Tag Archives: Devotion

Passing The Test

Whenever I was in school, I remember one teacher who enjoyed giving tests. He would wear a “test tie” on the days he was giving a test, which was really an uncoordinated, loud tie. Some he would wear a red contact lens. Once he opened a bag of chips and started eating them and crinkling the bag during the test. Whenever he gave tests, I made sure I studied because I knew there would be distractions and the test would be more difficult than the other classes. I used flash cards and met with other students to prepare to make sure we passed.

It’s funny that we spend so much time preparing for school tests, but very little time preparing for life’s test. God had so much faith in Job’s ability to pass any test that Satan could give him that he agreed to allow him to be sent through the wringer. Satan even tried to get in his head to distract him with his wife and friends who constantly accused him of wrongdoing. However, Job was prepped for the test, In Job 23:10-11 he says, “But he (God) knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.”

Job put something inside of him that was greater than any test he would face: God’s Word and a determination to stay on God’s Paths. When life tests us and we aren’t prepared, we may be like Job’s wife and friends who wanted to curse God and die. But if we will determine in our hearts to stick with God and trust what He’s doing in our life, we will pass any test that comes our way no matter how many distractions there are. God has enough faith in you to allow you to be tested. It’s time you trusted your faith in what you’ve been taught and pass.

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Changing Your Perspective

I have a friend who gives a cool presentation. He starts with a picture of a house and tells you to imagine that’s your house in your neighborhood. He then zooms out and you see a statewide view. Then he zooms out more and you see half the world. Further out shows earth, then it shows how big earth is next to the other planets. Then he brings in the sun and you can barely see the earth. He then shows the sun compared to other stars until you can’t see the sun because the other stars are so big. Finally he shows a picture from the Hubble telescope of thousands of galaxies and says, “Don’t sweat the small stuff because you are the small stuff.”

Looking at how small we are in comparison to other parts of creation can make us feel insignificant. When you look at the vastness of the universe God created, it’s easy to wonder how God could care anything about us. Even David, who had no clue how small we really are wondered the same thing. Psalm 8:4 says, “Compared to all this cosmic glory, why would you bother with puny, mortal man or be infatuated with Adam’s sons?” (TPT) Like David, we can feel insignificant even in God’s eyes, but that’s not the truth.

Your life matters to God so much that He sent His son to die for you so you could spend eternity with Him. He created you with a purpose only you can fulfill. You are uniquely gifted in such a way that if you don’t do what God created you to do, it won’t get done. He takes great pleasure in you and knows the number of hairs on your head. If you’re feeling insignificant today or that God doesn’t care, take some time to think of the things God has trusted you with. When you begin to thank God today for the small things and large things He’s given you, your perspective changes.

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Being Quiet

I’ve noticed that when people are nervous, there are those who get real quiet and those who ramble on. I find myself in the later group a lot of times. For me, talking helps me to figure out what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling. It helps me to sort out the problem, but it also keeps me from listening to good advice and can make others around me more nervous. I was once told, “You have two ears and one mouth. You need to listen twice as much as you speak.” That’s something I have to remind myself of quite often.

When it comes to prayer, I can find myself in the same boat. From the time we are young, we learn that prayer is talking to God. What we’re not taught is that it’s listening to God as well. I think God talks as much or more than we do, but we can’t hear Him over our own talking. Being quiet in the presence of the Lord requires discipline. You have to learn to shut down your mouth and your mind. The silence can be deafening at times, but it’s in those moments where we hear God the loudest.

Psalm 37:7 says, “Quiet your heart in his presence and pray; keep hope alive as you long for God to come through for you” (TPT). Many times there is a nervousness that God may not answer our greatest need. If you’re a talker, quiet your mouth. If you’re the quiet type, silence your mind. God doesn’t answer our prayers on our timetable. If we’re listening to what He says, and trust that what He does is always right and for our good, we can have hope in any situation. God is good all the time, and He sees beyond our most pressing need at the moment. Get quiet and still in His presence today, listen for His voice and give Him freedom to answer His way instead of yours.

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Wrong Assumptions

Have you ever made the wrong assumption about something? If we’re honest, we all have. There was a guy who wanted me to hire him for sales, but he didn’t dress the part for the interview. Everyone else showed up in a suit, but this guy wasn’t even wearing a tie. When I asked questions, everyone sat up, looked me in the eye and gave confident answers. Not this guy. He slouched in his chair and barely looked up at me when answering. He seemed to lack the confidence to be in sales, but he had all the answers I was looking for. My wife suggested it was easier to train him how to present himself rather than to teach someone else the core values I was looking for. I hired him, and he was one of the best hires I ever made.

It’s easy to look at someone and make judgments about them because they don’t measure up to our expectations. That’s what happened to Jesus. He was born in the right town, but the people expected great fanfare for the Messiah. He became a great teacher, but He didn’t teach what they thought He should teach. They assumed He would fight the Romans and free Israel, but when that clearly wasn’t His plan, they assumed He wasn’t the Messiah and crucified Him. They thought they had God’s plan figured out, but their assumptions were wrong. They’re not alone.

