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Love And Justice

I recently watched the documentary “Free Burma Rangers”. It is the story of a man training every day people to fight for the ethnic minorities who are oppressed in Burma. They get medical supplies to those who need them and treat the wounded. At one point, he was asked to deliver medical supplies to Mosul, Iraq. At the time, it was controlled by Isis. As he tried to help people, the Iraqi army was working to free Mosul. After freeing a family and giving them supplies, the got on a tractor to head for family. It wasn’t 10 minutes after they were freed that they hit a land mine left by Isis. The main guy was angry and told the camera all he could think about was killing Isis at that point. Then God spoke to him and reminded him that vengeance belongs to the Lord and he needed to keep working for justice.

He said, “I realized in that moment that vengeance and justice look the same and often have the similar outcomes, but justice is done out of love while vengeance is done out of anger.” It’s no wonder that God is a just God and wants us on the side of justice. We are to be known for our love, but also for being on the side of justice. The two are designed to work together because love and justice together bring correction. God does not leave us in our sin. Instead, He lovingly corrects and disciplines us in order to get us where we need to be. He corrects the wrongs in our lives and works through us to correct the wrongs in this world because of love.

Here are some Bible verses on justice.

1. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.

Isaiah 1:17 NLT

2. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.

Amos 5:24 NLT

3. Justice never makes sense to men devoted to darkness, but those tenderly devoted to the Lord can understand justice perfectly.

Proverbs 28:5 TPT

4. You are doomed, you that twist justice and cheat people out of their rights!

Amos 5:7 GNT

5. He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you Except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?

Micah 6:8 AMP

Photo by Regine Tholen on Unsplash

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Productive Planting

Every spring there are big displays in home improvement stores selling seeds. I like to look through them to see if there’s anything we would like to try to grow. One one side of the packet you have a picture of what the seeds inside will produce. On the other side you have a map of the US, a color coded map that tells you where these seeds grow the best and them some instructions that tell you how deep to plant them, how far apart, when the best time of year to plant them is and how long it will take them to produce. The more closely you follow those directions, the more likely that your garden will produce something from the packet.

Most of the seeds we plant in life can’t be seen and aren’t physically put in the ground. There’s no packet that you can read to tell you where they will grow best, how long until they produce or when the best time to plant them is. When I was a kid, a popular saying in the church world was, “You’ll real what you sow.” To me, it always seemed to have a negative connotation. They only brought it up when you weren’t doing the right thing. While it’s true that it works for those behaviors, it also works for the behaviors God wants to reinforce in our lives. The law of sowing and reaping was instituted in during creation when the Bible tells us that God planted a garden in the east. He didn’t speak the Garden of Eden into existence like most everything else.

As Christians, we need to pay attention to the things we are planting in our lives, the lives of others and into the world. We don’t have to worry about timing, location or season. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “We know that we prosper and excel in every season by serving the Lord, because we are assured that our union with the Lord makes our labor productive with fruit that endures” (TPT). The seeds you’re sowing today are not in vain. They will produce whether you think it’s the right season to plant them or not. The law of sowing and reaping can only come into affect when you plan seeds. God is the one who makes them grow, not you. Don’t hold back in planting where God tells you to or when. Your planting will be productive through Him.

Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

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Hungry For More

One of my regular prayers is, “Lord, help me to hunger and thirst for you and your righteousness. Open my eyes as I read your word. Give me understanding beyond my abilities, and help me to see the connections throughout Scripture.” I don’t ever want to be satisfied with where I am in my relationship with Him. I want to have a hunger to know Him more. I also don’t ever want to think I know enough about the Bible. Each time I read through it, I see things that never stood out before. I know that it’s God answering that prayer. He’s willing to reveal Himself to us if we are willing to take the time to know Him more.

I recently heard of someone who said they hadn’t opened their Bible in years. They had read through it once, then they put it on the shelf with their other books. They lost their hunger to know God more and treated the Bible as if it were a regular book. It was worrisome to me to hear of someone who thought that they knew all they would ever know about God and the Bible after reading it once. God is not a box to be checked in order to cover yourself for eternity. He is a being who wants to be known, sought after and hungered after.

Proverbs 18:15 says, “The spiritually hungry are always ready to learn more, for their hearts are eager to discover new truths” (TPT). When we lose our hunger for God, we lose the ability to know truth. Without knowing Truth, we’re condemned to live a life shackled by things that don’t matter for eternity. It’s the Truth that sets us free. Freedom from so many of the things that weigh us down can only be found in knowing more of who God is. With the hunger to know Him more, comes the desire to be more like Him. None of us should ever be satisfied with how much we know Him or how well we know the Bible. There’s always more for you. It’s time we were hungry for more.

