Tag Archives: difficult times

Undercover Savior

Have you seen the TV show “Undercover Boss”? It’s where a CEO of a company creates a fake identity, changes how they look and goes to work at their own company as a regular worker. They hear things they wouldn’t hear if others knew they were the CEO, and they get a frontline perspective of what it’s like to work there. It’s usually very eye opening for the CEO who does it, and they are always glad they did it.

Inevitably, they run into people who either treat them well or treat them or others poorly. In one particular episode, the CEO ran into both. The one worker was kind to everyone, especially the customers. The other thought they were at war with the customers and had to win at all costs. At the end, the boss revealed himself. The one who treated others poorly was terrified when they found out. They no longer work there.

I tell you about this show because you and I are on it, but on a much grander scale. In Matthew 25, jesus told us about what the great reveal will be like. Verses 37-40 say, “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me’” (MSG).

The people you and I come across each day could be the Undercover Savior. It’s up to each one of us to treat others with dignity and respect. It’s up to each one of us to offer a hand to those who are down. The Christmas season is the perfect time to help a needy family, watch a single mom’s kids while she shops, pay for someone’s groceries or to do something that relives the stress in their life. Jesus said that you’re not just doing it for that person. You’re doing it for and to Him.

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Give Thanks

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.

When is the last time that you stopped what you were doing and truly thanked God for all he’s done for you? In I Thessalonians 5:18, it tells us that no matter what your circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks. Even if nothing seems to be going your way right now, there is reason to give thanks.

Having a thankful heart is a mindset that you have to create. We are not naturally thankful creatures. You need to practice being thankful with others and with God. When you truly make being thankful a part of your life, you will find that your attitude, your outlook and your perspective will change for the better.

Here are some reasons I have found to give thanks.

1. For salvation

Each of us should be eternally grateful for what Jesus did on the cross for us. There is nothing that we could ever do to earn our way to Heaven. It is only because God loved us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins that we have that ability. I don’t have to spend my life hoping and trying to be good enough one day. The price for my sin was paid for by Jesus.

I love how 2 Corinthians 9:15 says it: “Now thanks be to God for His gift, precious beyond telling, His indescribable, inexpressible, free gift!” We have a very good reason to be thankful today. You do not have to spend eternity separated from God if receive His son into your life.

2. For God’s faithfulness

I’m thankful every day that God’s faithfulness doesn’t rely on my own faithfulness. 2 Timothy says that even if we are faithless or are untrue to Him, He remains faithful and true because He cannot deny Himself. What God has promised He will do, He will do no matter what.

One of my favorite promises in scripture is found in Philippians 4:19. I remind myself of this scripture when things aren’t going my way. It says that God will supply all of my needs according to His riches. I often want Him to supply all of my wants, but He has promised to take care of my needs. I have air in my lungs, a place to sleep and food to eat. That is something to be thankful for.

3. For what He has done

How many times have we prayed and asked God for something and He’s done it? Too many to count I’m sure. I often thank Him for the big things when He does them, but what about the little things? Have we thanked Him for a good night’s sleep, help on a test, safe travels or for food to eat? We constantly petition God in prayer and rarely thank Him.

When He healed the 10 lepers in Luke 17, only one came back to thank Him. Jesus asked him where the other 9 were. How was it that only one came back for something as big as a life giving healing? I want to live my life like that one who came back and worshipped Him and thanked Him.

I know it’s hard to do sometimes. I’ve been at points in my life where it seemed I had nothing to be thankful for. The truth is that I had a lot to be thankful for, but I wasn’t looking for it. Wherever you are today, stop and give thanks to God. You will find that it will change you when you live with a grateful heart.

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We Win

If you like baseball, then you probably watched the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was one of the greatest series in the history of baseball. The two best teams this year went back and forth in the games and in the series. As a lifelong Astros fan, it was stressful to watch. At times, I was ready to throw in the towel. Some nights I couldn’t sleep because this series was so intense. The Astros ended up winning the series in game 7.

Last night, I was able to go to the world premier of the documentary that chronicles the series. It went game by game showing highlights and the drama that unfolded throughout the series. The crowd in the auditorium cheered each time we scored. It was an incredible experience. At one point, I heard the person behind me say, “I wish it had felt like this during the series. We’re only like this because we know how this is going to end.”

It reminded me of you and I in this life. We live through some stressful times and real life drama plays out in front of us every day. Some days we don’t want to watch. Others, we are so keyed up about things that we can’t sleep. Life can be very difficult to get through at times, but I have great news. (Spoiler Alert!) Revelation 20:10 says, “Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (NLT).

We win! We know how this is all going to end. Those who follow Christ will be victorious when all this is over. Will the drama still all unfold? Yes, but now you know that it’ll all be worth it. I know this won’t take away the pain or all the stress of what you’re facing, but if you keep in mind the final outcome, you can have hope to get through it. You can trust God with whatever you’re going through because in the end, we win.

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Starting Over

Have you ever wanted to get a fresh start? Have you ever said, “If only I could do it all again”?Sometimes it would feel nice to get to wipe the slate clean and start over. You would get the chance to do things differently. A fresh start would let you change how people perceive you as well. There are a lot of benefits to getting a fresh start. The problem is that most of the time, a fresh start happens because things didn’t work out the way we planned.

I grew up playing Atari. While I’m not much of a gamer now, a lot of my childhood was spent trying to “flip” games. On certain games, there were levels and your goal was to get to the end. When I would fail at a level, I would try again over and over. I learned to try different strategies to get past certain things. What worked on one level didn’t work on another. I never really thought about it, but each time my game was over, I was getting a fresh start to try again.

