Devotional: Walking with God 24/7

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“Enoch walked with God.” (Gen. 5:24)

In Marketplace Leaders, Os Hillman writes that “the true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the daily grind of everyday life when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening.”

From my ability to remember anything until now, my dad has always told me pray as the first thing I do when I wake up, the last thing I do when I go to bed, and every moment in between. Zen Habits taught me to be present – even in the most simple activities like washing dishes, taking out the trash, and handling an email. And my time at Saddleback Church has taught me that anything and everything is a form of worship…if I make it so.

All of this has strengthened my resolve to walk and talk with Him all through the day – about my wins, losses, struggles, confusions, my moments of happiness and sadness, and/or any random topic that comes to mind. I want to speak with Him like I would any other family member, friend, or someone I just met whom I crave to learn more about and befriend. I feel horrible when I only come to Him when I’m knee-deep in some altercation; He still helps me out of it and stays with me through it like an unconditionally loving Father…but that’s not the kind of relationship I want to communicate to Him.

I want to seek God with all of my heart, body, mind, and soul the way David did; the way Enoch did. It’s the relationship that matters the most to me – and I pray that You’ll help me know it and live it at 100%, 100% of the time.

Devotional: When to move fast and when to move slow

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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Today’s devotional came from Daily Hope – messages taken from Pastor Rick Warren‘s sermons at our Saddleback Church. It’s how I get my daily bread when I can’t wake up to read at my leisure, have to be on the road somewhere, and still want to start my day with God.

Here is the message, and below are my takeaways.

* Don’t move fast if you are angry, stressed, or depressed; it almost never is an optimal result. Move slowly when you feel this way – because feelings lie and are temporary at best; and doing so creates time to ask God for His direction. And His wisdom is always better than ours.
* Whatever you aspire to do, consult with people who have done it before you. You are not meant to go at anything alone; it will save from critical, avoidable, and stupid mistakes; and God speaks through other people as well – use this valuable resource.
* The Bible says to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). Most of us do the exact opposite of these principles and that’s why there are so many relational rifts on all levels – in business, in the work environment, in politics, family, etc.
* When you are slow to speak you have a better understanding; you are thoughtful; and you give God a chance to enter and say the right things through you.
* What is happening in my life right now right need to slow down?
* Proverbs 4:26 says: “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet…” If you carefully consider your decision, you have a better chance at success. Ask yourself what you need to do today in order to achieve what you want tomorrow. Ask if what you’re doing right now is honoring your goals.
* After you’ve planted that seed, be patient and trust God. Know that the season in which you sow is different from the season you reap. Don’t constantly dig up the seed to see if it is growing. Know that whatever you plant you will always get back more than what you put in – be it negative or positive.
* On the flip side, know what needs to happen immediately, like following your purpose or keeping God’s commands. Partial or delayed obedience is still disobedience, and a blockade for God’s blessing.

Devotional: Are you horizontal or vertical?

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:21)

Before I re-dedicated my life to Christ, I was handling all of my circumstances in a horizontal fashion.

I processed incoming news – good, bad, and uncertain – using my own knowledge and that of books and my friends, family, and counselors in a secular fashion.

While there was some success here and there with these avenues, it was never consistent; they were always short-lived; there was always a better way in hindsight; it was exhausting; and it felt unfulfilling.

Looking sideways and down weren’t the right operating system for the results I wanted, and I needed an upgrade.

I am learning to look up and vertically integrate more often. My experiences, talents, thought processes, education, loved ones, and people I look up to are all wonderful resources to consult, and they are necessary – but they are only secondary resources on their own, and I can only adhere to them when God speaks to me through them.

Knowing this requires prayer and listening for advice that moves me, that is consistent with what the Bible says, and serves God and others.

The rest of my inputs – regardless of how good and well-meaning it sounds – must be passed on in order to make room for His answer.

It’s something I still struggle with and will continue to struggle with it for the rest of my life…but the more I shift the ratio of worldly-powered decisions to God-powered decisions, the more successes and purpose I will experience.

