Tag Archives: encouragement

Quit Performing

Most of what we do in life is performance based. When I was in school, my grades were not based on my intentions, but on the quality of the work I did. Each year at my job I have a meeting with my boss to go over a performance appraisal. We look at the work I’ve done and the impact it’s had. The more boxes I check off on that form, the greater my raise. Since we were born, others have evaluated our performance and decided our worth. It’s something that has been ingrained in us since day one. That’s why it’s often a shock to us that God doesn’t give us salvation because of our performance.

In Psalm 51, you will find one of the greatest prayers in the Bible. David had just gotten a married woman pregnant, then had her husband killed and married her to cover it up. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David regarding his sin. Instead of getting defensive or making excuses, David wept and begged God for forgiveness. In verses 16-17 he prayed, “For the source of your pleasure is not in my performance or the sacrifices I might offer to you. The fountain of your pleasure is found in the sacrifice of my shattered heart before you” (TPT).

If we were tasked with swimming from the US to the UK, some of us wouldn’t make it very far. Other might make it a few miles, but none of us would make it across. Our performance will never bridge the gap between our sin and God’s holiness. The only way to cross over is to have a repentant heart. Jesus is in the boat of salvation waiting to pick us up and take us across, but we have to understand it’s not about our performance. It’s about His grace. There’s nothing you or I can do to make Him love us more or less. There’s nothing we can do to earn salvation. It’s a free gift that comes from confessing our sins and trusting in His kindness.

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Seeking Godly Wisdom

We live in an interesting time. For the first time in the history of the world, people value knowledge over wisdom. They are two very different things though. Knowledge is all about what you know. Wisdom is how you use knowledge. I like to tell my son, “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable. Wisdom is not putting in a fruit salad.” Knowledge is gained through learning (or in today’s world, Googling), but wisdom is learned through making mistakes or learning from other’s mistakes. To value knowledge over wisdom is very dangerous, and I believe it will have serious repercussions on the future.

The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon, who is considered the wisest person to ever live. He recognized early on after becoming king that knowledge would on,y take him so far as a ruler. He asked God for wisdom in how to lead his people and God opened the flood gates. His example is one you and I should follow. Knowledge is good, but we need godly wisdom in how we steward everything God has given us. God imparts wisdom to those who ask because He values wisdom and He has plenty to give us.

Proverbs 2:6-7 says, “For the LORD gives [skillful and godly] wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores away sound wisdom for the righteous [those who are in right standing with Him]” (AMP). Just like parents on earth want to give their children the wisdom to make the best decisions in life, God wants to give wisdom to us as His children. All we have to do is go to Him in prayer and ask Him to help us make the best decisions in our relationships, our finances and in our choices. He has a storehouse full of it to give out once we seek it.

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The Best Path

When I was younger and I wanted to take a trip, I would break out my Rand McNally map and plot a course. I would take the map with me so I could follow along or use it if I got lost. Today, most of us use an app with GPS to get us where we’re going. We plug in an address and off we go blindly following wherever it leads. There have been times when I questioned where it was taking me and I thought I knew better. I was wrong. Even now, I question it, but I’ve learned to give it the benefit of the doubt because it sees what’s coming ahead and knows what path to take.

After David was anointed king, I’m sure he thought he knew the path God was going to take to get him to the palace. It wasn’t that long until the king called and invited him to the palace without knowing David would be the next king. Then the path took an unexpected turn. David was on the run and had to leave the country God said he would rule over. He found himself living in caves instead of in the luxury of palaces. He didn’t question God’s path to get him there even though it was a different path than he would have chosen.

From the cave, he penned this in Psalms 142:3, “When my spirit was overwhelmed and weak within me [wrapped in darkness], You knew my path” (AMP). No matter how dark that cave was, he trusted that God knew his path. That’s something we can all learn from. Sometimes God’s path will lead you through some dark time, but even though you walk through the valley of the shadow, God will be with you. He uses those times to develop us, to prove His faithfulness and to have us bring light into the darkness. Don’t turn from the path God is leading you down. He knows what’s ahead and is taking you on the best path for your future.

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Getting Rescued

A couple of years ago I joined a concierge service at the airport. With my card, I could bypass all the lines, including the TSA person checking tickets and ID’s, to go straight to the X-Ray machines. It was great. I no longer had issues at the airport. I didn’t have to worry about getting there two hours early or worry about all the TSA drama. It was worry free traveling. It was a lot like many people think life should be like when they become a Christian.

They think that becoming a Christian means you have no more troubles, problems or issues. You can coast through life bypassing all of its issues. If you have a need, simply pray and ask God for it. If you do have problems or unanswered prayers, you must have hidden sin or be out of God’s will. That perception of Christianity is all wrong. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from any of life’s problems. It gives you someone to help carry those troubles.

Every Christian can attest that their troubles didn’t stop the day they became a Christian. They didn’t become a perfect person, nor did their life become perfect. In many cases, their troubles increased. When troubles over take my life, I like to remember Psalm 34:19. It says, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time” (NLT). No matter how many troubles I face or how hard my life gets, I can count on God to come to my rescue.

