Tag Archives: spiritual growth

Preparation And Conditioning

In high school I had a coach that was tough. He would spend an hour and a half of a two hour practice conditioning our team. We would run laps outside and sprints inside. When we would beg for water, he’d say, “You can’t stop a game to get water.” After we would practice our plays for about 30 minutes, we’d finish practice with more running. Before you left, you had to make 100 free throws. He would tell us, “We may not be the best team on the floor, but we will be the best conditioned team.” I can tell you he was right. We ran the other teams out of the gym because they would get tired. When we held the state championship trophy, it was all worth it.

God, like that coach, is always looking ahead in our lives, seeing what we can’t see. He knows what it will take to condition us now so that we will endure the things that are coming. Preparing and conditioning are never easy, nor are they fun, but they build in us the endurance to push through where others fail. They get us in shape spiritually for the spiritual battles that we will face. At times during conditioning we can feel like giving up or want to start questioning why we aren’t spending more time practicing the things God is going to use us for. I’ve learned that if the enemy succeeds in destroying our witness, he can keep us from giving the message. We must be able to endure the pressure first.

I love the way The Passion Translation words Psalm 23:4. It says, “Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have!” God’s path rarely goes where we think it should. Many times it goes into dark places of testing and conditioning because God wants to build your trust in Him before the enemy attacks. What you learn in the valley will sustain you in the battle. Preparation and conditioning are necessary to make you more than a conqueror. The greater God’s plan is for your life, the greater your preparation and conditioning will be.

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Readjusting Your Course

Every time I fly, I think about a friend of mine who is a pilot. I’ve asked him many questions about the process of flying and what it’s like to be in the cabin. I’ve even questioned him about autopilot. He told me that before a flight, he plots the course based off of information he gets from others who are flying that route. Once the plane is in the air and cruising, he turns on autopilot. I wondered if it was really that easy. He then explained that at the cruising altitude, the winds can blow us off course and he has to readjust to get the plane back on course. If he doesn’t, the plane could arrive miles from its destination.

Our walk with God is a lot like that. We love to set our lives to autopilot and think that will get us directly to Heaven, but the Christian life is more than autopilot. In order to be successful at living this life, we need to have people in our lives who are ahead of us and have walked the path we are on. We need to listen to the information they’re giving us because they’ve seen first hand where turbulence lies. It’s important to have people in our lives who can give us guidance and the information we need to make the right decisions. Proverbs 13:20 tells us that if we want to be wise, we need to be around wise people.

The next thing we have to do is be aware of how the winds of life shift us from our course. Things happen. Problems are going to arise. We need to be in a constant state of questioning if we are still on course for where God has us headed. Reevaluation is an important part of your Christian life. Asking if we are where God wants us when God wants us to be there is important. Are we still on the path that God put us on? That path is hard to see sometimes. We need to have God’s Word in our hearts. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Applying God’s word to your life and taking advice from others will help you to live the most impactful Christian life you can. When we know what God says in His Word, we are able to defeat temptation that would take us off course. If we do get knocked off course, it’s not the end of the world. God offers forgiveness and course corrections. He makes a way to get back to where He had us heading. Don’t quit because you’ve been blown off course. Take the advice of someone who has been blown off course and been given a path back. God will not abandon you or the plans He has for you no matter how far off course you get. There’s always a way back.

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Throwback Thursday is a 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.

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Counting On God

Years ago, Tracy Lawrence sang a song called, “Find Out Who Your Friends Are”. The chorus said, “You find out who your friends are, Someone’s going to drop everything, Run out and crank up their car, Hit the gas, get there fast, Never stop to think, “What’s in it for me”, Or “‘It’s way too far”, They just show up, With their big ol’ heart, You find out who your friends are.” It’s a good reminder of the people in your life that you can count on for just about anything. God is One in whom we can count on in times of need.

King David had some incredible insight into who God is. He was a man after God’s heart, but he was also a man who lived a life of faith and trust. His psalms hit home with us because he was constantly in situations that required great faith and he wrote out his prayers. His desperation often matches our own and he gives words to prayers we need to pray in those moments. He found God to be a true friend who would never turn us away in our time of need. In Psalm 9:10, he wrote, “May everyone who knows your mercy keep putting their trust in you, for they can count on you for help no matter what. O Lord, you will never, no never, neglect those who come to you” (TPT)

You and I can go to God in our time of need and He will not neglect our need. I can tell you that He doesn’t answer each prayer the way I want Him to, but then again I don’t give my child everything he asks for either. Just like I look at the whole picture and make a decision for him, God does that with us. He meets our needs and never turns us away when we go to Him. His plan for our lives is greater than you or I can even imagine. For us to fulfill that plan, we’ve got to learn to trust Him the way David did. It’s not an easy path and things won’t always go your way, but if you keep trusting in Him, you’ll find that you can always count on Him no matter what.

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Living A Purposeful Life

If you’ve ever been to a river, you’ve sent things floating in it. They just go along with the flow, bump into things and get stuck when they run into other debris. If you’ve ever gotten into an inner tube and floated down the river, you know what that’s like. If you’re looking ahead, when you see a downed tree or something else that will stop your progress, you start to paddle until you’re around it. The difference between you and the other objects floating down the river is that you have the option to be proactive and guide yourself. You don’t have to just float along running into everything and then work to get yourself free.

