Periodically, I receive a directional word from the Lord as to what my greatest need would presently be. Having retired from pastoring last year, and now being a health coach, there are many new experiences and relationships God has opened up. So, I sensed my present need was for greater flexibility. The older we get, the more rigid and predictable our responses to life can become. Yet, if we really desire to be like God, we should remember He has never duplicated anything. Everything for Him is new, fresh, unpredictable, and filled with adventure. I firmly believe it is, likewise, a prerequisite for the abundant life Jesus promised, no matter how old or young we are. When God says, “I make all things new…“ (Revelations 21:5), I believe He most of all desires this newness of life for you and me.
Not Being Financially Wealthy
Are you discouraged by the possibility that being a follower of Jesus will not make you financially wealthy? That reality has been a stumbling block for many, but no one more infamous than Judas Iscariot. When Jesus let someone wash His feet with expensive perfume, Judas became bitter. (Matthew 26) He then “…went to the leading priests and asked, ‘How much will you pay me to betray Jesus…?’” (Matthew 26:14b-15, NLT) The 30 pieces of silver they paid him would be worth less than $10,000 today. Not much in exchange for your soul. Yet, people still chase riches to find fulfillment. The lyrics of Bob Dylan are worth remembering, “How many times have you heard someone say, ‘If I had his money, I’d do things my way.’ But little did they know, it’s so hard to find one rich man in ten with a satisfied mind.”
My Passport Photo
Recently, I had to renew my passport photo. I went to a pharmacy to get my picture taken. When the machine at the pharmacy assessed the photo, I was told my smile was too big in the photo and it was therefore unacceptable. HA! I laughed, and thought, “That’s ridiculous!” Now, I’m sure there was some appropriate technical reason I’m not aware of for my picture being unacceptable, but it seemed, to say the least, strange. I took another picture smiling slightly less, but came away from the experience firmly rejecting the machine’s overall recommendation for my life: to be less happy. My smile is not too big! The joy of the Lord is my strength and, so, I’ve decided to reject the rejection on the grounds that God promised me abundant life and I receive it.
At the end of John 7, religious leaders dismissed the thought that Jesus could possibly be the Messiah because there were no prophecies that the Messiah would come from Galilee. They based their conclusion on a false premise. Since Jesus did not fulfill their presumptuous assumption, they wrote Him off as a fraud. Sadly, they believed this deception to their own destruction. And, so, a warning is given to each of us as well. If we are attached to a concept we alone invented, our selfish reasoning will lead us down a dead end of self-inflicted destruction. Make sure the beliefs you are committed to have an eternal shelf-life, are first found in the heart of God, and are not based on a motive God could never honor or fulfill. The Bible says, “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.” (2 Corinthians 13:8, NIV)
Removing Rocks from Our Heart
My wife Suzie tells me about growing up on a farm and having to pick up rocks in the Spring that seemed to suddenly materialize. It made me wonder, why do new rocks surface every year in fields and need to be removed before planting a new crop? The answer is found in studying the wind: convection. We usually think of convection currents as happening in air or maybe in water, but it also happens in soil! As the soil heats up and cools off, it actually circulates. The moving soil can easily pick up rocks and transport them to the surface. It made me think about the soil in my own heart. There are hard, unhealthy attitudes and responses beneath the surface that God wants to remove. But even after He makes them visible, it is still my decision whether I want to go through the effort of removing them.
Boulders Become Boundaries
Recently, I shared a devotional about the importance of clearing hard places from our heart, as being similar to the surface rocks farmers have to remove from their acreage prior to planting. It requires a willingness for us to look at the hidden, hard things that may require much effort to remove from our lives. Yet, if we humbly respond to these leadings and remove these heavy hindrances, they can become protective barriers; boundaries that will keep what is precious to us in, and what is hazardous out. Every day I ask myself if I am willing to look at the hard areas God is drawing to my attention that will make my life blessed, bountiful, and protected. The Bible says, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land…” (Isaiah 1:19, ESV) “I am willing, Lord!”
