Tag Archives: encouragement

Receiving Feedback

In one of my previous jobs, we had a saying: Feedback is a gift. One of the ways feedback was encouraged was after a presentation among your peers, you had to give yourself feedback in front of everyone. When you were done, one of your peers would give you feedback as well. One of the hardest things to do was to stand there, smile and accept it, especially when it wasn’t right from your perspective. The others didn’t know your intent. They could only see your actions, and that’s what they gave feedback on. Every once in a while, someone would lose their cool during this process. It wasn’t ever a good thing to argue with the feedback someone was giving you. They could usually see something you were blind to.

In today’s world, giving someone feedback is a huge risk. No one wants to be corrected, but every one of us needs it. Galatians 6:1 tells us that if we see someone overtaken in sin, those who are spiritual should gently restore that person in love. Many times we’ve sinned or have offended someone without really knowing it. We can’t see it ourselves because we know our own intent, but don’t realize how our actions came across to someone else. It’s best to receive corrections in an humble spirit, rather than a defensive one, so that we can grow. God has placed people around us with the ability to see things in our blind spots.

The psalmist of 141, who was just as human as we are, prayed in verse 5, “When one of your godly lovers corrects me or one of your faithful ones rebukes me, I will accept it like an honor I cannot refuse. It will be as healing medicine that I swallow without an offended heart. Even if they are mistaken, I will continue to pray” (TPT). This is the attitude we should all have. Even if their wrong, we should put them on blast. Accept it, thank them for their concern and then pray and ask God to show you if there is something they see that you don’t. Receiving feedback and correction is a gift that should never be taken lightly. It’s God’s way of keeping us on His path.

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Gaining Internal Confidence

The heart is known as the seat of our emotions. Our emotions dictate our words and actions. You can tell a lot about what’s in people’s heart simply by listening to them and watching their actions. When I hear people talk down to themselves or beat themselves up, it bothers me because it’s a reflection of how they truly feel about themselves. I went to compliment a kid recently about how well he performed and he replied, “I was terrible. I’m no good. I don’t know why I did it.” My heart broke because he’s already let his self talk destroy his confidence. I tried to speak life into him, but more than anything, he needed a change in his heart to readjust his thinking.

Proverbs 14:26 says, “Confidence and strength flood the hearts of the lovers of God who live in awe of him, and their devotion provides their children with a place of shelter and security” (TPT). It’s amazing how much we can accomplish when we have confidence and mental strength. So many of us struggle with an internal picture of who we are. We must remember that we are made in God’s image. The greater picture we have of God, the greater picture we will have of ourselves. A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”

The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength. To love Him with all of our heart, we need to know Him more. The more we know Him, the more we will live in awe of Him. It’s no coincidence that He listed the heart first. Everything stems from there: our relationship with God, our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with others. If you need confidence in any of those areas, it starts with knowing God. You get to know Him more through reading the Bible, prayer and sitting quietly in His presence. Learning to do these three things won’t just change you, it’ll have a generational effect as well.

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The Right Tools

Recently we were going to sand some floors down to refinish them. The cost to pay someone to do them was astronomical. We decided to do them ourselves. The cheapest way to do them was by hand. That would take forever so we went to rent a machine. I saw the machine I wanted and asked about it. He said it would do the job well, but they were out of sandpaper for it. He grabbed a “less aggressive” machine and then the sandpaper for it. As he rang it up, the sandpaper alone was over $100. I couldn’t believe the price. I had to remind myself that having the right tool was worth the money.

Proverbs 14:4 says, “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest” (NLT). Having oxen would require feeding them, watering them, housing them and ultimately cleaning up after them. Many people would look at the down side of owning them and choose not to get them. On the other hand, without them it would be difficult to plow the land or to bring in the harvest. There’s give and take in everything. It’s up to us to count the cost and to understand you get what you pay for, even if the cost is ongoing. In an agricultural society, if you wanted an abundant crop, you needed to invest in oxen.

Each one of us has a purpose to fulfill. You can do it with the natural tools you’ve been given (like sanding the floor by hand) or you can invest in yourself to increase the effectiveness of those tools. Going to school, taking a class, buying books and other ways to increase your effectiveness will cost you. It’s up to you to make sure you use the right tools for what you’re called to do and to invest in your future. There are pro’s and con’s to everything. That’s why we’re encouraged to count the cost physically and spiritually. Investing in the right tools for whatever God is calling you to will translate to your effectiveness.

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Opened Eyes

In 2 Kings 6, Elisha and his servant are inside a house having just woken up. The servant goes outside for something and realizes they are surrounded by an army. He calls for Elisha out of fear. Elisha steps outside and the servant wants to know what are they going to do. Elisha calmly replies, “Don’t worry. There are more on our side than theirs.” I’m sure the servant looked confused until Elisha prayed in verse 17, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” (NLT) All of a sudden, the servant could see into the spiritual realm and saw that the army around them was surrounded by God’s army.

There’s more to this life than you and I can see. I like that prayer and often pray it for myself. I want my eyes opened to see the things God wants me to see. I want to see if there’s something in God’s Word I’m missing or if there’s a connection throughout Scripture that I haven’t seen. I also want to see if there’s someone in my path that needs me to speak to them. You never know what God might show you if you ask Him to open your eyes to the things He wants to show you. I don’t want to live my life with blinders on. I want my eyes opened to see everything God is desiring to show me.

