Tag Archives: spiritual growth

Controlling The Outcome

We’ve all been in a situation where we were outnumbered, outgunned and facing nsurmountable odds. It’s stressful to be in that place. Questions fill your mind causing you to doubt and to wonder if you’re in God’s will or not. Your fight or flight mechanism begins to kick in and it likes the flight option. In those moments, we have to be guided by our faith and not our fear. Moments like these are designed to build our faith and to grow our trust in God. If we run, we not only give into fear, but we lose an opportunity to grow our faith. God allows us to be in situations like this because He’s looking to grow our relationship. These pressure situations should cause our roots to go down deeper into Him.

In 2 Chronicles 14, Asa became king of Judah. After a long line of kings who disobeyed God, he changed course. He tore down the pagan altars his predecessors had built and turned the people toward God. There was peace during much of his reign, but it didn’t last. An Ethiopian came out against him with a million man army compared to his of just over half a million. He was thrust into one of those, “God, what’s going on? Aren’t I doing everything right” moments. He was outnumbered and outgunned, but his faith remained strong. He went out to meet the Ethiopian army head on knowing God was able to bring victory, and was willing to stand firm and fight even if God didn’t show up.

In verse 11 he prayed, “O LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and the weak; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in and rely on You” (AMP). Not only did he show up for the battle, he placed the outcome in God’s hands instead of his. There is an underlying peace in the turmoil when we give up our control of the outcome. It doesn’t make sense to let go, and often it goes against everything in us, but either God is going to step in or He’s not. Is your faith prepared either way? Even if he doesn’t deliver you or cause things to go “your way”, will you still trust Him? That’s the point we all must come to in faith. If we trust God is in control of the outcome, then we must determine ahead of time that whatever happens should deepen our faith not destroy it.

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Hungry For More

One of my regular prayers is, “Lord, help me to hunger and thirst for you and your righteousness. Open my eyes as I read your word. Give me understanding beyond my abilities, and help me to see the connections throughout Scripture.” I don’t ever want to be satisfied with where I am in my relationship with Him. I want to have a hunger to know Him more. I also don’t ever want to think I know enough about the Bible. Each time I read through it, I see things that never stood out before. I know that it’s God answering that prayer. He’s willing to reveal Himself to us if we are willing to take the time to know Him more.

I recently heard of someone who said they hadn’t opened their Bible in years. They had read through it once, then they put it on the shelf with their other books. They lost their hunger to know God more and treated the Bible as if it were a regular book. It was worrisome to me to hear of someone who thought that they knew all they would ever know about God and the Bible after reading it once. God is not a box to be checked in order to cover yourself for eternity. He is a being who wants to be known, sought after and hungered after.

Proverbs 18:15 says, “The spiritually hungry are always ready to learn more, for their hearts are eager to discover new truths” (TPT). When we lose our hunger for God, we lose the ability to know truth. Without knowing Truth, we’re condemned to live a life shackled by things that don’t matter for eternity. It’s the Truth that sets us free. Freedom from so many of the things that weigh us down can only be found in knowing more of who God is. With the hunger to know Him more, comes the desire to be more like Him. None of us should ever be satisfied with how much we know Him or how well we know the Bible. There’s always more for you. It’s time we were hungry for more.

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The Right Tools

Recently we were going to sand some floors down to refinish them. The cost to pay someone to do them was astronomical. We decided to do them ourselves. The cheapest way to do them was by hand. That would take forever so we went to rent a machine. I saw the machine I wanted and asked about it. He said it would do the job well, but they were out of sandpaper for it. He grabbed a “less aggressive” machine and then the sandpaper for it. As he rang it up, the sandpaper alone was over $100. I couldn’t believe the price. I had to remind myself that having the right tool was worth the money.

Proverbs 14:4 says, “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest” (NLT). Having oxen would require feeding them, watering them, housing them and ultimately cleaning up after them. Many people would look at the down side of owning them and choose not to get them. On the other hand, without them it would be difficult to plow the land or to bring in the harvest. There’s give and take in everything. It’s up to us to count the cost and to understand you get what you pay for, even if the cost is ongoing. In an agricultural society, if you wanted an abundant crop, you needed to invest in oxen.

Each one of us has a purpose to fulfill. You can do it with the natural tools you’ve been given (like sanding the floor by hand) or you can invest in yourself to increase the effectiveness of those tools. Going to school, taking a class, buying books and other ways to increase your effectiveness will cost you. It’s up to you to make sure you use the right tools for what you’re called to do and to invest in your future. There are pro’s and con’s to everything. That’s why we’re encouraged to count the cost physically and spiritually. Investing in the right tools for whatever God is calling you to will translate to your effectiveness.

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The Stone Carpenter

One of the things I learned in Nazareth, was that a carpenter in Jesus day meant more than someone who worked with wood. It was a person who worked with stone also. There wasn’t a different word for the two. It’s interesting to me because it changes how I think about Jesus versus how I thought of Him as just a woodworker. Knowing that Jesus could have been a stone worker as well, brings other verses to life that didn’t quite make as much sense before.

One of the first scriptures I thought of when I heard that was I Peter 2:5. It says, “And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God” (NLT). You and I are living stones that Jesus, the stone carpenter, shapes, molds, and builds with. No matter how hard our hearts might be, He can use His divine chisel to form us into who He needs us to be.

