Tag Archives: help

Be An Uplifter

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.


In my job, I work with both management and their employees. Something I see more and more often is employees who take very little responsibility in situations and shift the blame to leadership. If something goes wrong, it’s management’s fault. They don’t take the initiative to repair the situation themselves. They offer malicious obedience so that when they fail, they have a scapegoat. Maybe you’ve seen this too. This is a problem in our churches too, and all of us are guilty of doing it. When things aren’t being done the way we think they should be done, we blame the pastor or leadership instead of doing things ourselves.

One of the most memorable stories in the Bible that captures this attitude comes from Exodus 17. The children of Israel had left Egypt and were wandering in the desert. They were hot and thirsty. Instead of looking to resolve the problem, they complained and blamed Moses. They said, “Why did YOU bring us out of Egypt? To kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (GNB) They took no responsibility themselves. Ultimately, God spoke to Moses to strike a rock with his staff and water would come out of it. God did it as a favor to Moses rather than as a reward to the people.

In the following verses of that chapter, we see the characteristics we should display instead. While there in the desert, they were attacked by the Amalekites. Moses commanded Joshua to get some men to go fight. He then went with Aaron and Hur to the top of a hill to watch the battle while holding his staff in the air. While his arms were up, the Israelites prevailed; when his arms were down, they began to lose. The problem was that holding up the staff for a long period became tiring, and soon he could no longer hold up his arms.

Instead of complaining about leadership’s responsibility in the battle, Aaron and Hur found a rock for Moses to sit on. They then held his arms up for him as long as was needed until the Israelites had won. They recognized it wasn’t Moses’ job alone to lead the battle. They saw what needed to be done, without being asked, and they did it for their nation. In doing so, they provide for us a great example of how our lives should be. We can choose to be complainers, or we can choose to be uplifters. We can either blame, or we can be the solution. It’s up to each one of us to do our part in the church so that the body as a whole is successful. Will you be a complainer or will you be an uplifter?

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Chain Free Living


To demonstrate how difficult it is to accomplish even the easiest tasks while you are bound up, I once tried to preach a sermon with my hands tied behind my back. I wasn’t sure how it would play out, but it proved to be more difficult than I could imagine. My first problem was holding the microphone. Then I needed help turning the pages in my bible. After that, I needed to turn the page in my notes. Finally, I couldn’t use my hands then I spoke, which apparently I do.

So many of us try to do more than speak while we are bound up. We actually try to go through life while we are bound up in depression, addiction, grief, sin, etc. If you’ve been there, you know that even the smallest tasks can prove to be difficult. Go designed you to live a life of freedom. As Paul wrote, “It was for freedom that He set you free.” Jesus also said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

There’s a song called “Chain Breaker” that says, “If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain taker. If you feel lost, He’s a way maker. If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior. If you’ve got chains, He’s a chain breaker.” The words to this song remind me that I don’t have to live bound up in my chains. There is no chain so strong that God cannot break it in your life. There is no depression so dark that He can’t bring you out of it. I’ve been in the deep, dark prison of depression and He set me free.

I love reading Psalm 107 because it’s a reminder of what God can do for us. In verse 14 it says, “He brought them out of their gloom and darkness and broke their chains in pieces” (GNT). If you’re bound up by chains today or are in a dark place, call out to God. Ask Him to lead you out of that place and to set you free. I know if He did it in my life, He can do it in yours. It’s time we all got back to living the life of freedom that God created us to live.

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Joy Returns


Lamentations 4 and 5 are two of the saddest chapters in the Bible. Jeremiah was so descriptive of what life was like living under the control of their enemy. The people who were once wealthy were digging through the trash to find food. The kids were forced to do manual labor that was too hard for them. Anyone caught looking for food outside the city walls was killed. Confidence was replaced with desperation, and joy was replaced with a deep depression. 

People no longer gathered to talk. No one sang any songs. The population was dwindling down because people were dying of starvation. It was a very dark period in Israel’s history. Jeremiah knew they were living under the enemy’s control because they had turned their back on God. He cried out in repentance and asked God how long would they suffer. Then he remembered that suffering is temporary, but God is eternal.

You may be going through a dark time in your life right now as well. It may feel like God has abandoned you and that you are living under the enemy’s control. I know what it’s like to live through that. I know what it feels like to lose everything and wonder if you should still try to keep going. I can let you know that the suffering is only temporary. It does end and the sun comes out again. God has not abandoned you no matter how alone you feel.

I pray Jeremiah’s prayer in Lamentations 5:21 over you today. It says, “Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!” (GNT) I’m living proof that God restores what the enemy stole, and that joy returns. When God restores you, He will rebuild everything better than it was. When He gives your joy back, it will be greater than before. What feels like forever is only a season. Restoration is coming. 

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Hope Returns


There have been a few times in my life when I’ve been desperate for hope. When I was in my early twenties, my mom was in ICU at the M.D. Anderson cancer center. I remember living in that holding room for families. Each family in there lived day to day desperate for good news. Some families got it, but most of us didn’t. We were tired, exhausted, mentally drained, and were looking for a ray of hope that might mean our loved one would walk out of there. 

Another time was after my first wife left me. My business was failing and the world all around me seemed to be crashing in. When I thought I had hit rock bottom, the bottom would fall out. When I thought I had good news, it turned out to be wrong. I just wanted something to hold onto in order to keep from from falling deeper in that hole, but everything I grabbed seemed to slip between my fingers.

