June 8, 2018 · 6:08 AM
In our world, there is so much emphasis on leading and so little on following. Even my young son wants to lead wherever we go. He wants to be out front leading the way. The problem is that He has no clue where we are going most of the time. That doesn’t change the fact that he wants to be out front. What he has to learn is that before he, or anyone, can be a good leader, they have to be a good follower first. If everyone is trying to lead, and no one is following, it creates chaos.
No one knows where your life is going better than God, yet for most of our life we are out front like my son trying to beat Him there. Thankfully God is patient with us as we learn to follow Him. As we get better at following Him, our prayers often change from “God, where are you taking me” to “God, would you please lead me?” If we want to know where He’s taking us, we’ll try to get out front again. If we want Him to lead us, then it doesn’t matter because we fully trust in His timing and destination for our lives.
Here are some Bible verses on following and leading.
1. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalms 139:24 NLT
2. I follow faithfully the road he chooses, and never wander to either side.
Job 23:11 GNT
3. The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them, and they follow Me.
JOHN 10:27 AMP
4. He leads the humble in the right way and teaches them his will.
Psalm 25:9 GNT
5. Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
John 8:12 NLT
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
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February 27, 2018 · 5:57 AM
A couple of years ago, God asked us to move to a different church. It was one of the most difficult things to obey. I didn’t want to switch, but we felt Him speaking it to us over and over. We tested it by praying, “God, if this is you, and we’re hearing you right, then let these things happen.” After they happened, I reasoned those things could have “just happened”. We prayed again and asked for more signs, and He gave them. This went on for months because we didn’t want to move. Finally, I agreed to move, but told Him it was only going to be temporary.
It’s a difficult thing to follow God when it’s not when or where you want to go. People don’t understand why you’re picking up and moving. Others feel like you’re abandoning them because they don’t understand why either. We like to think going where God wants us to go is easy, but many times it isn’t. We like having roots planted, but if we are following where God leads, we have to be willing to be transplanted at any given moment.
After the children of Israel left Egypt, they followed God into the desert. Many times they questioned Him and wanted to return to where they came from. Over time, they learned to follow where He led. The Bible says, they followed God’s Shekinah glory wherever and whenever it lead. Numbers 9:22 says, “Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on” (NLT).
They learned what you and I have to learn. We need to follow where God leads us whether it’s for a short while or a long time. If we are surrendered to His plan and purposes, we must always be willing to move. It’s not easy at times, but following where He leads results in growth, blessings and expanded territory. If God is calling you away from where you’ve been, it’s time to break camp and move. You may not know why or where God is leading, but following Him is always the right choice.
Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash
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October 6, 2017 · 5:46 AM
I like to ask people to give me one word to describe what makes them successful. I get a lot of the same words from people like: personable, knowledgeable, honest, trustworthy, determined, and selfless. A word that I’ve yet to hear is diligent. It’s not a word we use that often anymore in our daily vocabulary, but it’s still a great word. It means to be constant in effort or to be persistent in trying to accomplish something. It’s about not giving up.
It’s a great word to describe how to be more successful at following God. Imagine if we became more persistent in chasing after Him or if we were more constant in our effort to know Him. How much stronger would our faith be? As I read Hebrews 11 (the Hall of Faith), I can’t help but see these men and women as diligent people. The greatest people of faith in the Bible had a common thing: they were diligent in their faith to follow God. If we want to live greater lives of faith, we should become more diligent in following God.
Here are some Bible verses about being diligent.
1. The soul (appetite) of the lazy person craves and gets nothing [for lethargy overcomes ambition], But the soul (appetite) of the diligent [who works willingly] is rich and abundantly supplied.
PROVERBS 13:4 AMP
2. Our people have to learn to be diligent in their work so that all necessities are met (especially among the needy) and they don’t end up with nothing to show for their lives.
Titus 3:14 MSG
3. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward.
2 John 1:8 NLT
4. So be very diligent to love the Lord your God for your own well-being.
Joshua 23:11 HCSB
5. But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.
HEBREWS 11:6 AMP
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June 1, 2017 · 5:11 AM
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 from God’s Word to us.
One of the most difficult parts of walking by faith is not knowing God’s timetable. So many times, it feels like we are to move on or we want to stay where we are longer than God’s plan. When things are going well, we want to camp in that place and stay there forever. When we’ve been stuck in one place and haven’t seen the growth we want, we are ready to move on. But most of the time, God’s timetable for moving on is different than our own.
