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A Spiritual Examination 


I’ve got a friend who doesn’t like to go to the doctor. He says, “Every time I go, they find something wrong.” Isn’t that the point? If there’s something wrong, wouldn’t you want to know about it? For some people, if the problem isn’t exposed, it doesn’t exist. So if they don’t go to doctor and have the tests run, they aren’t really sick. That’s the wrong way to think about things. If you have a sickness and there’s a cure, wouldn’t you want that sickness exposed so the disease doesn’t run its course?

To some of you, what I just described sounds crazy. Others of you can identify with it. Whichever side you’re on, the truth is that many of us think the way my friend does when it comes to sin in our lives. We don’t want to shed light on it or expose it, much less have a test run to prove it exists in our body. If there’s something wrong spiritually with you, wouldn’t you want to know about it? Wouldn’t you want to get it cured?

David fell into the group that wanted to go to the doctor often and have tests run to make sure nothing was wrong. In Psalm 26:2 he prayed, “Examine me, GOD, from head to foot, order your battery of tests. Make sure I’m fit inside and out” (MSG). He wasn’t afraid to have God shine His light into every dark corner of his life. He knew that sin likes to lay hidden in our lives unexposed. It tells us to pretend we are perfect and nothing is wrong. The truth is that all of us are infected with sin, and the way we rid ourselves of it is to expose it to the light of God’s Word.

If we truly want to live the lives God has called us to, we can’t be afraid to go to The Doctor and have Him test our lives. God will not condemn us for having Him expose our sins. Instead, He will be faithful to forgive us and to lead us down His paths. We can’t be afraid that He will find something wrong with us or what others will think. There’s a cure for the sin that’s holding us back and it’s free. Jesus already paid the price for our sin and has written out the prescription. Ask God today to examine you so you can be fit inside and out.

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The Right Path


I grew up in the woods. We had trails for miles back there. We had also built forts all over the place too because we were always playing war games. We had named the forts instead of the trails because there were fewer of them. If my friend told me to meet him at such and such fort, I knew which trails to take to get there the quickest. I probably could have done it blindfolded because we were back there so much. I never questioned where I was or what trail to take to get where I was going. We could get to any fort from anywhere back there.

Fast forward to today, and life is full of trails or roads to take. I’m not so sure anymore which one is the right one. Taking the wrong turn can have much different consequences than it did back then. I don’t want to mess up so I analyze all the possible outcomes before I take step in any direction. My fears create a paralysis through analysis situation quite often. Instead of choosing a path at a fork in the road, often I’ll camp there instead of moving forward.

David must have felt the same way at times. I know he was an outdoorsman from growing up as a shepherd. He fought lions and bears, and led his sheep to green pastures throughout the territory. He wasn’t scared of anything until he became king. His decisions all of a sudden had great consequences and he fell into the paralysis through analysis too. His cure came in Psalm 25:4. He prayed, “Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow” (NLT). He trusted God to help him make the right decisions.

You and I can do that too. God will show us the right path to take. Even if we take the wrong one, verse 8 says, “The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray.” He has a way to get us back to where we need to be. We just have to trust Him enough to keep going when we come to those forks in the road. He’s big enough to correct our mistakes and get us where we need to go if we are willing to keep moving. If you’ve been camping because you’re not sure which way to go, take a step of faith and trust God to show you the right path. 

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Times Of Rain

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.

Rain is something we need, but don’t really want. We’ve given it a negative connotation too. It started when we were children singing the song, “Rain, Rain, go away. Come again another day.” Rain disrupts the times of sunshine and happiness that we feel. When it’s rainy outside, we say it’s gloomy. We think of the gray clouds and associate them with depression. Rain changes our path, our timing and our plans. It messes things up for us so we resist it. We forget that rain is a necessary part of life. We forget all the good that it does.

I’ve got several friends right now who are experiencing rain in their lives. Several friends have had loved ones pass away unexpectedly. I’ve got a couple of friends who can’t seem to find a job. I’ve got a few friends whose lives have been turned upside down because of choices their spouse made. For them, it seems like the rain just keeps coming. It feels like their lives are being flooded with only negative things. As I’ve thought about all their situations, Matthew 5:45 came to mind. It says, “It rains on the just and the unjust.”

I’ve read or heard that scripture my whole life. I was always under the impression that it meant that bad things happen to Christians and non Christians alike because I associated rain with bad times. When I read it in context and then in several versions and interpretations of the original Greek, the Message Bible stood out. It said, “This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone regardless.” The times of rain in our lives are meant to nourish us. Just like our yards, lakes and crops need rain for nourishment, so do our lives. 

When bad things happen, it usually pushes us closer go God. We spend more time in prayer. We take the time to talk to God and to read His Word to try to find answers. Days of sunshine rarely push us to spend time with God, but rain does. When we go a long time without rain or without spending time with a God, we go through a drought and that isn’t healthy. If you’re going through times of rain in your life right now, don’t pray for it to go away. Instead thank God for the nourishment and for the shelter He provides

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Leaving A Legacy


I have a friend who attended a leadership workshop. On the last day, he and the others were taken to a cemetery and were asked to write their own epitaph. It seems morbid at first, but the instructor was wanting them to to start thinking with the end in mind. It got him to start thinking about what he wanted to be remembered for at the end of his life. When he wrote it down, he started thinking about the things he needed to be doing in his life to make his desired epitaph come true.

One of the things I tell new employees at the company I work for is that everyone is known for something. I ask them, “What will you be known for?” I let them know that no matter what has happened in their past, they have a chance to start over and build their own brand. The brand they build for themselves will determine their success in the company and how far they want to go. Both of these lessons are true for each one of us. We need to be thinking about what we want to be known for and how we want to be remembered. 

