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Be Quiet And Listen

Have you ever been talking with someone and your thoughts took over to wear you quit listening to them? I mean, you can be looking them dead in the eye and not hear a word they say. It’s one of the things I have to constantly fight against. Staying engaged in a conversation can be hard work sometimes. When my mind wanders off, and I tune them out, I have to tell myself, “Stop! Listen! Pay attention. You can figure this out later.” In order to pay attention and to listen, I have to work on it at times. Hearing is passive, but listening requires action.

You and i are to listen to God’s voice. He’s always speaking to us, but we aren’t always listening. That’s why having a quiet time is so important. A quiet time is where you get alone, calm your thoughts and listen for God’s voice. It takes discipline because we are constantly on the go and have a culture that ranks busyness with godliness. However, even Jesus took time to go be alone with God so He could listen to what the Father was saying to Him. If Jesus needed to take time to listen to the Father, how much more do we? If you’re not in the habit of listening for God’s voice, start with a five minute quiet time and then work your way up. When you start listening to what God says and start applying it, your life will change.

Here are some Bible verses on listening to God.

1. “O that my people would once and for all listen to me and walk faithfully in my footsteps, following my ways. Then and only then will I conquer your every foe and tell every one of them, ‘You must go!’”

Psalms 81:13-14 TPT

2. Don’t just listen to the Word of Truth and not respond to it, for that is the essence of self-deception. So always let his Word become like poetry written and fulfilled by your life!

James 1:22 TPT

3. God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.

Hebrews 4:12-13 MSG

4. Everyone who comes to Me and listens to My words and obeys them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a [far-sighted, practical, and sensible] man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and yet could not shake it, because it had been securely built and founded on the rock.

Luke 6:47-48 AMP

5. Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God.

John 8:47 NLT

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Trusting The Master Artisan

In the mid 1990’s, I lived in Cairo, Egypt. One of the things I did pretty often was to visit the Lillian Trasher Orphanage in the middle of the country. One of the trade skills they taught kids was using a loom to create rugs. I remember seeing the loom for the first time. I was amazed at how these kids were able to use the shuttle to weave threads in and out of the warp (vertical, tight threads). More than that, they were able to see what i couldn’t – the overall design and plan for the rug. They created these perfectly symmetrical designs by weaving the different colors in and out of the warp. It was incredible to watch the artisans at work.

Our lives are not much different than that loom. God is at work in our lives creating something beautiful, but too often we can’t or don’t see what He’s doing. Many times we question the threads He uses or placement of them. We don’t know the design He’s creating so we feel incomplete or unfinished while He is weaving people, circumstances and situations in and out of our lives. It’s easy to question what you don’t see or don’t understand, but God is the greatest artisan of all. He knew you before you were born (Jeremiah 1:5), and had created His master design for your life.

Romans 8:28 says, “So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose” (TPT). Your life may seem random at times, even chaotic, but God is at work in every detail. You may not understand why he wove a certain thread in until He has completed His work, but don’t let that stop you from trusting Him. He works everything out for our good according to His plan for each of us. Remember that we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art] (Ephesians 2:10 AMP) that He will continue to work on until His plan is complete in our lives. We must learn to trust the artisan of our lives completely.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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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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God Loves You

Ever since we were children we’ve sang the song, “Jesus Loves Me This I Know”. It’s got a catchy tune, and to be honest, I hope it gets stuck in your head today. This timeless classic speaks an eternal truth that all of us need to know and remember. On a day where love is celebrated, I think it’s important to remember the greatest love of all – God’s love for you. While we give cards, chocolate and flowers to show our love, God gave us His one, and only Son. His gift to us was representative of the love He has for us, and it was done in order to restore our relationship to Him.

Today, there are many people in the world who feel unloved. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You are loved beyond measure, and by the only one who matters. Yes, it’s nice to have the love and affection of another human, but no human could love you as deeply or give you so generous as gift as God did. Plus, there is nothing in all of creation that could separate you from His love, nor is there anything you can do to make Him love you more or less. He loves you for who you are, so you don’t have to pretend to be someone else. While the world celebrates love today, we have an even greater reason to celebrate it. We are each loved by God, and that’s worth celebrating each and every day of the year.

Here are some Bible verses on God’s love for you.

1. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:5 NLT

2. So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!

Romans 8:38-39 TPT

3. The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.] By this the love of God was displayed in us, in that God has sent His [One and] only begotten Son [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind] into the world so that we might live through Him.