Devotional: Encountering the supernatural in our everyday lives

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

I want to experience miracles every day in my life. Assurance of this requires two things: that I ask for unexplainable blessings every morning in His name; and that I have a change of perception. Every day that I’m alive, breathing, playing with my kids, being with my beautiful wife, doing meaningful work…all of that is a supernatural thing.

Throwback: Book of promises & blessings

This is part of a series called “Throwback” – where I revive journal entries and blog posts written/posted on this very day, years ago.

Written on June 8th, 2014 (three years ago), Saddleback Church sent me a list of promises in the Bible that God has made to us. Pastor Rick Warren reminds us that we can’t enjoy all of the benefits of something unless we read the instruction manual; and to read this list gives me so much comfort, protection, and love for my Heavenly Father.

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We don’t deserve God’s blessings.

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” John 1:16 (NIV)

But God enjoys blessing his children and wants to bless you!

“I will enjoy blessing them. With all my heart and soul I will faithfully plant them in this land.” Jer. 32:41 (GW)

“My blessings are for Gentiles, too, when they accept the Lord; don’t let them think that I will make them second-class citizens. They can be as much mine as anyone.” Isaiah 56:3 (LB)

God promises to bless you IF you follow his instructions. Every promise has a premise. There’s a condition attached.

“You will experience all these blessings IF you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in your towns and in the country. You will be blessed with many children and productive fields. You will be blessed with fertile herds and flocks. You will be blessed with baskets overflowing with fruit, and with kneading bowls filled with bread. You will be blessed wherever you go, both in coming and in going. The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you… And the Lord will bless everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain.” Deuteronomy 28:2-8 (NLT)

God wants to bless you visibly in front of others as a testimony.

*“Lord, you have stored up great blessings for those who honor you. You do much for those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.”* Psalm 31:19 (NLT)

God blesses you so you can be a blessing to others!

“I will cause my people and their homes around my holy hill to BE a blessing. And I will send showers, showers of blessings, which will come just when they are needed.” Ezekiel 34:26 (NLT)

God’s blessing can be passed on to generations. You can create a legacy.

“After Abraham’s death, God poured out rich blessings on Isaac.” Gen. 25:11 (NLT)

It’s never too late to start living a God-blessed life!

“The Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the first half of his life.” Job 42:12

God promises to bless my life IF I meet with him daily.

“Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching DAILY at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” Prov. 8:34

God promises to bless my life IF I study and do his Word.

“Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his word he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Ps. 1:1-3

“The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25

God promises to bless my life IF I tithe my income.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Malachi 3:10

God promises to bless my life IF I help others in need, especially the poor.

“God blesses those who are kind to the poor and helpless. He helps them out of their own troubles. He protects them and keeps them alive; he publicly honors them and destroys the power of their enemies.” Psalm 41:1-2

“A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” Prov. 22:9

God promises to bless my life IF I share the Good News.

“I pray you will be active in sharing your faith, so that you will fully understand every blessing we have in Christ.” Philemon 1:6

“The man who PLANTS and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.” 1 Cor. 3:8

Good people bless and build up their city.” Prov.11:11

God promises to bless my life IF I participate in fellowship with other believers.

“I’m eager to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. In this way, each of us will be a blessing to the other.” Rom 1:12

“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed IF you DO them.” John 13:17

SOME OF THE MANY VERSES ON BLESSING IN THE BIBLE

“The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.” Proverbs 10:22 (NIV)

“For those who are always generous and lend freely, their children will be blessed.” Psalm 37:26 (NIV)

“If you return to the Almighty, you will be blessed again. So remove evil from your house.” Job 22:23 (NCV)

“Even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” Luke 11:28 (NLT)

“(Help the unfortunate…) and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:14 (NIV)

“Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures.” Deut. 15:10 (Mes)

“Worship the Lord your God and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you.” Exodus 23:25 (NIV)

“‘Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

“Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” Deut. 15:10 (NIV)

“Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things.” Psalm 128:1-2 (NCV)

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 (NIV)

