Devotional: 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)

This story talks about a priest named Zachariah who – along with his wife – feared God and had a clear conscience in upholding His law and loving the Lord; and how the angel Gabriel had come to him during his priestly duties to give him the good news that he would have a son. Zachariah didn’t believe him because he and his wife were way too old to have children – even if the news was from God – and so Gabriel muted him until the day God delivered the son he announced.

Although verbally and consciously I am certain of God’s provision on His timing; but I’m pretty sure there are times I get ancy and exhibit disbelief in my actions. I go on ahead and do things I’m certain God will give me, but on my own time and terms. I am impatient – which is partial obedience. And I know that partial obedience is the same as full-on disobedience. And time and time again, it either doesn’t work, it doesn’t work to its fullest potential, it does work and creates an ego that destroys me later, and it’s inconsistent and unreliable. I’m tired of not doing it right the first time, and tired of getting wishy-washy results – and they always happen when God’s not at the heart of it all.

Lord – in this story, Gabriel had to mute Zachariah’s ability to speak. I pray for the strength to be able to mute my own feelings and completely, wholeheartedly, and wholespiritedly trust You on not only what You’ve promised to provide for me, but that it will come right on time when I need it most.

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Devotional: Desert training

Desert.jpg

Pictured: An hour outside of Dubai

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Ps. 63:1)

I didn’t think about it this way, but today’s devotional brought up the fact that a lot of God’s work in us happens in the desert. My mind probably just dismissed the setting because there are a lot of regions in the Middle East that are desert land, and there was no more to it.

But if I look deeper, I’ll understand the physical and symbolic meaning of this environment. David wrote part of the Book of Psalms while in the desert of Judah, hiding from his son Absalom who was trying to replace him as king of Israel. Joseph was thrown into a deep pit in the desert, and that started a long journey towards his eventual ruling over Egypt. Jesus was in the desert in prayer while he was being tempted by all sorts of comforts, pleasures, and luxuries meant to derail His purpose on Earth.

Not that being in the desert is fun, but the next time I am in difficult circumstances, I’d like to have a different perspective of why things are happening (or not happening) the way they are. God is building my patience, my faith, my character, and in the absence of resources He is teaching me to depend on Him for provision, purpose, and prosperity (I like how I got the three “P’s” in there lol!).

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.

Throwback: The power of prayer

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 May 23rd, 2013 (four years ago), after I had asked my CEO Dan Rowe for a temporary leave to prepare for and serve on a missionary trip in the country of Rwanda – where a team of us spent time with the poor and helped them build sustainable preschools that hopefully gave them life-changing power.  

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I don’t want to underestimate the power of prayer anymore.

People usually only pray when they are in the deep trenches of trouble – I am guilty of that crime as well. But if God always answers prayers, shouldn’t we:

1. Pray more often to increase our chances of success?
2. Pray first, before worrying about or doing anything? And
3. Turn down the world’s volume, so that you can hear what He’s telling you?

I’m currently reading a book called “Be Determined: Standing Firm In The Face Of Opposition” by Warren W. Wiersbe. It’s a dissection of the Bible’s story of Nehemiah, and it’s also a devotional for my PEACE Preschools Rwanda team while we are there serving.

It’s such an encouraging book, and I urge you to read it. But for the sake of this post…

It talks about how Nehemiah was so in love with Christ that he prayed before he took any actions, before he freaked out about obstacles in the way, and simply prayed just to give thanks. And he was heavily blessed in the process.

If God encompasses everything and makes all things possible, why aren’t we leaning on him more?

Let’s reset the idea of what prayer is all about – it’s not a ritual where you’re just citing some memorized, unpersonal verse; it’s a conversation with Him, it’s a request of Him, and it’s a worshipping of Him.

There’s no wrong way to praise Him – He’s willing to listen…if you’re willing to speak with Him.

In fact, you can even yell and be pissed off at Him – it’s in these angry moments that you become closer to and have a real relationship with Him.

Prayer has allowed me to: (1) leave my job temporarily in confidence and serve Him; (2) receive more donations than I needed for my mission trip to Rwanda; (3) love people more; (4) endure the most difficult times of my life; and (5) take away so much stress and unnecessary roadblocks in my way.

As a side benefit, prayer has forced me to be more patient and wait for God. I’m the type who likes to move fast, get things done and moving, and see results. By praying and waiting on the Lord, I am learning to not go faster than He wants me to go…and in the process, I make less mistakes; receive more blessings on the way that I might’ve overlooked; and I know for a fact that I’m not doing it alone.

“He that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isa. 28:16)

“Stand Still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” (Ex. 14:13)

“Sit still…until you know how the matter will turn out.” (Ruth 3:18 NKJV)

This is one of the easier RESETS with infinite ROI. You can pray about anything you’d like, right away.