Tag Archives: Jesus

Risk Your Gift

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.


A few years ago I had my nephew read the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. After he read it, we went to dinner to discuss it. He explained to me how the king had given servants silver and asked them to invest it while he was gone. When he came back for his money, one servant made ten times the original, another made five times and a third just buried it in the ground. The king was happy with the first two, but furious with the third.

After he explained it to me, I pulled out a hundred dollar bill and set it on the table. His eyes lit up. I slid it across the table to him and told him to invest it for me. I told I wanted him to think of a ministry he wanted to support with the profits. He quickly named a missionary in Kenya who had made an impact on him. I then told him I was going to come and ask for the money back and that we’d give whatever he had left to that missionary. Three months later, he ended turning that $100 into nearly $500. Not bad for a 12 year old.

It got me to thinking about what am I doing with the talents God has given me. Am I using them? Am I growing them? Have I invested them so I can show a profit from what He gave me? Yes, the story with my nephew is about money, but I’m talking about gifts God has enabled me with. Each of us has been given certain gifts and talents. Not one of us is talentless. Sure, some have more talent and gifts than others, but that doesn’t give us the right to bury ours in the sand.

In Romans 12:6-8, Paul tells us that no matter what gift God has given you, you should use it well. And in I Corinthians 12:7, he says that a spiritual gift has been given to each one of us so we can help each other. That means that God has given you a gift and He wants you to take a risk with the gift He has given you by using it. There’s a saying in business that says, “No risk. No reward.” Don’t be afraid to take a risk today with your gift. You might fail or you might succeed. You’ll never know until you try

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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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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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Stone In Hand


One of my biggest pet peeves while driving is people who cross the double white line to get into the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane. Every time I see someone do it, I say, “Where is a cop when you need one?” Or I yell out, “That’s illegal! You’re breaking the law!” There is a place to get on and off of the HOV lane every few miles, and people who don’t do it right deserve tickets.

I tell you that because as I was stewing over it one day, I was reminded of the story in John 8. There was a woman caught breaking the law, and the religious police brought her to Jesus. They said, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (NLT) He began drawing in the sand until they demanded an answer. Jesus finally answered them by saying, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” One by one they dropped their stones and walked away.

What I didn’t tell you about my story with people crossing the double white line was that I’m usually driving around 80 mph in a 65 zone. I’m just as guilty of breaking the law as they are and just as deserving of a ticket. However, I find it easy to justify my speeding by saying, “I’m just keeping up with traffic.” We’re all pretty good at justifying our own sins and throwing stones at people who sin differently than we do. These people had stones in their hands ready to throw. They were just waiting for Jesus to give them permission.

There’s been a lot of debate and speculation as to what Jesus drew in the sand that day. I like to think he wrote out the word, “Grace”. Each of them, like each of us, had needed God’s grace for something they had done that deserved the penalty of sin. It’s time we offered grace instead of stones to people who sin differently than we do. It’s easy to condemn, but Christlike to offer grace. Those double white lines on the freeway have become a self righteous check for me. I’m learning to drop the stones in my hands, and I hope that you are too.

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No Ice Please


When my son was three, he started noticing that my wife orders her Coke at the restaurant with no ice. He asked her why she didn’t want ice and she said, “When you get ice, over time, it dilutes the drink. Plus, with ice, you get less of a drink because of displacement.” He then asked me, “Are you ‘No ice’ or ‘Yes ice’?” I told him, “‘Yes ice’ because I would rather my drink be cold than to have a lot of it.” That seemed to satisfy him, though I’m sure he didn’t understand.

If we imagine our lives as those cups, ourself as the ice, and Jesus as the drink, we can learn a spiritual concept. The more we have of ourselves inside of us, the less we can have of Jesus. If we want more of Him, we have to empty ourselves of selfish desires. The problem is that we prefer the cold, watered down version of Jesus because it’s comfortable to us. All the while, Jesus is asking us to get rid of the ice of self so we can be more like Him.

