Devotional Thoughts: Useless

Yes, we can physically accomplish things on our own, but this verse highlights how God is vital in our homes and cities. Mankind can do all he chooses but the Lord is all powerful and if we do not give God watch-care over our homes and cities what we do is done in vain. It produces no result and is useless. Feeling useless can feel terrifying to some of us as we feel we know what we are doing. We cannot see what God sees.

I can do many things on my own without God but I am more terrified of leaving this place and declaring all my efforts were useless. Leave God out of the equation and you may have successes here on earth but those things will be useless in the span of eternity.

How do we avoid this happening in our lives? Cast down our idols of greed, fame and fortune! Obey God and follow Him and our lives will produce great everlasting fruit! Do the right thing, especially when it’s hard! Rearrange priorities. Get things straightened out now. Don’t waste another day.

Give God all you have. God will make your home a beautiful place. God will bless your obedience. Dare to invite God to build your house. Let go and follow the leadership of the Greatest One. Only then will we see what true success is. You’ll be given new eyes and new direction. Build my house Lord! Watch my city!

Devotional Thoughts: Warriors We Are!

Moses speaks to Israel towards the end of his life. His words ring true for us today. Warriors of the Kingdom, we are to be strong and courageous! What we do is not for ourselves but for God almighty! The Israelites are to be led by Joshua into the promised land. Old Testament culture dictated that the nation with the strongest God will win the battle.

I’ve been engrossed in the show Vikings on the History channel. This show displays ancient cultures at war with one another. Whether the gods are pleased or not is a topic of everyday conversation. If Odin is with them they know they will win the battle.

Missionary friends tell me conversations of gods are normal and regular in the countries they live in. This isn’t the case for us in the USA. One who mentions God is a fanatic, a weirdo and can be thought of as ignorant and uneducated. Universalism is leading us to say we, the humans are god.

One of the Viking leaders, Ragnar, is perplexed by a Christian monk he kidnapped and enslaved. This monk, Athelstan, becomes the ruler’s best friend. Ragnar is forever changed by his relationship with Athelstan.

This reminds me I’m a warrior too! Like the Vikings who conquered just for the sake of conquering I can conquer whatever is coming my way in life. My God is with me and will reign forevermore! My God is not like the Viking gods who turn their faces away and abandon their people. My God has made promises and will always keep them.

How can we be strong and courageous today? Thankfully I’m not standing on a literal battlefield today, but I am. I can fight this fight to live as God desires me to live or I can disengage, slump back and retreat. Nobody wants to be the wimp. Strength to fight can only come from God Himself. Let’s get marching!

Devotional Thoughts: Glimpses of Eternity

What we can see will pass away. Those of us who follow Jesus do not belong here and we long for the day we reside in the eternal. Amazing that we can see glimpses of the eternal here and now to help spur us on in our faith. These glimpses are the work of God in us here and now. We live by the standards of another Kingdom that will conquer all evil, sin and death. Evil eventually destroys itself anyhow.

What we can see and touch here will fade away and is already fading right before our eyes. Funny how so many decide to trust only what they can see when all these things are temporary. Our soul can be temporary or eternal; we decide to live for God or not. We sense eternity in the here and now when we connect to God and the fruit of our obedience moves others towards eternity. We rejoice in seeing God in others. In those moments eternity is our immediate reality! May our vast army march on and on until eternity is revealed to all in the here and now.

To the one who does not know God this is nonsense! We are crazy! May God open their eyes to see! May we love them right into eternity. May they catch a glimpse and understand what seems like nonsense.

Devotional Thoughts: God Doesn’t Change

I’ve heard people talking. Many seem to think God will conform to our culture and if God doesn’t, then to them, it means God must be mean, unloving or out of touch. This isn’t the case at all! It’s hard for us to even imagine something that doesn’t change because almost everything we know changes or doesn’t last. My car changes as it ages, mountain ranges change as erosion or other natural acts of weather move in, I even change as I learn more and become more wise or stupid.

God never changes as this verse teaches us. It’s not even risky to depend on God but some seem to live like they don’t know God is so much more dependable than the newest vehicle on the market. God is more loving than the most loving human we can fathom. We have so many promises in Scripture teaching us who God is so by now we should know God remains the same. There’s none more faithful, powerful or loving than God. There’s something peaceful knowing God doesn’t contradict himself. God is the same. The same God Moses followed is my God! I follow the same God that blinded Saul on the road to Damascus and then called him Paul. I serve the same God the Psalmists address in laments and praises.

