Devotional – 07.07.19 “My protection detail”

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV

When I read this morning’s daily Bible verse…I was unsatisfied with my understanding of it.

Some verses are easy to digest, don’t require too much deep thought, and are always touted with context. But this one left me wanting to learn more.

And even though there was pressure to leave the verse as-is and get ready for work…I made a commitment to put God first and throughout; not rush God or fit Him in wherever convenient; and truly understand that if I make time for my Creator and Heavenly Father…He’d take care of my work.

I don’t live up to this resolve all of the time, but I had the strength today – so I’m taking advantage of it.

I won’t get into detail, but God provided =) And because of this, I was able to delve into this verse a lot more.

I did some research into explanations of this command, and found an article by Sophie McDonald. I highly recommend you read the entire thing, but below are passages that spoke to me.

“…nowhere in the Bible does God command us to keep or guard our hearts in our own strength. The Lord means for us to guard our hearts by filtering our emotions, desires, thoughts, and responses through his Word.

…The task is simple: We are commanded to keep ourselves in his Word, and he keeps our hearts.

‘…keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.’ (Jude 21)

‘This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.’ (Psalm 18:30)

‘How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.’ (Psalm 119:9)

‘He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.’ (Proverbs 2:7-8, NIV)

GUARANTEED PROTECTION

We must remember that God’s way of guarding of our hearts may differ from our idea of how he will do so. We see in Scripture that God will not protect us from pain, hurt, or anything that will make us look more like Jesus (1 Peter 1:6-9). And he will not keep us from any circumstance or situation—no matter how brutal—that will lead us into a deeper knowledge of his heart.

The Lord, through his Word, is the guard, shield, and protector of our hearts. This doesn’t mean pain doesn’t come, but that when it does we can rest (and ultimately rejoice) because we know who has allowed it. This process, like everything else, goes back to either believing or disbelieving God’s character.

‘He who gave us a new heart can be trusted to protect it’ (Ezekiel 36:26).

APPLICATION

What does this mean for us? Consider the following questions as we seek the Lord for his Spirit’s help in aligning our lives with his Word.

Are you actively setting the Word of God as a watchman over your soul by reading it and hearing it preached?

Are you filtering your circumstances, decisions, thoughts, and responses through what God’s Word says?

Do you prayerfully seek the Lord, trusting the One who gave you a new heart to protect it?

Are you trying to guard your heart in your own strength, or acknowledging your weakness and trusting the all-sufficient One to be your defender?”

I have a very hard time guarding my heart. Although I am saved, there are remnants of my past life that are still stuck to me.

I still cuss. I still joke about inappropriate stuff. I still listen to rap music (I grew up on 90s hip-hop *sigh*). I still idolize work and other non-God pursuits (like playing Overwatch lol!). I still play God and feel pressured to be the provider in my family. I still depend on personal development philosophies that should take backseat to His Word. I’m still reactive and impulsive without filter.

I want this public call-out to be my Prodigal Son moment; and to turn back to my Father so that I can stop being unsuccessful, disobedient, and exhausted from doing things without Him. I know that I don’t be perfect, and will falter still – but I’ve got to try. I’m missing out on so much blessing; and a life of joy and purpose.

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Devotional: God & secular wisdom

Today’s devotional reminds me that secular education is obviously critical for equipping, protecting, and growing one’s self…but it should never, ever be the primary means of gaining wisdom.

Anything other than reading God’s word, listening for answered prayer, and following His will that is your main operating system are grounds for subpar or undesirable results and lack of fulfillment.

Yes – even Tim Ferriss and related thought.

Wisdom in biblical times was gained by obedience – not by logic, reasoning, and analysis. While we are grateful for Greek culture giving us tools for gaining, understanding, and applying knowledge – and they definitely have their place in our lives (and that’s at most second place) – it’s time for a reboot and return to this principle.

I am so guilty of this – I consume books, podcasts, teachings, and conversations and apply their takeaways most of the time without consulting God first and asking if my education and actions adhere to His wishes – that it honors God and serves people.

I’m done with gaining wisdom that isn’t sourced by God. Nobody knows a creation better than its inventor; nobody loves me more perfectly than my Father; and the truth never changes – which is why the Bible has endured and empowered people for so long.

Breaking the rules and thinking that the rules don’t apply

While I was reading “What I Learned Losing A Million Dollars” there was a destructive thought process that states:

“Once I realized I was breaking the rules but still succeeding, I thought rules were for everybody else and that I could break them and still succeed.

What this means is that sometimes I was breaking the rules whether I knew it or not, and that one time I was going to be wrong (and we will all be wrong sometimes) but not accept or believe it. That approach ensured that when the loss occurred, it would wipe me out.

If you occasionally break the rules and still have an unbroken string of successes, you are likely to compound the problem because you assume that you are better than other people and above the rules. Your ego inflates, and you refuse to recognize the reality of a loss when it comes. You assume that you will be right. You assume that even if the market is against you, it will come back. Well, if I had an ego problem at one million dollars, what kind of problem would I have had if I had ridden through the valley of death and cheated death? If I had survived the loss and the market had gone on to make money for me, my ego problem would have been much worse.”

Are there areas of your life where you are in denial, or think the rules don’t apply to you, that are worth revisiting while you can still rectify things?

Book Notes – “Tribe of Mentors” by Tim Ferriss – Kevin Kelly (p247)

Just sharing passages that grab me, from one of my favorite books as of late.

“Whenever I am trying to decide whether to accept an invitation, I just pretend it is going to happen tomorrow morning. It is easy to say yes to something happening six months from now, but it has to be super fantastic to get me to go tomorrow morning.”