Photo by Andy Abelein on Unsplash

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Shut Up And Listen

Growing up I had a habit of talking too much. I’m not sure I ever shut up. I talked too much in Sunday school to the point that one of my teachers asked if I wanted to teach the lesson. She was surprised when I took her up on the offer. In school, most of my demerits came from talking in class. I came close a couple of times to getting the maximum amount of demerits. One day, a teacher pulled me aside and said, “I love you, but you’ve gotta learn when to shut up.” I eventually learned that being able to talk with others is a good thing, but there’s also a time to shut up. If I’m always talking, how can I ever listen?

One of the stories in the Bible I’ve identified with is Job. I went through a period in my life where I lost everything. Going through that time, I remember thinking this is what Job must have felt like. One big difference was that I didn’t protest my innocence because i wasn’t. Most of the book of Job is he and his friends talking. He demands that he’s innocent and demands that God come down and give him a hearing. After 30 something chapters of their back and forth, God does show up and confronts Job.

Job had been innocent and God allowed Satan to test his faith in God, but because he talked too much, and blamed God, he got a holy visit. After God confronted him, He asked Job what he had to say now. In Job 40:3-5 Job said, “I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen” (MSG). Job was very wise and we all could learn from that phrase. There are times when we need to shut up and listen to God. He’d love to talk with us, but we never give Him time to speak. Start trying to make a habit in your prayer time to spend a few minutes listening. You’ll find that God is a talker too, and what He says is worth listening to.

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

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The Power Of Agreement

Recently in our life group we were discussing prayer, when one of our pastors spoke up. He said, “Agreement is the seat of power when it comes to prayer. There is power when we agree with each other in prayer, and even more so when we agree with God.” I’ve found that if you have a body of believers around you, it’s fairly easy to find someone to agree with you in prayer regarding something. I’m called fairly often with a request to pray for something. It’s my honor to agree with someone in prayer. So much so, that I stop what I’m doing and we pray right then.

The harder agreement to be in is the one with God’s will. I don’t always know that, so I end up praying my will and hope it aligns with His. I’ve learned to pray like Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane where I let God know my request, but then say, “Not my will, but yours be done.” That’s a hard prayer to pray if we’re honest, especially when we are praying over a loved one who is fighting for life. Praying for God’s will isn’t about trying to change the will of God, but rather praying for me to accept what God wants to do and to be in agreement with it.

Something I’ve done in my prayer life to help me pray the will of God, is to give him a blank page. I pray, “God, whatever it is that you want to write into my life according to your will, I give you permission. Do what you want, when you want. You know the things I’m praying for. Help me to know the things you want to do in my life and through me. I make myself available to your will.” Be careful praying this prayer. If you mean it, this will unlock the power of agreement with God in your life and things will happen.

In Matthew 18:19, Jesus said, “Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven” (AMP). Because agreement is the seat of power in prayer, make sure you’re bringing someone else along to pray with you on the things that matter most to you. Beyond that, leave room in your prayers for God’s will to take place in your life. When our will conforms to His, it’s a powerful thing.

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Seeking God Daily


One of my father in law’s favorite activities is doing word search puzzles. They’re the ones where it’s a box of alphabet letters with words hidden in them. The word your looking for could be vertical, backwards, diagonal, or regular. It takes concentration, persistence, and determination at times to find these words. Sometimes, when he can’t find a word, he asks for help from someone else. An outside set of eyes often provides a fresh perspective in finding the words.

To me, finding God can be like one of those puzzles. He’s hidden in our daily lives among the things we’re used to seeing each and every day. It takes concentration, persistence, and determination to find Him in our daily lives. Often times, someone else comes along and points Him out to us while we are seeking Him. Sometimes we’re looking for Him to be hidden and He’s right there in plain sight.

One of the things we do at our nightly devotions with teams who go on a mission trip to Haiti is to ask them, “Where did you see Jesus today?” The first night is usually pretty quiet because so many of us live our lives knowing God is always with us, but we fail to look for Him. We trust He’s there, but we don’t take the time to search for Him daily and to seek Him. God’s desire is that we move past just an acknowledgment of His presence and that we would seek it daily.

Jeremiah 29:13 says, “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” (MSG). When is the last time you searched for God in your daily life? He wants us to seek His presence daily and to see a His hand at work in our lives and in the lives of others. If we’re not careful, we’ll miss it. He wants to be found by us, but are we seeking Him?

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Pick Me


When someone on stage asks for a volunteer, are you quick to raise your hand? Not me. Maybe because I ask for volunteers in my job, and it usually involves that person having to do a role play in front of a room full of people. In several cases, the volunteer is used as a deficit learning exercise to show that they are lacking the skill I’m about to train. Yet, when I ask for a volunteer, people usually raise their hands. 

Of course, if no one raises their hand, I say, “If I don’t have any volunteers, someone is going to get volun-told!” That’ll usually get at least someone, but they’re pretty skeptical. For me, I don’t like to volunteer unless I know what I’m volunteering for. If I know, I don’t mind raising my hand usually. I just like to know what I’m getting into. But if someone is just looking for a volunteer, and there’s no reason given, I’m not your guy. 

