In one of my previous jobs, we had a saying: Feedback is a gift. One of the ways feedback was encouraged was after a presentation among your peers, you had to give yourself feedback in front of everyone. When you were done, one of your peers would give you feedback as well. One of the hardest things to do was to stand there, smile and accept it, especially when it wasn’t right from your perspective. The others didn’t know your intent. They could only see your actions, and that’s what they gave feedback on. Every once in a while, someone would lose their cool during this process. It wasn’t ever a good thing to argue with the feedback someone was giving you. They could usually see something you were blind to.
In today’s world, giving someone feedback is a huge risk. No one wants to be corrected, but every one of us needs it. Galatians 6:1 tells us that if we see someone overtaken in sin, those who are spiritual should gently restore that person in love. Many times we’ve sinned or have offended someone without really knowing it. We can’t see it ourselves because we know our own intent, but don’t realize how our actions came across to someone else. It’s best to receive corrections in an humble spirit, rather than a defensive one, so that we can grow. God has placed people around us with the ability to see things in our blind spots.
The psalmist of 141, who was just as human as we are, prayed in verse 5, “When one of your godly lovers corrects me or one of your faithful ones rebukes me, I will accept it like an honor I cannot refuse. It will be as healing medicine that I swallow without an offended heart. Even if they are mistaken, I will continue to pray” (TPT). This is the attitude we should all have. Even if their wrong, we should put them on blast. Accept it, thank them for their concern and then pray and ask God to show you if there is something they see that you don’t. Receiving feedback and correction is a gift that should never be taken lightly. It’s God’s way of keeping us on His path.
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You and I are constantly living between the tension of our well known past and our unknown future. When we look at our past, we often see the things that can discredit us and prevent us from having a promising future. When we look to the future, it can be overwhelming. There are so many possibilities that many times we experience paralysis through analysis. We don’t always know where that next step is or how to take it. We often get stuck here worried that our past will weigh us down, and fearing that we’re not prepared for the future. It’s a constant struggle that so many of us live with.
The good news is that your past doesn’t change God’s future for you. God has a plan and a purpose for your life. The tension you feel is designed to draw you closer to Him. No matter how close you get to God, that tension will always be there because there’s always another level of faith you can grow into. The deeper your faith and trust in God gets, the more He trusts you with. Jesus Himself told us that when we learn to be faithful in the little things, He will trust us with the bigger things.
Psalm 139:5 says, “You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me” (TPT). God has His hand on your life. He has already prepared the path for you to walk down. It’s up to you to step out in faith and trust Him. I love that this verse shows He’s also going behind you to make sure your past decisions that weren’t so great won’t harm you. You can keep moving forward knowing He has your future in His hands. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Corrie Ten Boom reminds us to never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
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The heart is known as the seat of our emotions. Our emotions dictate our words and actions. You can tell a lot about what’s in people’s heart simply by listening to them and watching their actions. When I hear people talk down to themselves or beat themselves up, it bothers me because it’s a reflection of how they truly feel about themselves. I went to compliment a kid recently about how well he performed and he replied, “I was terrible. I’m no good. I don’t know why I did it.” My heart broke because he’s already let his self talk destroy his confidence. I tried to speak life into him, but more than anything, he needed a change in his heart to readjust his thinking.
Proverbs 14:26 says, “Confidence and strength flood the hearts of the lovers of God who live in awe of him, and their devotion provides their children with a place of shelter and security” (TPT). It’s amazing how much we can accomplish when we have confidence and mental strength. So many of us struggle with an internal picture of who we are. We must remember that we are made in God’s image. The greater picture we have of God, the greater picture we will have of ourselves. A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”
The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength. To love Him with all of our heart, we need to know Him more. The more we know Him, the more we will live in awe of Him. It’s no coincidence that He listed the heart first. Everything stems from there: our relationship with God, our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with others. If you need confidence in any of those areas, it starts with knowing God. You get to know Him more through reading the Bible, prayer and sitting quietly in His presence. Learning to do these three things won’t just change you, it’ll have a generational effect as well.
