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Weird Requests

A couple of years ago, my wife and I left visiting with my family a couple of nights before Christmas to go pray for a friend. On our way back to my family’s house, we were approaching the light to turn onto their road when I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Stop right here.” I was about 15 yards back from the light in the middle turn lane. My wife looked at me with a puzzled look and asked, “What are you doing?” I said, “I don’t know. I was told to stop right here.” So we sat there for almost a minute. I rolled my window down to listen. We saw police lights about a mile ahead coming towards us. Just then, a car appeared out of no where traveling at a high speed with no lights on coming up the wrong way to avoid people in their lane at the light. It swerved right in front of us and missed us by inches. It was so fast and close that our SUV shook from the wind of it passing. As we realized if I had been where I was supposed to be, they would have hit us head on.

The Gospel of Luke tells us a story of some fishermen who had been cleaning their nets after unsuccessfully fishing all night. Up walks Jesus preaching to a large crowd. He notices their empty boats and asks if they can take Him out into the water just a bit so He can teach the crowd from there. After He taught the crowd, Luke 5:4 says He told them, “Now row out to deep water to cast your nets and you will have a great catch” (TPT). Peter, the seasoned fisherman, explained that it didn’t make sense and that you fish at night. But then he added, “But if you insist, we’ll go out again and let down our nets because of your word.” When they did, their nets became so full of fish that their nets began to tear. He had to yell for help to the other boat on shore. They had so many fish in their boats that they were on the verge of sinking.

Both of these stories are related. God doesn’t always ask us to do things that make sense. They often go against the way things are normally done. We can argue with God about how it makes us look or we can trust what He’s telling us to do and obey Him at His Word. God asks for obedience from us even when we don’t understand. Sometimes it’s to save our life and other times it’s to bless us or others. As you go about your day, listen to what God is speaking to you. Ask Him for the courage to obey His requests no matter what they are. You and I can only see what’s right in front of us. God sees how everything is connected and into the future. He knows what’s best so we need to obey Him no matter what. You never know what’s riding on your obedience.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other 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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The Blessings Of Trust

I’ve learned that there are some people who give trust up front to everyone they meet and there are people who make everyone earn trust before they give it. Trust is something that can easily be lost and difficult to gain. Think of someone you don’t trust. What would they have to do to earn it from you? You probably just thought of a nearly impossible bar. When you do trust someone, like a doctor or other professional, you take their opinion seriously and follow it. They have a proven track record of being right and that’s why you trust them. That kind of trust is defined by Merriam Webster as, “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” I love that definition of trust, especially when we apply it to God.

Peter trusted Jesus enough to get out of the boat to walk on the water. Some other people trusted Him enough to tear open a roof and to lower their friend down for healing. Moses trusted God enough to go back to Egypt and set the Israelites free. How much do you trust Him? To answer that, look at how much and what parts of your life you’ve given to Him. There are parts we all hold back from Him implying we trust ourselves more than Him in those areas. We can rely on the character, ability, strength and truth of who God is. He’s proven it since the beginning of time, yet we each hold back. It’s time we let go and trust Him with each of the areas of our lives. The more we trust Him, the greater our life becomes.

Here are some Bible verses on trusting God.

1. He who leans on and trusts in and is confident in his riches will fall, But the righteous [who trust in God’s provision] will flourish like a green leaf.

Proverbs 11:28 AMP

2. You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3 GNT

3. But blessed is the man who trusts me, GOD, the woman who sticks with GOD. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers— Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 MSG

4. Give God the right to direct your life, and as you trust him along the way you’ll find he pulled it off perfectly!

Psalms 37:5 TPT

5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

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Jehovah Shalom

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In a world dominated by chaos, peace is a hard thing to find. Fear is easily bred when you think of all that is going on today. Cities and countries are going bankrupt. Debts are rising. Diseases are rampant. There is very little in this world anymore that is stabile. When the future is uncertain, it’s easy to lose hope. I choose to not let the events of this world control my inner peace. What seems out if control in this world is still under God’s control.

