Being A Solutionist

He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. John 21:5 God is always solving problems in the Bible. Famine. Illness. Hunger. Barrenness. Death. Eternal death. God uses His people to bring extraordinary solutions to really big problems. Elijah and the widow. Two loaves and five fish. Abraham and Sara. The story of Lazarus. Jesus' death on the cross. These are all examples of God's problem solving throughout history because of His love for mankind. God calls us as His children to be solution-oriented. He calls us to be "solutionists", just like He was. Jesus solved a major problem - the eternal death of mankind. And it is by faith that we are saved and called by

Having Faith in Spite of Circumstances

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths." -Proverbs 5:5-6 Elizabeth* went to her job one morning only to be taken aside by her boss, away from the other employees. "I'm so sorry Elizabeth, but your position has been eliminated. Please go inside and pack up your things and go home." Elizabeth was shocked at the loss of her job. Technically, it shouldn't have been her who got fired. There were several people who had been at the company for less time and others who were paid more than she was. Plus, they were right in the middle of a big project, and her expertise was needed. Nonetheless, no

Today's Devotional

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Receiving Our Inheritance by Faith

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!" -Matthew 7:8-11 A girlfriend of mine was tithing (giving 10% of her money) to church when her debit card number had expired. Normally she had the card number on file, but she had forgotten to change it. The accountant called her to ask her why the card had declined, and my friend gave her the new number. My friend said, "You know what, could you throw an extra $20 in there for the offering? I want to sow into my future."

Diligent Work

"The diligent find freedom in their work; the lazy are oppressed by work." -Proverbs 12:24 Do you enjoy your job? According to Forbes magazine, 70% of all employees hate their jobs. That's a HUGE number! It seems many of us are in jobs where we either don't enjoy the work, don't enjoy the atmosphere, or both. I know I have been in jobs before that I didn't particularly enjoy. I worked as a server for several years and initially I DREADED the idea. But you know what's cool about God? Even if the job is not our natural bent (I was very shy) or doesn't use our gifts and talents, he can still use that job to shape us and teach us things that we wouldn't learn if we had not been in that situa

The Last Word

"We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed - always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." -2 Corinthians 4:8-10 In America, we are blessed to be able to enjoy religious and economic freedom. We are able to go to any church we choose, build a business, go to school, or pursue a dream. Even though there are things we might want to change, on the whole, American is unlike many other countries in the world. I heard a story just the other day about Christians in the underground church in China. A couple who w

Having a Positive Attitude

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." -James 1:2-4 You know, in life it is pretty safe to say that people don't tend to enjoy being around negative people. There is enough negativity out in the world, coming from the news, our workplaces, and perhaps even our own families. The reality is people enjoy being around people who help them feel better, to look at the positive side of a situation, and who have an "anything is possible" attitude.

Jesus' Death Cancels Ours

"Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live." -Ezekiel 18:23 As a Christian, I have often wondered why people had to die in the Old Testament. It seemed so harsh -- why couldn't they just have been forgiven? What I didn't realize was that Jesus had not yet come to die. There was not yet any power of redemption on the earth. If people committed a sin, they would be subject to judgment, which many times meant death. But God didn't want people to die -- He wanted them to live. Jesus' death meant we didn't have to die for our own sins. Instead, He had come to die for us, on our behalf. How

Under No Compulsion

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." -2 Corinthians 9:6-8 Have you ever heard an offering message and then felt guilty, so you gave? Unfortunately, this happens in many churches. I feel blessed to be a part of a church that talks strictly about not giving when you feel reluctant or obligated, but instead giving from a cheerful and ab

Spiritual Strongholds

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." -2 Corinthians 10:4 Have you ever heard of a "stronghold"? A stronghold in a spiritual influence in our lives that compels us to make decisions that aren't good for our spiritual or even physical well-being. Much stronger than a habit, a stronghold is something that makes us feel as if we don't have any control over its influence. But, fact of the matter is, through the power of God's Spirit, we do. Some examples of strongholds are: Fear Rejection Heaviness/Depression Sexual Sin Addiction Judgment/Legalism The root of strongholds are either negative memories wher

The Language of Heaven

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:14-16 A couple of friends of ours came into town for one of our conferences. Afterward they stayed with us as we debriefed from what happened during the event. The question was asked, "From an outsiders' perspective, what do you think we could have done differently?" "Talk more about forgiveness," one of them said. "Ah," our other friend at the table said. "The language of heaven." Forgiveness is so hard sometimes. How can the unforgiveable be forgiven? A child molester, a cheating spouse, murder, neg

