Tag Archives: spiritual

Platinum Override

I’ve stayed at a certain hotel chain enough that I’m Platinum Elite with them. One of the privileges that comes along with that status is called a Platinum Override. If I try to get a room in one of their hotels and it’s full, I can request a Platinum Override. They usually keep one or two rooms open for that, but if those are gone, they can bump another guest to make room for me. I’ve had to do that on a couple of occasions when I really needed a room and all the hotels were booked. When I apologize for asking for it, they remind me that I’ve earned that privilege with them.

I love how Philippians 2 talks about Jesus. It reminds us that He is God’s Son and had the privileges that come along with that. Verse 8 says, “Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion” (MSG). Jesus could have played His Platinum Override card when the time came to die, but He didn’t. He endured the suffering because of His love for you and me.

Philippians 2 also reminds us to be like Christ in this manner. We are to live selfless lives that aren’t intent on getting ourselves ahead at whatever cost. Instead, we are to help others get ahead. Verse 4 says, “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Each of us have the ability lend a helping hand to someone else. There’s always someone else who is worse off than we are. Look for them today, put down your Platinum Override card and help them get ahead. In doing so, you’ll exhibit selflessness like Jesus.

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Intimate Conversations

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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A New Heart

I go through phases on the music I listen to. Recently, I was on an old school, Christian music kick and was listening to Keith Green. On the live version of “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful”, he told the story of how he wrote it. He wrote God a letter asking God for a soft, spiritual heart. He wanted baby skin on his heart because his heart was getting old and calloused. He said, “It’s not because of anything I’m doing. It’s because of a lot of things I’m not doing.” Those words resonated within me. I began to pray for a new heart too.

Keith is right. The longer we are Christians, the more our heart gets calloused within us. It’s such a slow process that we often don’t realize it. We quit praying for certain things because we “know He won’t answer that.” We see the excitement in a new believer and think, “That’ll wear off soon.” Over time, we lose our childlike faith, but I believe God wants us to keep that. Praying for a new or soft heart is a great way to rekindle the fire that once burned bright.

When Samuel met Saul, he told Saul he was going to be king of Israel. He then gave him three signs of things he would encounter on his way home to prove it. I Samuel 10:9 says, “As Saul turned and started to leave, God gave him a new heart, and all Samuel’s signs were fulfilled that day” (NLT). We know that over time Saul’s heart hardened again, but there at the beginning, God gave him a new heart. I believe God wants all of us to have a new heart with childlike faith. If it’s been a while since God gave you a new heart, pray today that He will. I know He’ll answer that prayer.

Click here for a YouTube video of the Keith Green song.

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Saving Jesus

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.

A few years ago, I played the part of Pilate for a church’s Easter drama. As I rehearsed my lines and got into character, it dawned on me that I was the one sentencing Jesus to death. My first thought was, “I don’t know that I want to play this part.” Of all the characters in the drama, I’m the one who has the power to save Him and keep Him from being crucified. Even though I find no fault in Him, I still have to release Him to the mob to be killed. I have to give in to the mob rather than stand up for the truth. I have to disregard my wife’s warning and set a guilty man free instead.

As I struggled with playing that character, it hit me that it wasn’t Pilate who sentenced Jesus to death. It was me. Me! Chris Hendrix. It was my sin that condemned Him. It was my faults that nailed Him to the cross. These are things that I’ve known my whole life, but as I began to play the part of Pilate, I realized I’ve not really fully accepted that blame. I’ve been shifting it to those who actually crucified Him. It’s easier to point fingers and wash our hands of the guilt, but the truth is that water doesn’t take away the blame.

