Tag Archives: encouragement

Trusting His Plan

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my son to get ready, and then, before he gets ready, he asks, “Where are we going?” I usually tell him, “It doesn’t matter. I said to get ready, so get ready.” Instead of quickly obeying, he constantly wants to know all the info before doing anything. As a parent, it can be frustrating. There are things he needs to know, and there are things he doesn’t need to know. I simply want him to obey when asked to do something instead of questioning everything I tell him to do.

Even though I know these frustrations as a parent, when the shoe is on the other foot, I act the same way. How many times had God told me to get ready or to go somewhere, and I want to know all the details before I do anything? There’s also those times where I know where He’s leading me, but I want to know all the steps first. It’s like I’m my own child when God is the father telling me to do things. I wonder how frustrated He gets at our questioning and inactivity while He’s waiting for our obedience.

Proverbs 20:24 says, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” (NLT) As children of God, we need to understand there are things we need to know, and things we don’t. God knows everything we are about to do, and how He wants it done. Since the beginning of time, all He has asked is that we would simply trust Him. He’s looking for our obedience without having to understand everything. We need to have enough faith to trust His will, His plan and His directions without questioning them. Simple obedience yields eternal benefits. Just like the old song says, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way.”

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The Prince Of Wholeness

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.

One of the names of God that I love is Jehovah Shalom. I began to dig deeper into the word “Shalom” to see what all it means. I know it means “peace” and that it is often used as a greeting in Israel, but one of the other meanings for the word is “completeness” or “whole”. I found that very interesting. So I went back to Isaiah 9:6 where it says Jesus will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. I switched to the Message version of the Bible and there it called Him the Prince of Wholeness.

My mind raced, “How had I missed that?” I’m not sure how I’ve read that a hundred times and have heard the word shalom over and over and never saw that He is the Prince of Wholeness. We all need peace in our lives so much that we focus on that part of “shalom”, but rarely go deeper into its meaning. We don’t look beyond the surface, but we need to. We need to dig deeper to find something like this because we all need it.

I’ve had my life shattered and broken. When I look back at that period in my life, I see myself laying on a foundation in the pouring rain. There is debris of what was my life laying all around. There is nothing that is salvageable. That is there is nothing I can salvage. But here, in this scripture, I see a God who can take the broken pieces of my life and make me whole again. I see a Prince who is not content with leaving me broken and unprotected. He wants me to be whole.

He wants you to be whole too. When you’re broken like that, you think that all is lost. You feel that no one cares and the world is dark all around you. You can’t see the future because you can’t imagine a future you’d want to be in. There is no light of hope to guide you. You take each breath as it comes. Each second of the clock ticks in slow motion, and survival is your only instinct. You aren’t worried about tomorrow because you’re focused on surviving today. Yes, even in that moment of your life, He is the Prince of Wholeness.

God is able to take you from that broken place in your life to a place of Wholeness. Completeness. Rebuilding. Becoming stronger and better. He is the God of creation and He can create a new beginning for you. It’s not something that happens over night. A masterpiece is not painted in a day. A mansion is not built over night. Your life is more complex and worth more to Him than anything else in all of creation. You may struggle with feelings of unworthiness or worthlessness, but you are worthy and you are priceless. You are worth rebuilding to Him. You are worth being made whole. Don’t give up. Invite the Prince of Wholeness to come in today and to complete the work which He began in you.

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Critic’s Math

Several years ago I attended a conference for ministers. One of the speakers was Jon Acuff, and he spoke on critic’s math. The way critics math works is 1 insult + 1,000 complements = 1 insult. We can be praised by everyone for our work, but if one person didn’t like it, we allow that one negative comment to erase all the positive feedback we’ve received. It can be like we never even heard the compliments because our mind spends all its time focusing on the one negative comment rather than our feedback as a whole. Critic’s math is a dangerous thing for us to fall into.

An example is in the Book of Esther. Haman was the King’s prime minister. He had been put in such a high position, that the king declared everyone should bow to him as he passed by. Everyone bowed down except one. Mordecai refused. In the fifth chapter, Esther had prepared a banquet for he and the king. When he left, everyone bowed except Mordecai. In verses 12-13, he told his wife and friends, “What is more, Queen Esther gave a banquet for no one but the king and me, and we are invited back tomorrow. But none of this means a thing to me as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the entrance of the palace” (GNT). He allowed critic’s math to cloud his thinking, and it ultimately cost him everything.

You and I need to accept that we can’t please everyone, and that pleasing people is not our goal. Pleasing God is. Ecclesiastes 7:10 warns, “Don’t pay attention to everything people say.” When you receive negative feedback, take it constructively, but don’t give it so much weight that it distracts you from what God has called you to. What He has to say is far more important than what any person has to say. Keep focusing on what God wants to do in your life and through you, and don’t let one person’s negativity keep you from reaching your potential or from finishing your race.

