Proverbs 1:24-33 (NKJV)
Proverbs 1:24-33 (NKJV)
Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
A few weeks ago, Pastor Jeff Rabe, asked me for a favor. He would be going on sabbatical for the month of June, and asked if I could fill in for him on the 11th. I laughed and replied, “I’m not a preacher.” He said, ” I knew you’d say that, but I disagree. I just think you haven’t done it yet.” I agreed to give it a few days of prayer and to seek counsel. Based on the counsel I was getting, it became immediately apparent that I was not likely to get away from this. Pastor Ben Segebart, said something that resonated, got the wheels turning and they haven’t stopped. He said, “Do it! You have to. God stretches us to make us better. He’s stretching you. Do it!”
Pastor Ben was right. God stretches us. One year and eight months ago, Mike Sereg called and asked me to join the team and write the Friday devotion. Just like this time, I tried to brush it aside and get out of it. However, just like with this challenge, it too was an opportunity to allow God to stretch me, to make me better, advance my growth and quicken my maturation process. In both of these instances, by faith, I accepted the call and am better for it. Along the way, I hope that the purpose, for which God intended it, has been, to some measure, satisfied.
That brings me to Chapter 11 of Hebrews. For the sake of space and the limitations of this format, I will not go through it chapter and verse. I would, however, strongly encourage you to take a thoughtfully measured read through it. This passage is oftentimes referred to as the “Faith Hall of Fame”. Paul lays out a impressively comprehensive list of men and women, how, by faith in God, allowed themselves to be stretched beyond the bounds of human imagination to achieve God’s purpose in their life and for His Kingdom.
Our tendency is to allow ourselves to get comfortable and stretching is most certainly UNcomfortable. Now, ask yourself, are you comfortable? Has God been trying to stretch you and your faith? What areas in your life do you sense that to be the case? Are you allowing it? We should embrace it. If we want to experience any measure of fullness of life in Christ in this temporal life, how can we realize that without growth and maturation? We can’t!
Think about things, areas in your life that you feel accomplishment. If you could do gkit (whatever it is) from the get go, then there would be no sense of accomplishment. Likely, your achievement, in any given arena, is the result of pushing beyond your personal boundaries, past your limitations, practice, persistence, stttrrreeetttccchhhiiinnnggg yourself to growth, maturity and success. Yes? Likewise, so it is with our faith, relationship with Jesus Christ and the work He’d have us do for His Kingdom.
So… allow Him to stretch you beyond what is comfortable and you feel capable of. Draw near to Him, learn from Him, love Him and trust Him. I promise, you will see your faith multiplied! Have a blessed weekend.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,
1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
There are no coincidences. God places us where and when He’d have us for His purpose.
I was on my way home tonight, on the bike, and needed gas. The station I normally fill up at was closed when I arrived. I found that odd, but turned around and headed to another. As I pulled up, I noticed a man fixing to cross the street, headed for the gas station parking lot. I didn’t like the looks of him so, as I stepped off the bike, I positioned myself so as to be able to keep an eye on him. As he passed me by, he bid me a good evening and I did the same. He responded with, “Jesus is coming again!” I replied, “indeed He is!” The man stopped and asked, “do you mind if I pray with you?” What?! When does this happen?! When have I ever offered to do that with a stranger? Shamefully, I don’t believe I ever have. Who does that?! Answer… this man! I accepted.
To paint the picture a bit more vividly, the man approached and if I were to picture John the Baptist in jeans and a t-shirt, he stood before me. Very unkempt, beard to his chest, matted hair, sun blistered nose and dirty clothes, he introduced himself as Mark, and I introduced myself. So here, in the parking lot of a gas station, stood a modern day John the Baptist and a scruffy Harley dude with their hands upon each other’s shoulder. Mark proceeded with one of the most beautiful, heart felt prayers I’ve ever heard. He praised Jesus, prayed that God would produce a hedge of protection for my family and I. He gave thanks for this opportunity, the endless love of Jesus and thanked him for the love he had for me, his brother, and the love I had for him. He thanked God for His provision. He prayed for guidance, obedience and endurance. I felt this man’s love for the Lord and for me. It was beautiful, joyous, and humbling all at once.
Mark and I spent the next hour engaged in conversation. He told me a great deal about himself, the life Jesus pulled him from and the road He has him on now. He’s a wanderer, going where he feels the Lord directing Him, preaching the Gospel of Jesus without caution, shame or hesitancy. I listened intently, spoke very little. Mark shared with me his take on the spiritual state of the world, reluctant to say anything that he couldn’t immediately back up with scripture. Here was a man with, by all appearances, little in the way of material possession. Yet, he was kind, had a joy I see in very few who possess a great deal more, an obvious fear of the lord, a meekness and a humility that is rare in this world. He possessed a wealth in measure that I do not and venture to say I have not seen in another.
As I listened to him, I was awed. His knowledge of scripture was far superior to mine, as though I had but a childlike understanding. In fact, it would rival most anyone’s I know. I was humbled. I gave him my number, shook his hand, thanked him, and said, “God bless you Brother.” He returned the blessing and added, “love Jesus first, I love you Brother,” and walked off into the dark.
I stood there for a moment, still processing what had happened. God sent him to me and I to him. “Thank you Lord, I needed that, and so did he.” Have a blessed weekend.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,
On Memorial Day, my wife, my brother and I watched “Patriot Day”. For anyone who has not seen it, or doesn’t know the story line, it centers around the Boston marathon bombings. These bombings were a senseless tragic attack spawned by hatred. The soul intent was terror and anguish.