Each of us in our own way condemned Him to death. Even though I thought that as Pilate I had the power to save Him, I really didn’t. His ultimate plan was to die on the cross. If He hadn’t been crucified, we would still be in our sins and without hope. He kept that in mind as they hurled their accusations at Him. He loved them enough to stay silent in the face of their lies. He loved them enough to not perform a miracle for Herod. He loved you enough that He willingly died so He could pay the price for your sin. The real power was in His hands, not Pilate’s, and He used it for us. He took our “guilty” verdict on Himself to make us “innocent”. This Easter weekend, if you haven’t thanked Him for that, let me encourage you to. If you’ve never accepted Him for who He was and is, it’s time to recognize Him as the Son of God and invite Him to be Lord of your life. He died for you. Will you live for Him?

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What God Wants

I’m doing a 40 day prayer challenge with a friend as we lead up to Easter. We both made visual lists of the things we want to pray over daily. As we were discussing them, he mentioned that he wants to pray God’s will into his life. I thought it was a great idea, and I added a blank page to my visual. I pray over the things that are near and dear to my heart, but then I pray, “God, these are the things I desire for my life. What do you desire to do in me? What do you want to write into my life? I give you permission to do what you want.”

I’ll be honest, that’s a dangerous prayer, but I believe it’s a necessary one. We all have our own ideas about what’s important to us, and we have things we pray over. At the same time, there are things God is trying to do, and we need to submit to His will. I feel that many times the things we pray for are more our will than His. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus taught us how to pray in these instances. In Matthew 26:39 Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want” (GNT).

We can ask God for the things we want, but I believe it’s import to turn around and give God permission to do what He wants. It’s not so much about giving Him permission as it is that we are submitting to His will. God answers the prayers we pray that are in accordance with His will. He also has great plans for your life, but we have to learn to submit to them instead of insisting we get help accomplishing our own. Prayer shouldn’t be just about what we want. It needs to be about what God wants too.

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Heartfelt Worship

I was twenty years old before I attended my first liturgical style church service. I was raised in a church at the opposite end of the spectrum. The songs seemed to be all from before the 1700’s, and we had to do responsive readings throughout the service. I remember thinking, “This is crazy! How can anyone get into this?” It was then that God directed my gaze to a woman across the church. I could tell she was enjoying it and was worshipping God through the service. God was saying, “There’s more than one way to worship me because worship comes from the heart.”

In Matthew 26, Jesus was close to the end of His ministry. He was having dinner with a man he had healed when a woman came in with a perfume worth a year’s salary. She broke it open and poured it on Jesus. The disciples flipped out and called it a waste because they could have sold the perfume and given the money away. But Jesus responded in verse 13, “I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed” (NLT).

I’ve been like the disciples and have complained about other styles of worship. Because God gave us different personality styles, we express our worship differently. God is looking for us to worship Him in spirit and in truth with our lives, not just at a church service. The woman in this story worshipped with all she had and we are still talking about it two thousand years later. Imagine what the Church could do if we quit worrying about how each other worship God and focused on our own worship. Remember God is looking at our heart, not our outward expression.

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Ready

When I was younger, I was a part of a scouting program through the church. Our motto was, “Ready. Ready for anything. Ready to work, play, serve, worship, live and obey God’s Word.” Each Wednesday night, we would repeat that along with the pledges. We would have discussions about what it meant to be ready. We learned that once an opportunity arose, it was too late to get ready (see the Parable of the 10 Virgins with oil in their lamps).

The Bible is full of reminders to us to be ready. We never know when a door will open, when God will prompt us to do something or when Jesus will return. The motto I learned as a kid wasn’t just a good thing for a teenager to learn, it should be our motto as the Church. I believe there is so much God wants to do through us, but we aren’t ready when the opportunity arises. Today, let’s make sure we are ready for whatever God wants to do.

Here are some Bible verses on being ready.

1. Be ready for whatever comes, dressed for action and with your lamps lit, like servants who are waiting for their master to come back from a wedding feast. When he comes and knocks, they will open the door for him at once.

Luke 12:35-36 GNT

2. But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy–acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.

1 PETER 3:15 AMP

3. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Romans 12:13 NLT

4. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 NASB

5. So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you.

Ephesians 6:14-17 GNT

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