In the book of Judges, chapter 6, Israel was in the same condition. Chaos reigned in the land. There was no hope. While Gideon was threshing wheat in secret, an angel appeared and said, “Mighty hero, The Lord is with you” (Judges 6:12 NLT). Gideon’s response was like many of ours would be. He asked, “If The Lord is with me, then why have all these bad things happened?” They talked some more and then Gideon asked for a sign that the angel was from God. After seeing the sign, Gideon was terrified, but God said, “Don’t be afraid.” Gideon built an altar to God and called it Jehovah Shalom (The Lord is Peace).

Don’t be afraid. That’s God’s word to us today. Don’t let fear grip your heart, your mind and your life. We are not meant to live in fear because God has not given us a spirit of fear. It’s not in Him. He is the Prince of Peace and that’s what He wants to give you today. Peace. He doesn’t want you so consumed by the chaos and instability in your life that you lose your focus. When you have peace, you can focus on what matters and make the best decisions.

Jesus said in John 14, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me… I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (verses 1, 27). His peace is not like the false peace that we find in the world. I call it “false” because the peace the world gives is temporary. His peace is eternal. It passes all understanding and it is sufficient for you.

I don’t know what all you are facing right now. I’ve had my fair share of trouble, stress and chaos in my life. I’ve also been guilty of allowing those things to take over my mind and to get me off track. I’ve learned to trust God and to allow His peace to reign in my life. I don’t live in a utopia. I still have chaos, stress and trouble all around me. I choose to trust in Jehovah Shalom now to bring peace to my life. I don’t allow those things to control my mind. What may have caught me off guard did not catch Him off guard. He knows my future and can guide me best. He knows yours too and offers you peace. Will you trust Jehovah Shalom with all you’re worried about today?

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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Opening Doors

Life can seem like a series of doors that you have to walk through. Some are open and some are closed. Sometimes you walk through an open door only to find a closed door behind it. That’s always frustrating to me. Does that mean I shouldn’t have walked through the open door? Am I in the wrong place? Should I turn around and look elsewhere? I don’t think so. Jesus told us to knock and the door would be opened. Jesus also told the story of a person who had a visitor show up in the middle of the night. He didn’t have any food, so he went to his neighbor’s house and knocked on the door. There man told him it was locked and that were in bed. The first man kept knocking until the other person came and opened the door to give him what he wanted.

When you’ve walked through an open door that God has led you through only to find a closed door, don’t panic and turn around. Knocking on closed doors is a faith builder and a prayer enabler. If you’ve knocked a while and nothing has happened, ask God to show you if you need to keep knocking or to open your eyes to see an open door you’re not seeing. God is in the habit of opening doors for us, and the doors He open can be shut by anyone. He has ordered our steps and leads us in His paths, but that requires that you and I are willing to move from where we are to where He’s taking us. As He opens doors, you and I must walk through them. I like to pray, “God, close the doors I’m not supposed to walk through, and lead me to the open doors you have for me.”

Here are some Bible verses on open doors.

1. Strive to enter through the narrow door [force aside unbelief and the attractions of sin]; for many, I tell you, will try to enter [by their own works] and will not be able.

Luke 13:24 AMP

2. Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.

Luke 11:9 MSG

3. There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.

1 Corinthians 16:9 NLT

4. To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: “This is the message from the one who is holy and true. He has the key that belonged to David, and when he opens a door, no one can close it, and when he closes it, no one can open it. I know what you do; I know that you have a little power; you have followed my teaching and have been faithful to me. I have opened a door in front of you, which no one can close.”

Revelation 3:7-8 GNT

5. For everyone who keeps on asking [persistently], receives; and he who keeps on seeking [persistently], finds; and to him who keeps on knocking [persistently], the door will be opened.

Luke 11:10 AMP

Thanks to @roanlavery for making this photo available freely on @unsplash

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Greater Things Ahead

Have you ever looked at someone and thought, “Man, they have it all. I wish I had their…”? So many times we look at what people have and identify with the end result without stopping to think about what they went through to get there. We want the reward without the work or the struggle. There’s a saying, “The greatest overnight successes were twenty years in the making.” Most of us face our battles and struggles in obscurity. Others don’t see that part of our story. They see us years later after we’ve endured and are enjoying the fruits of our labor. What we forget is that without the struggle, there is no success.

