Several years ago, I was in a meeting with my boss, his boss and a regional president along with the other managers in my district. It was the start of a new quarter and we had to come in, defend our numbers from the past quarter and project what we were going to produce next quarter. The big boss was known for how hard on people she was. The guy right before me, got to his slide about next quarter’s numbers and she stopped him. She asked, “What are you doing to get these numbers?” He said, “What we’re going to do is,” and she interrupted him. “I didn’t ask what you were going to do. I asked what you were doing.” He started the same way again. She interrupted again and said, “If you were going to get these results, you wouldn’t be waiting to do anything. You’d be doing it now.” She told him to sit down, looked at me and said, “Let’s jump to this slide on yours and talk about what you’re doing today.”
As hard as that meeting was, I learned a valuable truth. We talk about tomorrow a lot and the things we’re going to do, but the truth is that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. How can we put off doing something worthwhile that will be impactful to a time period we’re not guaranteed? James wanted to know this too. In James 4, he talked about taking advantage of the moment you’re given: today. In verse 17 he penned some tough words like that president in the meeting. He wrote, “So if you know of an opportunity to do the right thing today, yet you refrain from doing it, you’re guilty of sin” (TPT). Ouch. To not take advantage of an opportunity to do the right thing right now is sin.
My middle initial is “P”. People always ask what it stands for. I like to tell them, “Procrastinator!” James doesn’t leave us any room for procrastination though. Every one of us are presented with opportunities to help people and to make a difference, but we second guess ourselves and procrastinate. Procrastination leads to excuses on why you didn’t accomplish something. I don’t want to stand before God one day with a list of excuses why I didn’t do something when given the opportunity. It’s time that you and I start taking advantage of the opportunities God gives us to make a difference each day. It may not have the global impact we want or get the attention of others that we crave, but it will get results for the person or people you help and will be noticed by God.
There are times in life when we take a stand for what’s right only to find out we’re the only ones standing. In those moments, you wonder why no one else is standing with you. I’ve done it before and had people private message me that they were with me. I asked why they weren’t standing with me. They said they were too afraid to stand up too, but wanted me to know I had their support. I wanted their public support instead because standing there alone was tough. I knew what I was standing for was right, so I kept standing.
There are other times when we come under attack. We’re standing on the battlefield of life, and the hits won’t stop coming. We wonder when it will let up and if we should just give up the fight. We need someone to come stand with us because we feel all alone out there in the struggle. We may lose our strength to fight back, but we still stand in the face of relentless attacks. In each case, we feel all alone, but the truth is we are not. Whether we stand for what’s right or we are under attack from the enemy, God is standing with us.
Psalm 59:10 says, “In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me” (NLT). God’s love never fails us, nor does it ever leave us standing alone. I once heard someone say, “Me plus God equals a majority.” We need to let that sink into our spirits. We are not standing alone in those moments. Our physical eyes tell us we are alone, but we need to learn to see our situations with our spiritual eyes.
I love how in 2 Kings 6, Elisha’s servant looked outside and saw the whole army encamped around them. He panicked and asked Elisha what they were going to do since they were out numbered. Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid. There are more on our side than theirs.” The servant thought they were standing alone, but God was standing with them with a full army that surrounded the other army. That’s how it is for us. When we stand for what’s right or we are standing in our battles, there are more with us than we see with our physical eyes because God stands with us.
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.
As a person who spends a lot of time driving, I’m forced to make a lot of fast decisions. When people suddenly brake, I have to decide to slam on mine or change lanes. I also have another fast decision to make. Do I bless them or curse them? I would love to say that I hand out more blessing than cursing in traffic. The truth is, in those moments, we default to calling the other person a name, yelling at them, gesturing at them, and or using our vehicle to inform them we don’t like their driving.
In the book of Ruth, Boaz had to make a quick decision. He knew who Ruth was and what she had done for Naomi, so he was very kind to her. On one certain night, Naomi told Ruth, “Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do” (Ruth 3:3-4 NLT).
Imagine Boaz sleeping after a hard day’s work and then being woken up by someone pulling the covers off his feet. More than that, he notices it’s a woman. His thoughts may have been, “What if someone sees me laying with a woman?” They could have been, “How dare a servant take my covers!” Whatever they were, when he made a quick decision, it was to bless and not to curse. He told Ruth, “The LORD bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor.”
Boaz not only blessed her, he admitted that there was another family member who was a closer relative to her than he was. Boaz was willing to give up Ruth because it was the right thing to do. He acted with integrity and with a heart that blessed before it cursed. Each of us should adopt that kind of heart. As followers of Christ, we should be about blessing instead of cursing, giving instead of receiving, loving instead of judging, and building instead of tearing down. Our light shines brightest when it blesses. Proverbs 11:25 says, “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped” (MSG).
If you know the story of Esther, you know that after she had been made queen, Haman plotted to kill all of the Jews. Since he was the kings closest advisor, the King agreed to what he suggested. In Esther chapter 4, her uncle Mordecai found out that his race was being targeted for genocide. He responded by mourning and fasting. Somehow Esther had not known about the news. It wasn’t until her maidens saw her uncle weeping they told her about it. She then sent someone to find out why he was in distress.
When Mordecai sent word back, he also told them to tell her that she had a responsibility to go before the King to save her people. Her first response was fear. She told him that she couldn’t go before the King or she would be killed. She must have felt that since she was queen she would be saved from the massacre. Mordecai wouldn’t have any of it. He very frankly told her that if she didn’t respond to the challenge so done else would, but she and her family would perish.
Just like her, you and I face situations in our life that we’d rather ignore and hope they go away. The problem is that they won’t in most cases. The longer we wait to respond to them, the bigger they can get. Our ability to respond has to overcome the fear of the situation. Mordecai also sent the encouraging word, “Who knows? Maybe you’ve been put in this position for such a time as this.” He pointed to God’s providence in her life. He began to see why things had happened the way they had so that she could be the answer.
Where you are today and the situations that you’re facing are not an accident or a surprise to God. He has groomed you and placed you where you are because you have the ability to respond the way He wants you too. You could say it’s your respons-ability. You can say, “But I don’t know how to handle this.” James 1:5 says that if any man lacks wisdom he can ask God for it. Proverbs 15:22 says there is wisdom in a multitude of counsel. You can ask God and or others what to do. Mordecai gave excellent advice to Esther.
We never know why we have the burdens of being in difficult situations. Not responding isn’t the right choice. We have the respons-ability to seek wisdom and to respond in a way that pleases God. Difficult situations require difficult choices. In my own life, it’s been those times that have grown my faith the most. I’ve had to step out in faith and trust that God had my back. Esther did too and her people were saved. Life isn’t easy, but you were made for a purpose and are where God needs you right now in order to respond accordingly. Trust what He says and step out. It may be difficult, but doing what He says is less difficult than the results of disobedience.