Getting God to Perform
Do you find it difficult to get God to do what you want? I find it impossible, and so did the Roman ruler, Herod. In Luke 23, Herod wanted Jesus to perform a miracle for him (Luke 23:8), but Jesus wouldn’t even answer his questions. He wasn’t a trained monkey on Israel’s Got Talent; He was the God of the Universe following the will of His Heavenly Father. So, how do we get God to do what we want? We don’t! We stop playing God and instead let Him lead our lives. What does that look like? It looks like us surrendering our presumptuous belief: that we know what’s best, and instead ask God what His will is, and cooperate with this. Then 100% of our prayers will be answered. The Bible says, “…if we ask anything according to His will… we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14, 15, NIV)
The Age of Half-Truths
This is the age of half-truths. Accurate facts are oftentimes shared with made-up fabrications. That’s why a half-truth is even more dangerous than a total lie. Our guard is lowered, allowing a Trojan Horse of deception, masquerading as truth, to flood our minds and defile our hearts. In Luke 23, the Jewish leaders lied about Jesus, saying a truth and a lie in one sentence. They told the truth when they said Jesus claimed to be the Messiah but lied when they claimed He told people to not pay taxes to Rome. Today, with our 24-hour news cycle, pervasive social media, and the ability to, at times, say whatever we please, yet remain anonymous and without accountability, it leaves us all vulnerable to a deluge of half-truths. More than ever, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)
“No” or “Not Now” Moments
Most of us recognize God at times says, “No” and at other times, “Not Now.” But it can be very confusing when it comes to doing His will if we don’t discern the difference. I’ve found that the call is not the sending. It may be God’s will for me to do something, but “not now.” Abraham and Sarah were promised a son, but for decades didn’t realize it was a “not now” reality and so lost hope. Moses tried to be a deliverer of captive Israel, but his method and timing were wrong. It would be 15 years after being anointed king before David was finally crowned. Queen Esther, on the other hand, preferred God’s will to be “not now’, until it became a matter of life and death. Fullness of time moments are ahead for each of us, but it will take patience and perseverance to wait for them.
If We Judged Ourselves
I once spent 10 years regularly reviewing 50,000 one-page evaluations that people handed in at the end of a three-day evangelism seminar I conducted. Some of their comments were insightful, some were painful, but most were helpful. I had taken to heart the encouragement of scripture, “…reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:23, NKJV) All of us have critiqued others, and, likewise, been critiqued ourselves. And so, the Bible encourages us, “…if we would judge ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.” (1 Corinthians 11:31, NASB) I have found this to be true, and believe our need to change on Earth is like breathing…a continual transformative experience. The question is, am I willing to change all the days of my life? It’s one of life’s great tests, but one that has eternal benefits. Words: 125
Precious vs. Priceless
Perhaps the most difficult experience in life to discern is parting with what we consider precious in exchange for what God considers priceless. In Luke 16, the disciples were brokenhearted when Jesus spoke of leaving them, but He said it was better for them if He did in order for the Holy Spirit to come. What if every precious thing we part with, even every person, every position, and every possession was merely an exchange for something better? But the only way to receive this miraculous handoff is to be willing to part with what we have today, and trust that God’s tomorrow will ultimately be better. It will take faith: the key ingredient that pleases God because it demonstrates that we do believe in His eternal, unfailing promises more of the precious temporary things we see.
When Do We Really Understand
Don’t ever tell Jesus you finally understand something. Every time the disciples did that, He would alert them to some future event that would reveal they actually understood very little. The fact is, the mystery of life is revealed gradually. I may understand a little piece of the puzzle at this time, but the grand perspective, the giant panorama, is impossible for me to fully grasp. The Bible even says, “…do not lean on your own understanding.” But instead, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” (Proverbs 3:5, ESV) Only in tiny portions does God reveal it to us. But by faith we can receive it, and gradually grow to walk in His divine intention for our lives, which if we could receive it, would bless us more than anything we can imagine on our own.