Tag Archives: faith

An Open Hand

To me, one of the most challenging things God has spoken to anyone in Scripture is in Genesis 12:1. “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you’” (NLT). He was 75 years old at the time. He was well established, and yet God asked him to pack everything up and go to a destination that would be shown to him at a later time. His faith in action is inspiring to me. The Bible later says that his faith was counted at righteousness. That’s a faith we should all aspire to have.

Fast forward to the New Testament and Jesus spoke something very similar to all of us. In Luke 14:31 Jesus said, “So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” Every one of us who follows Christ is given the same call that went out to Abram. I believe it’s God’s reminder to us that this place is not our home. Everything we have here is temporary and we can’t take it with us. We must be willing to let go of earthly things so we can receive from God the spiritual things that matter for eternity.

My wife and i try to keep an open hand for the things we have. When your hands are open to God, He can place things in them and take things out of them whenever He wants. Faith is trusting God with all you have and with the direction of your life. You may not get to know the destination. You may he asked to walk away from everything that’s familiar to you. God’s greatest blessings are stored up for those who are willing to give God whatever He asks for and for those who follow Him wherever He leads. What are you willing to let go of should God ask for it? Pray that God would help you keep an open hand and heart.

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The Biggest Gift

A big part of the stress of Christmas is buying gifts. How much should you spend? What do they want? Will I find parking at the mall? Will it be sold out? Will they love it? What if they return it? All these questions create stress in purchasing gifts. Multiply that by how many people are on your list and there in lies the level of your stress. Some people try to avoid all that stress by purchasing everything online. There’s also a stress with that. Will it look like the picture? Will it get here in time? How do you return it if you have to? There are so many things to worry about.

There’s a story in Luke 21 about a widow giving a gift. She might have been stressed too. As she stood in the temple and waited to bring her gift to God, several others made a show about their gifts. Verse one says that Jesus watched as the rich people dropped their gifts in the collection box. I’m sure she was watching too. As others dropped off their bags of money, she stood there with two little coins. She could have been wondering, “Is this enough? It’s nothing compared to the gifts they’re bringing in.” When the time seemed right, she went and gave her small gift to God.

Jesus was still watching when she did. He turned to the others around him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them.” Her tiny gift meant more to God than the extravagant gifts that others brought. Why? Because it was from her heart. She knew that it’s not the size of the gift or the amount of the gift that matters. She knew that even though she didn’t have much, what she had belonged to God. She gave Him what He had given her. Everything. She wasn’t content to give a fraction of what she had because God hadn’t given her a fraction of what He had. She gave everything she had.

When it comes to giving gifts, it’s not the price tag that matters. When it comes to giving to God, it’s not the amount that matters. What matters to God and others is if it comes from the heart. Anyone can give from their surplus. Anyone can give a gift in order to gain the praise of people. It takes a special person to give a gift that matters. It takes a person who isn’t intimidated by the show that others make of their giving to step out and give a gift that matters. Jesus is watching and sees it all. He sees beyond the external side of giving gifts and looks into the heart. He doesn’t measure gifts by the amount, He measures them by the attitude.

This Christmas season, don’t stress over the things that really don’t matter. You should live your life to please an audience of one. Giving gifts is meant to be a joyous occasion. Since the very beginning, God has been a giver. If you look at how God gives and what He looks for in givers, it’s not about excess. He’s never been impressed by that. He is always impressed with those who give from their hearts and who give their all. Don’t be ashamed that your gifts may not be as extravagant as what other people give. Give anyway. The smallest gift is often the biggest gift to God.

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Each year, I take a one week sabbatical from writing to refresh and to spend time with my family. Each devotion this week will be a past favorite. Enjoy and I’ll see you next week.

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Your Access Privileges

Because of my status with a certain hotel chain, whenever I travel, I get access to a concierge lounge. Every morning they serve a free hot breakfast that other guests can’t get. In the evenings, they serve hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Many times this lounge is in full view of other guests, but it’s behind a locked door that only certain guests’ keys can access. I’m often asked what you have to do to get access to that room. I let them know that it’s reserved for those who are loyal to that brand and stay a ton of nights a year with that hotel chain. While this lounge is great, there are many times when I’m so busy that I don’t take advantage of it.

As Christians, you and I have access to so much that God has to offer. He has given us privileges and rights that can only be accessed by those who have faith and rely on the grace of His Son Jesus. Sadly, many of us struggle through life without taking advantage of these benefits reserved for us. Sometimes it’s because we don’t spend time in prayer, other times it’s because we haven’t read the Bible enough to know what’s available and sometimes we don’t see ourselves as worthy of these gifts. Today, begin to seek God for these benefits that He has promised us access to. There’s more that God has for you if you’ll believe.

Here are some Bible verses on things we have access to.

1. Now we’re no longer living like slaves under the law, but we enjoy being God’s very own sons and daughters! And because we’re his, we can access everything our Father has—for we are heirs of God through Jesus, the Messiah!

Galatians 4:7 TPT

2. Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.

1 Corinthians 1:4-6 MSG

3. And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.

Matthew 16:19 MSG

4. This is in accordance with [the terms of] the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him [that is, our faith gives us sufficient courage to freely and openly approach God through Christ].