There are times in my life when things start happening quickly, and I feel like things are moving in the right direction. Then, all of a sudden, I hit a brick wall. I get stopped in the middle of my progress, and have to stay there for a while. I don’t know why we hit these plateaus or why God camps us out where He does. Some places it seems very logical, but other times it leaves me scratching my head and asking God why.
As I’ve read through the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, I came across some verses that showed they went through something similar. Numbers 9:15-18 says, “On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it. But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the LORD’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle” (NLT).
You and I have the responsibility of following God wherever He leads, whenever He moves. Verse 22 says, “Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on.” You and I have to learn to be flexible with God’s timetable. We don’t have permission to move until He says it’s ok. If you want to experience all God has for you, follow His presence when and where it leads you.
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February 10, 2017 · 5:00 AM
When my family and I are walking somewhere, my son tries to take the lead even though he should be following. He had no idea where we are going, but he wants to be first. “Are we going this way,” he asks. I smile and keep walking. “What about this way? Are we going over here?” I tell him to follow and he’ll find out. I want him to learn to trust our lead and to quit trying to be first. It’s more important to arrive at the right place second that at the wrong place first.
That’s how many of us are with God while He’s trying to lead us. We keep guessing where He might want to take us, and we run off asking, “Is this what you want me to do? Is this where you want me to go?” Being impatient is what gets us to the wrong place first. Listening to His voice and following where He leads is what we need to be doing. Quit trying to lead the Lord and start being led by Him.
Here are some verses on being led by God.
1. Teach me how to live, O LORD. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.
Psalms 27:11 NLT
2. And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 6:13 AMPC
3. Hurry with your answer, GOD! I’m nearly at the end of my rope. Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me! That would be certain death. If you wake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice, I’ll go to sleep each night trusting in you. Point out the road I must travel; I’m all ears, all eyes before you. Save me from my enemies, GOD — you’re my only hope! Teach me how to live to please you, because you’re my God. Lead me by your blessed Spirit into cleared and level pastureland.
Psalm 143:7-10 MSG
4. May the Lord lead you into a greater understanding of God’s love and the endurance that is given by Christ.
2 Thessalonians 3:5 GNT
5. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalms 139:23-24 NLT
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July 13, 2016 · 6:05 AM
Recently I took my family to the beach for a weekend getaway. I was scared to let my five-year-year old son go into the ocean. He and I sat right where the waves washed up on the shore. It was fun for a while, but then my son said, “I want to go out there,” as he pointed into the ocean. I didn’t want to take him out there because I was scared of the unknown. How deep was it? Were there drop offs? What would happen if we got pulled out by the current?
After holding him off for a while, I finally consented to his relentless desire to leave the shore. I waded out to where the water was halfway up my calf, but he said, “Go farther!” I then went out to where it was just above my knees. We let the waves crash against us, but he insisted, “Go farther!” I finally went out to waist-deep water, but I refused to go farther against his wishes. I was scared that if the water got any deeper, I would no longer be in control of the situation.
As we were out there, I couldn’t help but think how if God were an ocean, the Holy Spirit would be calling me to go farther into Him. Like me, many of us are afraid to go deeper than our ability to have control. We are afraid to explore the depths of who God is beyond our understanding, so we sit on the shore just wetting our feet or wade in waist-deep. We ignore the Spirit’s calling to go farther because what we discover about who God is may not fit into our boxes that we have placed Him in.
According to NOAA.gov, we have explored less than 5% of the oceans on earth. I wonder if that’s how much we have explored the depths of God. In I Corinthians 2:10-11, Paul wrote, “The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God” (MSG). If we want to explore the depths of God, we need to be led by His Spirit who knows Him intimately.
The most powerful, yet most underutilized gift God has given to each of us as believers is His Spirit. If we as Christians won’t explore the depths of God, how will we lead others to explore Him? You can only lead others as far as you have gone. We must be willing to hear the Spirit say, “Go farther,” and then to let Him lead us there if we are going to experience the growth God is looking to get out of us. We have to set aside our fear, relinquish our control, and let the Holy Spirit sweep us away into the unknown depths of God.
