Devotional: Walking with God 24/7

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

**********

“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.”

**********

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.”

**********

“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.”

**********

“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.

Devotional: Do what’s best

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

**********

“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.”

**********

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.

**********

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.”

**********

“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?

Devotional: Your success is guaranteed by Him

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

**********

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”  (1 Cor 2:3-5).

I love this passage.

In the Marketplace Leaders “Today God Is First” devotional, Os Hillman reminds me that sometimes, I need to withold my natural gifting to insure that God is in whatever I am doing.

That means that I shouldn’t rely completely on my God-given experiences, talents, and knowledge for the outcome of whatever I desire; over-dependence on them could make me forget that God is Lord over my outcome, and not leave enough room for Him to do His work. And I’d rather He do my work lol!

Don’t let your gifts go to waste, however. Use them to help people. Use them to give God all of the glory. Use it to build His Kingdom here on Earth as it is in heaven. But there will be a ceiling to those gifts – whether it be an impossible deadline, a task beyond your skill level, or a debilitating circumstance. At this point, do not stress, fear, or feel discouraged. Leave the remaining workload to Him, leave the outcome to Him, thank Him in advance, and let Him carry on.

God wants you to know that it is by His hand that you are successful; not by your own merit.

Devotional: Wherever I am, there He is

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

**********

“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)

Thank You, Lord, for always loving me – no matter how many times I fall off the altar. When I disrespect my leaders; when I dishonor the Sabbath; when I think impure thoughts or do impure things; when I don’t include You first and throughout my dealings, or neglect You completely; when I don’t follow Your will our of selfishness or fear; and the list goes on.

I always realize later that God is all I need; that He could’ve provided and/or handled my problems eons ago if I had let Him; that I wasted so much time, happiness, and resources trying to do things my way or because I was living in fear and not love and His courage; and that He loves me so much to where He gave the ultimate sacrifice to show it:

“For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

His love goes even beyond that to where even after all of the mess-ups, when I am ready to turn around and head back to Him – He’ll run out to bring me back home. It doesn’t matter if I’m still knee-deep in sin or not sure where to go; I just need to really want to return, and He’ll be there. On demand, immediately. The ball is always on my court.

Devotional: Ability versus availability

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

**********

“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:10-11)

Because of my naturally selfish nature, I like to show off my abilities, talents, experience, and knowledge – but the above text reminds me that doing so is wrong.

It’s worldly – society wants me to believe that bragging is the best or only way to “get ahead.” It’s possible idolatry – I’m risking placing these values over God. And it’s inhibiting – by being smart and skilled, I risk feeling like I don’t need God’s help.

This also reminds me that busyness is a faith-killer. I’m busy because I’m ABLE to do a lot of things, and while I can do them, it doesn’t mean that I should. I should focus more on being AVAILABLE for Him – saying “no” to the ineffective/mediocre/unhelpful/negative tasks that He didn’t call me to do, so that I can make room to say “yes” to His inspirations; so that I can be present and enjoy His glory; and so that I can focus on loving my brothers and sisters in Christ.

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” (2 Chron. 16:9a)

Lord – I want Your strength – the kind that lasts, and that that allows me to scale mountains and seas. Help me increase my commitment to You so that I am 110% living according to Your will.