Tag Archives: Christianity

Becoming Heirs

Not long ago, we visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. It is America’s largest home at over 178,000 square feet and sits on 8,000 acres. We took the tour to learn all about its construction and owner. George Washington Vanderbilt was the man who had it built. He was the youngest of three sons whose father inherited the Vanderbilt fortune. George’s father inherited 100 million dollars and turned it into 200 million before he died. George’s two brothers inherited the bulk of the money. With part of his inheritance, he built this magnificent home that still belongs to the family.

The Bible talks a lot about first born children and inheritances. The first born received a double portion since they were to care for the estate and father’s wife. Abraham blessed Isaac and left him the double portion. Jacob tricked Esau into giving him the first born inheritance and then stole the blessing too. As generations went on, they referred to themselves as heirs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That carried over into New Testament times as well. The people identified as heirs of Abraham, but Jesus wanted to change that so that we would become heirs of God through Him.

Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit Himself testifies and confirms together with our spirit [assuring us] that we [believers] are children of God. And if [we are His] children, [then we are His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His spiritual blessing and inheritance], if indeed we share in His suffering so that we may also share in His glory” (AMP). Just like George Vanderbilt, you and I are heirs to an incredible inheritance. When we accept Christ, we go from death to life and become royalty in the Kingdom of God. It’s time you and I began to see ourselves in this light and live like sons and daughters of the King. You’ve received spiritual blessings and will inherit all He has.

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Seeing Beyond The Horizon

I used to work for a company who wanted to always be forward thinking. They adapted the word horizon into their name as a constant reminder to always be looking ahead. They figured that if they were always looking to the horizon, they would see what’s coming and be able to adapt and change in order to embrace it. The horizon has always represented the edge of man’s vision. Most people on,y look at what’s just in front of them rather than off into the distance. If we could see beyond the horizon, we would know the future. As Christians, faith is trusting God for what’s out of our ability to see.

If you’ve ever read Hebrews 11, you know it’s a list of people in the Bible who had strong faith. I always heard it called “The Hall of Faith” as I was growing up. The people listed are ordinary men and women who simply trusted God for things they couldn’t yet see. They looked beyond their current situation and had faith that what was unseen was greater than what was seen. Verse 13 says, “These heroes all died still clinging to their faith, not even receiving all that had been promised them. But they saw beyond the horizon the fulfillment of their promises and gladly embraced it from afar. They all lived their lives on earth as those who belonged to another realm” (TPT).

How many times do you get frustrated with God because the things He promised have yet to come through? It’s tough to stand in today’s problems knowing that tomorrow’s promises could solve them. However, God knows the best time to make good on His promises. Will you still trust Him even if He doesn’t come through right now when you think it matters most? Faith is seeing beyond your current circumstances, even beyond the horizon, and knowing that God will do what He says. It’s embracing His promises even when it looks like they’re never going to come. God only knows what the future brings. As Corrie Ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

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The Gift Of Restoration

As we celebrate Christmas and follow our family traditions, it’s important to pause and remember that night in Bethlehem. Jesus’ birth was God’s answer to restore a fallen world. Since the Garden of Eden, God had promised that a woman would give birth to a child that would bruise the serpent’s head. This child was sent as a sign of God’s love for us. His goal was not to condemn us or to point out our failures. Rather He came to fulfill the part of our covenant with God that we are unable to keep. This incredible gift of restoration is worth celebrating every day, not just on Christmas.

Here are some Bible verses that show God’s plan for restoration..

1. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Romans 3:23 NLT

2. Well then, the Lord himself will give you a sign: a young woman who is pregnant will have a son and will name him ‘Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14 GNT

3. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

Matthew 1:21 NLT

4. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 NLT

5. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior.

John 3:16-17 GNT

Merry Christmas!

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Protecting Our Relationship With God

I get the opportunity to talk to different people all the time. Inevitably someone wants to ask me relationship questions. I’m not a trained counselor or anything like that, but as I listen to these stories, there’s a constant thread through all of them. The problems they’re experiencing are a result of a lot of little things that have crept in and gone unchecked. Also, they haven’t done things to protect the relationship. When that happens, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back ends up happening and it gets the blame. The truth is it was several small, basic things that added up.

Just like any relationship, we have to make sure that we do the small, basic things in our relationship with Christ. We need to set parameters and protect it. We live in a connected world where everything seems to be vying for your attention. If we allow little things to distract us and keep us from praying or reading our Bible or going to church, it will become difficult to have that relationship that God wants to have with us. We must protect that time. We must make it sacred so that nothing and no one comes between us and God.