May 6, 2015 · 7:24 AM
At work, every once in a while, I’ll do an activity to teach people how to lead.ill split the group in two and give half blinders to put over their eyes. To the other half, I give the rules of engagement. They can’t touch the person with the blinder that they are leading. They can only use their words to safely have them exit the classroom, walk down the hall into another room, guide them to an object in that room, get them to pick it up, describe it to them without saying what it is and then guide them back to their point of origin.
In a crowded room, you have a lot of people talking. The person with the blinders should only be listening to one voice. When they listen to the instructions being given to someone else, they’re often confused, go the wrong way and bump into something. Some people wait until the room has cleared until they start so they can avoid the confusion. Once in the hallway, they have to guide them around corners, people and objects. It’s important to know where they’re going and how to tell this person how many steps before going right or left. It’s a fun exercise to watch, but also has a lot of powerful principles.
I use it to teach people how to lead and guide others using their words, but there’s a deeper lesson for us. Not many of us know how to follow or trust what we can’t see. For me, it’s an accurate representation of what it is to walk by faith. I can’t see where I’m going or the obstacles in my way until I bump into them. If I’m not listening or don’t understand the instructions given to me, I walk into walls, hazards and become scared to take the next step. My walk becomes a crawl and it becomes difficult to reach the goals God has for me.
Another powerful parallel is that God uses His words to guide us instead of grabbing us by the hand and taking us where He wants us to go. We know He’s there because we sense His presence, but unless we learn to listen to His voice, we won’t be going very far. I believe that God is always speaking to each one of us, but we hardly ever listen. He is telling us which way to go, when to duck and when to turn, but if we aren’t listening to His voice, we’ll be lead astray. God rarely speaks in a booming voice that is above all the noise in our life. Instead, He speaks in a still, small voice that we have to be listening for.
David must have experienced the same frustration that you and I face today when it comes to knowing God’s will and direction. In Psalm 5:8 he prayed, “Lead me to do your will; make your way plain for me to follow. (GNB)” He, like us, wanted to do God’s will, but he struggled. Instead of staying in one place, he prayed that God would lead him. He also asked that the path would be made plain. I think that’s a great prayer for us to pray today in searching for God’s will. When we pray it, we will need to listen for His voice and to be prepared to follow where He leads. Be careful to obey everything so you won’t bump into objects and arrive at your destination in a timely manner.
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September 2, 2014 · 7:43 AM
I recently took my son on a father / son camping trip with other men from our church. On Saturday morning, several kids started walking down a path and my son wanted to go with them. We were a couple of hundred yards behind them, but caught up about 15 minutes later. We crossed streams, logs and hilly terrain. About 30 minutes into it, one of the boys said, “We should go back the way we came.” I pointed out that we could hear the voices of the others and told him that we were close to the camp.
About 30 minutes later, we still hadn’t reached the camp. We could still hear them, but we seemed to be circling them. I couldn’t find a clear path to get to the camp. After going down a steep hill and finding ourselves at yet another stream to cross, I said, “You’re right. Let’s go back the way we came.” As soon as we turned around, I heard some rustling in the bushes not far away. It was his father who had come to look for him. He took us through some bushes to the path we couldn’t seem to find and led us to camp.
I can tell you from personal experience that I feel the same way on the path God has for me. A lot of times, it feels like I’m going nowhere. It’s long, hilly and has me cross some streams. There are times that I feel like I should be on another path or that I should turn around. The advice I get from others tells me to turn around, yet I can hear the voice of God say, “Continue on this path. I’ll lead you to where I’m taking you.” I keep going even though I can’t see where I’m going.
If you’re there with me, I want to share a scripture with you out of Deuteronomy 5. Verse 33 says, “Stay on the path that The Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.” If God has put you on a path, don’t let your mind or others tell you to get off of it. I know you may not see the end of it or where it’s going. It may be through some tough terrain, but God has you on that path for a reason. You will get to where He’s leading you when He wants you to get there. You will gain the experience He needs you to have as you follow the path.
In the end, He’s leading you to your promised land. He’s leading you to a place where you will flourish. God has a plan for your life and for the path that He has placed you on. He didn’t promise it would be easy. He promised that He wouldn’t leave you. He didn’t say that there wouldn’t be times where you wanted to give up. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to comfort you. He didn’t say you’d always know what was next. He said that His Word would be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. Stay on the path God put you on and trust Him to get you where He wants you.
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