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A Significant Life

I’ve never met anyone who said, “I don’t care if my life doesn’t matter.” Each of us in some way want our lives to matter. We want to live significant lives. We want to make a difference. When we die, we want the world to be different because we were here. I believe that’s how most of us, if not all of us think about our lives. When we feel like we are making a difference, we are riding high. We feel most insignificant when we don’t think anyone notices us or that we aren’t making a difference. We can begin to feel worthless when we aren’t appreciated. Our feelings are tied to how significant we think our lives are.

If we want to live significant lives, we should see what God says about it. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves (feeling very insignificant) in the sight of The Lord, and He will exalt you (He will lift you up and make your lives significant) (AMP).” So the way to really live a significant life is to feel insignificant in the sight of The Lord. It’s when we humble ourselves before God that He can begin to do something significant with us. Until then, we are out seeking to live a significant life to get the glory ourselves.

When we humble ourselves, we let God know that we understand we are nothing without Him. We show Him that we recognize that all we have is given to us by Him. Being humble in His sight is understanding that our talents, our jobs, our income, our skills are all a gift from Him. It’s not because of anything we’ve done. It’s not because we are self made people. Our lives can only become eternally significant when we stop and recognize that He is the source of everything we have. When we recognize that, we won’t be out seeking glory for ourselves. We’ll be doing things for His glory.

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Foolish Arguments

I used to love listening to talk radio. There was a local guy that I enjoyed listening to, but one day he switched his format. Instead of merely discussing news events, he decided to bring divisive topics each day and just let people argue. His show began to be about stirring up a hornets nest where no one could win, and it caused people to dig their heels into their position. It was no longer a place for dialogue and the show became something I no longer wanted to listen to. I’m guessing I wasn’t alone because it was canceled not long after that.

As Christians, we need to be careful that we don’t fall into that same trap. We don’t want to be known as people who argue over every little thing, especially to the point where we refuse to listen. At times, it feels like our goal is to win the argument rather than to win the lost. It’s one thing to have a dialogue with someone about why you believe what you believe, but another thing entirely to look for divisive arguments with others. We’re to be known for our love rather than our debating skills.

Paul warned Timothy about this in 2 Timothy 2:23-24. He said, “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people” (NLT). That’s a challenge for you and me in today’s world. Everyone seems to be divided on everything, even in the Church. We’re not to go around and start fights, but to find a way to teach people the truth in a way that they’ll listen. What good is it if we win the argument, but lose the war for their soul? When we start from a place of love rather than trying to be right, we’ll find more open doors to share our faith.

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The Generosity Principles

Have you ever noticed that some of the richest people around you also happen to be some of the most giving people? They may also be people who try their hand at multiple business ventures. I believe it goes back to a couple of scriptural principles on generosity. If you give, it will be given to you. The other is that you reap what you sow. Both of these principles work whether the giver is a Christian or not. Just like you don’t have to believe in gravity to fall down, you don’t have to believe the Bible for these to work.

My overarching prayer for my family this year is that we would scatter more seeds, but on fertile ground. If a farmer plants more seeds, they’re going to get a larger crop, especially if those seeds were planted in fertile soil. It only stands to reason that the more seeds of blessing that each of us scatter, gives God more ways to grow those seeds and give us more fruit. Life is about planting and replanting. Your first crop isn’t going to give you enough for the rest of your life.

Proverbs 11:24 says, “There is the one who [generously] scatters [abroad], and yet increases all the more; And there is the one who withholds what is justly due, but it results only in want and poverty” (AMP). Being generous today results in returned generosity in the future. Be careful not to compare your generosity or return with someone else’s. Give what and where God tells you to give. Our house rule when it comes to giving is simple: how much do you want God to bless you? Giving and being generous come in many forms. If you’re looking for God to trust you with more, be generous with what you have today.

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A Lasting Foundation

When I look back on the time in my life where I hit rock bottom and lost just about everything, I see a picture of me laying down in the rain. There is wood and other things thrown about the yard from what used to be the life I had built. As I was talking to God about it one day, I was lamenting on how I had lost everything. That’s when God pointed out what I was laying on. It was the foundation of my life. Everything else may have been stripped away, but I could always rebuild on a firm foundation, especially one that had weathered the storm.

Every one of us build our life out of things and on a foundation. Every one of us will face storms in life. What we’ve built our life out of and on will determine how well we weather those storms. Jesus told us to be wise by building our lives on the rock so that we would have a good foundation for those times. That rock He told us to build on was the truth of God’s Word. All of Heaven and earth will pass away, but His Word will remain. Be wise and build your life on what will last.

Here are some verses on having a good foundation.

1. “If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”

Luke 6:48-49 MSG

2. In that day he will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the Lord will be your treasure.

Isaiah 33:6 NLT

3. Through [skillful and godly] wisdom a house [a life, a home, a family] is built, And by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation].

PROVERBS 24:3 AMP

4. But the solid foundation that God has laid cannot be shaken; and on it are written these words: “The Lord knows those who are his” and “Those who say that they belong to the Lord must turn away from wrongdoing.”

2 Timothy 2:19 GNT

5. When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.

Proverbs 10:25 NLT

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