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.
Since I live in a major US city, I get to experience traffic on my daily commute. Because of that, my eyes have been trained to look at the car right in front of me when I drive. If you’ve ever taken Driver’s Ed or Defensive Driving, you know that’s not a healthy driving habit. You should be looking about 10 to 30 seconds ahead while driving. People who drive with their eyes looking at their immediate situation tend to have more wrecks and tickets. Plus, I find it scares your wife a lot!
What’s true in driving, is true in life. There are people who get so caught up in their current situation that they lose sight of the future. Their present situation is all they can see, and they’re constantly living in fear of having an emotional wreck. Because they haven’t trained their eyes to look forward, it’s hard to imagine a positive future. Life becomes an emotional roller coaster with a pessimistic view of the world. That’s exhausting and not how God wants us to live our lives.
God wants us to train our eyes to look beyond our present circumstances and troubles. He wants us to look further down the road so we can see that our current situation is only temporary. In the bigger picture, we can see His hand directing our life with purposeful movement. II Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (NLT).
When your current situation becomes overwhelming, look ahead to joy that’s coming because what you’re going through now is only temporary. This too shall pass. God uses these times to build character, perseverance, endurance and hope in us. Each circumstance you go through has a purpose that God is using for your good and for the good of others. The next time you get caught up looking at the present, remind yourself to look ahead. You are more than your present situation. There’s a bigger picture God is working on.
Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash
One of the classes I train has me ask, “Is this your truth,” at the end of each section. If someone says it’s not their truth, I’m to engage them to find out why they don’t believe what I just taught. I’m looking for their objection to the truth I’ve presented. My goal is to not just get them to accept the truth, but to go back and implement that truth into their life. We always act on what we believe, so it’s important to know what the truth is before we act.
We live in a world where the lines of truth are constantly being blurred. Over the last two generations, Truth has gone from something we all accepted as a whole to what each of us believes individually. What I’ve learned is that truth is truth no matter what I believe personally. I can choose to not believe in gravity, but that doesn’t stop me from coming back to the ground when I jump. There are still universal truths in our world whether people choose to believe them or not.
I was talking with a man recently about truth, and I brought up Jesus in Pilate’s court in John 18. When Jesus said that He came to testify to the truth, Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (GNT) I wish the Bible would have recorded Jesus’ answer. We know from John 14:6 that Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the life. Also in John 1, we read that Jesus is the Word Of God made flesh. He, and the Bible, are our absolute truth in this world. It is the plumb line in a world that has lost its direction.
The reason you use a plumb line in construction is because your eyes can deceive you. In the same way, the Word Of God is our plumb line in this world. Our eyes can deceive us, and it can be difficult to determine what truth is. Psalm 33:4 says, “The words of the Lord are true, and all his works are dependable.” We must know God’s Word if we are going to use it as a plumb line to build our lives on the rock of truth. Otherwise, we will be like the foolish man who build his house on the shifting sands of what culture believes at the moment.
Photo by Marco Ceschi on Unsplash
Several times a year my boss, or one of my peers, comes to observe me doing my job. They take notes on the things they see, and then at the end of the day we discuss what they saw. They usually start with the good behaviors they see, and remind me why those things matter. Then they move into areas where I didn’t execute very well. There are places where I could have been quicker, or that I could have skipped doing without realizing it. Then they make suggestions for my improved performance.
It’s difficult hearing other people’s input on my work, but it’s a necessary step for improvement. They are able to see things that I’m blind to. Sometimes I get caught up doing things the same way, over and over, because i don’t stop to ask, “Is this the best way to be doing that?” Having that outside set of eyes, not only sees those things, but it also gets input on how to do things better. Each of us have areas where we can get better in our lives and in our walk with the Lord.
When Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt, he automatically became their judge for disputes. Some times it would take up a whole day just trying to resolve disputes among the people. In Exodus 18, his father in law observed him and asked, “When Jethro saw everything that Moses had to do, he asked, “What is all this that you are doing for the people? Why are you doing this all alone, with people standing here from morning till night to consult you?” (GNT) He then provided him a more efficient way to help others.
