Tag Archives: ministry

3 Questions To Ask Yourself (Tenth Anniversary)

This was the first devotion I wrote for this site.

1.When is the last time you exercised your faith?

I mean really exercised it. I want you to think of how much you make a year. Got the number in your head? Now think of one thing that costs that much. Imagine buying that one thing and then giving it away. It would hurt right?

Mary had purchased a perfume that cost a years worth of wages and poured it out on Jesus’ feet (John 12:3). Doing what God had asked her to do didn’t make sense to her or anyone else at the time. She wasn’t afraid to go big with her faith. God is looking for obedience from us. He wants us to exercise our faith. In order to do that, we must first spend time at the feet of Jesus to know his will and desire for us.

2. When is the last time you gave up what you wanted for the Kingdom?

In John 12:24, Jesus compared Himself to wheat and said because He was going to die, He would produce many others and yield a great harvest. We have to truly learn to die to ourselves and put the kingdom mission above our own mission. If you want to get a great harvest, it starts with dying to yourself.

That is easier said than done. In order to do that, we have to gain perspective. We have to understand God’s plan for the world and accept our role in that plan. Each person has a role. Paul said that some plant, some water and some harvest. Rarely does doing something for God bring you glory and attention. To get a harvest in your life, give up your desires and vision for His. It will be life changing.

3. Are you willing to do something for God without getting recognized for it?

In John 12:27, Jesus knew he was on a mission and he was troubled and distressed over it. He asked Philip and Andrew if He should pray and ask the Father to save him from what was coming. He then recognized that what He had been asked to do was for God’s glory. He submitted to the will of the Father even though He knew that it would bring Him pain and shame.

God sees the whole picture and the full ripple effect of what He is asking you to do. All we see is that we are being thrown into a pond of water that is over our heads. We have to be willing to complete the mission for His glory, not ours. If we have the wrong motivation, fear will keep us from doing what He wants.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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The Importance Of Excellence

It was a sculptor named Frederic Bartholdi who designed and built the Statue of Liberty. It was built and then dedicated in New York City In 1886. It would be nearly 20 years later when the Wright brothers first took flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Yet, when building the Statue of Liberty, Bartholdi refused to cut corners, especially on the head of Lady Liberty. To think that someone would ever be able to see the top of her head never crossed his mind, but he took the time to put the same amount of work and detail up there. When you’re driven by excellence, you focus even on the details you don’t think that others will see. You understand that when you get the small details right, the big problems rarely show up.

My personal motto is, “If it has my name on it, it needs to be done with excellence.” If I’m going to spend my time working on something, I want to make sure I don’t cut any corners or do a job that will reflect poorly on me. In my mind, I think about how the things I do don’t just reflect myself, but God. As a person who bears the name Christian, I should also be concerned about the reputation of the One whose name I bear. According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, each one of us are given gifts by God in order to help each other. If we’re going to maximize our gifts and their effects in the lives of others, it’s important that we understand how to use them and that we focus on using them well. We should never take these gifts lightly.

Galatians 6:4 says, “Let everyone be devoted to fulfill the work God has given them to do with excellence, and their joy will be in doing what’s right and being themselves, and not in being affirmed by others” (TPT). You have work that God has called you to do through the unique gifts He has equipped you with. If you don’t use them, or do your work half heartedly, you diminish the ripple affect into the lives of others. To have the greatest impact on this world, we each need to know our giftings and operate in them with the excellence they deserve. Put time into perfecting the details, even the ones you think no one will ever see. You never know what God will do or how He May bless your commitment to doing all things with excellence.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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The Heart Of A Servant

God put something inside of us that makes us feel good when we’re treated as an important person. Have you ever been the guest of honor before? Or been the most important person in the room? Or treated like royalty when you’ve visited somewhere? When something like that happens, we often say, “I could get used to this!” It’s a natural response to feel that way. What isn’t natural is to be in a moment or place like that, then excuse yourself from being the center of attention to plunging toilets. Most of us would ask someone else to do it so we wouldn’t mess up our clothes or stop the doting on us. However, that’s the example Jesus gave us to follow.

