Tag Archives: faith

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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An Understanding Heart

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.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been taught that Solomon asked God for wisdom. I tried looking up the scripture where he asked God for “wisdom”, but the Bible doesn’t put it that way. In I Kings 3:9, Solomon asked God for an understanding heart so he could judge the people well. In essence he was asking for wisdom, but as I dug deeper, he wanted more than just wisdom. He wanted to do well in God’s sight and to care for His people.

When I looked up the word “understanding” as it was used in this context, it had three meanings. The first was to hear. Solomon wanted a heart that could hear not only God, but what others were saying too. He didn’t want to just rely on what his ears heard, he wanted to really hear what people meant. Wisdom comes in not just hearing what is spoken. It comes when we can discern the true intent of the words spoken.

The next meaning of “understanding” was to listen. Almost everyone is born with the ability to hear, but only a few ever learn to listen. I believe that God is always speaking to us. We hear Him, but we don’t really listen to what it is that He’s telling us or showing us. Solomon was concerned about the ability of his heart to listen to God. He wanted God to know that he understood the only way to truly govern the people well would be if He could listen to His voice.

The third meaning of “understanding” in this context is to obey. It’s not enough to hear or listen to God. We have to obey what He tells us. I’m sure that Solomon had been told of Saul’s disobedience and of God’s response in I Samuel 15:22. Obedience is better than sacrifice. God is more concerned with our obedience to His word than in our obedience to religious rituals. Anyone can walk through the motions of a ritual, but only the wisest among us obey a God at all costs.

Wisdom was a by product of what he truly wanted. Hearing the voice of God, listening to what He really said and acting on it from his heart is what made Solomon truly wise. You and I can experience that wisdom. Solomon’s request for an understanding heart is one that you and I can ask for today. James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.” God would love to give each of us the wisdom that comes from an understanding heart.

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Don’t Give Up

Life is full of opportunities where it seems easier to just give up. Despite what you see on social media, everyone had challenges and things they face that push them to their limit. We all have a white flag of surrender that’s just itching to come out in certain situations, but there are no rewards in giving up. There is no growth in quitting. Proverbs reminds us that no matter how many times you and I get knocked down, we are to get back up. We must purpose in our hearts that we won’t be defeated and that we won’t give up or we’ll take the easy way out when it shows up.

Most of the time, our breakthrough is just beyond the point where we want to give up. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. It requires us to hang in there and stay engaged. As Ephesians 6 put it, after we’ve done everything, we should at least still be standing. When we continue to stand despite the set backs, despite the sucker punches, despite the news we receive, God honors that. Giving up is admitting defeat, but you and I fight from a place of victory that’s already been won.

Here are some verses on not giving up.

1. Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect GOD to get here soon.

Psalm 31:24 MSG

2. Think of what he went through; how he put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up.

Hebrews 12:3 GNT

3. Now Jesus was telling the disciples a parable to make the point that at all times they ought to pray and not give up and lose heart.

LUKE 18:1 AMP

4. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Galatians 6:9 NLT

5. They were trying to intimidate us into quitting. They thought, “They’ll give up; they’ll never finish it.” I prayed, “Give me strength.”

Nehemiah 6:9 MSG

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Do It Again

There’s a story of a group of college students who went to visit the home of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church. They noticed there were indentions on the floor of his room where he knelt to pray each day. After the tour, the class loaded on their bus. When the teacher counted, there was one missing. He went back through the property looking for the student and found him kneeling in those imprints praying, “Do it again, Lord. Do it again!” The teacher quietly walked up, tapped Billy Graham on the shoulder and let him know they had to leave.

I love that story because Billy understood that if God did it in the past for someone else, He could do it again for him. King David understood that same thing. In Psalm 126, David remembered how God had delivered the Israelites in the past. Then in verses 4-6 he prayed, “And now, GOD, do it again— bring rains to our drought-stricken lives So those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest, So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing” (MSG).

What has God done for someone else that you need Him to do for you? God is the same yesterday, today and forever. What He’s done for others, He will do again for you. You need to find your place where there are indentions on the floor, get in them and pray that God will do it again for you. I believe that what we sow in tears through prayer, we will reap as a harvest of blessing. If God hasn’t answered your prayers yet, keep planting those seeds of prayer. He will do it again in time.