God has not changed and will not change. People haven’t changed either really, as the same kind of people we have today are just reflections of the people we read about in the Bible. there’s not any new sin. All the things we do today fall under the same categories they did long ago. There’s nothing new under the sun. How refreshing to know God is the same!

Devotional Thoughts: Work

Our jobs and careers look very different when at the center of its core is we are working for God and not mankind. I think Brother Lawrence has probably led more people to embrace this concept through his writing, “Practicing the Presence of God.” If you’re not familiar with this little book I recommend it. Brother Lawrence found great joy in life’s simple, menial jobs like washing the dishes because his mindset was that what he was doing he did for God. This gives us such a different perspective than most of us have about our workplaces.

When I clean my home I need to tell the Lord I do it for him. When I do the paperwork I dread I need to do it for God. I know I do a much better job when I do something for God than if I do it for myself or for someone else.

Emptiness is everywhere and it will engulf us if we allow it. Doing my job for God looks very different than if I do it myself. It’s like someone who’s mopped the floor at work for years and complains in their mind that they deserve better. Better doesn’t even generate happiness in this life. Better happens when we receive our inheritance, our heavenly reward as this verse points out.

As employers we should absolutely do our job for God as well. This message isn’t just for those earning minimum wage. When we serve God through our work our view is so different! I’m no longer bitter I’m not being promoted; I’m not appreciated. When I work for God I’m not sloppy. I strive for excellence. I push the ball and get things done. I am also content to clean the toilet, take out the trash and mop the floor. My value no longer is defined by the work I do or the job I have.

My identity is found in Christ. Jesus Christ changes everything.

Devotional Thoughts: Plans

We can plan and plan and plan, but some things God has already decided. Yes, we can walk away from God’s plan for us but God’s plan will still happen with or without us. God doesn’t even need us to fulfill His plan. We can choose to be a part of God’s plan or not.

The greatest plan is to follow God, to obey God. Some things we already know should be in our plan. We learn these by reading God’s Word, the Bible. Lets read the verse that comes before this one:

“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭19:20‬ ‭

Our plan should Also include discipline and wisdom we’ve received from the wise.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. So what’s right? Planning or not planning? Is the greatest way to follow God to plan nothing?

I think the point here is we plan but we should heed the movement of the Holy Spirit as we plan and go about our day. Sometimes our plans don’t work out or come to fruition. This is ok. God will open another door. The door God has for us is so much greater than the door we had planned! When I find myself behind a really slow car I wonder if that’s God’s protection over me. Maybe I was headed towards a collision ahead but because I’m behind a slow car it doesn’t happen? God can see things we cannot see.

It’s time to trust. Let’s lay out our plans on God’s table, hand them over and grant God permission to do as He pleases. Keep on hiking! Trust and obey. You’ll look back over your life and say, “Wow! Look what God did!”

Devotional Thoughts: Our Life Benediction

This is one we use as a benediction, if you’re not the church going type, a benediction is a blessing uttered as the congregation is sent out that finishes the service. These verses say so much and are such powerful words. To him who is able; obviously it’s talking about God, The One whose abilities surpass all other beings. God’s capabilities go far beyond the creativity of our human minds! To God be the glory, it says! Glory is a word we don’t use in our culture. Glory is defined as, “high renown or honor won by notable achievements, magnificence or great beauty.

John Piper says, “God is in a class by himself. He has infinite perfections, infinite greatness, and infinite worth.” Piper also says, “The glory of God is the manifest beauty of his holiness. It is the going-public of his holiness.” When we say, to God be the glory, we take all eyes off ourselves and point them to God. We declare with our lives who God is to the world in our lifestyle and choices. One who says, to God be the glory, takes all significance off of themselves and places it on God, the most holy and powerful One.

This is important! It’s not about me! God is God and I am not! This is a great step in the life of a Christian believer in the journey of spiritual growth to shift all significance onto God. Nothing else matters, so to God be the glory throughout all generations, forever and ever! Over and over May God receive the glory. If I’m not connected to God I lose all significance throughout eternity.

In high school we admire the popular crowd but later we discover many of them didn’t amount to much. Their glory days are over, gone. God’s glory will echo throughout eternity! It will never end even if mankind chooses to step away from God. May we all step into significance today by glorifying God in all we do!