On the night before the Passover, which was a foreshadowing of what Jesus was about to do, He and the disciples were having dinner. John 13:3 says, “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God” (NLT). He had all authority in the universe in this moment. He knew He was heading back home, yet He noticed no one had washed their feet as was the custom. Instead of telling someone to call a servant or instead of asking a disciple to wash the feet, He did it. Verses 4-5 say, “So He got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around him.”

Doug Stringer, a ministry friend at Somebody Cares, says, “While men reach for thrones to build their own kingdom, Jesus reached for a towel to wash men’s feet.” When Jesus reached the moment His whole life had been pointing to, and had been given all authority, He showed us what to reach for. He denied the pride that lives within all of us and reached for the towel of humility. He served those He was about to die for, including Judas. The example Jesus gives is what He said over and over. If you want to be great in His kingdom, you must reach for a towel and serve. While it feels good to be the center of attention, and to have our ego stroked, it’s eternally better to have the heart of a servant.

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Waiting On God

Have you ever felt ill equipped to do something? Maybe you did your part to get ready for it, but you didn’t have the right tools to be successful. I’ve had that happen before. I had to lead a meeting, but when I arrived to the location, there wasn’t a projector. If they couldn’t see my PowerPoint slides, they wouldn’t be able to understand what I was discussing. It was one of those moments where you have to get really creative or pray that someone had a spare projector somewhere. Thankfully that was the case and I was able to give them the info they needed.

When it comes to fulfilling your purpose, the same thing can happen. There’s only so much you can do before you need God to do what only He can do. The problems come when we stop being patient and start trying to get creative in doing God’s part. We try to equip ourselves for what He wants to accomplish through us, but like Saul’s armor on David, it doesn’t fit. I’ve found that moving forward before God has done His part often complicates things and can have long lasting consequences.

In Hebrews 13:21, the writer prays and reminds us, “May the God of peace provide you with every good thing you need in order to do his will” (GNT). You have a part and God has a part. Learn to do your part and then have patience while God does His. He will give you what you need when you need it. I know it feels like you need it sooner or that you need to step in and help Him, but wait on Him. The Bible is full of people who didn’t wait and tried to do God’s part. Today, purpose in your heart that you will trust God to provide the thing you’re missing to accomplish His will and that you will wait until He gives it to you.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Imperfectly Perfect

Almost all of us have something we don’t like about ourselves. We can be very critical of ourselves and often see ourselves in a negative light. Whether it’s aN imperfection, a defect, a tick or impediment, it’s important to remember that God doesn’t see that the same way you do. We often see these things as limitations or as distractions, but God sees past those things we dislike about ourselves. He even has a way of wanting to use us for His purposes that may even expose that thing we struggle with. What we see as a hinderance, He sees as an opportunity for us to trust Him and rely on Him rather than ourselves.

In Exodus 4, God is calling Moses to be His spokesperson to Egypt on behalf of the enslaved Israelites. One slight problem though: Moses has a speech impediment. He stutters. He uses that to try to disqualify himself from being used by God. It doesn’t work. In verse 9, God says, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say” (NLT). Notice how God doesn’t heal the impediment. He has the ability to, but He doesn’t. He wanted to use Moses despite the issue, and He wants to use you too.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” You are His masterpiece, imperfections and all. What you see as an imperfection, He sees as a priceless work of art that is able to be used for His purposes. We must learn to see ourselves the way He sees us. We can give excuse after excuse to Him about how He has the wrong person or how these imperfections limit our ability to be used by Him, but His purpose will prevail. What you see as a limitation, He sees as an opportunity to trust Him. You are not defective. You are a masterpiece created with a purpose. Like Moses, we need to submit to it despite our “flaws”.