EPHESIANS 3:11-12 AMP

5. Our faith guarantees us permanent access into this marvelous kindness that has given us a perfect relationship with God. What incredible joy bursts forth within us as we keep on celebrating our hope of experiencing God’s glory!

Romans 5:2 TPT

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Stronger Faith

When life gets tough, do you let it push you closer to God or farther away from Him? I’ve had it do both. There have been times in my life where I desperately wanted God to show up and answer prayers, and to me it felt like He remained silent. I became upset with Him and decided I wasn’t going to ask Him for anything again. Another time, I was far away from Him, and when things got bad, I turned to Him to survive. My faith became the foundation on which I rebuilt my life. In both incidents, events in my life were more than I could handle.

Each of us go through difficulties. Each of go through times where our faith is all we have left. How do you respond in those moments? Do you tell God you’ll never ask Him for anything again because He didn’t answer? Do you have faith God will see you through when there’s no visible path forward? Faith is all about trusting God in life’s most difficult moments. It’s easy to have faith when you don’t have to use it. But what about those moments when it’s all you have left?

James 1:12 gives us a promise from God that says, “If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God!” (TPT) When we hold onto our faith in those periods where it’s all we have left, we experience a depth of God’s grace we’ve never known existed. We also get to know a God more intimately because our relationship deepens in those times. When God is all you have left, your faith has the ability to grow. These times are not designed to crush you or push you away from God. Rather let them do the work of deepening your faith and relationship with God.

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Expect Great Things

A few years ago, a video went viral of a man who was terrified to touch a teddy bear. They had blindfolded him and made him think he was on a show like Fear Factor. When he got the courage to put his hand in the plexiglass box, his fingers brushed up against the teddy bear. He squealed and yanked his hand out. For about two minutes he kept trying to reach in, but his fear was overwhelming. When he finally takes the blindfold off, he realizes it’s just a teddy bear, laughed, then grabbed it and spiked it on the ground. Everyone around him was laughing because he was too afraid to pick up a teddy bear.

It was easy for us to laugh at that because we weren’t the one blindfolded. Everyone else could see and knew he wasn’t in any danger. That’s kind of how Faith works. We’re blindfolded and can’t see. God is asking us to trust Him, but too often we are terrified. Our minds psych us out and we start freaking out. When we take a tiny step of faith and we experience something we aren’t anticipating, we squeal and pull back. All the while, God is saying, “Would you just trust me?”

In Matthew 9, two blind men were following Jesus calling out to Him for healing. Jesus asked if they believed He could heal blind eyes, and they said yes. Verse 29 says, “Then Jesus put His hands over their eyes and said, ‘You will have what your faith expects!’” (TPT) I believe He is still saying that to us today. Don’t let your mind expect the worse and create fear of what God is going to do. Expect God, who is good, to give you what you need. You don’t have to be terrified of what He has for you. Expect great things from Him because He gives good gifts.

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Using Your Faith

A couple of years ago, I decided I would start working out. After the first workout, I realized there were muscles in my body that hadn’t been used in a while, and there were muscles I didn’t know I had. I was very sore to say the least, but if I was going to get into shape, I needed to exercise and push those muscles. There are a lot of benefits to daily exercise including decreased fat, higher endorphin levels, stronger muscles and better overall health. When we don’t exercise often, you lose stamina, strength and will become weak.

To me, faith is like a muscle. You and I must exercise it often if we want to reap the benefits of it. To say you are a person of faith, but never stepping out in faith would be like owning a Bowflex, but never using it. Just having it doesn’t make you stronger or healthier. It takes daily use to reap the benefits of it. So many people buy a Bowflex with the intention of using it, but when they realize it requires constant effort, it often becomes an expensive clothes hanger. You and I can’t live with the intention of using our faith. It’s something we must exercise constantly.

Ephesians 3:17 says, “By constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life” (TPT). Just like there are benefits to exercising, there are greater benefits in exercising your faith. One of those is that the life of Christ will be released in you becoming your source for everything you need. You will begin trusting Him more than what you see, and the peace that passes all understanding will take over your life. Do something today that exercises your faith. It may hurt a little at first, but push through. You’ll be glad you did.

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Paralysis Through Analysis

One of the things that I see so many of us run into is paralysis through analysis. What I mean by that is that we feel like we need more information in order to act. When we don’t feel like we have all the information we need, we stall or make excuses as to why we can’t do what we need to. Because we live in the Information Age, we know there is always more information that we can acquire in order to make the best decision. The problem is that our need for information has replaced our ability to act in faith.

We all grew up hearing the words, “Ready. Set. Go.” As a people of faith, I believe God often is asking us to skip those first two words and simply go. Our comfort is in the getting ready and getting set, but we’ve learned to live in those areas without going. The truth is that we will never feel like we’re ready when we are acting in faith. To feel like we need more information, skills or tools means we are trying to do it in our own power and not in God’s. We’ve got to learn to let go of those security blankets and trust that we already have what we just need to “Go”,

Colossians 2:6 says, “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given” (MSG). It’s time for you and I to quit staying where we are trying to get ready. We need to step out with what we’ve been given and let God provide what we lack. Remember God doesn’t always call the most equipped people, but He does equip those He calls. It’s time to move forward with what you have. Break out of the paralysis through analysis, step out in faith and trust God to step in. That’s what faith is all about.

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