1 John 4:8-9 AMP

4. But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!

Romans 5:8 GNT

5. This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted…

John 3:16-18 MSG

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A Love That Endures

When we think of the story of Joseph and Mary, it’s usually not at Valentine’s Day. They’ve got Christmas and that’s about all we give them. However, when I think of love stories in the Bible, theirs always comes to mind. Theirs wasn’t a fairy tale love, it was real. It showed that love endures hard times and difficult situations. We don’t know a lot about their story, but the parts that we do know show that their love survived what could have been a disastrous occasion.

Imagine being engaged to someone and then you seemingly found proof that they were cheating on you. What happens next? For most of us, we make a public scene and try as hard as we can to embarrass the other person because we want them to hurt as bad as we do. Joseph didn’t have that same attitude when he found out that Mary was pregnant. He knew it wasn’t his because they planned to be virgins until their wedding. Instead of blowing up and taking out his hurt on her, he let love lead the way.

In Matthew 1:19, we read, “Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.” In the Message Bible, one of the ways it describes love in I Corinthians 13 is, “Love doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.” Joseph demonstrated this kind of love towards Mary. He didn’t act the way he could have acted because he truly loved her and acted out of love even when he was hurt.

A love that endures doesn’t fly off the handle when it thinks it’s been wronged. It follows what we read in I Corinthians 13. It acts selflessly and always look for the best in others. We shouldn’t be so quick to fly off the handle at those we love. We should be extending them the grace we expect. We can learn a lot from a young couple who had the biggest responsibility and pressures of any parents ever. They had a love that lasted because they understood how to act out of love when things got difficult. It’s a great example that we should follow.

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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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Transformed By The Bible

Have you ever boiled water? I know it’s a silly question, but if you have, you have added things to it. Think about what happens when you put a carrot in boiling water. What happens? After a little while, the carrot gets soft. What happens when you put an egg in boiling water? It becomes hard of course. Water has two different effects on those objects. Now, what happens when you add ground up coffee beans to boiling water? You get coffee. The difference here is that the water doesn’t change the coffee beans, the beans change the water into something different. There are many things in life that you have the power to change, but there are also things that you allow into your life that change you.

One of the things that changes us is the Bible. The more you read it and put it into your mind, the more it has the ability to change you. If you want it to get into your heart and permeate your entire being, then you need to go beyond reading it. You need to meditate on it. Meditating on God’s Word is simply taking a verse or passage and thinking, “What does this really mean? What is God wanting me to learn from this? Why did He include this in the Bible? How can I apply this to my life? How would things change if I lived this out? How can I help others understand this better and help them to apply it?” Asking these questions helps you break down powerful spiritual principles into bite sized chunks. It also allows God’s Word to get into every area of your being fundamentally changing who you are from the inside out.

Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (AMP). Reading the Bible should not be considered a box we need to check in order to be a better Christian. It should be part of your transformation into a new creature. It gives us wisdom in how to live our lives, love others and to build up other believers. It is the foundation for the life we’re called to live. When we let it have its home in us and in our minds, it will change us into overcomes.

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Make Today Count

Back in 2005, I started a job as a sales rep for a Fortune 15 company. I was new to the industry and to using a POS system. My boss paired me with one of the reps to shadow. One morning, we both were on the opening shift. While customers lined up outside waiting to get in, he grabbed the intercom and started speaking in a slow, one word at a time, drawn out pace. He said, “Folkssss, each day is a gift. Today, you’ve been given another opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life. You can choose to make a difference in your life or in someone else’s life. You get to choose. Make today count.” I later figured out that each time he opened, he would do something like this as a means to motivate himself and others.

Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes” (TPT). None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, or even the rest of today. Most of us interact with different people throughout the day whether in person, on the phone or through social media. Are we thinking about what our lives say to others? Are we a positive in their day or a negative? Are we a blessing when we show up or a blessing to them when the interaction is done? Are we seeking to make our life better or the lives of others?

Paul is very clear here that you and I are to take advantage of each and every day whether we feel like it or not. If we are living our lives for His purposes, which by the way is your life’s purpose, then we do it no matter what our feelings tell us. His Kingdom is more important than our feelings. Jesus told us to seek His Kingdom first, and when we did, all the other things we seek will be added to us. If we’re going to make today count and take advantage of each and every day, we’re going to have to seek to do His will before we seek to do our own. His will is that none would be lost, and He choose you and I to be the ones to make sure that happens. Our lives should be lived so that others see our good works and lives and glorify our Father in Heaven. Live your life on purpose today taking advantage of each opportunity He gives you to be a blessing to others.

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