God wanted to promote David from shepherd boy to king, but he wasn’t ready. David faced years of struggles between being anointed king and taking the throne. He was chased by the current king. There were people he knew that betrayed him. He lived in a cave in an inhospitable desert. He fought several battles with very little rest. He had a lot of struggles because God uses them to prepare us for our future. We can choose to complain about the things we face or we can lay them at the feet of Jesus and push through them knowing there is something more ahead.

In Psalm 55:22 David wrote, “So here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Leave all your cares and anxieties at the feet of the Lord, and measureless grace will strengthen you” (TPT). Our struggles are meant to strengthen our faith in God so we are prepared for what’s next. We can either get lost in the pain, bitter in the disappointment or we can find strength to keep going by giving it to God knowing He’s with us through each battle. The greater things God has for you, the greater the struggle you will go through, The great news is you’re not alone and you don’t have to do it in your strength. Lay down your worries and trust that God is at work and in control.

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Hope Returns

There have been a few times in my life when I’ve been desperate for hope. When I was in my early twenties, my mom was in ICU at the M.D. Anderson cancer center. I remember we were living in that holding room for families. Each family in there lived day to day desperate for good news. Some families got it, but most of us didn’t. We were tired, exhausted, mentally drained, and were looking for a ray of hope that might mean our loved one would walk out of there.

To be without hope is a dangerous place, yet so many of us live there. Our lives seem to have no future, and we just want something we can believe in to brighten up the darkness a little. The writer of Lamentations was there too. He was in a desperate place having lost everything. As he recounted his trouble in chapter three, he then wrote in 3:21-22, “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue” (GNT). His hope returned when he took his eyes off his situation and focused on God.

I love what he goes on to write in verses 25-26. He says, “The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us—.” God sees us in our hopeless darkness. Looking back, He used hopeless times to shape me and to polish me. Trusting God when you can’t see a future is hard, but be patient. The Lord is good and is working things out for your good. Hope will return because God has not forgotten you.

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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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God’s Supply

After the Israelites left Mount Sinai and were headed to the Promised Land, they grew tired of the Lord’s provision of mana. They began to complain about it to each other and then openly. They wanted meat. They began to fantasize about the meat they had in Egypt while they were slaves. The Lord told moses that He was going to provide meat for all of Israel, not for a day or two, but for an entire month. He said He would provide so much meat that they would get sick of it. God was upset that they were rejecting Him and longing to go back to their old life.

After the Lord spoke this to Moses, he struggled to believe God could provide that much meat. He reminded God how many people they had, how little meat their food resources were and where they were. I love God’s response in Numbers 11:23. He said, “So, do you think I can’t take care of you? You’ll see soon enough whether what I say happens for you or not” (MSG). The next morning so many quail descended on the Israelites that no person took home less than 50 bushels of meat. God went above and beyond what Moses could comprehend.

The question to us is: Are we looking at our problem, with our resources, in our situation wondering how God is going to come through? Sometimes God uses what we have, but don’t limit Him in what He can do. Don’t you think He can take care of you? Remember, Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will liberally supply (fill until full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (AMP). God can multiply what you have or supply your need out of His supply. Trust God to meet your need. He can take care of you. Just believe.

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The Faithfulness Of God

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.

I’m not sure why I am constantly surprised by the goodness of God. There are times where I am just caught off guard at His faithfulness. I look at my life and I see all of my short comings and wonder why God would choose to bless me and to pour out His love on me. I know that I am unworthy of any gift that He gives, yet He still opens up the windows of Heaven and pours them out.

I think that’s one of the areas where it is hard to understand God because our minds try to rationalize Him as a human with human behaviors. We know the we are spiteful and hold grudges and we expect Him to. When He doesn’t, it blows our mind. I love how the psalmist put it in Psalm 36:5 when he said that His unfailing love is as vast as the heavens and His faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. It is so deep and so wide that we can’t begin to understand it.