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Doing Your Work

Several years ago I worked in early childhood education. One of the first things I learned (and had to keep learning) was to never do for a child what a child can do for themselves. I like things to move along quickly. Watching a child do a task they were new at was painstakingly slow. It was a lot quicker for me to step in and do it for them, but in doing so, I was robbing them of increasing their ability to do the task. I had to learn to coach them through the process rather than to just sit back and watch them struggle. Some kids wanted me to do everything, liked the help, some ignored me and others insisted they didn’t want my input. Ultimately i embraced my role to empower them.

As Christians we’re not much different than the kids I used to work with. We’re slow moving on the tasks God asks us to do. When He sends help, we may push back because of our pride. Many times we just want God to do all the hard work while we sit back and enjoy the fruits of His labor. There are also times where we simply ignore what He’s asking us to do. He write it off telling ourselves that the voice isn’t God. Ultimately we need God’s help in completing and fulfilling our purpose. He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us and to help us as we accomplish His will.

Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure” (AMP). One of the notes in my Bible for this verse says that while God supports us, it is our responsibility to do the work He called us to. No one else is going to do what you’re called to do. It is your part to play in the story God is writing. He’s there to guide, help and support you through it, but He’s not going to do for you what you can do and are called to do. Listen for His voice as He guides you, strengthens and energized you to fulfill His purposes for your life.

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Redeemed From The Past

A couple of decades ago, I went through what I somewhat jokingly call halftime in my life. I was born and raised in church and accepted Jesus at an early age. Then in my mid twenties I decided to live in opposition to how I was raised. It didn’t take long for God to work on my heart to bring me back into living His way. During halftime I suffered many consequences for my actions including people telling me I was disqualified from being a minister. As I was lamenting over it to a friend, he reminded me that God doesn’t rescind His calling in our life. He takes our past and uses it to help others.

Paul, who wrote a lot of the New Testament, was raised in the strictest sect of Judaism. His zeal for God’s Law was so strong that he hunted down and killed people he thought were in opposition to his understanding of the Law. Then, in Acts 9, as he was traveling to persecute Christians, Jesus appeared to him and changed his life. As he ministered to people, he referee to himself as the chief of sinners knowing what he had done in the past. However, God was able to use his past to prove to anyone that no matter how much they’ve lived in opposition to God, they are still able to receive God’s grace, find salvation and be used by Him in ministry.

Psalm 139:5 says, “You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. You have laid your hand on me!” (TPT) God is not afraid of your past (or present). He has a plan for your life and is able to use whatever you’ve been through and whatever you’ve don’t to help others find healing and forgiveness in Him. Those things do not disqualify you. Instead, they have prepared you for the future He has got you. You, nor others, have the ability to remove God’s calling or plan for your life. He has prepared your future despite your past. He has laid His hand on you to accomplish His purposes in your life. Leave the guilt and condemnation behind, and follow where He leads.

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Taking Initiative

After speaking at a high school chapel service, a young girl came up to me and asked how she could know what her calling was. I told her to find her holy discontentment and start there. She still seemed a little confused, so I asked her to think about things that break her heart when she sees them. Then I gave her some advice I heard Andy Stanley give: Do for one what you wish you could do for many. Sometimes we look at an entire problem, feel inadequate and give up. You may not be able to eradicate hunger in the world by yourself, but you can feed one person. Start there. Do for one what you wish you could do for many. When you prove you can be faithful helping one, God will empower you to help many. It all starts with one.

I can’t help but think of King David wanting to show kindness to Saul’s family. When he found out Jonathan had a son that was still alive, he had him brought in. Historically, when a new family took over the throne, they wiped out the bloodline of the previous ruling family. Jonathan’s son thought that was what was going to happen to him when the king summoned him. However, David placed himself in this young man’s shoes and decided to show him kindness. If the roles had been switched, he would have appreciated kindness to his grandson. He then did for one what he wanted to do for any in Saul’s line; he gave him a seat at the king’s table and restored his family’s property.