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One of the things I’ve learned is that my growth should never stop. When we accept Jesus, that’s the beginning of our relationship with Jesus, not the end goal. Too many times I see people who feel like once they’ve received salvation, that’s it and there’s nothing more to do. That’s like getting married and then deciding to do nothing about the relationship going forward because you made a vow. Marriage is more than a wedding, it’s a lifetime commitment to grow together. If you don’t continue to invest in that relationship, that growth will never happen.
Our faith is very similar. It’s not a one time experience, but rather a lifetime of daily commitment to continue on even on the days you don’t feel saved. You must persist in the process of being made new constantly. God’s desire is for you to know Him and the power of resurrection that He gives. That power helps us to overcome obstacles and to continue pushing on in the hard times. There’s more to God than we will ever know in this life, so we should continue to explore the depths of who He is and how He wants us to live. The Christian life is not about a moment in time, but rather a continuation of knowing God.
Here are some Bible verses on continuing in the faith.
1. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.
Colossians 2:6 NLT
2. So everyone should continue to live faithful in the situation of life in which they were called to follow Jesus.
1 Corinthians 7:20 TPT
3. But continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory, now and forever! Amen.
2 Peter 3:18 GNT
4. It pleases me that you continue to remember and honor me by keeping up the traditions of the faith I taught you. All actual authority stems from Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1-2 MSG
5. But as for you, continue in the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced [holding tightly to the truths], knowing from whom you learned them.
2 TIMOTHY 3:14 AMP
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My son is competitive like most kids. He wants to be first everywhere we go. The problem is that he doesn’t always know where we are going. Sometimes when he gets a few steps ahead, I turn and he keeps going straight. I’ll usually make a noise to let him notice. He then runs over and tries to stay in front. With each turn, I remind him that I’m the one who knows where we are going, and that he should follow.
There are other times when he’s just trying to keep my attention. If I’m trying to do something, he’ll get in my face. If I direct my attention elsewhere, he moves to try to stay in my face. Sometimes it makes me laugh how hard he tries to get and keep my attention. The truth is that it’s a picture of how we are to be with God. Sometimes we forget to be like children, which is what Jesus told us to be like.
I believe God is looking for us to be in His presence. He’s not wanting us to be out in front of Him trying to guess where He’s leading us, and He’s not just wanting us to be somewhere in His vicinity. He wants us to go get in His face, and to be where He is looking. Psalm 116:9 says, “I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (NLT) The Psalmist understood what God desires from each of us, and that is to walk in His presence.
The word “presence” in its original meaning, is the word for face. So to walk in the Lord’s presence is to walk where He’s facing. In order to do that, we need to be constantly looking at Him to make sure we are going the same way He is. We have to spend time in prayer throughout the day constantly grabbing His face and attention. It’s what children who love their parents do. God is not annoyed by us in trying to do this. He is honored when we walk in His presence.
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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.
All of my life I felt called into ministry, but I kept putting it off until later. I figured I’d do my own thing first and then follow my calling. That was working until I got a divorce. I was devastated because I grew up in a denomination that at the time would not allow divorced people to be in ministry. I was discussing my plight with a friend one day about how I had waited too long to fulfill my calling. He almost chuckled and then said, “Do you really think that man can revoke God’s calling on your life?” It was the slap I needed to bring me back into reality.
God has numbered each of our days before we were born. He knows our future and the choices we will make. So when He makes a promise to us, He does so with full knowledge of the mistakes we’re going to make. He created each of us with a purpose to fulfill that only we can fulfill. He knows the bumps in the road we’re going to face, the sins we’re going to commit and the set backs we’re going to have when he gives purpose to our lives. Those things don’t revoke your purpose. They actually validate it and give your life the depth needed to reach people you otherwise couldn’t.
Psalm 138:8 says, “You keep every promise you’ve ever made to me! Since your love for me is constant and endless, I ask you, Lord, to finish every good thing that you’ve begun in me!” (TPT) God has not revoked your calling, nor will He walk away from the promises He made to you based on what you’ve done or been through. He will be faithful to complete it. He has not stopped loving you, and He still has a plan. Any mistake you’ve made has not nullified your calling or revoked any promises. Seek forgiveness if you haven’t already, and ask God to finish what He started in you.
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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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