase after what He called you to. As my friend says, it’s time for you to smash fear in the face! The enemy is afraid of you doing what God told you to do so he uses fear to hold you back. The Lord has given you victory. You just have to step out and claim it.
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There have been a few times in my life when I’ve been desperate for hope. When I was in my early twenties, my mom was in ICU at the M.D. Anderson cancer center. I remember we were living in that holding room for families. Each family in there lived day to day desperate for good news. Some families got it, but most of us didn’t. We were tired, exhausted, mentally drained, and were looking for a ray of hope that might mean our loved one would walk out of there.
To be without hope is a dangerous place, yet so many of us live there. Our lives seem to have no future, and we just want something we can believe in to brighten up the darkness a little. The writer of Lamentations was there too. He was in a desperate place having lost everything. As he recounted his trouble in chapter three, he then wrote in 3:21-22, “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue” (GNT). His hope returned when he took his eyes off his situation and focused on God.
I love what he goes on to write in verses 25-26. He says, “The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us—.” God sees us in our hopeless darkness. Looking back, He used hopeless times to shape me and to polish me. Trusting God when you can’t see a future is hard, but be patient. The Lord is good and is working things out for your good. Hope will return because God has not forgotten you.
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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.
Several years ago I read a book called “Primal” by Mark Batterson and it wrecked me. It was based on Deuteronomy 6:5 that says, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being]” (AMP). It’s a verse we all know that Jesus said was the greatest commandment. Think about that. Everything in the Bible, all the wisdom, all the lessons, all the do’s and don’t’s are below what this commandment says. The most important thing we can do with our lives is to love God with our entire being.
In the book he described how loving the Lord with all your heart is about having a heart filled with compassion for the things God is compassionate about. Loving Him with all your mind is about having a holy curiosity to know who God is. Loving Him with your soul is to love Him with a sense of wonder and awe that once wowed you about Him. Finally, loving Him with your strength is about being energized to do things for Him because He excites you. As I read those, it hit me, I wasn’t loving God in all four areas. I was good in some and just ok in others. That wasn’t ok with me.
God didn’t command us to love Him in one or two of these ways. We must love Him in all four. The call to the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2, goes out to us. We must return to our first love. We must reignite the passion we once had. God is calling us to step out of the complacency of our relationship with Him so we can serve and love Him with everything in us. If we’re going to change this world, it starts with you and getting our relationship with God right first. Search over this verse today and ask God to show you what areas you’re missing the mark in. After you repent like I did, start doing something about it. We all have room to grow and get our love for God firing on all four cylinders.
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I remember as a senior in high school, my English teacher had us write a research paper on our chosen field of profession. We had to interview at least two people in that profession, discuss the educational requirements and career path. Even though I wrote it all out, I still found myself lost after high school. I felt like it was just going to happen without my putting in the work. I wanted to accomplish God’s plan for my life and to walk in His path for me, but I wasn’t moving in any direction. I found that it’s hard to follow a path and get direction if you’re standing still.
After David was anointed king, he didn’t get to go to the palace. He went back to the hills to watch the sheep. He took his brothers food while they were at war. He played the harp for the current king. Even though God didn’t take him to the palace right away, he continued moving and doing things that prepared him to be king. He understood that God had a plan, and for that plan to be executed, he couldn’t just sit around and wait for it to just happen. As he did things, God put him in situations that grew him and showed his strengths as a leader.
If you feel like you’re wandering or if you’re just waiting for God to move and place you in position, pray what David prayed in Psalm 25:4. He wrote, “Lord, direct me throughout my journey so I can experience your plans for my life. Reveal the life-paths that are pleasing to you” (TPT). God will direct you, but you have to be moving. I believe God has created you with a specific plan in mind, but it won’t just happen. You need to invest time, energy and money into the areas He’s directed you to, and you need to be ready to face any giant in your way. God’s not finished with your journey yet, nor has He given up on you. Start today down His path and He will direct you.
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