One of the things I’ve loved since I was a kid is trivia games, especially Bible trivia. My parents couldn’t afford to send us to camp when we were young, so they took us to ever Vacation Bible School in town. I got a head full of knowledge about the Bible from all of those. When you combine that with my ability to memorize things, I won a lot of prizes when it came to Bible Trivia. The only downside to having all that knowledge is that for years, I thought I knew God because I knew a lot about Him, but knowing about someone and knowing them are two very different things.
When David was old, he was preparing to hand over the kingdom to Solomon. Like any parent, I’m sure he saw great qualities in his son. He wanted to make sure that his son didn’t just rely on who he had heard God was, but wanted him to intimately know Him the way he did. In 1 Chronicles 28, David was giving Solomon instruction for ruling, for building the Temple and for living well. In verse 9, he said, “Learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever” (NLT).
There is so much wisdom in that one verse, but I want us to simply focus on that first part today. Learn to know God intimately. It’s good to learn about Him, but it’s more important to learn to know Him intimately. Knowledge about God comes from Scripture, but knowing Him comes from spending time in prayer and being still in His presence. All of the Bible is about this one thing: God wants an intimate relationship with you and He’s willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. The problem is it takes two to have a relationship. God has done His part. Will you do yours and spend some alone time with Him today listening to His voice?
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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.
Brian Tracy is one of the world’s leading motivational speakers for sales people. He has written several books, and is known internationally. One of the things he teaches is the Law of Correspondence. It says that your outer world will always be a reflection of your inner world. That means that your actions are driven by what’s going on inside of you. If there is chaos in your mind and heart, your actions will reflect that and your life will be crazy on the outside too. Our lives produce fruit that is a reflection of what’s going on in our heart.
In Matthew 12:33 Jesus said, “To have good fruit you must have a healthy tree; if you have a poor tree, you will have bad fruit. A tree is known by the kind of fruit it bears” (GNB). Every one of us bear fruit in our lives. The question is, is it good fruit or bad fruit? Our fruit is a reflection of our spiritual health. What goes on in our spirit man reflects in the fruit we bear. To have better fruit, we have to work on our spiritual health.
In my garden, I’ve noticed that the quality of the vegetables it produces is in relation to how much water it receives. When I forget to water it, there will be little to nothing being produced. What is produced during those times is undersized and not very tasty. When I add water, the plants will look differently almost over night. They will bloom quickly and produce a better harvest. It has to be constantly tended to if it is going to continuously bear good fruit.
If we fail to continuously water our spirit with the water that comes from God’s Word, we risk the same thing. Our fruit will be small and tasteless. It will reflect a dry spirit. We must take time to feed our spirit through reading God’s Word and spending time in prayer. If we are ever to escape a chaotic life end the fruit it bears, we are going to have to make time to focus on what’s going on inside of us. In time, our lives will bloom and produce the fruit that’s tasty to others and God.
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One of the greatest pet peeves of parents is when someone who doesn’t have kids tries to tell them how to parent. Usually their response is, “Come back and talk to me after you’ve had your own.” Why? Because how can a person without kids truly understand the struggles of raising a child? They haven’t had to sit up all night with a sick child. They haven’t been asked a hundred times for the same toy. They haven’t felt the embarrassment of their own flesh and blood throwing a holy fit in public. Without them going through those things, parents are less likely to take any advice from them.
One of the purposes of Jesus becoming flesh and blood, beyond dying on the cross, was so that He could understand the human condition. The almighty God took on our frailty so that He could better understand what it is like when we are sick. What it feels like to lose a family member. How hard it is to fight temptation when it comes our way. He went through the entire human experience so He could better empathize with us when we struggle and call out to Him in prayer. He’s not up there telling us to just deal with it. He understands what you and I are going through.
Hebrews 4:15 says, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (NLT). Think about that. He understands what you’re going through because He took the time to leave the role of creator to become the created. You and I can now go to Him with confidence in prayer asking for advice, seeking wisdom and looking for answers because He knows what you’re talking about. He’s experienced it and can now empathize with us. Whatever His answer is to our prayers, it’s based on His experiences and on what is best for our future.