In II Chronicles 21, Jehoram was king over Judah. He was given a good legacy being from the lineage of David, but he squandered it. In his jealousy, he murdered all his brothers. He also rebuilt the shrines to foreign gods that his father had torn down. Parts of the kingdom revolted during his reign. God then cursed him, had the enemy attack him and gave him a terrible disease. In verse 20 it says, “No one was sorry when he died” (NLT). Can you imagine?

I once heard someone say, “Live in such a way that the preacher won’t have to lie at your funeral.” So what do you want to be remembered for? What legacy do you want to leave behind? Psalm 37:18 says, “The Lord knows the days of the upright and blameless, and their heritage will abide forever” (AMP). What do you need to start doing today to finish your life well and to leave a heritage that will abide forever? It’s not too late or too early to start thinking about the legacy and heritage you want to leave behind.

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How To Fight Impossible Battles


In II Chronicles 20, a huge army invaded southern Israel. The king and all the people were terrified because they defeated several strongholds easily. He begged God for help and asked others to pray with him. It sounds a lot like any one of us when we are facing something that seems impossible to beat. Fear is our first response, then we beg God for help. I believe what follows in this story is something we can all learn from in these moments in life. 

The first thing that happened was King Jehoshaphat got like minded people together, fasted and prayed. We are not to fight these battles alone. Fear’s goal is to intimidate you and to push you into seclusion. Don’t let it! There is strength in numbers and in fasting. Get a group of people around you who can fight on their knees and touch God for you. This first step is critical if you’re going to win an impossible battle.

In verses 15-17, God answered those praying. The Word of the Lord came back saying, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (NLT). Things only seem impossible when God is not in the equation. The battles we face are not our own, but they are God’s. We don’t have to be afraid or discouraged at the sheer impossibility of anything that comes our way because God goes before us.

As the army of Israel approached the battlefield, Jehoshaphat spoke in verse 20 and reminded them, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in His prophets and you will succeed.” Faith will help us to stand firm when standing is all we can do. We can trust in God, and in His Word, to get the courage to keep standing in the face of impossibilities. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to continue to trust God and His Word so we can see the victory.

Finally, the king appointed singers to praise God and he sent them out in front. At the very moment they began to sing, the Lord gave victory. We need to be able to praise God in advance of victory. We need to honor Him when all else seems to be going wrong. Praise is powerful. It activates our faith and moves our God. If you can’t find it in you to praise, play praise music until you do. Victory is dependent on God, not us. We can praise Him for that. Our impossible battles are no match for a God who says all things are possible. 

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Restoring The Broken


Being a father of a boy with toys means that I have to always have superglue on hand. I can’t tell you how many times he’s handed me toys that were broken in pieces. With tears in his eyes, “Can you fix this please?” Sometimes I can do it, and other times I have to tell him that it’s beyond my ability to repair. He doesn’t understand why there are some things that are just too broken and superglue just won’t work.

Like him, many times we have to take the broken pieces of our lives to God and ask Him to fix it. I don’t know if God has some kind of spiritual superglue or what, but I do know that He’s pretty good at taking our broken pieces and putting them back together again. In fact, there’s no life so broken that it’s beyond His ability to repair. He specializes in putting our shattered pieces back together and making our life better than it was. We just have to be willing to hand Him the pieces.

Here are some Bible verses on God repairing our broken pieces and making us whole again.

1. GOD made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to GOD ’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. GOD rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
Psalm 18:20-24 MSG

2. He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds.
Psalm 147:3 GNT

3. A Message from Israel’s GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies: “When I’ve turned everything around and brought my people back, the old expressions will be heard on the streets: ‘ GOD bless you!’… ‘O True Home!’… ‘O Holy Mountain!’ All Judah’s people, whether in town or country, will get along just fine with each other. I’ll refresh tired bodies; I’ll restore tired souls.”
Jeremiah 31:23-25 MSG

4. But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.
Isaiah 53:5 GNT

5. For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. 
Isaiah 9:6 MSG

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Trusting Grace


My six year old son has been asking me a lot of questions about sin lately. He asked me if I sin. When I told him that I do, he wanted to know why. I explained that I don’t want to, but sometimes I do. It’s just part of being human and having sin live inside us. Then he wanted to know if it upsets God when I sin. I told him that it does, but God is faithful to forgive us of our sins when we confess them to Him and are sorry for doing them. Then he wanted to know if he sins and the circle continued. 

I love that he’s already concerning himself with wanting to live a life that pleases God. I also want him to understand that sin is an ongoing problem in all of our lives. There is no one who is perfect and can keep from sinning. This problem is outlined perfectly in Romans 7. Verses 17-20 say, “I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; i decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway” (MSG). It’s the struggle we all face.

No matter how much anyone of us want to live a sinless life, we eventually fall short and sin. Paul is very clear in this chapter that the problem is not us, but the sin that is inside of us. We are all dependent on God’s grace instead of our ability to live sinless lives. I love how Romans 8:4 puts it. “The law always ended up being a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it.” Trying to live a sinless life doesn’t fix the problem; it only covers it up. Living a perfect life is not our goal. Learning to trust God’s grace is.

God’s grace and the Holy Spirit working in us is the remedy to our sin problem. When we try to put a Band-Aid on our sin and do things on our own, pride comes in. The answer is to quit trying to live a sinless life out of sheer will power because we can’t. God’s Spirit is living in us and working in us. We must learn to live Spirit led lives, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us in the life that He wants us to live. The Spirit wants to lead us into a life of freedom instead of constant condemnation because we fail constantly. Rip off the Band-Aid and let God heal you from the inside out.

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