Here are some Bible verses on wanting opened eyes.

1. Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.

Psalms 25:4 NLT

2. If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

Proverbs 29:18 MSG

3. Give me more revelation of your ways, for I see your love and tender care everywhere.

Psalms 119:64 TPT

4. Turn my eyes away from vanity [all those worldly, meaningless things that distract—let Your priorities be mine], And restore me [with renewed energy] in Your ways.

PSALMS 119:37 AMP

5. Open my eyes to see the miracle-wonders hidden in your word.

Psalms 119:18 TPT

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Choosing Freedom

Freedom is not something that is uniquely American. It was instituted by a God Himself. His desire is that all of us live free lives. We are the ones who constantly put ourselves in bondage through our actions. We are the ones who put ourselves in position to let others bind us up. God has called us to live free lives according to Galatians 5:1. So why do we do the things that take us away from freedom? Why do we lament the past when we were slaves instead of celebrating the freedoms we currently enjoy?

It’s a problem that goes back as far as time. When the children of Israel were set free from the bondage of Egypt, they cried out, “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted.” In their freedom, they looked back on their time of slavery as a positive thing. They didn’t grasp what it meant to be free, so they would have rather gone back into slavery than to have lived in the freedom that God had granted them. It sounds absurd, but are we so different?

We let what other people have said or done to us imprison us in our minds and actions. We let the past dictate our present. God has set us free, but we allow unforgiveness to hold us down and rob us of freedom. We allow grudges and pain to keep us from trusting anyone. When that happens, we hold ourselves back from the future God has for us. We let what man has done to us rob us of the blessings of freedom. We hold ourselves back in that prison not wanting to get out because it’s safer to stay there. Freedom requires action on our part to move forward and to stay free.

Galatians 5:13-15 says, “Use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows… Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom” (MSG). Selfishness is the doorway to imprisonment. Serving others is the way to staying free. When we help others, despite how many times we’ve been taken advantage of, we walk in freedom. When we hold back because of things that have happened, we allow that freedom to slip away. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” As Christians, we can’t sit around and do nothing and stay free.

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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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Sudden Storms

I love the story of Jesus in Mark 4. He had been teaching all day sharing spiritual insights through parables with crowds of people. When He was finished, He told the disciples to get in a boat and head to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. After they had been going a ways, a sudden storm blew in and threatened to sink the boat. In the midst of the chaos and fear, someone realized they needed Jesus and He wasn’t on deck. Verse 38 says, “But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on a cushion” (TPT). In the middle of the storm, Jesus was able to rest because He trusted God.

Most of us aren’t that way. When things are going downhill quickly and everything we hold dear is being threatened to sink, we struggle to rest. Sleep eludes us as our minds think of everything bad that can happen and what we will do if everything heads south. Yet, in this story, we find that Jesus is able to rest. I believe that the rest He was given is a rest that belongs to us. We have to learn that our perception of things is not His reality. Where we look up at the storm in fear, He speaks to it in faith. When we let fear dictate our emotions and steal our rest, we lack the faith to trust His providence for our lives.

Psalm 116:7 says, “Now I can say to myself and to all, ‘Relax and rest, be confident and serene, for the Lord rewards fully those who simply trust in him.’” If you’re uncomfortable speaking to your storms, then speak to yourself. Worry robs us of the strength and rest that God wants us to have. Just because you’re surrounded by turmoil, it doesn’t mean you have to live in it. God gives His children rest and peace, but many times, we have to take hold of it and tell ourselves to take it. Sudden storms that pop up are not a surprise to God. If you will simply trust in Him, He will guide you safely to shore.

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Words And Actions

We all know that person who is all talk and no action. Years ago I was in a meeting with my peers presenting our quarterly numbers to the higher ups. We then had to project our numbers for the next quarter. One person in there projected a big bump in their numbers for the next quarter. The highest ranking person in the room asked them, “What are you doing to get that bump?” They said, “Well, what were going to do is…” The boss interrupted, “I didn’t ask what you were going to do. I want to know what you’re doing now to get those results. If you were able to change your numbers that much, you would be going to do It.you’d be doing it right now.” They didn’t have an answer because they were all talk and got called out on it.

Many of us, myself included, have learned how to talk a good game. We know Christianese and speak church lingo quite well. The problem is that Christianity is more than words. It’s actions. It’s not about what we are going to do, but about what we are doing now. We’ve learned to put on the church mask and say the words that others want to hear on Sunday’s, but are we living it Monday through Saturday? Our coworkers, neighbors and children are like that boss I had. They can see through the words to the lifestyle because actions will always speak louder than words.

Proverbs 12:14 reminds us, “Your reward depends on what you say and what you do; you will get what you deserve” (GNT). It’s important that our lives reflect what we say. We need to quit worrying what others think of us. God sees beyond our words and facades. He looks into our heart to see our intent and our actions. If you can recognize those who are all talk and no action, so can others. Proverbs also says that a good reputation is more desirable than great riches. It’s time we quit acknowledging Jesus with our words and denying Him with our life. Our reward in Heaven is based on words and actions.

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