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Watching And Waiting

Have you ever been around a person who loves to hear the sound of their own voice? How does it feel when you try to engage them in conversation and they never give you the opportunity to speak? After a while, you either quit trying to talk to them or you just don’t say anything at all to them because you know it’s going to fall on deaf ears. When you see them approaching you or their caller ID shows up on your phone, you almost sigh because you know what’s coming.

If we don’t like it when people do that to us, then why do we think God likes it when we do it to Him? Think about your prayers to God. How often do you stop talking and start listening? Prayer should be a conversation between you and God, not a wish list of things you’d like to see done to make your life easier. There’s a time for you to talk and a time for God to respond. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard God speak to you, ask yourself, “When’s the last time I was quiet in my prayer time?”

I know it’s a hard concept to some because we think of prayer as a list of things we want, but prayer is so much more than that. It’s designed to be the time you communicate and have a conversation with the creator of the universe. It’s designed for us to spend time with Him getting to know His heart. We have to learn that it’s ok to spend our prayer time listening. If we never listen, how will we know His heart, His desires for our life, or His thoughts on how we should respond to social issues as His representatives on earth?

David said in Psalm 5:3, “In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart]” (AMP). David understood that God wanted to hear his prayers and that God wanted to speak to His heart so he built time to watch and to wait into his prayer time. God wants us to do the same so He can speak to our hearts. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard God speak to you, try watching and waiting today to see what He says.

Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

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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Guarding Your Words

One of the classes that I’ve trained for a while now is DISC. If you’ve ever taken a DISC class, you probably remember what you are. I’m a high I which stands for Influencer. One of the characteristics of a high I is that we tend to talk a lot. Because of that, my mouth has gotten me into trouble several times in my life because I just didn’t know when to be quiet. A scripture I heard a lot growing up was Matthew 12:34: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh” (KJV). I was constantly reminded that my words reveal what’s on the inside of me. If I wanted to change what came out of my mouth, I had to change what went in my mind and heart. I was told, “Garbage in. Garbage out.”

As a kid, I didn’t really understand that concept. In high school, one of my teachers had our class memorize Psalm 141:3: “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” I think King David must have been an I as well. He needed help watching what he said too. I began praying this verse because if I couldn’t stop talking, at least God could help watch the words that came out of my mouth. Over time, I began to change what I read and what I watched because it does have an affect on what’s in our heart. I started trying to eliminate the garbage that was going into my mind. In times like we’re in, that’s never been more important because there’s a lot of garbage out there to stream.

A prayer I learned to pray to help me was Psalm 19:14. It says, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (NLT). Not only do we need to watch what we say and think, we need them to be pleasing to God. To help with that, I often have to bring thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I stay vigilant about the thoughts that go through my head and the rabbit trails they go down. I interrupt them whenever they are not pleasing to God and refocus them onto things that are (Philippians 4:8). It’s not an easy process, but it’s one that we all must get better at because we are what we think (Proverbs 23:7) and we can never take back words spoken.

Photo by Maria Krisanova on Unsplash

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Looking For God’s Works

My job is one that requires people to gather together. When quarantining and isolation began, my customers postponed our meetings. The next day, our air conditioner went out. I felt defeated and began to worry about how to make ends meet. Fear started to creep in. That Sunday, my pastor preached on not giving into fear or a defeatist attitude. I began to change how I prayed to God about my situation. I thanked Him for all He’s done for me and began to recount the ways He’s provided in the past. My attitude began to change as I reminded myself that God is my source, not my skills, talents or job.

That week, we received money from a friend to help with the AC. The AC guy offered to accept half now and half in a month. The next day, I received a check from a stock payout that had been set up two years before. The next week, I received my income tax check. Then the bank sent me a check from an over payment last year. These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more things that have happened during this time where God has shown up just in time and provided for our needs. It seems almost every day something happens where my wife and I look at each other, laugh in disbelief and then stop to thank God for His provision. We now look for all the ways He’s working in our lives beyond the monetary ways.

Psalm 18:22 says, “Now I’m alert to GOD’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works” (MSG). I believe when you and I begin to look for the different ways God is moving in our lives, we will find them. Some times it’s obvious, but most of the times, they are little, subtle hints that He’s working on our behalf and causing all things to work together for our good. We have to train our eyes to look beyond our problems to see His provision. We need to be alert to God’s ways of working in our lives so we don’t take the little things He does for granted. At the end of each day, think back to where you saw God work on your behalf and give Him thanks. Not only will it change your perspective of your situation, it’ll refocus your eyes on God.

Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

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A Thankful Mindset

Several years ago, I taught a sales psychology class. It was designed to help salespeople stay mentally tough because they’re rejected so often. One of the things I taught in it was the Law of Thanksgiving. It stated that the more we give thanks, the more we have to be thankful for. It was all about counting your blessings and then giving thanks for every one of them. It really is an attitude changer when you decide to be thankful each day to find something in your life to be thankful for. The first couple of weeks are pretty easy, but after that, your mind starts to get stretched and gets creative in looking for things to be thankful for. It ultimately changes your perspective on your life and changes how you look at the world.

In a time where the news is dominated by statistics of people getting sick and dying, it’s a great time to reprogram your mind to looking for things to be grateful for. Matthew Henry, a Welsh minister in the 1600’s, demonstrated this line of thinking when his wallet was stolen. He said, “I am thankful that he never robbed me before. I am thankful that although he took my wallet, he didn’t take my life. Although he took all I had, it wasn’t much. I am glad that it was I who was robbed, and not I who did the robbing.” He had adopted a mindset of being thankful and it changed his perspective on things that happened to him. It’s a mindset that we all should have, and I believe it starts with reminding ourselves that all we have has been given to us by God. He is who we need to be thankful to.

