Welcome to my Encounter Devotionals Blog Site. I appreciate you visiting the site out. Check out the devotionals I've written below as well as the archived ones in the column on the right.
I pray they help and inspire you to have a deeper and more personal relationship and encounter with Jesus Christ. If you would like to receive these devotionals through e-mail, please send your request to: email@example.com
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and
only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.This is real love—not that we loved God, but
that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.Dear friends, since God loved us that much,
we surely ought to love each other.No
one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love
is brought to full expression in us.
In 1986, Genesis came out with the song “Land
Of Confusion”.There are many songs Phil Collins sings that
I enjoy listening to and I can thank my brother for getting me into the sound
of his music.
Here is the chorus of this song:
There's too many men
Too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can't you see this is a land of confusion.
This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth living in.
Great words here and Genesis band said it well!This explains well what this world
needs.We live in a land of confusion
for sure!So many people need to know
the love of Christ and we, as the church, need to share this love with
them.God has given us gifts, talents
and abilities to go out and do something about this confusion.People are confused by what they see in life
and they desperately need and want to see something real.
The world needs to see real love lived out in people who are
being real in Christ.Friends, we need
to show this real love in our lives for people who are living in a land of
confusion.Too often, we have become the
problem causing confusion with our fighting and self-centered ways.If we are truly going to be the church that
God wants us to be, we need to work together to do our best to make this a
place worth living in.
We not only need to show this love to the lost, but also
toward each other in the body of Christ.The world needs to see us loving one another as well as sharing that
love with them.
This world needs to see God’s love in a land of confusion.
Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me
to follow.Lead me by your truth and
teach me, for you are the God who saves me.All day long I put my hope in you.
I remember when I was growing up and would ask questions to
my mom, dad, brother, grandparents and others how to do things.I would try on my own several times, but then
realize that I needed direction.After a
few times of failure, I knew that I needed someone to show me how a task was
done who had actual experience doing it.
It makes sense, doesn’t it?If you don’t know how to do something, you find someone with the
experience who knows how to go about doing the task you are trying to
complete.You wouldn’t ask someone who doesn’t
know.You seek out someone with wisdom
and knowledge to do the task you desire.We know we need to seek out someone who understands the task at hand and
will know how to guide you through it.
When we seek out the person, we often approach them and say,
“Can you show me how to do this, please?”This is usually after we give up on trying on our own and bring in
someone who knows what to do.After we
have suffered so many failures trying to figure it out, we consult someone and
trust the person to help us.
The very same goes in our relationship with God.So often, we desperately try to do things on
our own without His help.We try so hard
to do life on our own and with our own understanding.I couldn’t even tell you the number of times
I have tried things on my own through my life and have failed.I failed because I didn’t ask for help.I should have asked.I am reminded so often now that God wants me
to seek Him out and simply ask, “Show me Lord, please”.
I think God truly desires us to come to a point where we
just throw our hands up, surrender and just ask Him to take over.He is waiting for us to stop relying on our
strength and, instead, to rely on Him alone.
We need to let go of our pride and realize our desperate
need for Him and come to Him.He won’t
ever treat us like we’re dumb or stupid for not figuring it out.He won’t give us a hard time.He will love us, open His arms to us and
welcome our desire to have Him show us the way.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me
and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do
nothing.If you do not remain in me, you
are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up,
thrown into the fire and burned.If you
remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it
will be done for you.This is to my
Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my
This chapter of John has been one of my favorite passages of
Scripture for many years.I have always
appreciated and cherished the example Jesus gives of how we are the branches
and He is the vine of life.The imagery
of this Scripture is amazing and every time I think of the words, I am truly
reminded how vital it is to remain attached to Him.
Back in 1997, White Heart released their album “Redemption”
with the song “The Vine”.Here are some
of the lyrics:
“I'll be the branch, you be the vine, 'cause I've been
withering away for some time,
Now I feel your healing flowing to my mind, I'll be the branch and you be the
I feel so free when you are my Lord and I am just me.”