We all make incorrect assumptions about who God is and what His plan is. One of the biggest misconceptions is that God is angry and is waiting for us to do something wrong so He can zap us. John 3:16-17 says, “For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. “God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!” (TPT) God didn’t send Jesus to condemn you to Hell. He was sent to reconcile you to God. He loves us so much that He didn’t conform to our expectations, but instead died in our place so that we could live eternally in His place. If you’ve made the wrong assumptions about God, Christmas is a great time, to change your mind.

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Comfort and Hope

Christmas time and the overall holiday season can be a difficult time for those who have ever lost a loved one. When families come together, it’s another reminder of the gapping hole that person once filled. Many times families won’t decorate or truly celebrate the season if they lost that loved one that year. It’s understandable and we have to remember that each person grieves in their own way. There are no rules or timelines on how a person is to grieve or how long. I understand their are stages of grief, but each person follows them in their own way.

As Christians, it’s ok for us to grieve as well, but we do so with the hope of seeing that person again one day. For us, it’s not goodbye. It’s see you later. The pain is still there. We still go through the stages of grief, but we have hope. We can be comforted in knowing that death is not the end because we serve a savior who holds the keys to death, hell, and the grave. As I Corinthians 15:55 put it, “Where, Death, is your victory? Where, Death, is your power to hurt?” (GNT)

For those who have accepted Jesus as their savior, death is no longer defeat. Death is not the end of life, but rather the beginning of eternal life. With that knowledge, Paul wrote this in I Thessalonians 4:13, “Our friends, we want you to know the truth about those who have died, so that you will not be sad, as are those who have no hope.” Death doesn’t make us grieve uncontrollably and hopelessly because it is not final for a believer. We can still grieve and we can still feel the loss because of their absence though.

In the final verse of that chapter, Paul wrote, “Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words.” He knew that we would need encouragement and comfort in our time of grief. So, if you’re grieving and hurting this holiday season over your loved one, it’s ok to do it in your own way, but don’t do it as one who is hopeless. Take comfort in knowing that the same reason we celebrate Christmas is the same reason we have hope.

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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.

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Be Thankful

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT). It’s one of those verses we can quickly read over. Paul was wrapping up his letter and was writing several commands for these new believers. He was wanting them to take these instructions and ingrain them in their new lives early on so that they would become a habit long term. Each of the things he said were important, but this one always jumps out at me.

Paul, the writer of Thessalonians, had gone through some pretty dark days himself. He learned that if you focus on your problem, despair sets in. If you focus on finding something to be thankful for, praise fills your heart. That’s how he and Silas could praise in prison. I’m sure it started out as a conversation on things to be thankful for that turned into singing praises to God. It was in those praises that God moved the earth and set them free from their chains.

Don’t miss that powerful truth. When you praise, God frees you from your chains. Praise comes from a heart that is thankful. A thankful heart comes from a person who looks for the good in every situation. If you’re breathing, you’ve got something to be thankful for. If you have a bed to sleep in, you’ve got something to be thankful for. Your world may be falling apart, but God has not abandoned you. Give thanks for that. When you learn to give thanks in all circumstances, you’ll learn to praise in all circumstances.

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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.

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Surrender

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.

White flag. Tap out. Give up. Submit. Yield. Say, “Uncle.” Throw in the towel. Surrender. I don’t know anyone who likes to do it. Surrendering is admitting defeat. It’s embarrassing really. I, like you, don’t like to give up. I don’t like to face defeat. It goes against everything in me. Maybe you’re the same. When all the odds are against you, do you play a theme song to pump you up? Maybe it’s “The Eye of the Tiger” or “This is my Fight Song” or whatever, but when it plays and pumps you up to keep you from surrendering and giving in.

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, Jerusalem was under siege and there was very little hope. God was pronouncing His judgement against the people who had turned their back on Him. They refused to repent so God was sending them into captivity. The king secretly went to Jeremiah to ask what he should do. Jeremiah told him if he wanted to live, he needed to surrender. In Jeremiah 38:19, the king responded, “But I am afraid to surrender” (NLT). He was too afraid of how he would appear if he surrendered, so he disobeyed and it cost him his freedom.

Romans 8 tells us that the flesh and the spirit are at a constant war with each other. The flesh wants to do things its own way, and the spirit wants us to follow God’s way. For so many Christians, it’s a daily struggle and a guess as to which side will win. As Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” More times than not, our flesh wins because we fail to surrender to God’s plan for our lives. Surrender is so foreign to our flesh that we fight against what the spirit is trying to accomplish in our lives.

In Luke 14:33, Jesus put it this way, “Likewise, unless you surrender all to me, giving up all you possess, you cannot be one of my disciples” (TPT). If we truly want to be God’s disciples, we have to be willing to surrender all we have for all He offers. According to Romans 8:13, when we surrender to what the spirit wants, we will live. You and I are given the same choice that the king of Israel had. Don’t make the same mistake he did. Surrender and live.

What is God asking you to surrender today in order to be His disciple?

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