To be without hope is a dangerous place, yet so many of us live there. Our lives seem to have no future, and we just want something we can believe in to brighten up the darkness a little. The writer of Lamentations was there too. He was in a desperate place having lost everything. As he recounted his trouble in chapter three, he then wrote in 3:22-23, “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue” (GNT). His hope returned when he took his eyes off his situation and focused on God.

I love what he goes on to write in verses 25-26. He says, “The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us—.” God sees us in our hopeless darkness. Looking back, He used those times to shape me and polish me. Trusting God when you can’t see a future is hard, but be patient. The Lord is good and is working things out for your good. Hope will return because God has not forgotten you.

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Don’t Give Up


Right next door to one of the flooded houses I was helping to gut was a house that hadn’t been touched. Every house on the street had big piles of debris and trash out front except that one. I asked the owner of the house where I was helping about it. She said, “He came home after the water receded, took one look at it, locked the door, got an apartment, and walked away.” With every wheelbarrow of trash I dumped, I would look at that house and get upset. How could they walk away? 

I get that there’s a lot of work to be done, but come on. I couldn’t understand them walking away. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that so many of us do the same thing in our lives. We look at the mess and think, “This is too difficult to fix. It’s easier to just walk away and give up.” Life does get complicated, and often the messes we find ourselves in are complex without an easy solution. I’ve learned though, that messes are incubators for miracles. 

In the book of Jeremiah, he had been put in prison for speaking the truth. The Babylonians had seized Jerusalem, and they were threatening to burn the city down and take them away captive. God spoke to Jeremiah and told him that a relative was going to come to the prison to sell him a piece of family property, and he was to buy it. Why? Because God was saying that things would one day return to normal and the mess would be resolved. So he prayed in Jeremiah 32:17, “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!” (NLT)

I can let you know that whatever you’re facing today is not too hard for God. While there doesn’t seem to be an end to your mess or a way out of it, God is working things out. Things will one day get back to normal. It won’t happen overnight, and things might get harder still, but what you’re facing isn’t too hard for Him. I’ve lived through messes where I thought there was only one way out, but God found another way. He will do the same for you if you don’t give up and walk away. 

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Rescued


Hurricane Harvey did a number on Houston. It dumped over 40 inches of rain in just a few days, which stranded many people. It’s been incredible to watch all the people with boats locally and from afar coming to rescue people who were trapped in their homes and cars by the rising waters. The news would show people standing on their roofs, or hanging out their windows, waving white flags indicating they wanted to be rescued. Thousands of lives have been saved through the generosity of others. 

As I’ve watched it happen, I can’t help but draw a parallel between it and the spiritual application. Because sin entered the world, every one of us needs to be spiritually rescued. We are all stranded and in need of being taken out of the rising waters. All it takes is for us to raise the white flag of surrender, and Christ will come to our rescue. Some look to be rescued at the first sin of the rising water, and others will stay put and never raise that flag hoping to wait it out.

I saw a man on the local news last night being taken to a shelter. He said, “All these people are crying over their lost possessions, but I look at it as a fresh start. I get a second chance to wipe the slate clean and be who I could have been.” For those of us being rescued, it should be the same way. Our old life has passed away in the flood of sin, and Jesus has given us a new life. He has given us the opportunity to be who we were created to be. We shouldn’t lament the life we once had that was in need of being rescued. 

Jeremiah 17:14 says, “Lord, heal me and I will be completely well; rescue me and I will be perfectly safe. You are the one I praise!” (GNT) If you have been rescued, your spirit is healed and safe. If you’re still in your old house, don’t wait until it’s too late to raise the white flag. Jesus is looking for you, hoping to rescue you so He can give you new life. Call out to Him. Ask Him to rescue you and to give you a new life, and help will be there immediately. We all need to be rescued, but we have to want to be rescued first. 

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The Blessing Thief

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.

If I’m honest, I’d rather be a person who helps others than a person who receives help from others. It’s hard for me to accept help even when I need it. There have been times in my life though when I’ve needed help because I was unable to do what needed to be done. When others tried to help, I tried to push them away. Then one day, a person who was trying to help me said, “You’re robbing me of my blessing if you don’t let me help!” I had never thought of it like that.

I had forgotten that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I was definitely blessed by their giving, but I didn’t think about the blessing on the other side. I know they weren’t doing it for the blessing, but in my refusal, I was robbing them of what they would have received from God for helping me. Every act of service gets two blessings. By declining my blessing (them helping me), I was denying them theirs. So why do we reject help?

For me, I grew up in a family that needed the help of others often. God was always faithful to us and people showed up at the right times. I’ll never forget one family that helped me in particular. As they gave me a tremendous gift, I asked how I could repay them. They said, “One day when you’re able, do the same for others.” I decided then and there that I wanted to be a person who helped others rather than a person who needed help. So when I need help, it takes me back to that time and the feelings of being the poor kid back.

In Matthew 10, Jesus was sending out the disciples to preach all over Israel. He told them not to take any money, which meant they would be dependent on other’s help. He knew that if we needed help, it would also keep us humble. In verse 41 He spoke a life changing truth when He said, “Accepting help is as good as giving help” (MSG). By accepting help from others, you are actually helping them. They get a blessing from your acceptance. Don’t deny or rob others of blessings because of your pride. Look at it as your way of helping them when you have nothing else to give. Don’t be a blessing thief.

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