I’m reading the Book of Song of Songs (Solomon) in the Passion translation. They’ve taken it and put in red letters the parts that are allegorically from God. Chapter 2:15 says this to us from God, “You must catch the troubling foxes, those sly little foxes that hinder our relationship. For they raid our budding vineyard of love to ruin what I’ve planted within you. Will you catch them and remove them for me? We will do it together” (TPT). God is asking us to protect our relationship with Him. I also love that just like any other relationship, it’s not just one side’s responsibility. We need to work together with God to remove the obstacles in our relationship so it can grow.

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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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Living Your Faith

In one of my jobs, I had a manager who talked big. In meetings he would tell us what he was going to do and what he expected from us.after a few months, I realized that he rarely did anything he said he was going to do. After a particularly exciting meeting, I went to a coworker I had become friends with. I asked, “Foes he ever make good on his promises or does he just talk? He laughed and said, “He just talks.” I don’t think he was a bad guy. He truly wanted to do the things he promised and hoped it would motivate us, but in reality, it simply eroded our trust in him.

In Matthew 21:28-31, Jesus told the story of a father who had two sons. He asked the first one to go work in the vineyard. The boy told his father no, but then later changed his mind and went. After the first refused, he went to the second son and asked him to go work in the vineyard. He agreed to do it, but then never went. Jesus then looks at the crowd and asks, “Which of these two obeyed his father?” (NLT) We may not have liked how the first son responded to his father, but in reality, he’s the one who obeyed. Christianity isn’t about saying the right things. It’s living out your faith.

James 1:22 says, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” The danger we all face is becoming like the second son. We know what God wants to hear, and we know what other Christians want to hear. We can get good at speaking Christianese, but without the actions behind the words, we erode trust in ourselves and in God. We are the only Jesus some people see. Actions will always speak louder than words. Beliefs are not based on what we say, but what we do. We will always act in accordance with what we truly believe. If our lives aren’t living out what we profess to believe, we are only fooling ourselves as James said.

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Saying Yes

I was just talking with some friends about Bob Goff’s book “Love Does”. If you haven’t heard of him or this book, I’d encourage you to check it out. To me, Bob is a Christian “Yes Man”. He views each interaction and request from someone as an opportunity for Jesus to show up. The book is a collection of stories from his life where he simply said yes in certain situations and incredible things happened. It challenged me to want to do more for others and God’s Kingdom. It’s prompted me to say yes to more things giving the Holy Spirit more opportunities to do things through me.

I love reading Paul’s letters to the Early Church. Not only are they great instructions for us on how to live, they also include a list of people who were examples of Christian character. He mentions how they opened their homes to him, made clothes for the poor, welcomed him in, some visited him in prison and encouraged him. These people he mentioned were just ordinary people who did what they were promoted to do because of their faith. They could have easily found an excuse to not do those things, but because they did, they’re mentioned in the Bible.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 says, “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do” (NLT). You are called by God to do the things He’s prepared you to do. Your faith is constantly prompting you to do things. Have you been listening to it and obeying or have you been making excuses? The more we say yes to those promptings, the more we allow the Holy Spirit to accomplish things through us. You don’t have to be a Bob Goff, but you do need to live the life God is calling you to. It starts by saying yes to things He is prompting you to do.

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Recognizing Spiritual Battles

When someone has one thing go wrong after another, I’ll usually ask them, “Have you considered that these may be spiritual attacks that are showing up in the physical?” I’ve learned that spiritual warfare has a way of presenting itself as a physical attack. If we are only fighting in the physical, we will never get the result we need. It’s like washing your car without putting gas in it and expecting it to run because it’s clean. You can’t just take care of the outside. Fighting a spiritual battle in the physical alone is just like that. If you’re going to win, you’re going to have to put some gas in the tank.

We all know the story of David and Goliath. This is a perfect example of a spiritual battle that showed up in the physical. Saul and his men were just looking at the physical side of the battle and were terrified. They were outgunned. David immediately recognized it was spiritual and wanted to fight. In 1 Samuel 17:32 David told Saul, “Your Majesty, no one should be afraid of this Philistine! I will go and fight him” (GNT). Saul tried to put his armor on David, but physical armor is pointless in a spiritual battle.

When David stepped onto the battlefield, he said, “You are coming against me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the Israelite armies, which you have defied.” How did he win? He fought spiritually through the name above all names, he spent time worshiping before the battle and he spent time in prayer. God gave David the victory to show that He is able to save His people physically and spiritually. We have to be willing to stand on the physical battlefield with spiritual authority and fight with the spiritual weapons we’ve been given.

