Tag Archives: Devotion

My Will Be Done

I have a friend who has a favorite quote that he has to use often. He plans out his week, prioritizes things and works his plan. All week long people come to him and ask him to stop what he’s doing in order to help them. They give excuses and sob stories to try to get him to stop what he’s doing so he can work on their project. Some will even invoke the boss’ name to try to get him to work on their stuff. “The boss says you need to work on this right away.” He’s learned that rarely has the boss ever asked him to stop what he’s doing in order to do an immediate request. So his normal response is, “A lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on mine.” He then adds them to his list and gets to them later.

Being around him and watching people beg, barter and demand he do their project now always gets me to thinking how often I treat God that way. “God, if you get me out of this, I’ll do better next time.” “God, please! I need you to do this right now! Hurry!” “God, your Word says you have to do this and you can’t be untrue to your Word, so do it in Jesus name!” Sound familiar? I’ve prayed every one of those prayers in the last couple of weeks. I try to paint God into a corner in order to get Him to give me what I want. If that’s the on,y time we’re talking and that’s how I’m treating Him, there’s a spiritual maturity problem on my end. The phrase, “Thy will be done,” often comes to mind in those moment when I want it to be, “My will be done.”

In Psalm 69, David starts his prayer off, “Save me, O God! The water is up to my neck; I am sinking in deep mud, and there is no solid ground; I am out in deep water, and the waves are about to drown me” (GNT). He’s clearly in an emergency situation as he describes throughout this Psalm. However, in verse 13, his tone changes and he prays, “But as for me, I will pray to you, Lord; answer me, God, at a time you choose.” Instead or telling God when to help or even how to help, a sign of maturity is asking God to help in His time and in His way. I often wonder how many of my prayers go unanswered or that I don’t recognize the answer because I tell God how and when to answer, but those aren’t what His plans are. Jesus started the Lord’s Prayer giving God permission to have His will be done. Since He was teaching us to pray, let’s focus on the words we use in our prayers to make sure we’re asking according to His will and not ours.

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You Are Empowered

One of the things I speak to leaders about is the importance of empowerment. Instead of forcing everyone to do things the leader’s way, empowerment allows people to use their unique gifts and talents to accomplish a goal. It gives them the authority to make decisions and act in the best interest of the organization. For many leaders, this is scary because they are control freaks and this releases the controls to the employee. If there is a good vision statement and a set of core values to guide people, then empowering people is one of the best things any leader can do. It removes the restrictive permission based system and unleashes people to reach their potential.

Many times we look at Christianity as being a permission based life, but truly it’s an empowered life. Jesus gave us our vision statement in the Great Commission. We don’t need to be asking God if we should go somewhere, we’ve already been empowered to go. He’s given us His Word to give us our core values that guide us in our decisions, but too many times we’re still sitting on square one waiting for a sign. Each of us have been given authority to do the work of the Kingdom, gifts to accomplish our calling and a purpose. It’s time we quit making excuses as to why we can’t do something and act with the authority we’ve been empowered with to accomplish all He’s given us to do.

Here are some Bible verses on being empowered.

1. I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]

Philippians 4:13 AMP

2. Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers].

1 Corinthians 12:4 AMP

3. Wherever I go, your hand will guide me; your strength will empower me.

Psalms 139:10 TPT

4. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.

Ephesians 3:16 NLT

5. So now, Lord, listen to their threats to harm us. Empower us, as your servants, to speak the word of God freely and courageously. Stretch out your hand of power through us to heal, and to move in signs and wonders by the name of your holy Son, Jesus!

Acts 4:29-30 TPT

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Following Where God Leads

We all have leaders in our lives. Some of them we trust, and some we don’t. I’ve had some whom i didn’t question. If they said we could walk on water, I’d get out of the boat. There have been some I’ve had that if they told me to go right, I’d think really hard about going left. I’m always working on my leadership skills which means I’m always learning how to build trust. There are thousands of books on how to be a better leader. There are any number of traits you can take too, but not much is out there about how to be a good follower. None of us like to think of ourselves as followers, but we are. To be a good follower, you have to put pride and selfishness away, and trust the one who is leading you.