I always want to rationalize it and understand it rather than to accept it and abide in it. I want to break it down and figure it out instead of just trusting in it. I think David understood it. He knew of the power that God has to forgive and forget. He relied on it and knew he was in trouble without it. You wonder how can an adulterer and murderer like David be a man after God’s own heart? Well it’s because he understood God’s ability to forgive and to forget.

It’s beyond me how God does it. I try to be a man after God’s heart and I fall short. I try to be like Him and I find I’m more like myself. I try to do what He asks and I end up doing what I want. I start off working hard to please Him, but in the end, I do what pleases me. That’s where God’s faithfulness kicks in. 2 Timothy 2:13 says in the Amplified version that even if we are unfaithful and untrue to Him, He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.

How is that possible? How can God remain faithful and true to us when all we seem to do is our own thing rather than His? It’s who God is. He is a God who loves us more than our doubts, our mistakes, our short comings and our fears. He is patient and kind. His love knows no end and is not conditional. He is not human and is not limited like we are. Once we remove those human characteristics of who we think He is and accept His divine nature, we can begin to get a glimpse of who He really is.

There were several in the Bible like David and Paul who got a glimpse of that. I don’t think it is reserved just for them though. God wants to open Himself up to you and me to give us a glimpse of who He is. We fight and push back because we think we are unworthy, but it’s when we finally realize how unworthy we really are that He has us right where He wants us so He can show His faithfulness and love. Don’t push back away from it. Swim in that river of his love that is as high as the clouds and is as vast as the heavens. Accept that you aren’t worthy and trust in His love for you anyway.

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Trusting In God

I’ve often heard stories of how pilots have to trust their instruments even more than their sight. Many of the plane crashes you hear about are because they didn’t trust the instruments and tried to do what they thought. Their eyes often deceive them and they make decisions based on false information. Great pilots have learned to completely trust their instruments no matter what. They also rely on the person in the control tower for updates and instructions. If they’re going to have a safe flight, they must learn to trust.

To me, being a Christian is a lot like being a pilot. We can’t trust what we see (or can’t see) in this world. Too many of us crash at times because we fail to trust God fully and we try to live our lives based on what we think. We must stay in constant communication with God, and we need to trust that He can see the things we can’t. When we live life fully trusting in God, we make our decisions based on what He says, not what we think. Our eyes can deceive us, but God never will.

Here are some Bible verses on trusting in God.

1. Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me.

JOHN 14:1 AMP

2. The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

Hebrews 11:1-2 MSG

3. Commit your works to the LORD [submit and trust them to Him], And your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance].

PROVERBS 16:3 AMP

4. You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3 GNT

5. Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make.

Proverbs 3:5 TPT

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Fresh Faith

This life can get to be repetitive, and to be honest, so can our Christian life. It’s easy to settle into a groove and put ourselves on autopilot. We can then fall into danger by allowing our faith the be about rituals more than relationship. Even the disciples were susceptible to this, and they physically walked with Jesus daily. Can you imagine what that must have been like? They heard the greatest teaching daily and were witnesses to countless miracles, yet they were susceptible to letting even that become old hat and ordinary. That’s when someone came up to Jesus and told Him Lazarus was gravely ill and needed healing immediately.

When Jesus didn’t immediately go, I’m sure the disciples started to get shook out of their routine. They thought it was odd that He didn’t immediately go. Instead, He waited two days before beginning the 2 day journey to Him. The disciples objected to Jesus going there because the religious leaders were ready to kill Him. Then, in John 11:14-15 Jesus said, “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him” (MSG).

Jesus knew the disciples needed new grounds for believing. If they needed it, how much more do we? I believe when there are things in our lives that don’t make sense to us, it could be God trying to give us new grounds for believing. Notice how urgently we start seeking Him when things happen out of the ordinary. Notice how much more we rely on Him. I believe God allows things to happen to us so we will break out of our rut and find fresh faith. Relationships on autopilot usually struggle. It’s the ones that keep things fresh and new that survive. God wants to have a fresh relationship with us. Don’t let whatever is going on in your life push you away from God. Let it give you fresh grounds for believing.

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