I honestly don’t know why I try so hard so often each day to
live life all on my own.I am reminded
so often that it never works out right when I try to live life on my terms and
not God’s terms.I need to hang on to
the vine and I will live strong.Apart
from holding on, I will not survive.
All God wants each of us to be is just “me”.That’s it!He just wants us to be who we are.He will take care of leading us and directing us.Our job is to hold on and trust in Him for
the ride.We are the branch, He is the
vine.We are not to be in the control
tower or the driver’s seat.However, so
many days this is exactly how our lives look.
I want to encourage all of us today and every day from here
on out, to let God be God and for us to just be who we are.We will feel so free when He is our Lord and
we are just who we need to be.Only God
provides the nourishment we need and we need to stay connected.
We are the branches, He is the vine.We need to stay connected or else we will
just wither away.We need His
healing.Are we abiding in Him?
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
There are a lot of times in life where we like to kick back, put up our feet, and just soak in the environment around us.Sometimes, we even like to close our eyes as well.When we’re at the movies, at the beach, on our porch or back deck, sitting on our couch or recliner at home or sitting at the park somewhere.These and other places we have all found ourselves and enjoyed the time of just sitting back, being still and soaking in the sun and the sounds around us or the music we’re listening to.
There is just something about chilling out, being still and taking in the beauty of the moment God has given to us.We all enjoy these moments, but all too often we get so busy with life that we don’t have these moments as often as we’d like.Some of my favorite times at home is when I sit back on the couch, recline and just relax.I try to let go of the concerns and worries of life and just enjoy being still.When I can actually relax, it feels so good and I don’t want to move or get up.
There’s something about this passage that just relaxes me.Perhaps because it reminds me of a song byEden’s Bridge.Look it up when you get a chance.Very soothing and inspiring!Sometimes, we just need a scenery, a nice breeze, or a perfect song that helps us to soak in the life and surroundings around us.It can remind us of how amazing God is and the peace He brings.
I want to encourage all of us to sit back, relax and just let the words of this passage soothe us and remind us that God is our light and our salvation.Most importantly, there is absolutely nothing to fear because He is the stronghold of our lives.Isn’t that simply amazing?
Sometimes, we just need to turn off the noise and chaos of the world around us and take Him all in.God loves it when we take the time to just do nothing in His presence but to enjoy Him and His creation all around us.For those of you who like being in the wilderness or camping, you know the peace of hearing birds and insects make their noise and the calming of being in that environment.Something about nature can just bring peace and calming to us.God’s precious Creation can soothe us.
Find a time and place this week, wherever it might be, and just sit back, relax and take Him in however you can.Let Him soothe your soul by remembering that He is your light, salvation and stronghold.
I am leaving you with a gift—a peace of mind and
heart.And the peace I give is a gift
the world cannot give.So don’t be
troubled or afraid.
Almost everywhere I look these days, I am seeing an advertisement
for some product that is either brand-new or it is an updated product that has
been reformulated to help make my life so much better.Whether it is a commercial on TV, ad in the
paper, ad on social media, pop-up notification from a store app on my phone,
store ad in the newspaper, or a billboard, I get flooded with different ways to
consider how I could “easily” make my life better and be happier!
I have to admit, many of the ads are very enticing and I
honestly think to myself, “That really would make my life just a little
better.It really would!”Or, I’ll say to my wife, “Honey, I
think we should get that and try it!”No matter what, there always seems to be some marketing ploy or tactic
that really catches my attention and leads me to believe all my problems will
be solved if I invest in this one product.
Unfortunately, I have yet to find any product that will make
my life complete and totally satisfying.It just won’t happen.And I know
this, I really do, but I just get tempted to often believe products will
satisfy some void I have in life.Over
and over again, God continues to remind me that I will not find any
contentment, happiness, joy or fulfillment in the things offered by this world.No matter how hard I try to look or what I
buy into, nothing is going to make me happier or bring more joy as the ads
These words from Jesus are so vital for our lives
today.They are as vital today as when
Jesus first spoke them so long ago.We
need peace today in our heart and mind.We need a peace that transcends anything the world can offer.We need a peace that can be felt in the midst
of a chaotic world that we live in.We
need more than the latest product which promises to make our live happier.