The Bible is full of verses that talk about how God leads us. It’s also full of men and women who refused to follow where God was trying to lead them. They felt their plan was better or they failed to clarify what they understood of His plan. There are also many people who followed where God led them, and they were blessed immensely. God doesn’t force us to follow where He leads us. It’s always our choice. How well have you been following where He has been trying to lead you? Has pride or selfishness kept you from following? No matter how far you’ve gone in the other direction, it’s just one step back to following where He wants to take you. Learning to follow where He leads is a process each of us are in daily.

Here are some Bible verses on God leading us.

1. From the end of the earth I call to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and weak; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I [a rock that is too high to reach without Your help].

Psalms 61:2 AMP

2. Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have! You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.

Psalms 23:4 TPT

3. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

Psalms 25:5 NLT

4. The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water.

Psalm 23:1-2 GNT

5. If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will take hold of me.

Psalms 139:8-10 AMP

Thanks to @AMPRSNDPHOTO for making this photo available freely on @unsplash

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Be Faithful

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Today is my 2,000th post to Devotions By Chris. In a few weeks, I will have been writing devotions for eight years. It’s taught me a lot about being faithful to what God has asked me to do. It has also taught me to redefine what success looks like when you’re doing what God has asked you to do. Success in God’s eyes isn’t measured by subscribers or by clicks. It’s measured by our faithfulness to the ministry we receive from Him. Success is found in being faithful in the little things and doing what He’s asked with all your strength whether you understand the reason or not. Can you obey and be faithful even when it’s difficult and you don’t understand?

My pastor said something that is along these lines. He said, “If you ask God for an Oak tree, He’ll give you an acorn.” God plants seeds of the things He’s calling us to in our hearts. We have to water them and tend to them even when we can’t see anything. Even when it shouts through the ground, you have to stick with it even though it may be years before it’s what you’ve envisioned. In Luke16:10 Jesus tells us that if we’re faithful with the little things, He can trust us with greater things. Managing the growth of an acorn can be tedious at times and unremarkable. No one may notice your efforts or the small steps of growth, but you’re not doing it for others or for those reasons. You’re doing it because it’s what God planted in your heart.

As Paul was wrapping up his letter to the church at Colossae, he tucked in a little note to a minister who may have been thinking of giving up because he wasn’t seeing the growth or success he thought he should. In Colossians 4:17 he told the believers, “Be sure you give Archippus this message: ‘Be faithful to complete the ministry you received from our Lord Jesus!’” (TPT) That’s today’s message to you. Be faithful to what you have received from the Lord even if it doesn’t look like you pictured it. Keep going even if you’re not being successful in the world’s eyes. Your faithfulness is noticed by God, and He counts your obedience as success. You may not change the world, get noticed by anyone or even feel like you’re making a difference at times, but if you will keep doing your part, God will keep doing His.

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When God Answers Prayers

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One of the stories on the Bible that speaks to me every time is in 1 Samuel 1. Hannah wasn’t able to have a child so she was ridiculed, taunted, bullied and shamed. Year after year this went on. One year she had enough. Instead of attacking her bully, she went into the Sanctuary to pray. She wept bitterly before God, crying out in prayer for a long time. As she prayed, her lips were moving, but the words were coming from her heart. She wasn’t leaving until God answered her prayer for a son.

Verse 10 says, “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord” (NLT). One of the first questions that comes to my mind is, “When is the last time I prayed with that kind of desperation?” Most of our prayers are simple ones with little emotion. I believe one of the reasons God answered Hannah’s prayer, and will answer ours, is because it was fervent and came from deep within her soul, not just her mind.

Verse 12 says, “Hannah continued to pray to the Lord for a long time” (GNT). I’ve heard the saying, “Don’t pray until you’re through. Pray until you’ve prayed through.” This is where it is applied. Too many times, we ask God for something and when He doesn’t answer right away, we quit praying. Hannah didn’t just pray for a long time, she prayed a long time for years. God uses her internal torment to develop a life of prayer. She wasn’t going to stop until she got her answer. One of the reasons God answered her prayer, and will answer ours, is because of persistence.