Devotional Thoughts: Sloppy Prayers

There are right and wrong ways to approach and ask God just like there are right and wrong ways to approach other human beings. Prayer isn’t for selfish desires. Prayer is conversation with God. Prayer is just as much listening as it is speaking. We do much more speaking than we do listening. I need more silence in my life, not just for the sake of silence but to be able to hear God.

So how do we pray?

Scripture gives us examples of prayer as well as what we should and should not do in prayer. We also have commands to forgive before we pray. We are to pray in solitude and in secret.

Jesus ‘ greatest example of prayer is perhaps what we call, The Lord’s Prayer. It’s a staple prayer for us to learn and pray. It’s found in Matthew 6 or Luke 11.

God knows our hearts, our thoughts and our desires. There’s no escaping an omnipresent God. I always thought it strange so many people ask God to be with this person or that person when God is omnipresent! Perhaps we should shift our prayers to asking for God’s will to be done in a person’s life instead of asking God to be with them. God is already with us.

One thing I know is God loves us, each and every one, regardless of our sloppy prayers. God longs to hear from us, spend time with us and connect to us. This is done in prayer. We can pour out ourselves to God in prayer. It’s appropriate to share even our raw emotions with God. It’s right to ask God for help. It’s fine to ask for our daily bread and for forgiveness. It’s awesome to take part in praying someone into God’s family. These things are all things God wants.

We err in praying for revenge, for riches or for a certain someone to fall in love with us. These are all examples of prayers that are inappropriate. I’m guilty of all these in my younger years. Now instead of praying for revenge I hand that person over to God and ask God to act in their life. Instead of praying for riches I thank God for what I have. And that last one? Do we really think God will control another person and make them fall in love with us?

Let’s spend some time thinking more about how we pray. Let’s be intentional. Do I have to wonder if God wants me to pray for someone to come to faith? No, God always wants this. Some things should always be in our minds to pray. God desires to bless us, but many times these blessings aren’t exactly what we had in mind!

Devotional Thoughts: Barreness, Spurgeon and God

The pain of barrenness runs deep in the soul of a woman. While meeting with a social worker preparing to be a foster parent I was asked if I can have children. “I don’t know,” I said, “I never tried.” We both laughed at my unique answer, unique because I’d been single for many years and because of my faith I wasn’t going to have a child out of wedlock. I’d even ceased dating for ten years because of some bad experiences I had. I accepted I’d never marry or have children. Out of this situation I felt God’s call to foster.

In Isaiah 54A the barren one is asked to sing? Her children will be more than the one who is married? This sounds quite absurd and sometimes God calls us into what seems a bit crazy. Isaiah 54 is so rich! Here the verses that follow:

2 “Enlarge the place of your tent,

stretch your tent curtains wide,

do not hold back;

lengthen your cords,

strengthen your stakes.

3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left;

your descendants will dispossess nations

and settle in their desolate cities.

4 “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.

and settle in their desolate cities.

4 “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.

Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.

You will forget the shame of your youth

and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

5 For your Maker is your husband—

the Lord Almighty is his name—

the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;

he is called the God of all the earth.

6 The Lord will call you back

as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—

a wife who married young,

only to be rejected,” says your God.

7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you,

but with deep compassion I will bring you back.”

“In this Western clime, we do not know all the misery which was felt by Eastern women who were childless; they were looked down upon and despised; yet here God bids them sing. And, dear friends, if you and I feel as if our hearts have become barren, so that we cannot think of God or raise our thoughts towards him as we would desire; if we feel that we have become useless, and for that reason our spirit is greatly depressed, let us give heed to this sweet, this charming exhortation of Jehovah: “Sing, O barren soul; break forth into singing, and cry aloud;” for God can turn our barrenness into fruitfulness, and make us to rejoice exceedingly before him. If we are now sighing and crying because we are not what we ought to be, or what we want to be, God can, in the richness of his grace, make us all that we desire. Therefore let us begin to be joyful even before the miracle of mercy is wrought; let us have unbounded faith in God, and expect him to bless us, even while we are in our lowest state.” -Spurgeon

God cares for the hurting. It is He who stands in the gap for us and makes things right even if it doesn’t happen in this life. So, never mind what’s happening. Let’s stretch out our tents and welcome all who will listen to how good God is! Remain close to God and all will be made right today, tomorrow or on the other side of eternity.

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