In Isaiah 6, he describes being in Heaven and realizing how small and sinful he is. After an angel touches his lips with coal to purify him, God starts talking to the assembly of heavenly beings. In verse 8 he hears the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” Then he said, “Here I am. Send me” (NLT). Can you imagine it? God was looking across Heaven for a volunteer, and Isaiah speaks up.

I believe God is still looking for volunteers. Sometimes, like Isaiah, it’s to carry His message. Other times it may be just to encourage someone. Sometimes it’s to buy a meal for someone. Even if you don’t know what you’re volunteering for, I believe we should all be willing to pray, “Lord, I know you need volunteers today to make yourself known. I want you to know I am here and available. Pick me.” 

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Think About Your Thoughts


When I was a kid, and was wrong about something, I would start off my sentence with, “But I thought…” My dad would always be quick to say. “That’s what you get for thinking!” He was being humorous of course, because thinking is all we do. Sometimes we over think things, and other times we don’t put much thought into what we are doing. Either way, thinking is not just what we do, it creates who we become. 

The way we think is so powerful that few of us grasp it. I love how Henry Ford described the power of thought. He said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Our thoughts control our belief system, and our belief system controls our actions. That’s why I would always start my sentence with, “But I thought…” It’s so important that you and I control what we think about, and thereby control what we believe. How we live and who we are is a result of the sum of our thoughts. 

The Bible has a lot to say about our thoughts. Here are a few verses. 

1. The weapons we use in our fight are not the world’s weapons but God’s powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 GNT

2. Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].
PHILIPPIANS 4:8 AMP

3. Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.
Romans 8:5 NLT

4. Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.
Proverbs 4:23 GNT

5. Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 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 3:1-2 AMP

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You Are Not Forgotten 

Throwback Thursday is a new 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.


Despite what some people would have you believe, being a Christian doesn’t mean everything in your life will be fixed. You won’t win every battle, get every promotion, get rich, be the most attractive, be admired by everyone or be free from problems and stress. Those are not promised to us for being a Christian. In fact, Jesus put it this way in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (NIV).

In my life, I’ve been defeated, hurt, abandoned, broke and sucker punched. Those things didn’t make me less of a Christian. Instead they revealed how deep God’s grace is. When I’ve lost battles I desperately wanted to win, I found the peace that passes understanding. When I hit rock bottom and all my hope was gone, I found a firm foundation on which I could rebuild. The hardest times in my life didn’t make me less of a Christian. I would argue they made me a stronger one.

No matter how defeated I’ve been or how hopeless I’ve felt, God has used the struggle to strengthen me and my faith. He has brought healing to my deepest wounds and restored what the locust have stolen. His grace has been sufficient when my strength was gone. His love has endured through every trial and test. When my faith has failed, He was graciously patient with me and restored it. When I’ve lost battles I should have won, He gave me the strength to fight again.

Psalm 136:23 says, “He did not forget us when we were defeated; his love is eternal” (GNT). Of all the promises in God’s Word, this is one I really hang on to. When I’m defeated, He will not forget me. He won’t abandon me and leave me to drown in my self pity. His eternal love will restore my soul, fit the broken pieces back together again and be able to use me no matter how badly I’ve failed. In my weakness, I’ve found that He is strongest in my life. No matter what you face or are going through, God will not forget you. That’s a promise you can hold on to. 

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Assumptions 


There’s an exercise I do with people to show how our minds jump to conclusions and we assume. We observe a conversation where a lot of things are left open, and then I ask them questions about it. The group doesn’t know that I’m exposing how their brain works. As I ask the questions, they typically make assumptions. I keep asking questions to get as much detail from them as I can to see how much they’ve made up.

I keep asking questions until someone inevitably says, “I don’t know.” I then go back to what was said and ask, “So what do we really know?” I sometimes have to go through it several times before they get it. Most of the answers they give are based on their assumptions and not on what they know. I then like to ask, “How much of your life is based on what you’re assuming versus what you know?” It’s a heavy question that I usually leave several seconds of silence after while they think.

Job was a righteous man in the Bible. He honored God in all he did and even fell down to worship God when he lost his kids and his wealth. As time went on and he was struck with boils, his friends began to question his integrity. In their conversations back and forth, it’s clear that they make many assumptions about his predicament and how God is doing it to Him. They don’t know that Satan is behind the whole thing and is the one tormenting Job. 

In Job 19:25, Job makes a great statement. He says, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives” (NLT). We may not know why we go through certain things or why things happen, but we can know that our redeemer lives. We can live with assurance that He is in control and our lives are in His hands. We need to stop our assumptions that God is behind everything bad that happens in our lives. We know that it’s the enemy who steals, kills and destroys. It’s God who brings life. So they next time things happen, don’t make decisions based on assumptions. Go with what you know. 

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