“If they listen and obey God, then they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant.” Job 36:11 (NLT)

“Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” Job 5:17 (NIV)

“Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers.” Psalm 1:1 (GW)

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” Psalm 40:4 (NIV)

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house to worship; they are ever praising you.” Psalm 84:4 (NIV)

“Give freely to the poor person, and do not wish that you didn’t have to give. The Lord your God will bless your work and everything you touch.” Deut. 15:10 (NCV)

“Blessed is the man who trusts in you.” Psalm 84:12 (NIV)

“If the place of worship is too far from your home for you to carry there the tithe of the produce that the Lord has blessed you with, then do this: Sell your produce and take the money with you to the one place of worship.” Deut. 14:24-25 (TEV)

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.” Psalm 89:15 (NIV)

“Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.” Psalm 106:3 (NIV)

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways.” Psalm 128:1 (NIV)

“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.” Psalm 41:1-2 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-2 (NIV)

“Blessed are those who keep my ways.” Proverbs 8:32 (NIV)

“Each of these blessings depends on your not turning aside in any way from the laws I have given you; and you must never worship other gods.” Deut. 28:14 (Living)

“Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law.” Psalm 94:12 (NIV)

“It is sin to despise one’s neighbors; blessed are those who help the poor.” Proverbs 14:21 (NLT)

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 (NIV)

“A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” Prov. 22:9 (NIV)

“Good people will be generous to others and will be blessed for all they do.” Isaiah 32:8 (NLT)

“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom and gains understanding.” Proverbs 3:13 (NIV)

“A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”
Proverbs 28:20 (NIV)

“The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous.” Proverbs 3:33 (NIV)

“People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.”
Proverbs 11:26 (NIV)

“He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.” Proverbs 14:21 (NIV)

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.”
Proverbs 16:20 (NIV)

“An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.” Proverbs 20:21 (NIV)

“It will go well with those who convict the guilty and rich blessing will come upon them.” Proverbs 24:25 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.” Proverbs 28:14 (NIV)

“The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” Jeremiah 17:7 (NIV)

“The best of all the first fruits and of all your special gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household.” Ezekiel 44:30 (NIV)

“Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” Deut. 16:17 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on is word he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. ‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”’ Malachi 3:10 (NIV)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Matthew 5:3-11 (NIV)

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28 (NIV)

“Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have believed.”’ John 20:29 (NIV)

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:35 (NIV)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephes. 1:3 (NIV)

“The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25 (NIV)

“Even if you should suffer for what is right, you will be blessed.” 1 Peter 3:14

“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” 1 Peter 4:14 (NIV)

“If you can’t carry that ten percent of your harvest to the place where the Lord chooses to be worshiped; if you live too far away, or if the Lord gives you a big harvest, then sell this part and take the money there instead.” Deut. 14:24-25 (CEV)

“You should be happy to give the poor what they need, because then the Lord will make you successful in everything you do.” Deut. 15:10 (CEV)

“… Each man is to bring a gift as he is able, in proportion to the blessings that the Lord your God has given him.” Deut. 16:16-17 (TEV)

“Obey the Lord your God so that all these blessings will come and stay with you: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. Your children will be blessed, as well as your crops; your herds will be blessed with calves and your flocks with lambs. Your basket and your kitchen will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and when you go out. The Lord will help you defeat the enemies that come to fight you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will run from you in seven directions. The Lord will bless you with full barns, and he will bless everything you do.” Deut. 28:2-8 (NCV)

“I will also bless the Gentiles who commit themselves to the Lord and serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who have accepted his covenant.” Isaiah 56:6 (NLT)

“A beautiful palace does not make a great king! Why did your father, Josiah, reign so long? Because he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him.” Jeremiah 22:15 (NLT)

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. Good will comes to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes. He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor.” Psalm 112:1-9 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.” Proverbs 3:13-18 (NIV)

“The memory of the righteous will be a blessing.” Proverbs 10:7 (NIV)

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” Proverbs 16:20 (NIV)

“He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” Proverbs 21:21 (NIV)

“Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'” Luke 14:12-14 (NIV)

“You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift.” 2 Cor. 9:11 (CEV)

“The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25 (NIV)

“If the place of worship is too far from your home for you to carry there the tithe of the produce that the Lord has blessed you with, then do this: Sell your produce and take the money with you to the one place of worship.” Deut. 14:24-25 (TEV)

“Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” Deut. 16:17 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-2 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.” Proverbs 3:13 (NIV)

“Blessed are those who keep my ways.” Proverbs 8:32 (NIV)

“They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.” Psalm 37:26 (NIV)

“The best of all the first fruits will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household.” Ezekiel 44:30 (NIV)

“Give freely without begrudging it, and the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some among you who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share your resources freely with the poor and with others in need.” Deut. 15:10-11 (NLT)

“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in his times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.” Psalm 41:1-2 (NIV)

“Good people will be generous to others and will be blessed for all they do.” Isaiah 32:8 (NLT)

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28 (NIV)

“I’m eager to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. In this way, each of us will be a blessing to the other.” Romans 1:12 (NLT)

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. ‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”’ Mal. 3:10 (NIV)

“The best of all the first fruits will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household.” Ezekiel 44:30 (NIV)

“You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift.” 2 Cor. 9:11 (CEV)

“If the place of worship is too far from your home for you to carry there the tithe of the produce that the Lord has blessed you with, then do his: Sell your produce and take the money with you to the one place of worship.” Deut. 14:24-25 (TEV)

“God blesses those who are kind to the poor and helpless. He helps them out of their own troubles. He protects them and keeps them alive; he publicly honors them and destroys the power of their enemies.” Psalm 41:1-2 (LB)

“Give freely without begrudging it, and the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some among you who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share your resources freely with the poor and with others in need.” Deut. 15:10-11 (NLT)

“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed IF you DO them.” John 13:17

Devotional: Avoiding judgment

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” (Luke 6:37)

Mother Teresa said: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” I can only choose one of the two options – love or judgment – to occupy my heart.

If I don’t like the feeling of being judged, I need to stay away from judging others. And if I can only house my heart with one tenant – either love or judgement – I should decide on the one that makes God smile, inspires and encourages others, increases compassion, and gives me even more power the more I use allow it to stay.

The other occupant doesn’t pay, stinks up the rest of my being, and drains me and others.

For me – I find myself having judgment issues when it comes to my kids (with my unreasonable expectations and lack of compassion) and politicians. If I know this about myself, I need to (1) stop listening to the news – as it’s information overload and negative all-around; and (2) ask myself how I could handle anything with my kids with God’s love.

Devotional: Honor

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Rom. 12:10)

Yes, the Bible says to honor your father and mother; and yes, it’s very right to honor those who have served in the military; and the concept goes for quite a few people who have achieved great things…but what about honoring the every day person? Didn’t Jesus believe they were worth dying for? Didn’t God create them for a unique purpose to serve the Kingdom, alongside you? 

I’m talking about the person who mops the floor at the restaurant; the person who disposes of your trash; the homeless person who swallows their pride and asks for some help to get by; the parking attendant; the server who delivers your food; the back kitchen cook you’ll never meet who makes your food; the crossing guard who walks your kids across the street safely to school; and even a person who can never do anything for you. 

Jesus died for them, too; you are commanded to love them; and honoring them clearly exhibits your understanding of what it means to be great in His Kingdom. 

Devotional: Do what’s best

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“May He equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever! Amen!” (Heb. 13:21)

“God’s will done God’s way never lacks God’s support,” as Pastor Rick Warren would always say.

If I am doing what I am shaped to do; if I am doing work at the highest level, with love, with the intention of giving Him the glory, and that serves my brothers and sisters…I have nothing to worry about, and God’s strength will be with me and it will be successful.

It might not be success on our terms – money, possessions, power, recognition, or even results that payoff in my lifetime – but it’s something that lasts forever, is important, and I will be rewarded.