Psalm 16:5 says, “You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands” (GNT). It’s important that we start with the thought that God is your source of everything and and that everything you have belongs to Him. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes,” is how Job put it. Being mindful of this helps keep our minds right when the future is uncertain and fear wants to creep in. He has and will continue to give you all you need. Your future is in His hands, not yours. Following the Law of Thanksgiving is a great way to remember that and to give thanks where it’s due. It will allow you to worship during calamity and to be content whether you have a little or a lot. It’s the mindset I believe God is calling us all back to.

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

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God Is Your Protector

In times of crisis, such as the one we’re currently living in, fear is one of the greatest threats we must guard against. It brings up questions that seem rational, but at their root cause us to question God. What if I get sick? What if my kids get it? What if I lose my job? How am I going to provide for my family? All these questions are valid, but what is motivating them? For some, it’s so you have a plan in place. For others, it’s the fear of the unknown. Fear’s job is to occupy your mind, to cause you to doubt God and to put an undue burden on you to slow you down. Fear does not come from God which is why you need to find out the motivating factors behind your thoughts and feelings.

When King David had the opportunity to fear, he looked to God for protection and help. So many of the Psalms deal with his feelings and were born out of times of uncertainty in his life. He had every opportunity to be afraid, but instead of giving into it, he let those circumstances shape his prayers and the worship he created. He wrote them to remind his mind and his spirit to run to God in the time of need and to trust God’s plan above all else. His words of prayer and lyrics of praise resonate with us because were written out of honesty and intended to keep our focus on God. Instead of consuming the news during this time, feed your soul with the Psalms and with worship songs. Remind yourself that God is your protector and provider.

Here are some Bible verses on God as your protector.

1. Whoever goes to the Lord for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, can say to him, “You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in you I trust.” He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers and from all deadly diseases.

Psalm 91:1-3 GNT

2. Lord, you are my secure shelter. Don’t ever let me down! You’re the only place of protection for me. I keep coming back to hide myself in you, for you are like a mountain-cliff fortress where I’m kept safe.

Psalms 71:1, 3 TPT

3. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in [everything that you do] From this time forth and forever.

Psalms 121:8 AMP

4. Yes, our protection comes from the Lord, and he, the Holy One of Israel, has given us our king.

Psalms 89:18 NLT

5. GOD’s name is a place of protection— good people can run there and be safe.

Proverbs 18:10 MSG

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Leading With Love

We’ve all heard the saying that actions speak louder than words. We can probably all think of someone who is all talk and no action too. We have very little confidence in people who rarely do what they say. You never know when to believe them. I’ve had friends, coworkers and acquaintances who are like this. It’s no fun to be associated with them because it creates a lack of trust in you as a person. I don’t ever want to be known as a person like that. I want to be known as a person who does what they say or can at least own up to it when I can’t deliver on what I promised.

As Christians, we need to be concerned about our reputation because we don’t just carry our name with us. We also bear the name of Jesus Christ. It’s not just our reputation we’re tarnishing, it’s His. Knowing that, our lives should reflect the work He’s done and is doing in our lives. The love He’s shown us should be something we give out each day. 1 John 3:18 says, “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality“ (MSG).

A life lead by love is one that doesn’t just talk about loving others, it does it. It shows up in the smallest ways throughout our day. Too many times we try to think of doing great things to the point that it keeps us from doing anything. I love the quote by Mother Teresa that says, “We can’t all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.” If you and I will focus on doing small things today, showing God’s great love, we will make a difference in the lives of others. Doing great things isn’t what makes the difference in life. It’s doing the small things consistently. Today, look for something small you can do with great love, and bless someone.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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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Bringing Healing

One of most accurate memes I’ve seen during this quarantine is, “Check on your extroverted friends. We’re not ok!” With everyone working and staying at home, people are looking for ways to connect. One way is to do a Facebook live video. In face so many are doing it now that Facebook has had to shift its resources and focus to improving that feature because of the use it’s getting. I also saw a Hallmark commercial where they are giving three free cards to everyone who requests them on their website. They’re wanting people to stay connected and to send encouraging words to someone else during this time. There is a unique opportunity right now to speak life into other people like never before.

If you watch the news, it’s hard to find hope of this ending anytime soon. The no school and stay home orders keep getting extended. Unemployment is rising every day as businesses struggle to adapt and fear keeps consumers home and from buying. Hope is what people are hungry for. In fact, I read an article yesterday from Pew research that said over 50% of people have now prayed for Coronavirus to end. People who haven’t talked to God in years or who have doubted His existence are now reaching out. The need for good news and hope is great. Have you prayed to ask God how He can use you to meet that need?

Don’t panic. Most of what God asks us to do are small steps of faith. It could be a Facebook live video, commenting on a post, sending an email (or card) or posting a prayer. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Nothing is more appealing than speaking beautiful, life-giving words. For they release sweetness to our souls and inner healing to our spirits” (TPT). You have the ability to bring healing right now. You have the ability to speak beautiful, life giving words. All it takes is for you to seek God on how He wants to use you during this time. You can do it because the same Spirit that dwelled in Christ, dwells in you. You are empowered to make a difference right now and to release sweetness to souls. You can make a difference today through the words you use.

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

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