John the Baptist is one of the greatest examples in the Bible of a ‘No ice’ person. In John 3, his disciples came to Him and said, “Hey, that guy you baptized the other day, and testified that He was the Messiah, is baptizing people down the river and our people are going to Him!” In verse 30, John replied, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (AMP). He understood that his comfort wasn’t the most important thing. Letting Jesus increase was.

The question to each of us is, “Are you ‘No ice’ or ”Yes ice’?” Do you want to be full of Jesus or of yourself? If you want to be full of Jesus, then you must decrease so He can increase in your life. You’ve got to put His desires above your own. You must daily deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23) in order to truly be a ‘No ice’ person. That’s struggle each of us face daily. We could all use a little less ice and a lot more Jesus. 

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More Important Things


Sometimes we will host a large group of people in our home for a birthday party or some other event. My personality style wants to make sure everyone is taken care of. I go around making sure people have what they need, empty the trash, put out more food, etc. at the end of the night, after we’ve cleaned everything and head to bed, my wife will sometimes ask, “Who all did you get to talk to? Did you visit with your aunt? Or did you get to visit with this person?” More often than not, my answer is, “No one. I was too busy.”

In my business, I forget to slow down and engage with people. My mind says that for people to have a good time, there needs to be food out, plates cleaned up, and the trash has to be taken out. Most of that can be done after the party, but it’s hard for me to let go. I get distracted by all there is to do, and then end up not interacting with my guests the way I should. I find that I have a lot in common with Lazarus’ sister Martha.

She hosted a party for Jesus and His disciples in Luke 10. While she was cooking food, taking out the trash, picking up plates, and such, her sister Mary was just sitting there interacting with Jesus. I’m sure she asked her for a help a few times before she complained to Jesus. She said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work?” (NLT) She was socked by Jesus’ answer I’m sure because it goes against her personality.

In verse 41-42, Jesus said, “But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’” God is less concerned with our busyness in making sure things get done than with our interaction with Him. Yes, things need to get done, but there are more important things out there. Sitting at Jesus’ feet is one of them.

You and I can get so caught up in the work of ministry and the life of a Christian that we forget to spend time with Jesus. When we fail to interact with Jesus, it’s easy to begin to think our work is what impresses God and others. It’s time each of us stopped the things that keep us busy and spend time interacting with Jesus. I think we’ll find direction and become more productive when we do. Doing Kingdom work is good, but it needs to come after we’ve spent time in His presence. 

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Immediate Obedience 


One of the things my wife and I decided after we had a kid was that we weren’t going to use the Three Count Rule. We wanted our son to obey the first time we said something, and not for him to think he had until the count of three to obey. Our reasoning was that if a car was coming and he was running towards the road, we wanted him to obey immediately. Kids are often distracted and unaware of their surroundings. As parents, we are constantly looking out for his safety and need him to obey without understanding why.

You and I are not so different as God’s children. We get distracted by the things of this world and our lives. We have a Heavenly Father who watches out for us and asks for our obedience without our understanding why. Instead of obeying, we often argue or don’t do what He asks because we don’t understand the why behind it or because it just doesn’t make sense. We could all learn a lesson from Peter who obeyed without understanding.

In Luke 5, Jesus was teaching near the Sea of Galilee. The crowds kept pressing in until he had no more room to stand. Peter and his fishing buddies were there mending and cleaning their nets from an all night fishing trip. Jesus asked to get in the boat and to then have him push off land a bit so He could teach the crowd. After He taught them, Jesus asked Peter to go out a little further and then cast His nets. It didn’t make sense to Him because the prime fishing time had already passed plus he had already cleaned his nets. He was tired and wanted to go home.

In verse 5, Peter said, “Master, we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again” (NLT). He didn’t argue even though he didn’t understand. He simply obeyed. The result of his obedience was the catch of a lifetime. That trust he had in obeying Jesus, no matter what, also led him to be able to walk on water. He understood that God knows better than we do. He sees things we can’t see. We may not understand the why behind what He’s asking, but we still need to obey or we will miss out on some of His greatest blessings. 

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