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In 2 Chronicles 14, the Ethiopians brought a million man army up against Israel. King Asa only had about half of that. He didn’t wait for the Battle to come to them either. He rallied his troops and went out to meet the Ethiopian army. After he got to the battlefield, he prayed, “O GOD, you aren’t impressed by numbers or intimidated by a show of force once you decide to help: Help us, O GOD; we have come out to meet this huge army because we trust in you and who you are. Don’t let mere mortals stand against you!” (MSG) The next verse says that the Lord defeated the Ethiopian army right in front of Asa.
As I read this story, I was reminded that many times when we look at the battles we face, we are outnumbered, outgunned, and often surrounded with seemingly no way out. I’m sure Asa’s scouts told him how big the Ethiopian army was, but he still showed up for battle. Half of any your victory is simply showing up for the battle. When everything inside screams run, we’ve got to show up or we’ll miss seeing what God can and will do. If we want to be victorious, we can’t run from our problems. We’ve got to face them head on.
The other thing I was reminded of is that our battles are not our own. Asa fully trusted God to bring the victory. He didn’t look at the battlefield through his eyes. He saw it through God’s eyes. When he prayed, he already saw the victory because he trusted in what God would do. You and I need to change the lenses that we look at things through. Victory isn’t brought about by our might or our power, but by God’s Spirit. You shouldn’t be intimidated by how big your problems are. They should be intimidated by how big our God is. Show up, pray and watch God fight for you.
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Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. If life is full of anything, it’s full of decisions we all have to make. Every decision we make has ma consequence for good or for bad. If you’ve made some bad decisions in your life and have suffered the consequences, it can make it hard to make future decisions. There are tough questions we have to answer in life. Which college to attend, what to become in life, who to marry, whether or not to apply for a promotion, which church to attend, should we move, and so many more. Each has its own consequence and we want to make the right decision, but how can we know?
There are two things I do each time. The first is to pray for wisdom to know what to do. James 1:5 says, “But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all” (GNT). Often, wisdom comes at the expense of failure and suffering consequences, but God can give it out when we ask for it. It may take some time in prayer, but in the right moment, God often speaks heavenly wisdom through someone or makes the best choice clear in our minds.
Another thing you can do is ask God to give you peace in helping to guide you into making the decision. Colossians 3:15 says, “The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make.” I often pray, “God, if this is what I’m to do, then give me peace. If not, bring unrest to my heart and mind.” God gives a peace that is beyond understanding especially when there are life altering decisions to be made. Praying for this and experiencing it will guide you through some of life’s toughest decisions. God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, and He’s given us tools to guide in our decisions us as we go. We just need to use them.
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Whenever I travel for work, it’s important to stay in contact with my wife. Sometimes when we end up talking I’m at the airport or I’m at dinner or while I’m with coworkers. It’s hard to have good conversations in those places. It’s often noisy, people are trying to get my attention or I’m trying to find where I’m going so I’m somewhat distracted. The best conversations are when I’m away from all the noise in the quiet of my hotel room. Only then can we truly have interruption free conversations where it doesn’t have to be quick snippets.
Luke 5:16 says, “As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer” (MSG). Having intimate conversations with His father while He was here was important to Him. People were constantly vying for His attention and needing a miracle. Often, He just wanted to have a quiet conversation. Many times He had those quick conversations in front of people, but very often we read where Jesus went to a desolate place to pray. If it was important for Him to do that, how much more important for us?
At one point, Jesus told us to go into our closet to pray. I don’t know that He meant that literally. I think what He was saying was that we need to find a quiet place where we can have some uninterrupted prayer time. We can’t always go to an out of the way place to pray, but we can find space to get alone with Him. It may be a closet or it could be before everyone wakes up or after they go to bed, but we each need to find time to get alone with God so we can have intimate conversations with Him. I believe the quality of our relationship with Him hinges on it.
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