Jesus Left the Competition

"Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that He and John performed (although His disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning Him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee." -John 4:1 MSG Is competition biblical? In a hurried world where results produce promotions and accolades, it is so easy to get our eyes off where our central focus should be: Jesus. Yes it is right to work diligently and wholeheartedly (Proverbs 12:27), yes it is good to excel and be faithful (Luke 19:17) -- but is it okay to be competitive? In the Bible there i

Obedience Leads to Life

"They refused to keep my decrees and follow my regulations, even though obedience would have given them life." -Ezekiel 20:11 A lot of the time we wonder how following God will turn out. We wonder why we should live by Christian principles, or why God told Adam and Eve not to eat the apple. "Why not?" we wonder. "What's so bad about 'A' or 'B'? we might ask. Additionally, sometimes God asks us to step out and do some scary things. We might fear the outcome of following God's leading. What will people think? What will happen? He does not call us to be foolish - but sometimes He calls us to step outside our comfort zone so that more of His kingdom might be present on earth. He calls us to

100% Faith

"When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice." -Genesis 22:9 & 10 I can't imagine how Abraham must have felt after God told him to sacrifice his son. I mean, what kind of God is this? God's people didn't traditionally offer up their children as sacrifices - the pagan people did that. Nevertheless, this is what Abraham was instructed to do, and he heeded the instruction. We never see Abraham flinch as he is going up the mountain with Isaac. There is no account of him stopping along the

God Hurts Too

"Then when they are exiled among the nations, they will remember me. They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols. Then at last they will hate themselves for all their detestable sins. They will know that I alone am the Lord and that I was serious when I said I would bring this calamity on them." -Ezekiel 6:9 & 10 A while back a fairly well-known rock band came out with a song called, "Love Hurts." The song rings with a lot of truth - love, as we know it, hurts sometimes. In a similar sense, our relationship with God is a lot like a love story. In the New Testament, God calls us (the church, the body of believers), His bride, an

American Idols

"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." -Matthew 10:37, 38 We live in a culture today where our idols define us. We may call ourselves a Christian nation, but more than that, we love the freedoms that we have because of it. There is nothing wrong with living a free life, but without God in it, or at the center of it, our lives will be lacking something immeasurably important. I find it interesting that Jesus, when talking about the importance of loving others, goes from talking about loving others to saying, "An

God's Timing

"But the angel said, 'I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news. But because you won't believe me, you'll be unable to say a word until the day of your son's birth. Every word I've spoken to you will come true on time - God's time.'" -Luke 1:20 In the Bible, Zachariah was a priest who lived during the reign of King Herod. He and his wife Elizabeth were God-fearing people, who the Bible says, "lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God." (Luke 1:6) Zachariah and his wife had always wanted children, but they couldn't conceive. At this time, they were getting "quite old." (v.

Arrested Development

"When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things." -1 Corinthians 13:11 The late Dr. Paul Hegstrom is the author of a book called Broken Children, Grown Up Pain. A psychologist, Dr. Hegstrom describes a phenomenon known as "arrested development" in which people are emotionally stunted due to past childhood traumas that occur before the ages of 9 and 12 years old. I went through a biblically-based training he developed called Lifeskills, and the knowledge and revelation I received was truly life-changing. Traumatic experiences are classified as emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, neglect, and excessive rejection. When thes

When God Seems Far Away

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." -Hebrews 13:5 Have you ever felt far away from God? I have. I'm sure every Christian, no matter their circumstances has felt far from God at one time or another. But, why do we feel this way? Do we have to feel this way? Surely God doesn't want us to feel or be far away from Him! God, as a loving Father and shepherd, always wants us to live under the shadow of His wing, in His arms, all the time. He doesn't want His sheep, His children to be far from Him. In the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis, everything was perfect. Adam and Eve lived in perfect harmony with God in the Garden. But, once they sinned, their sin separated them from

The Discipline of Having Faith

“Without faith it is impossible to please God.” -Hebrews 11:6 Is there anything in your life that requires faith? Some of us are living paycheck to paycheck - we need faith to pay our tithe first before our bills. Some of us have family members that are completely out of whack - we need faith that God will move and work on their behalf. Sometimes we are completely out of whack, and we need God to help us! And some of us have HUGE dreams that will only be accomplished by faith. Some people have lost hope in their dreams and destinies. They have lost hope for other people. They have lost hope for themselves. We can’t afford to be those people. When God asked the twelve leaders of Israel

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