So much of our lives is spent reacting to things that happen to us or around us. What if I told you that’s not how God intended for you to live your life? God’s desire for us is that we would live lives of purpose where we are intentional about the choices we make and how we live. A life of purpose doesn’t spend all its time in a reactionary mode. It looks ahead, plans and makes hard choices so that we are where God wants us, when He wants us there. It’s about knowing what you were created for and living your life according to that purpose. You were made on purpose, for a purpose, so it stands to reason that we should live our lives on purpose.

Here are some Bible verses on living life on purpose.

1. I will run the way of Your commandments [with purpose], For You will give me a heart that is willing.

PSALMS 119:32 AMP

2. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.

1 Corinthians 9:26 NLT

3. Set your gaze on the path before you. With fixed purpose, looking straight ahead, ignore life’s distractions.

Proverbs 4:25 TPT

4. Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Philippians 2:2 NLT

5. Form your purpose by asking for counsel, then carry it out using all the help you can get.

Proverbs 20:18 MSG

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Getting Rescued

A couple of years ago I joined a concierge service at the airport. With my card, I could bypass all the lines, including the TSA person checking tickets and ID’s, to go straight to the X-Ray machines. It was great. I no longer had issues at the airport. I didn’t have to worry about getting there two hours early or worry about all the TSA drama. It was worry free traveling. It was a lot like many people think life should be like when they become a Christian.

They think that becoming a Christian means you have no more troubles, problems or issues. You can coast through life bypassing all of its issues. If you have a need, simply pray and ask God for it. If you do have problems or unanswered prayers, you must have hidden sin or be out of God’s will. That perception of Christianity is all wrong. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from any of life’s problems. It gives you someone to help carry those troubles.

Every Christian can attest that their troubles didn’t stop the day they became a Christian. They didn’t become a perfect person, nor did their life become perfect. In many cases, their troubles increased. When troubles over take my life, I like to remember Psalm 34:19. It says, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time” (NLT). No matter how many troubles I face or how hard my life gets, I can count on God to come to my rescue.

That doesn’t mean the troubles go away or the devastation they cause in my life disappears. It means that God doesn’t abandon me in those times. He comes to give me strength to endure them. God knows that troubles produce growth, strength and endurance, so why would he keep us from things that produce positive traits? Christians will have troubles, but they don’t have to be afraid of them because God comes to their rescue and uses them to work out His good in their lives.

Throwback Thursday is a 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.

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Bad Days

It’s easy to praise God on our good days, but what about our bad days? When we didn’t get the news we were hoping for, when we didn’t get the job or when God didn’t answer our prayer the way we wanted Him to. Can you still bless the Lord on those days? Too many times we allow our disappointment to choose our response to God on those days. We must learn to not allow our feelings to dictate our relationship with God.

I’ve learned that God knows what He’s doing more than I do. While I don’t like bad days, I know that they produce more fruit in my life than the good days. They deepen my faith like no other times. It never feels good to be disappointed by not getting the things we want, but we must find a way to bless God anyway. If Job, who was as human as we are, could fall down and worship God on his worst day, we can too.

Here are some Bible verses about bad days.

1. GOD ’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked.

Psalm 9:9-10 MSG

2. Even when bad things happen to the good and godly ones, the Lord will save them and not let them be defeated by what they face.

Psalms 34:19 TPT

3. I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.

Isaiah 45:5-7 NLT

4. The Lord takes care of those who obey him, and the land will be theirs forever. They will not suffer when times are bad; they will have enough in time of famine.

Psalm 37:18-19 GNT

5. Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Why, GOD bless that man! GOD hasn’t quite walked out on us after all! He still loves us, in bad times as well as good!” Naomi went on, “That man, Ruth, is one of our circle of covenant redeemers, a close relative of ours!”

Ruth 2:20 MSG

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Loving God For Real

Several years ago I read a book called “Primal” by Mark Batterson and it wrecked me. It was based on Deuteronomy 6:5 that says, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being]” (AMP). It’s a verse we all know that Jesus said was the greatest commandment. Think about that. Everything in the Bible, all the wisdom, all the lessons, all the do’s and don’t’s are below what this commandment says. The most important thing we can do with our lives is to love God with our entire being.

In the book he described how loving the Lord with all your heart is about having a heart filled with compassion for the things God is compassionate about. Loving Him with all your mind is about having a holy curiosity to know who God is. Loving Him with your soul is to love Him with a sense of wonder and awe that once wowed you about Him. Finally, loving Him with your strength is about being energized to do things for Him because He excites you. As I read those, it hit me, I wasn’t loving God in all four areas. I was good in some and just ok in others. That wasn’t ok with me.

God didn’t command us to love Him in one or two of these ways. We must love Him in all four. The call to the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2, goes out to us. We must return to our first love. We must reignite the passion we once had. God is calling us to step out of the complacency of our relationship with Him so we can serve and love Him with everything in us. If we’re going to change this world, it starts with you and getting our relationship with God right first. Search over this verse today and ask God to show you what areas you’re missing the mark in. After you repent like I did, start doing something about it. We all have room to grow and get our love for God firing on all four cylinders.

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