Tag Archives: spiritual growth

Building Others Up

When I was in the Fifth grade, lunch time consisted of a group of us who spent that time doing a put down contest. Every day we sat there with one person on one side of the table against a person from the other side. The two would trade put downs until one person ran out of them or someone cried. As kids, we had no idea how dangerous this exercise was. Words are more powerful than we realized. My fear is that some from that group have spent a life time putting others down constantly or worse, putting themselves down. So many people are constantly putting themselves down with their own words.

Jude 1:20 says, “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith” (NLT). That’s a command to do the exact opposite of what we’ve been taught to do. We have to train ourselves to quit looking in the mirror and telling ourselves what’s wrong with us. We have to learn to quit saying what our limitations are and why we can’t do things. Building up involves talking about what you can do and what your qualities are. When you consistently tell yourself the qualities God has given you, you shift the talk track in your mind from negative to positive. You begin to build up rather than tear down.

We need to learn to do this for other people as well. Imagine if you had someone constantly telling you what’s right with you. That would affect your day and how you see yourself. So why not start it off today? Find someone and build them up today by telling them a God-given quality they have and why it’s important. Building each other up is part of God’s design for community. We all need to be reminded daily of the positive qualities we have and how they affect the world around us. Let’s quit putting ourselves and others down and begin to act the way God intended by building others up.

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Changing Our Behaviors

Have you ever noticed when you’re watching TV with your child, if they say a bad word, your child repeats it? They don’t repeat anything else except the one thing you don’t want them to. The other thing I’ve noticed that happens is they go to school and come home with some bad habits. You did everything you could to raise them right, but they see one kid act a certain way and they imitate their bad behavior. Those moments can be frustrating for a parent because you spend so much time trying to educate your child and train your child to be good, but they see one bad behavior and it’s all out the window.

I wonder if God feels the same way at times with us as His children. One of the main messages throughout the Bible is that His people are to be set apart and live differently. It’s full of verses on what Living His way means, but for some reason, we end up imitating things we see in the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,” but we find ourselves, along with many other Christians doing just that (NLT). I wonder if God is constantly asking us, “Where did you learn that?”

When we accept Jesus to be Lord of our life, we are saying we will no longer live like we did before. We are agreeing to allow Him to show us how to live, then submitting to His authority in our life. His love should change us from the inside out, and because of His holiness in us, we should live differently than the world. 3 John 1:11 says, “My dear friend, do not imitate what is bad, but imitate what is good. Whoever does good belongs to God; whoever does what is bad has not seen God” (GNT). Start today by asking God what behaviors He wants you to change in your life. You’ll find that just like every other Christian, there are more things we can do to be more like Him and less like this world.

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Living Stones

There’s a scripture I’ve read over many times and haven’t given much thought to until today. It’s 1 Peter 2:5 that says, “And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple” (NLT). If you think about what stones are and how they are used, a lot jumps out at you. Stones are movable, shapable, polishable and usable. These are all things God wants to do in our lives so that He can use us for His purposes. We all have a role to play in building His church of living stones. I don’t think it was by accident Peter used the term stone. In fact, it was divinely inspired.

Think about what David picked up and used to slay the giant. It was a stone, five smooth ones to be exact. What did the Israelites take out of the Jordan river to build an altar to God so people would remember what He did? Stones. What was the Temple in the Old Testament built out of? You guessed it, stones. The Bible uses stones for many things. If you think about them as people, we’ll that’s the same things God wants to do with us as living stones. We are to be giant slayers, reminding people of all God has done and we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

The thing that all these stones had in common is that they were able to be used and given a purpose. Sometimes God has to shape us before He can place us exactly where we’ll be the most effective. Sometimes that means parts of our lives will be knocked off so we’ll fit. Sometimes we will have our rough edges sanded off so we’re smooth. No matter what, we must submit to God and His purposes so we can reach our potential. Otherwise we will be stuck in the ground going nowhere. Today, ask God how He wants to use you as a living stone and see what He does.

