New Snorkel Mask
I swim laps for exercise. But as I got older, I found my neck began to hurt more and more while I did. I have used swim goggles over the years, but decided to try a full face snorkel mask to eliminate the continuous turning of my neck to breathe. Immediately, the pain completely ceased. My primary problem wasn’t a bad neck; it was a bad habit. A new structure allowed a new healthy habit to form. How many areas in our lives are causing unnecessary pain that could be easily corrected with a new structure or habit? It made me think about various dimensions of our lives. Are you having a consistent problem in a certain area? You might find the root…if you change up some of the habits that surround the issue!
Risk or Rot
There is a principle in investment called the risk/reward ratio. It helps investors manage their risk of losing money on trades. Even if a trader has some profitable trades, he will lose money over time if his win rate is below 50%. I believe the risk/reward principle has a spiritual counterpart. Chuck Swindoll put it this way: “If you don’t risk, you rot.” Pretty straight-forward! Every time we step out in faith, we risk. The Bible is clear, “…it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NLT) Faith is not foolish, and obeying the Spirit of God is His will for each of us. It will always require risking what we have, in order to receive what God wants to give us. That’s the safest investment we could ever make.
God’s Upside Down Smarts
Basketball coaches tell young people, ”Don’t make an easy shot hard.” Likewise, you probably have heard the expression, “Work smarter, not harder.” Both sayings imply that “less is more.” It reminds me of many dimensions of God’s wisdom that so-called ‘smart’ people miss completely, and how God’s Word says, “God chose those whom the world considers foolish to shame those who think they are wise, and God chose the puny and powerless to shame the high and mighty. He chose the lowly, the laughable in the world’s eyes—nobodies—so that He would shame the somebodies. For He chose what is regarded as insignificant in order to supersede what is regarded as prominent…” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28, TPT) It’s an upside down Kingdom. No one’s smarter than God. In the end, what He thinks is all that matters.
The Evidence of God in Our Lives
When the Bible says that the disciples of Jesus were “…recognized…as men who had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13, NLT), it demonstrates that those who really know Him, can, at times, carry a presence that is tangible. This is, likewise, evident when Moses encountered God’s presence on the mountain, and the Bible says, “…When Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him.” (Exodus 34:30, NLT) There was no mistaking where Moses had been. He’d been with Jesus! Likewise, high priests in the Old Testament had an aroma on themselves because they were surrounded by the fragrance of the Altar of Incense in the Holy of Holies. When someone’s been in the presence of God, it shows. May that be said about each of us who claim to know Him.
No One’s Fairer Than God
Have you ever fought jealousy when you’ve seen God bless someone else? I know I have. In Matthew 20, Jesus paid wages to workers who showed up late in the day and worked only a short period of time; the same as those who worked throughout an entire day. No surprise, those who worked longer hours were upset. Jesus then challenged them, “Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?” (Matthew 20:15, NLT) All of us can see the kindness of God extended in different ways to different people. But, why should we be upset and jealous that God is kind to others? What if I told you that, in eternity, if we have responded well to the tests uniquely prepared for our lives, our reward will equal that given to anyone else on Earth? No one’s fairer than God; you just have to believe it in faith and wait long enough to receive it.
When You Think You’re Finished
Many times in life, we think we’re finished, but we’re not. We’re convinced what we’re hoping for will never happen. In Mark 5, Jesus came to a home where a young girl had died. Jesus, however, knew what He was about to do, and therefore said, “She’s only sleeping.” (Mark 5:39) There are times when something we are believing for is not going to happen. It’s over, and there’s no point in waiting for it to return. But, there are other times, when what appears to be dead is just on pause, and God wants us to keep the flame of faith burning in our hearts. This will require a willingness to be less attached to what we’d like to see take place, and more committed to God‘s will being done. Trust that God is able to make this distinction clear to us and, if we are more attached to Him, it will be impossible to miss His will for us.
You Are God’s Masterpiece
Here’s a challenging life goal. Believe what God thinks about you, more than what you think about yourself. Try to embrace this scripture. The Bible says, emphatically, “You are God’s masterpiece!” WOW! That’s how God views you. It continues, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” There are a few key points here: First, you are God’s… not your own. Second, He thinks you’re a masterpiece, not a hot mess. And lastly, He’s planned really good things for us…for our future. Amazing! Begin every day believing the truth about how God sees your life and future, and it will not just change you, it will inspire those around you to believe it as well.
I believe each of us who know Jesus should want to do mighty things for Him. The Bible encourages us to do just that, when it says, “…the people that know their God shall be strong and do exploits…” (Daniel 11:32, KJV) What a motivating verse! And when you consider the meaning of the word “exploits,” it becomes even more intriguing. Our doing exploits for God means to, “be courageous, even to be restored to our former strength.” What a challenging thought! For those of us who have been followers of Jesus for many years, are we as strong and courageous as we once were? Has some passion been lost over time? It’s a question I consider regularly. When the Bible says that, in the Last Days, “…the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:23, NLT), I discipline my mind to primarily focus on one person…myself.
What I Think You Should Think
One of the most popular head games people play, I entitle: “What I Think You Should Think!“ It goes something like this, “I’ve already figured out what you should be thinking and what your response should be to a certain situation. So, if you don’t have that response, you’re not just wrong, you might even be bad or evil.” Me walking around assuming that my perspective is invariably the higher ground is perhaps one of the best definitions of pride I’ve ever heard. Don’t play the game “What I Think You Should Think.“. Instead, have a humble heart, and continually ask Jesus what He thinks about any given issue or situation. Then, acknowledge that you don’t know what’s best and therefore have no right to judge someone else. We each will stand before God alone.
What Is Our Motive For Doing Things?
Would you and I do more to prop up our image and reputation (what others think of us) than we would do merely because it was the right thing to do? In Luke 11, a man knocked on a neighbor’s door late at night asking for some food. The owner of the house tried to get him to go away, and only gave him what he wanted when he realized his reputation would be damaged if he didn’t give him food. It provokes me to consider my motive for my own actions, especially the good actions that I do. Am I, at times, more generous or selfless when others are watching? I’ve done that! But, in contrast, when the Bible says, “Love isn’t self-serving” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NET), it’s actually saying something extraordinary: the all-powerful God of the Universe thinks more about us…than He does Himself.
First World Problems
Perhaps you’ve heard the term: “First World Problem.” It’s a slang expression referring to issues in First World nations (countries in the Western world), that people complain about. Our problems, when compared to real problems in the rest of the world, are pathetically inconvenient and even laughable. Some of these “First World Problems” can be expressed in this way: “There’s nothing to drink at home… except an unlimited supply of fresh drinking water.” “The brightness of my smartphone hurts my eyes.” “My walk-in closet isn’t big enough.” “I ate so much I feel sick.” “If my ripped jeans keep ripping, I’ll need to buy a new of pair ripped jeans.” HA! Petty aren’t they? But how many of us make statements like this without thinking? “God, awaken our hearts to hear our thoughts and words, because they misrepresent You.”
Seeking God’s Kingdom First
We’ve all read the scripture, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) This incredible verse is the will and promise of God for all of us who allow Jesus to be first in our lives. But, perhaps, like me, you’ve wondered if making God’s Kingdom first has reduced the possibilities for your life to a narrow list…a lesser list…a boring list. Nothing could be further from the truth! The Almighty God, who shares His Kingdom with those who seek Him first, promises to give us the best of the best: nothing shortchanged, nothing less than perfect, the cream off the top of His heart. By seeking God first, we give up nothing eternal or priceless. Instead, we exchange the seductions of Earth for the countless blessings of Heaven.