I like this thought process a lot better than the other respondents as of late. I always think of invitations that I’ve already accepted only the day before, and most of the time I am dreading them, and trying to find a way to get out of them. This practice will help me preempt them a lot better.

And remember, Paul – you don’t owe anybody an explanation.

“I avoid working on things that someone else could do, even if I enjoy doing it and would get paid well to do it. I try to give my best ideas away in the hope that someone will do them, because if they do them, that means I was not the only one who could have. I encourage competitors for the same reason. In the end, I’m left with projects that only I can do, which makes them distinctive and valuable.”

This is hard to do, because I feel like we need the money right now. But I can probably reframe this differently – I can take high-paying jobs to pay the bills, build my credibility, exhibit immense value, and give someone else an opportunity to make money, and build skills – and I still have clear space to do projects that are unique only to my calling. The way God intended.

“Don’t try to find your passion. Instead master some skill, interest, or knowledge that others find valuable. It almost doesn’t matter what it is at the start. You don’t have to love it, you just have to be the best at it. Once you master it, you’ll be rewarded with new opportunities that will allow you to move away from tasks you dislike and toward those that you enjoy. If you continue to optimize your mastery, you’ll eventually arrive at your passion.”

Again – an echo for the fact that in the beginning, you don’t know what your calling is. You can’t possibly know unless you try all sorts of things with the intent of mastering them, or quickly knowing that you can’t master them if even if you tried. Process of elimination, recalibrating, and chipping away at the stone until your art shows itself.

Devotional – Even the best of us…

“The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me, or help me.'” – Billy Graham

This was an encouraging reminder that even the best of us feel not strong enough or too far gone to be saved – on a constant basis, and may never escape those feelings. I am not alone, and I should not let the devil – either through my negative self-talk or others – make me believe that I can’t turn back around toward God again and again and again and again as many times as I need to.

His love is unconditional, bigger than any issues I can ever throw at Him, and He meets me where I am – whether it’s in the valleys of death (Psalm 23:4), the pit (Joseph and Daniel), in slavery, self-inflicted prisons (Moses), on my last breath (Samson), and even midway on the return home (the Prodigal Son).

I can’t give up; because He won’t on me.

Devotional – Commit & recalibrate

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.

The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously;”

Psalm 37:5-7, 9, 11, 21 NIV

I believe today’s devotional reminds me to stay on the straight and narrow path of things. Whatever decisions I make today, please give me the wisdom and strength to pray first and throughout, and then think and do them only in service to You and Your Kingdom – whether it be replacing anger and annoyance with love; replacing exhaustion with rest; responding to pushed pressure with being still and patient; making the call based on love, faith, and righteousness; making time for relationships; and going out of my way to serve people.

Doing these things will make for a successful day; an enjoyable life; good health; immense productivity; catharsis of the unnecessary/unhelpful/toxic; a sense of relaxation; the strengthening of my relationship to God and others; and instilling confidence in knowing I am doing the right thing, or at the very least – allowing even the bad decisions work for the good for those who believe in Him. It’s a win/win/win/win/win…win situation.

Devotional – 02.15.19 Part II

SUFFERING

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:3-5 NIV

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Romans 8:18 NIV

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

James 1:2, 4 NIV

““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.””

John 16:33 NIV

Lord, I am grateful for Christ’s suffering and overcoming it. You give me the long view that makes temporary suffering bearable. You give me the benefits of suffering – not just the bad (transformation, deep love, perseverance, hope, Your character, true peace, unshakeable faith, real joy, etc.). And You bring me way closer to You.

I’m also grateful that You give me the strength and tools to undergo suffering. I’ve benefited so much from immersing in Your Word daily; my idealistic, positive outlook; and my past experiences.

Devotional – 02.1.19

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV

What’s going on in my life right now that feel lacking, and could use a reframe?

I will rejoice through all of these, and be joyful in You. Why? Because if I turn away from the bad things that are happening in my life, to what‘s god, I realize there are wonderful blessings in action right now for me. I have a family that loves me and completes me. I am doing work that I enjoy. I have resources to get work done more effectively (Chris, Jolly, Arianne, Mikee, HON Team, etc.). I have and make free time to spend with You and develop myself. I am doing work that makes impact, are fun, improves economies, and builds capital for the Kingdom. I’m in perfect shape to strengthen my health. I am traveling the world (currently in Shanghai, China) and seeing Your creation. And the list truly does go on and on – hence why I can always fill my gratitude journal every day.

After writing this out, it’s even more easier and deserving to rejoice in You.

Devotional 02.10.19 – Suited up

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

Ephesians 6:11 NIV

What’s my full armor today? Honoring the Sabbath; loving people; serving people; changing the channel, literally and figuratively; prayer; including You in all conversations; not bad-mouthing all people, even for fun – knowing well that they’re going through a battle I know nothing about, that Jesus died for them, too.

The devil doesn’t stand a chance.

For the umpteenth time…

This was a devotional I read and wrote about on 01.20.18.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:4-7 NIV

“Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”” Luke 15:11-32 NIV

These stories make me so happy. I fall off the altar so many times that by the world’s standards – I’m a lost cause, and a waste of time.

But God thinks and acts differently. He will always go out and look for me and bring me back home, no matter if it’s 10 or 10,000 times. He is my Father and I am His son, and that’s all that matters. This is how valuable I am. This is how much my Father loves me. This is a model for my parenting. This is a model for bringing others to Christ as well.