Life isn’t much different. I’ve been to the “game over” screen before. I’ve burned through everything and come to the end of the line. I remember being upset that I was having to start over, but I was also thinking of how I would do things differently. I had to change my choices and my behaviors if I was going to get a different result. I did not, and do not, want to end up in that place again.

Psalm 145:14 says, “GOD gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit” (MSG). If you’re at the game over screen in life, don’t quit. Look at it as an opportunity to get a fresh start. You may feel like you’re down on your luck and your life to this point has been wasted, but you didn’t lose your experience. God gives us fresh starts with the wisdom we’ve learned through experience. It gives us the opportunity to make better decisions and to be more successful. What looks like “game over” is really a fresh start.

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A Successful Failure

By now, you’re probably familiar with the story of Apollo 13. The space capsule was supposed to do a “routine” landing on the moon and bring back rocks. Two days into the flight, there was a problem with the oxygen tank and it limited their ability to do anything. Instead of a lunar landing mission, it became a rescue mission. As they tried to figure out how to rescue them, Gene Kranz uttered the famous saying, “Failure is not an option!”

He was reminding his people that no matter how hard things got, they were not going to give up. They faced so many obstacles and hit a lot of dead ends. Instead of letting them give up, he sent them back to the drawing board to figure out another way. Many times the crew, and the people at NASA, didn’t know what to do next. While the Apollo 13 never accomplished their goal of landing on the moon, the mission was counted as a success because they found a way to get them back.

Giving up is to resign to failure. I can’t tell you how many times in life, I’ve felt like giving up. I felt like a failure, so I thought I might as well give up. I failed at life. I failed at love. I failed at work. It was easier to give up. I lacked the strength to try again. I thought I was out of options other than to give up. I had to remind myself that failure wasn’t an option. I had to tell myself to get back up. I had to pray like my life depended on it because it did.

Psalm 142:3 says, “When I am ready to give up, he knows what I should do” (GNT). When you’re at the point that you don’t know what to do next, pray that God would show you what to do. Ask Him to open the right door, to illuminate the right path. Be still, listen to His voice and look for the next step. Whatever you do, don’t ever give up because failure is not an option. Success is not earned by the outcome. It’s earned in not giving up.

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Until Victory Is Won

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.


My son always wants to help with whatever I’m doing. If I’m shopping in the store, he wants to be the one to get the item off the shelf. He says, “Here, let me help.” When I’m bringing in the groceries, he wants to carry a bag. Every once in a while he gets one that’s more than he can handle. He’ll say, “It’s too heavy. Help me, Dada.” I’ll reach down and carry the bulk of the weight, but still let him do his part. I’ve been in his shoes before. I’ve had baggage that was too heavy for me to carry on my own. I’ve just haven’t been as eager to ask for help as he has. I think there are many who are in the same boat.

In Exodus 17, the Israelites were traveling from Egypt to the Promised Land. On their way, they were attacked by the Amalekites. Moses had Joshua recruit some men to go fight the Amalekites while he stood on top of a hill holding the staff. As the battle raged on, Moses, Aaron and Hur noticed that as long as Moses had his hands raised, they were winning. When his arms were lowered, they were getting beat. They encouraged Moses to hold his hands up, but after a while he couldn’t do it anymore. He needed help.

It doesn’t say if Moses asked for help or not, but it does say that Aaron and Hur acted on his behalf. They saw a need and improvised to help him out. They grabbed a stone for him to sit on so they could hold up his arms. They stood there until the sun went down and the Amalekites were defeated. Moses named the place Yahweh Nissi which is God My Banner. God gave the victory, but it was won because two people saw another who needed help and lifted him up. They sacrificed their comfort for those who were engulfed in a battle. 

If you look around at the people God has placed in your life, there are those who are fighting battles and they’re growing tired. They can’t hold their hands up anymore. They’re struggling and losing the war. God is looking for people like Aaron and Hur who will go to those who need help, hold them up in prayer and sacrifice until their battle is won. By helping them, in turn you are helping others that they are holding up. When Aaron and Hur helped Moses, they had a direct affect on the army fighting below. We never know how far our help really goes.

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God’s Deadline


Several years ago, I attended a conference of authors for authors. One of them spoke on the importance of turning in your work by the deadline. In fact, he spoke of how he tries to beat the deadline by as much as he can. His reasoning was that the longer the editors have his work, the better it will be. Plus, he thought of it as the gift of time to them. He wanted to give them time to do their work instead of making them rush when he turns everything in at the last minute. 

Sometimes I wish God had that philosophy! In all my years of praying and needing something from God, it’s never been early. I’ve been sweating it out, praying so hard that I can’t sleep and God showed up just in the nick of time with the answer. I’ve figured out He doesn’t work on my timetable. Many times I felt like He was late in answering my prayers, but it turned out that it was right on time. 

There have been times where I’ve prayed for Him to respond because I thought it was critical, but He didn’t. In those moments, I felt crushed, defeated and disappointed. Looking back on those moments, I can see why God didn’t answer. There was something better waiting that I couldn’t see. Though I felt crushed in the moment, overall, God has proved that He will do what is right for my life and just barely beat the deadline. 

Micah 7:7 shares my sentiments and confidence in God to do the right thing in my life. It says, “As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me” (NLT). Even though I have many seemingly critical prayers that have gone unanswered, I still look to God for help when I need it. I’ve learned to confidently wait for Him to meet a His deadline, not mine, and I know He hears me when I pray. 

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