Another one I thought of was Matthew 16:18 that says, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” I’ve always thought of this verse as just Peter being the Rock, but when we think of what Peter said above, each one of us are the Rock with which Jesus builds His church. We are the ones also who the powers of hell will not conquer. We are stronger than we think and we have the power of God in us causing us to be able to withstand anything the enemy brings.

Go one more step with me. Mark 15:46 says, “Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance.” I don’t think it was coincidental that Jesus was buried in a rock. When we become Christians, we accept Jesus into our hearts. He fills the void inside of us just like He did that tomb.

The list could go on and on throughout the Bible. These are just a few examples I’ve thought of while sitting in Nazareth. Jesus was more than a wood carpenter, He was a stone carpenter. He’s a builder who uses what is available. No matter how little or much we think we have to offer, He can use it to build His Church because we carry His spirit inside of us. We are living stones because the One who lives forever, lives in us. We are His workmanship created to do good works, as Paul put it in Ephesians 2:10.

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Eternity In Mind

What would you change if you knew the day you were going to die? How would it change things if that day was years in the future or next week? I always wonder why God allows us to know when someone will be born, but not when we will die. He already knows the date, so why not let us know? For me, that leads back to the first question. Would we live differently if we knew the date? I think human nature dictates that we would live differently. Unfortunately, many people would live their lives for themselves, then at the last moment, give their lives to God. Since we don’t know when, we must live our lives being ready to meet our maker at any moment.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the average life expectancy in the United States is 78.6 years. With that kind of average, we all assume we will live that long, but the truth is that we don’t know. 78.6 years seems like a long time when you compare it to people you know, but what if we compare it to eternity? 78.6 years is nothing. It’s not even a second. What we do, and how we live will have an eternal impact. Why would we then try to live that second for anything other than our creator?

Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (NLT). Thinking about how short life is should push us to think eternally and make us live wisely with eternity in mind. The problem is that most of us don’t want to live our lives with the end in mind. We only think about today and what we need for it. God has planted eternity in our hearts, but He has left the future unclear (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He doesn’t want us to live our lives short sited. We need to live with eternity in mind.

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No Longer Ignorant

I was in court once fighting a traffic ticket, and i was somewhere way down on the docket. I watched other people get up and pleaded their case. One guy ran a red light because he didn’t see it was red. The judge told him that he was guilty because he was following too closely behind a taller vehicle. Another person was fighting theirs and when confronted with the law they broke, they insisted they were innocent because they didn’t know that was a law. The judge got everyone’s attention in the court room and said, “I want all of you to hear this because i don’t want to have to repeat it all day. Ignorance of the law doesn’t make you innocent when you break it.”

I’ve always remembered those words, and haven’t been back to fight a traffic ticket since. I learned a lot that day about driving and the law. There’s not been a time since when I was driving behind an 18 wheeler through town, that I haven’t remembered to slow down so I could see the light. Once we are knowledgeable about laws (God’s and man’s) it should change how we live. We are no longer ignorant of how we should live or of what is right or wrong. To continue living and doing things, knowing the law, is to be willfully breaking it. James 4:17 clearly calls that sin.

Just like that judge ruled that day, God will do the same in Heaven. Our ignorance will not be an excuse. I love how Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me more about you, how you work and how you move, so that I can walk onward in your truth until everything within me brings honor to your name” (TPT). Our desire, and prayer, should be to know God more and more so that we are no longer ignorant of His ways and laws so that we can live the way He wants us to. He’s given us the Bible to teach us the right way to live, but He’s also invited us into a personal relationship with Him so we can know His heart. God is willing to let you know more about Himself if you’re willing to take the time to know Him more.

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A Life Of Integrity

It used to be that Christians and non Christians held the Bible in high esteem. Just about everyone could agree that its principles for living were good. It became the standard of what was right and wrong even by people who didn’t trust or believe in Jesus. Today, it is no longer regarded that way in society. Each person or people group is now believed to have their own standard of what right and wrong is. Our world has moved from a place of absolute truth to one where truth is relative to the person looking at it.

Integrity is not just about being honest. It’s also about holding yourself to a higher standard. As Christians, it’s important that we don’t lower the bar of what truth is just because the world has. The truth of God’s Word and the principles in it are not relative to how you’re feeling or want to interpret them. Our lives must be lived by the integrity of the Bible. Its truth has endured thousands of years and will continue to. If we want to live lives of integrity, we do it by building them on the Word of God.

Here are some Bible verses on living a life of integrity.

1. Above all, set yourself apart as a model of a life nobly lived. With dignity, demonstrate integrity in all that you teach.

Titus 2:7 TPT

2. The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.

Proverbs 20:7 NLT

3. O LORD, who may lodge [as a guest] in Your tent? Who may dwell [continually] on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity and strength of character, and works righteousness, And speaks and holds truth in his heart.

PSALMS 15:1-2 AMP

4. The evil of bad people leaves them out in the cold; the integrity of good people creates a safe place for living.

Proverbs 14:32 MSG

5. Integrity will lead you to success and happiness, but treachery will destroy your dreams.

Proverbs 11:3 TPT

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