As I said earlier, it’s not easy to hear someone else’s opinion on how they think you should be doing things, but I’ve found it helps me to improve. It’s good for each of us to have an accountability partner who can see the things we are blind to. It’s also important to give them the ability to question you without fear. If you’re trying to get to that next level, it often requires an outside set of eyes from someone you trust. Their insights and ability to see your blind spots could be the key to a deeper relationship with Christ or to help you exponentially improve what you’re doing for Christ.
Have you seen the TV show “Undercover Boss”? It’s where a CEO of a company creates a fake identity, changes how they look and goes to work at their own company as a regular worker. They hear things they wouldn’t hear if others knew they were the CEO, and they get a frontline perspective of what it’s like to work there. It’s usually very eye opening for the CEO who does it, and they are always glad they did it.
Inevitably, they run into people who either treat them well or treat them or others poorly. In one particular episode, the CEO ran into both. The one worker was kind to everyone, especially the customers. The other thought they were at war with the customers and had to win at all costs. At the end, the boss revealed himself. The one who treated others poorly was terrified when they found out. They no longer work there.
I tell you about this show because you and I are on it, but on a much grander scale. In Matthew 25, jesus told us about what the great reveal will be like. Verses 37-40 say, “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me’” (MSG).
The people you and I come across each day could be the Undercover Savior. It’s up to each one of us to treat others with dignity and respect. It’s up to each one of us to offer a hand to those who are down. The Christmas season is the perfect time to help a needy family, watch a single mom’s kids while she shops, pay for someone’s groceries or to do something that relives the stress in their life. Jesus said that you’re not just doing it for that person. You’re doing it for and to Him.
They say there are four things you can never take back: the stone after it’s thrown, the moment after it’s missed, the time after it’s gone and the word after it’s spoken. There are many things in life you can undo, but words spoken in anger or in the heat of the moment usually hit their intended target and do damage beyond repair. Words can be powerful weapons that destroy or they can bring life to someone. It’s amazing how much they can affect us.
I was training a sales psychology where we look at reluctances of people. As we went through them one by one, the test showed that a person in my class was afraid to admit he was in sales. He had made a good living at it, but in that moment, a lightbulb went off. He said, “I know why that’s there. A few years ago, my mom asked, ‘When are you going to get a real job?’” Her words echoed in his subconscious and were affecting his ability to make money.
Those words were spoken only once and in a passing moment, but they stuck. Each of us have words that were spoken to us somewhere along the line that are limiting our ability to love ourself, to make more money, to love certain people, to see our own potential or to have a higher self esteem. Those words float around in the back of our mind, and keep us from so much. We need to set ourselves free from their power and quit letting them hold us back.
Along the same lines, we need to learn to speak the right words to ourself and to others. In Psalm 141:3, there is a prayer we all need to pray. It says, “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips” (NLT). Whether it’s words you are telling yourself or to others, give control of what you say to God. Let Him be your filter so you can live a limitless life, and allow others to do the same. You can never get your words back, so choose wisely.
Do you know any workaholics? You know, people who constantly work. Their hours are 9-5, but they stay up late working constantly. It’s a badge of honor to them to be the first person to the office each day, and the last one to leave. Many of them live very stressful lives. They worry that they won’t complete their job on time. They stress about income. They’re so busy making a living that they forget to make a life. Many end up sacrificing family for work.
Psalm 127:2 says, “It is useless to work so hard for a living, getting up early and going to bed late. For the Lord provides for those he loves, while they are asleep” (GNT). In our fast paced world, where technology has allowed us to work 24/7 from anywhere on the globe, becoming a workaholic is easier than ever. But God says that being a workaholic is useless. In fact, it becomes a question of the heart.
The biggest question is: do you trust God to be your provider? So many times when we make a habit out of working non-stop, we do it because we forget who our source is. Because we go to work and work rewards us with a paycheck, we begin to think we are our own source or our job is. If we believe God is our source, it relieves the pressure of having to become a workaholic so we can provide for ourselves.
I believe in hard work, and I believe that if a man doesn’t work, he shouldn’t eat. But I also believe that God is my provider. If I trust Him with my finances, and I give Him His part of my income as recognition of being my provider, then I don’t have to stress about where the next job comes from and I don’t have to stress and work constantly. I’ve learned that God is not a well that can run dry. He is a never ending river who supplies all of my needs according to His riches (Phil 4:19). Become a member of workaholics anonymous and trust God to be your provider.