I know you probably grew up reciting the Golden Rule and were taught to treat others the way you want to be treated, but what if you used it as a measuring stick for fulfilling your calling? I love the perspective that The Message gives it in Matthew 7:12. It says, “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.” When you have found your holy discontentment, do for one what you wish people would do for you if you were in that situation. Quit making the excuse that the problem is too great, you don’t have the resources to make a difference or that you’re not ready. Find one person in that situation and do what you can. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but you have to start. Put yourself in their shoes, think of what you would like for someone to do for you, take the initiative and do it.

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Keeping A Clear Mind

I’m bad about losing my cool when things don’t go the way I planned. I like to look at a goal, see the steps that need to take place and then take those steps. When something unplanned happens along that journey, I start to stress out, think of the worst case scenario and complain. On the other side of the coin, when I come to my senses and have a clear mind, I have a great ability to improvise. I can make connections where there don’t seem to be any and get things back on track no matter how far off they are. It’s really a matter of self control in those times when my plans go awry. My wife usually has to remind me that it’s not the end of the world and to step back, clear my mind and reassess.

Joseph, who was Jacob’s son, had a dream that went awry too. After expressing his dream that one day his mom, dad and brothers would all bow to him, he was sold as a slave where no one would bow to him. Instead of panicking, he held onto the dream. When he was accused of trying to rape his master’s wife, he was thrown in prison, even farther away from the realization of his dream. We never read where Joseph panicked or complained. We simply read of a person who did what was required of him in whatever situation he was in. He kept a clear mind no matter how crazy life got, and God’s plan still prevailed no matter what his circumstances were telling him.

In 2 Timothy 4, Paul reminded Timothy that no matter what, he should hold true to his calling to preach the Word. Then he gave him insight that things will get messy and people won’t listen to his message. In verse 5, he wrote, “But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you” (NLT). He was reminding him and us to do the work we were called to do no matter what things look like or how bad they get. Each of us have a ministry that God has given us. If we get distracted by the things going on around us, we will fail to do it. However, if we keep a clear mind, stay the course and continue working, we will carry out all God has created us to do.

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Unnoticed Work

Years ago, I was the store manager for a major company. Not long after I took over the store, I needed to hire an assistant manager. My district manager came in and gave me a suggestion of who he thought would be a great fit for the store. I didn’t think they would be a good fit and wanted to hire someone else. He agreed to let me hire the person I wanted. When I approached them about applying for the job, they said they didn’t think I knew them. I replied, “I’ve been seeing your work ethic for years. I’ve watched how you interact with customers and how you’ve respected authority when it’s been in your store.” He replied, “I never thought anyone saw me. I was just being myself.” I agreed and stated that’s why I wanted him to apply.

The day after Jesus was baptized, He began calling disciples to follow Him. Philip was one of the first ones. He went and told his brother Nathaneal that he had found the Messiah. When Nathaneal approached Jesus in John 1:47, Jesus said to him, “Now here comes a true son of Israel—an honest man with no hidden motive!” (TPT) Nathaniel was stunned and said he didn’t think Jesus had ever met him and didn’t know how He knew him. Jesus replied, “Nathanael, right before Philip came to you I saw you sitting under the shade of a fig tree.” That was all it took for him to believe in Jesus and to follow Him.

A lot of ministry and work that people do for God’s Kingdom goes unnoticed. You have to give a lot of yourself, and more times than not you’re criticized more than thanked when it is noticed. I want you to know that God not only knows who you are, He knows you and sees what you’re doing. Don’t quit serving because people don’t see or people criticize. In Matthew 6:3-4, Jesus encourages us, “But when you demonstrate generosity, do it with pure motives and without drawing attention to yourself. Give secretly and your Father, who sees all you do, will reward you openly.” Remember, you’re not doing what you’re doing for man’s approval. God sees your unnoticed work and will reward you openly here or in Heaven. You are known and seen by God. Keep up the good work.

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