As I watched this movie, I was shocked (all over again), saddened, pained but mostly angered. My blood pressure jumped up a few notches, to say the least. As events ran their course, and they were closing in on the perpetrators, my anger was shifting to vengeance, retribution. I wanted to see equivalent amounts of pain and terror inflicted on these men, an eye for an eye. For one of them that’s what he got. I almost jumped out of my chair and cheered.
It took a couple days, but I began to evaluate my response to what I saw, to those men and the evil that they unleashed. I was disturbed and convicted by my desire to see pain inflicted on those men. Vengeance, that’s what I wanted… blood. That’s wrong. Period. That is not what justice looks like. What those men did was wicked and horrific. They became the manifestation of evil, in the plainest sense of the word. However, to wish vengeance, retribution and retaliation on them, blood and carnage, is wrong. Some would say, “turn about is fair play.” I would say, “naturally!” Jesus would say, “you are no longer a natural man.”
Romans 12:21 (NKJV) Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.
God would see us pity those men for the evil that enveloped them, be saddened for them, pray and bless them. He would have us pour out love and compassion for the victims of their actions, the bombing, as well as the ancillary physical and emotional casualties inflicted.
This is not a call to simply lie down and allow evil to have its way, free from consequence or defense. There will be times when corrective action, the laying on of “hands”, if you please, is necessary. There will be times when one must rise up and beat back evil manifested in another to protect oneself or others. Justifiably so, however, guard your heart. “Do not be overcome.” The motivation, the condition of your heart in such cases, is what scripture directs our focus to. There will most assuredly be times when justice is required for evils perpetrated. Be careful, for bloodlust and retaliation is born from the very same evil. Vengeance and justice are not interchangable. People will wrong you, be sure of that. I pray that none of you ever experience the level of tragedy wrought upon the people of Boston that day. Regardless of the level wrought, respond from the unnatural position that God has called you to. It will be easier said than done, but Love first. Have a blessed weekend.
Romans 12:17-19 (NKJV) Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,
There’s a very real tendency of people to compare themselves to those around them. We do it at work, at home, in sports, hobbies, in virtually every facet of life. In the world of archery and bow hunting it is very easy for me to fall into the compare and contrast mentality. What is that guy shooting? How is he shooting? Why is he doing that? What did he hang a tag on this year? Why did he accomplish that with such apparent ease and I’m still struggling along?
I picked my youngest up from volleyball practice tonight and while driving home our conversation was about this very thing. She was telling me about some execution issues she was having and then proceeded to tell me how another girl seemed to just pick it up and excel. I told her, “first and foremost, don’t fall into that trap. Competition is a good thing, it stretches us and drives us to refinement and improvement. However, comparing our self to others is a trap. She is not you and vice versa… never compare yourself to another. You, My Dear, are a one of a kind.” Not everyone is gifted in the same ways and it is a disservice to measure your worth or accomplishment based on another’s. The next thing I told her was, “champions are not born, they are made. They are built through discipline, hard work, sacrifice, obedience, strength and courage.” It’s a process and at times a painful one.
Applying this to my walk, I realize that I fall into this trap there, as well. I often find myself admiring the work of another, be it in ministry, worship, theology, service, missions, etc, then thinking, “wow, that guy is doing amazing things. He has it together. He’s really doing something profound. I’m not doing anything like that.” Then I start feeling like I’m falling way short, not measuring up, which is true. However, not for the reason I’ve allowed myself to believe. I am not him and vice versa. I am not purposed for the same things as he is. I am not gifted in the same ways as he is. My not measuring up has nothing at all to do with whether I am doing the same things as he is, as well as he is. Rather, am I doing the things that God has prepared for me and me for? Is God able to achieve through me what He seeks to achieve?
To recognize that and to be a “champion” of God is a process. First, cast away the desire to compare yourself to others. You are not them and vice versa. Your focus is on God first and foremost. You have to desire to want to know Him, His heart and His purpose for you. It requires desire. A burning passion to pursue a deep, personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. How can you possibly know if you are where He wants you, doing what He wants, if you don’t have an intimate connection to Him?
It requires discipline, training through the power of the Holy Spirit, your ability to follow God’s code of conduct, His rules. Sin and God are 100% incompatible. You simply cannot be able to discern your purpose if you lack the discipline to adhere to His code of conduct.
It requires obedience. You have cultivated the relationship. You desire to know His heart. You are exercising discipline. You have worked yourself into a position where you can discern His voice and understand His desire and purpose for you. Now, you have to obey. When He compels, convicts or burdens you… obey. Through the execution of that obedience you will begin to realize and see your purpose as God sees your purpose. You will no longer be caught in the comparison trap, stumbling down a rabbit trail blazed by another. You will be headed down the purposed road God has mapped out specifically for you! A purpose filled, purposed fulfilled life!
Scripture teaches that the church (big “C”) is a body. A body is made up of a collection of parts, each with a specific identity and function. These parts function as a whole, but if one tries to perform the role of another, the whole mission begins to fall a part. A hand is not a foot, a nose is not an ear, and they will not function as such. To compare them to each other is pointless and completely counter-productive. Stop comparing, pursue a oneness with Jesus, commit to the process, and focus on who God purposed you to be. Have a blessed weekend.
Romans 12:3-5 (NKJV) For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,