That doesn’t mean the troubles go away or the devastation they cause in my life disappears. It means that God doesn’t abandon me in those times. He comes to give me strength to endure them. God knows that troubles produce growth, strength and endurance, so why would he keep us from things that produce positive traits? Christians will have troubles, but they don’t have to be afraid of them because God comes to their rescue and uses them to work out His good in their lives.

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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The Empty Gym

A couple of years ago, I read about a high school basketball team that went to play another school. When the game started, they noticed that the other team had no fans. It didn’t feel right. The next time they played this team was going to be in their own gym, so the boys put a plan together. They asked all of their fans to show up and cheer for the other team. When the other team showed up, they were surprised to find signs encouraging them and fans who rooted loudly for them to win.

I’ve loved that story from the moment I read it, and I’m proud that it took place in my home state of Texas. I love it because there are times where all of us feel like that other team. It can feel like there is no one on our side. No one to cheer us on. Oh what we would give to have someone encourage us. It’s a difficult thing to be in a position where no one is on your side. It’s tough to keep going to be honest.

I’m sure all of us have felt that way at one point or another. I know I have. David felt that way too. He had been anointed king, but Saul was still on the throne and was out to kill him. Instead of being in the palace, David was hiding for his life in a cave in one of the most inhospitable places on earth. But then, in Psalm 56:9, he reminded himself of something important. He wrote, “I know this: God is on my side” (NLT). When it feels like no one else is on your side, remind yourself that God is.

As Romans 8:31 puts it, if God is for you, who can be against you? No matter what you’re going through in this life, no matter how badly things look, know that God is on your side. He’s cheering for you to succeed. He’s giving you the tools you need to make it through. Even if no one is there to help, God is. I’ve always heard that you plus God equals a majority. You have the King of the universe in your corner rooting for you. This too shall pass, and you will be victorious.

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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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Being Rejected

Years ago, most cities had a local Rejection Hotline phone number you could give out to someone who asked for your number. When the other person would try to call you, they would hear, “Welcome to the Rejection Hotline. You’ve been rejected! The person who gave this to you didn’t want you to have their real number.” It goes on to give some excuses why they might have given that number to you. After that, it says, “Please take the hint, accept that you were rejected and get over it.” It’s comical unless you’re the person on the receiving end. None of us like to be or feel rejected. Being rejected usually stirs up anger, fear and insecurity in us, but it doesn’t have to.

In the book of Samuel, the people of Israel didn’t like Samuel’s sons, nor did they want them as judges over Israel. They went to Samuel and said, “Look, you are getting old and your sons don’t follow your example. So then, appoint a king to rule over us, so that we will have a king, as other countries have” (1 Samuel 8:5 GNT). The Lord encouraged Samuel by reminding him that they were rejecting God rather than him, but I’m sure he felt like it wasn’t that way. God then told him to warn them what having a king would be like and then give them what they wanted.

After he anointed Saul as king, Samuel didn’t go into hiding. Instead he continued to serve them. 1 Samuel 12:23 says, “As for me, the Lord forbid that I should sin against him by no longer praying for you. Instead, I will teach you what is good and right for you to do.” He didn’t go away and let them wander away from God. He continued to pray for them and to help them do what was right. In like 6:28, Jesus said, “When someone curses you, bless that person in return. When you are mistreated and harassed by others, accept it as your mission to pray for them” (TPT). If nothing else, the next time you feel rejected, pray for that person. Chances are they’re not rejecting you, but rather the Spirit of God in you.

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Bad Days

It’s easy to praise God on our good days, but what about our bad days? When we didn’t get the news we were hoping for, when we didn’t get the job or when God didn’t answer our prayer the way we wanted Him to. Can you still bless the Lord on those days? Too many times we allow our disappointment to choose our response to God on those days. We must learn to not allow our feelings to dictate our relationship with God.

I’ve learned that God knows what He’s doing more than I do. While I don’t like bad days, I know that they produce more fruit in my life than the good days. They deepen my faith like no other times. It never feels good to be disappointed by not getting the things we want, but we must find a way to bless God anyway. If Job, who was as human as we are, could fall down and worship God on his worst day, we can too.

Here are some Bible verses about bad days.

1. GOD ’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked.

Psalm 9:9-10 MSG

2. Even when bad things happen to the good and godly ones, the Lord will save them and not let them be defeated by what they face.

Psalms 34:19 TPT

3. I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.

Isaiah 45:5-7 NLT

4. The Lord takes care of those who obey him, and the land will be theirs forever. They will not suffer when times are bad; they will have enough in time of famine.

Psalm 37:18-19 GNT

5. Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Why, GOD bless that man! GOD hasn’t quite walked out on us after all! He still loves us, in bad times as well as good!” Naomi went on, “That man, Ruth, is one of our circle of covenant redeemers, a close relative of ours!”

Ruth 2:20 MSG

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