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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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Your Daily Bread

In Exodus 16, the Israelites were in the desert on the way to the Promised Land. They were tired and hungry, so they began to complain. In verse 4, the Lord said, “Now I am going to cause food to rain down from the sky for all of you. The people must go out every day and gather enough for that day. In this way I can test them to find out if they will follow my instructions” (GNT). For the rest of their time in the wilderness, the people went out every day to get manna from Heaven, taking only what they needed. God did not fail to give them their daily bread, but it was up to them to go get it.

In John 6, Jesus fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and two fish. Everyone had more than enough to eat. Because it was late, many stayed the night there. That night, the disciples went across the Sea of Galilee, and were hit with a storm. Jesus went to them walking on water. The next morning, the people who had been fed were looking for Jesus. When they found him, they asked for another miracle. Jesus wanted them to trust in Him for the Bread of Life. They were stubborn and brought up that Moses fed the people every day in the wilderness. Then Jesus reminded them it was God who provided the bread, not Moses. He went on to say, “I am the Bread of Life. Come every day to me and you will never be hungry. Believe in me and you will never be thirsty” (TPT).

God cares more for your spiritual condition than your physical one. Yes, He cares and provides for our physical needs, but it’s the eternal needs that matter most. Just like our physical body needs sustenance, so does our spirit. Jesus is inviting you and I to meet with Him daily for the manna He provides for our spirit. We can’t be like the people in the Old and New Testaments who are only looking for the temporary things from God that meet our immediate needs. He wants to give you so much more, but it requires you to set aside time to go get it every day. You wouldn’t neglect your physical hunger, so don’t neglect your spiritual hunger. Jesus is waiting for you with your daily bread right now. Ask Him to feed your spiritual hunger and thirst today, then listen for His voice. Taste and see that the Lord is good today. He is the Bread of Life.

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Hard Knocks University

When people ask where I went to school, I often say, “Hard Knocks University.” For the longest time, it seemed that life kept knocking me down. No matter what I did, I couldn’t gain ground. In fact, it felt like the bottom kept falling out from underneath me. I learned that the only way to fail Hard Knocks University is to quit. I also learned that the only way to graduate was to get closer to God. The troubles we face in life can either make us bitter or better. We get to choose by how we respond when we keep getting knocked down.

For me, I let it push me closer to God. I found myself praying more asking God for the wisdom to make better decisions. I also started reading the Bible more. I knew there were principles in it that could help with the things I was facing, so I began to consume the Bible looking for answers. What I got was a deeper relationship with God and the promise that He wouldn’t abandon me in my troubles. I began to put my focus on Him instead of my problems, and then I began telling my problems about Him instead of the other way around.

The Psalmist must have graduated Hard Knocks University too. Psalm 119:71 says, “My troubles turned out for the best – they forced me to learn your textbook” (MSG). If you’re in the toughest school around, let it draw you closer to God and His textbook. He probably won’t take the troubles away as quick as you like, but you are guaranteed that He will walk through them with you. Failure can’t be an option, and you don’t want to keep taking the same course. If you want to graduate, you’re going to have to read the textbook. I recommend you start with a chapter in Proverbs each day to get the wisdom you need.

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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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Healing Old Wounds

For years I carried a hidden wound inside of me. I pretended that it never happened. Every time that a memory would pop up, i would tell myself, “That never happened. It was just a dream.” I buried it deep to the point that today I struggle remembering if some things really happened. I didn’t know it, but even though I had buried it, it was still affecting my life, my thoughts and my actions. Beneath all the layers I had covered it in, this pain was festering and affecting my relationships, my job and my walk with God. Every once in a while someone would say something or be in a situation that would touch that nerve deep inside me, and it would send me on an emotional roller coaster.

One Sunday we had a man named Dave Roever preach at our church. His face and hands were disfigured from a phosphorus grenade that went off as he was trying to throw it in the Vietnam War. One of the things he said was, “Some of you look like me on the inside.” I was pretty sure he was talking to me. Then a little later he said, “Don’t be afraid to show your scars for in them others will find their healing.” Immediately I knew what I had to do. I felt God ask, “Are you ready to deal with the problem?” So I began uncovering this deep wound layer by layer, exposing it, dealing with it, seeking forgiveness and allowing God to heal it. My life began to change for the better.

Hebrews 12:1 says, “As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us” (TPT). What wound do you need to let go of?whats hidden deep inside of you that is affecting your life? It’s not easy, but it needs to be opened up, dealt with and healed. Only then can you truly run your race well. God wants to set you free and to heal it, but you have to remove the layers you’ve put over it. Once it’s healed, the scar will remain, but it won’t be as painful. Then, as you share your scar with others, they will find their healing too.

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