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School’s Out

As a kid, this was one of my favorite weeks of the year because it was the beginning of summer. For the next three months, school was out and summer was in session. Eventually i graduated high school and then started taking college courses. They had the option to take summer courses. You could either take a summer break or you could take classes through the summer and finish college early. In either case, the time came when there was no more summer vacation, and it was time to put my education to use.

The same is true of our life with Jesus. If you grew up in church, you probably went to Sunday School or children’s church where they taught you the stories of the Bible. They helped you to memorize Bible verses, learn the books of the Bible and to have fun at church. But just like school, eventually your time ran out and it was time to go to big church. The learning didn’t stop, but the environment changed. It was less about the stories and more about how to apply them to your life.

Colossians 2:7 says, “You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving” (MSG). There comes a time when we need to not just study the Bible, but to apply it in our lives too. What good is knowledge if it’s never applied? Our faith grows and gets stronger when it’s tested and proven. Make today the start of being a Bible doer instead of just a Bible studier. Take one thing you’ve learned, apply it and live it out. Then keep adding to it day by day until you’re living a life of faith.

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Tested Faith

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.

I don’t know if there’s a Christian alive who hasn’t gone through a difficult time and wondered why people who are outright evil don’t appear to be suffering. You try to do everything God asks and follow all the rules, yet there is someone in your life living in outright rebellion to God and nothing ever happens to them. It’s unfair. It’s unjust. Why should the godly suffer when we are the ones who try to do right? Shouldn’t God bless us because we are his followers and curse them?

I’ve been caught in that trap before. I’ve questioned God’s decision to allow me to suffer while others enjoy life’s greatest blessings. At times, I’ve felt like my life was worse than Job’s. In the midst of my suffering, I’ve wondered if anyone ever had it as bad as me. I allowed myself to wallow in self pity. It didn’t get Job anywhere, and it certainly didn’t get me anywhere. God didn’t even seem to notice my pity party. I thought, “Maybe I should just live how I want since living right hasn’t gotten me anything except this pain.”

When we act on those thoughts, we fail the test God has given us. I’ve found that God only tests those worthy of taking it. Everything Job went through was a test to prove that he wasn’t righteous only because of his blessings. God was showing that his faith didn’t rely on his health or possessions. It relied on his trust in God even when God was silent during the test. It relied on who He had found God to be in the good times. It didn’t get distracted in the storm.

True faith gets tested. True faith trusts God even when we can’t see Him or feel Him. It’s understandable that we want to compare ourselves to others who aren’t living right, but we are to trust in God no matter what. Psalm 40:4 says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods” (NIV). We are blessed when we can keep our eyes on God in the midst of chaos. We pass the test when our trust in God outweighs our circumstances. We need to realize God is testing us because we are worthy of being tested.

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Praying With Confidence

When I was working on the final edits for my book, my friend, who was helping me with it, suggested that I get our pastor to write a review. That made me nervous. I was scared and uncomfortable to ask him to read it and to write a review even though I know him. My friend, who is on staff at the church asked, “Would you like me to ask him?” Still worried, I asked, “Are you sure? I don’t want to bother him.” He said, “Yes! I don’t have a problem asking him.”

So many times you and I approach God the way I approached my Pastor. We are nervous and scared to ask Him for anything because we either feel like were bothering Him or we don’t know Him enough. We’d rather share our request with someone else and let them talk to God for us. However, if you are a Christian, you don’t have to be that way. You are God’s child and have full access to Him with all the privileges of being His kid no matter how well you know Him.

Ephesians 3:12 says, “In union with Christ and through our faith in him we have the boldness to go into God’s presence with all confidence” (GNT). There’s no need to feel nervous in going to Him with your requests. In fact, you can be as bold as my friend was with our pastor when you go to God with your needs. Remember that God can’t answer what you don’t ask. He’s ready, willing and able to go above and beyond all you could ever ask or think, but you have to ask first. Pray with confidence today because God loves you and wants to hear from you.

(By the way, My Pastor was happy to read and write a review. My Fear was unfounded. Yours is too.)

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