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Producing Better Fruit

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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Protecting Our Relationship With God

I get the opportunity to talk to different people all the time. Inevitably someone wants to ask me relationship questions. I’m not a trained counselor or anything like that, but as I listen to these stories, there’s a constant thread through all of them. The problems they’re experiencing are a result of a lot of little things that have crept in and gone unchecked. Also, they haven’t done things to protect the relationship. When that happens, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back ends up happening and it gets the blame. The truth is it was several small, basic things that added up.

Just like any relationship, we have to make sure that we do the small, basic things in our relationship with Christ. We need to set parameters and protect it. We live in a connected world where everything seems to be vying for your attention. If we allow little things to distract us and keep us from praying or reading our Bible or going to church, it will become difficult to have that relationship that God wants to have with us. We must protect that time. We must make it sacred so that nothing and no one comes between us and God.

I’m reading the Bible book Song of Songs (Solomon) in the Passion translation. They’ve taken it and put in red letters the parts that are allegorically from God. Chapter 2:15 says this to us from God, “You must catch the troubling foxes, those sly little foxes that hinder our relationship. For they raid our budding vineyard of love to ruin what I’ve planted within you. Will you catch them and remove them for me? We will do it together” (TPT). God is asking us to protect our relationship with Him. I also love that just like any other relationship, it’s not just one side’s responsibility. We need to work together with God to remove the obstacles in our relationship so it can grow.

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Beyond The Horizon

While watching the recent lunar eclipse online, I learned some new things from the astrophysics who were giving a play by play. One of the things was that from the time you see the sun touch the horizon, until it goes down, you are not really seeing the sun. You are actually seeing a reflection of the sun that has already dipped below the horizon. Because of air density and the curvature of the earth, it creates a mirage that reflects an image of the sun back above the horizon. So when you’re watching a sunset with the sun going below the horizon, you’re actually looking beyond the horizon.

I think that’s pretty cool because until that point, i thought we could only see as far as the horizon. When you read Hebrews 11, you read about the great heroes of our faith. They were the men and women who trusted God without seeing what He was talking about. That’s really what faith is. If you could see what you believe in, it’s not really faith. Trusting God is following where He leads before there is anything there to see. It’s truly looking beyond your visual limitations and seeing into the future.

Hebrews 11:13 says, “These heroes all died still clinging to their faith, not even receiving all that had been promised them. But they saw beyond the horizon the fulfillment of their promises and gladly embraced it from afar” (TPT). What has God been asking you to do that’s beyond your current vision? It may be over the horizon, but if He’s asking you to move towards it. Trust the vision of what you truly can’t see at this moment, and start acting in faith. The life God has called us to is always beyond the horizon. It’s up to us to trust in what He can see more than what we can see.

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Reopen The Wells

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.

How do you respond to road blocks and set backs? Do you believe the non-scriptural platitudes that say, “God doesn’t close a door without opening a window”? Do you give up and just sit there? Maybe you look for another route and roll with the punches. Each of us respond in different ways when we’ve done the ground work for things in our lives only to have it stopped suddenly. I believe how we respond matters.

In Genesis 26, Abraham had already died and his son Isaac was a full grown man. Isaac planted crops and God blessed them. Whatever he did, God put His hand on it and made him successful. With that success came jealousy from others who were not as blessed. The Philistines went around and filled his wells with dirt, and their king made him uproot his family and move because of their jealousy.

When Isaac moved away to other places he had taken his flocks before, he realized what they had done. Isaac and his father had dug many wells throughout the land to give water to their family and flocks. Now, all those years of work had been undone. He could have looked for other wells that didn’t belong to him, but that wasn’t right. Genesis 26:18 says, “He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them” (NLT).

When what you’ve worked for gets destroyed by someone else, don’t just walk away or give up. Put the work back into it and re-dig your wells. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take determination. Your desire to be successful and blessed has to be stronger than your desire to give up. Isaac didn’t quit or look for God to open a new well. He grabbed a shovel, started digging, and restored what the enemy had closed. That’s the response we should give to set backs and roadblocks in our lives.

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