After the Eli, the priest, had told her God would answer her prayer, verse 18 says, “Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad” (NLT). Hannah believed God would answer and acted accordingly. She didn’t let the years of God not answering prayer create doubt. She held onto the promise and acted in faith before God answered. She quit believing the words of the bully and held onto God’s Word instead. One of the reasons God answered her prayer, and will answer ours, is when we act in faith.

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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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Inputs Matter

Almost every measure of success has to do what some type of key performance indicator. People judge your success by how much money you make or how many items you sell. We brag about how many hours we work each week too. Somewhere along the way, we have also made busyness an indicator of success. The more busy you are, the more successful you must be. We’ve just about made busyness equal to godliness. Our constant for us is on what are we producing today. Because people measure us by our outputs, we focus solely on those, but how are your inputs?

Jesus was a busy person by all accounts. Thousands would come to Him to hear Him preach and to be healed. The Bible often says that He had compassion on them and healed them all. The output of His ministry was strong, but that is because He focused so much energy on His inputs. You constantly read where Jesus went alone to pray. He knew that if all He did was focus on His outputs, He would burn out and have nothing left to give. If He needed to replenish His innermost being, how much more do we? You can’t keep giving without putting anything back inside. Inputs matter.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life” (TPT). Your wellspring of life depends on you focusing on your inputs. Every one of us have different ways of recharging. For some, it’s solitude. For some, it’s going for a walk. Think of the times you feel most energized. What we’re you doing? Those are things that keep you going and need to be scheduled into your life regularly. Life drains everyone. We all must pay attention to our inner health if we’re going to be able to accomplish all God has for us. Jesus found the balance between being about His father’s business and recharging. So can you.

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Be Alert

When I was a teenager, I was part of a scouting program at church. One of the things that was taught to us each week was the code of core values that each one of us were to adopt into our lives. To this day, I can recite all eight, and still try to live by them. The very first one was, “Alert – He is mentally, physically and spiritually alert.” I believe there is deep significance in this one for everyone, and that we should all live by it. To be mentally alert is to pay attention and to guard our mind. We have to be careful what we all into it. To be physically alert is to pay attention to our surroundings so we can keep ourselves and others out of danger. Spiritually alert is very similar. Instead of looking into the physical realm, we need to be alert to things happening in the spiritual realm.

Jesus and several authors of the New Testament warm us to be alert, to pay attention and to be vigilant. Each one of us must be aware of danger and opportunities around us. We’re not mean to drift along life being carried by its current. We must live intentional lives paying attention. We are to fight the enemy when he shows up, rescue the lost when our paths cross and ready to give an answer for the hope that lives within us. We cannot let our guard down ever. When we do, our enemy will strike or we may miss an opportunity to lead someone to salvation. Being alert is a core value that every Christian must have and incorporate into their lives.

Here are some Bible verses on being alert.

1. Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 AMP

2. But since we belong to the day, we must stay alert and clearheaded by placing the breastplate of faith and love over our hearts, and a helmet of the hope of salvation over our thoughts.

1 Thessalonians 5:8 TPT

3. Remember to stay alert and hold firmly to all that you believe. Be mighty and full of courage.

1 Corinthians 16:13 TPT

4. Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.

Deuteronomy 4:9 MSG

5. Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people.

Ephesians 6:18 GNT

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Owning Your Maturity

When my son was a new born, my wife and I decided we didn’t want him to learn the behavior of crying for what he wanted. That started with the very first thing that babies learn to cry for – milk. We began to pay attention to his movements and sounds around feeding times so we could anticipate when he was hungry. As we noticed them, we would begin to warm up some milk and feed him. However, there were times when we were busy and missed his cues. In those moments, he would let us know he was hungry and ready for milk through his only means of communication- crying. The best part was when he began to hold his own bottle. Later, we was able to crawl to the bottle when he was hungry and began the maturation process of feeding himself.

As Christians, we go through a maturity process as well. When we first accept Jesus as our savior, we are merely spiritual infants. We need the milk of God’s Word to help us grow. We need to learn simple concepts that are easily digestible. As we mature, we should graduate to more difficult concepts and spiritual disciplines. Just like a baby, there is a transformation that takes place in our lives. Our inner faith should grow as we mature and learn how to reconcile our inward faith with our public life. As we drink the milk of God’s Word, it begins to change how we live so that our lives become more Christ like.