If the work I do doesn’t inspire me, doesn’t exhibit His love, doesn’t serve the people that Jesus died for, and I can’t or won’t do it to the best of my ability…I’ll need to eliminate it, and make room for activities that do fit the bill. I don’t have enough resources for mediocre, misaligned work that won’t have an eternal ROI.

Devotional: Washing toilets

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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Loved today’s morning reading from Marketplace Leaders:

“…those He wanted to promote, He promoted; and those He wanted to humble, He humbled.” (Dan. 5:19)

Paul desired a career in the building industry. Early in his career, he was working with a large ministry to help direct several of their construction projects.

As the projects were completed, Paul was asked to stay on for future projects. To keep him busy he was given a number of jobs – one of which was cleaning toilets. He recalls getting down on his knees each day and complaining to the Lord, “Lord, I’m a college graduate!”

Discouraged, Paul told the Lord, “I will not leave here until You promote me. Please give me contentment with my circumstance.”

Paul felt totally forgotten by God. A few months later, Paul received a phone call from a man in the Midwest who owned five successful businesses who wanted to interview Paul for a job. This came as a total surprise to Paul. As he drove to the interview, he told the Lord, “I only want your will in my life, nothing else. I am content to remain obscure for the rest of my life if I have You. You must override my lack of experience for me to get this job.”

The owner of the company asked Paul a surprising question: “If I asked you to clean a toilet, what would you do?” Paul sat there, stunned. He wanted to burst out laughing. Paul assured him that he would simply pick up a sponge and start cleaning.

Amazingly, Paul was hired even though other candidates were more qualified. After several months of success Paul asked his boss why he hired him. His boss replied, “Paul, I still have a large stack of applications from people who wanted this job. Do you remember the first question I asked you in the interview? I asked each one the same question. You were the only one who said he would clean the toilet. Paul, I am a wealthy man, but I grew up dirt poor. I clean my own toilets at home. I can’t have people running my businesses who are too proud to clean a toilet.”

Sometimes God places us in situations to see if we will be faithful in those before He is willing to promote us to greater things.

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This also reminds me of the Bible verse from Luke 16:10: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

God tests me to see how I respond to work that seems minor and/or is looked down upon by the world, when nobody else is looking, and when it’s inconvenient.

I need to remember that God has an incredible plan that I – nor even the smartest person on Earth – can forecast; and that He works in unconventional ways (He’s in the miracles business). I also need to remember that God uses all of my experiences, strengths, and weaknesses for His plan for me. And I shouldn’t forget that my boss may be my manager, but God is my ultimate employer; and that everything I do – 100% of my work – serves Him and is a reflection of how I value Him.

If these truths are the case, shouldn’t I work at the highest level – regardless of what it is – at all times?

This helps me look at washing dishes, taking out the trash, cleaning up in the backyard, handling emails, etc. in a better light, and that I look forward to showing God I can be trusted with little because it prepares me for great.

Devotional: Proactive and reactive dependence on Him

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” (Gen. 32:24)

This part of the story in the Bible takes place long after Jacob had fled his family for screwing over his brother Esau (he conned his brother into giving him his birthright, and poached their father’s blessing meant for his brother), and was now in a situation where he’d have to face him again. He was very fearful that Esau would take revenge on him and his family for what he did; and pleaded with God for mercy.

Jacob couldn’t use his own power to get out of this situation. He was so scared of encountering his brother that he refused to move from his hiding place without God’s protection and presence – to the point where he wrestled with one of God’s angels and wouldn’t let him go until God agreed to watch over him.

Do things need to get really bad before we depend on God with all of our mind, heart, soul, and body? While it’s amazing that God’s love is unconditional and He will always be there even when we neglect Him, it’s unfair to our Father for only coming to Him when we need him (imagine trying to do that with your parent, spouse, best friend, sibling, etc.), and you’d be selling yourself short by not having his power, provision, and protection from the beginning to end of all your circumstances.

Instead of making prayer your “Hail Mary” strategy when you’ve exhausted all of your other resources, why not make consulting with God your first line of defense and attack against difficult, disappointing, uncertain times?