1 Peter 2:2 says, “In the same way that nursing infants cry for milk, you must intensely crave the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word. For this “milk” will cause you to grow into maturity, fully nourished and strong for life” (TPT). Each of us need to own our own maturation process. It’s not the responsibility of the church to grow us. We must intensely crave spiritual food Monday through Saturday and learn to feed ourselves. Reading God’s Word daily puts food into our spirit. Meditating on verses is like the chewing process. It breaks it down and releases nutrients that are vital to your growth. Wherever you are in your maturation process, there’s always room for more growth that fully nourishes your soul and leads you into a stronger spiritual life.

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Faith Over Fear

Several years ago I was in charge of a fundraiser for a mission trip at our church. We had someone volunteer to make brisket for us, so we sold tickets ahead of the event. After we got the final number of tickets in, the man cooking the brisket gave me the shopping list including how much brisket. As I was buying the brisket, I believed we would sell more brisket than we had sold tickets for. When I got to the counter to order the briskets, I asked for an additional case. If you’re unfamiliar with that, it’s about 60 lbs of more meat that we would need to sell. Many people who bought tickets failed to show up for their meat though. We had a ton left over so I asked the pastor if we could sell after church. My wife looked at all the meat and said, “I hope God honors your faith because I don’t see how we can sell all of this.”

As Christians, we must daily choose whether we’re going to let fear hold us back or let faith guide us. There are so many decisions we have to make, some with long lasting effects. We can shrink back in fear of the unknown or we can step out in trust of what God will do. Hebrews 10:38 says that God is not happy with those who let fear hold them back. I don’t want to live a life that doesn’t make my Heavenly Father happy so I choose to live and walk by faith even though it isn’t easy. When you live by faith, you never know for certain if or when God will jump in to help. There are a lot of “God, where are you? Now would be a good time to show up” moments. But, as the psalmist said, “I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging for bread (Psalm 37:25).”

I like how Hebrews 10:39 describes the life we’re to live. It says, “But we are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life!” (TPT) You and I cannot be people who are held back by fear. We are people who advance by faith. Either we believe what we say or we don’t. Our actions will always be consistent with what we truly believe. I’ve chosen to move forward despite fear. Living by faith doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. It means you chose not to let it hold you back from your God given purpose. Faith takes a deep breath and makes the decision to go forward in spite of the fear in your belly, and God honors that kind of faith.

By the way, all that brisket sold out in a matter of minutes after church and doubled what we had raised through ticket sales.

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An Empathetic God

Years ago when my mom passed away, there was an endless line of sympathetic people saying they were sorry for my loss. I was grateful for their words and actions, but inside I was wanting something more. I didn’t need an apology from friends and acquaintances. What I realized I needed was empathy from someone who understood what it was like to lose a parent at a young age. When I found people like that, it was a completely different feeling and conversation. It wasn’t an apology. It was a, “I understand the hurt and the pain. You’re going to get through this. Here’s what got me through and what it’s going to be like in the near future,” conversation. It was like a breath of fresh air to me because they understood.

There are times when it’s hard to pray because of the things we’re going through. We wonder how could God understand? Should we really be feeling this way? Prayer was never meant to be a set of rote phrases. It was created so we could have a conversation with God, but sometimes it feels like we’re the only ones who have ever gone through something or have been the only one who has experienced something. Those feelings are lies from the enemy and are meant to isolate you from others and to keep you from praying to God. When I hear those lies, I have to remind myself that while my experience may be unique, I’m not the only one who has go e through something like it, nor am I the only one who has felt the feelings I feel.

To open up communication with God, I remind myself that Hebrews 2:18 says, “Because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted, He is able to help and provide immediate assistance to those who are being tempted and exposed to suffering” (AMP). Not only does Jesus understand, He can provide immediate assistance to us in those moments where we desperately need someone who understands us. He doesn’t think we’re crazy for the feelings we have or the things that tempt us. He knows they’re part of the human experience because He lived a human life and was tempted and felt loss the way we do. God is not sympathetic to what you go through. He’s empathetic which is greater. That should be like a breath of fresh air to each of us.

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