What we all need to consider is what we are chasing after in
this world to make us happy?What are we
buying into these days?Are we looking
for peace of mind and heart in all the wrong places?Are we thinking it will be the next high-tech
gadget?Are we thinking it will be the
next diet plan commercial we see?Are we
thinking it will be the next kitchen appliance ad we see on TV that will make
May I encourage all of us today and the days to come that
all we truly need is the peace of mind and heart that Jesus gives?Peace knowing that He will satisfy our every
longing and always provide what we need.Peace and provision that the world cannot and never will be able to
offer.Absolutely nothing else can or
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will
give it to you.He will not rebuke you
I don’t know about you, but I have always been a person who
fears asking questions in a group of people.I don’t have a problem asking a question to someone one-on-one, but if
you put me in a classroom or any other environment where there are many people,
I get nervous to ask the most simple question.I remember in college that I raised my hand a few times to ask questions
and before the professor called on me, my heart started racing, my body shook a
little, I got a little sweaty, etc.I
just always feared asking questions in public.
Through the years, I still feel the same way when I am in a
group of people.There is just something
intimidating to me when I am around a lot of people and I think of even asking
a question to the person in charge.I
often think everyone else is going to have a better and more reasonable
question than I will.It isn’t a good
way to look at it, but it is just what goes through my mind.
Sometimes, we approach God the same way with the questions
we have.Even though we have direct
access to God, we often hesitate to ask Him for wisdom or for anything because
we are afraid of how He will respond to us or we feel we do not want to bog him
down with petty questions when He has so much other things to deal with.
We need to get this mindset out of ourselves and know that
God welcomes us, no matter what we ask of Him or come to Him about.If we want wisdom, He wants us to ask
Him.He definitely does not want us
going after the wisdom of the world.He
wants us to come to Him with our requests and He loves to communicate with
us.We should never be afraid to
approach Him and lay our requests at His feet.He is never too busy for our questions or too busy to give us
I often tell my kids that I do not want them to be afraid to
ask me questions.Sometimes, they are
afraid of the question they ask and nervous what my reaction and answer will
be.I admit, sometimes I do not react
the best to their question, but I try hard to be sensitive and open minded
about what they ask.I want them to feel
comfortable coming to me to ask me anything.They might not always like the answer, but I try to understand what they
want or need and talk to them about it.
We should never be afraid to approach God with our requests
and our desire for wisdom.Our God is a
very generous God Who loves us and will give us what we need.
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and
knowledge!How impossible it is for us
to understand his decisions and his ways!
There are a lot of things in life that we consider
great.We think movies are great.We think food is great.We think some songs are great.We see a fireworks display on July 4 and
think it is great.We think some people
are great who have neat talents and abilities.
When we see a good movie, we often wonder how they did the
special affects.When we eat good food,
we wonder what the secret ingredient is and how they cooked to such
perfection.We hear a great song and we
wonder what the inspiration was behind writing the song.When we see a fireworks show, we wonder how
those things look so cool in the sky.When we see people perform, we often wonder how they’ve been blessed so
much to be that good.
So often, we cannot understand why things are so great.We wonder and try to figure out why.We research and we talk to others to try to
understand better.We want to know and
we want to be filled with the knowledge to understand better.
As we so often want to know and learn these things, nothing
can be better or greater than knowing our awesome and wonderful God!He is too awesome to fully comprehend.No matter how much we read His Word or how
much time we spend getting to know Him more, we will never be able to
comprehend Him.His ways are just so
beyond what we can understand.He will
always be a mystery to us while we are in this life and here on this
earth.One day, we will fully understand
all of His ways and glory.
I want to encourage each one of us to take time to just
pause and consider how amazing and great our God is.Take time to just be in awe of Him and to
know that He is so awesome and so far beyond anything we can understand.This is a good thing!We so often get frustrated because we cannot
understand things.Well, in the sense of
not being able to comprehend God, that is great that He is so awesome that we
cannot fully understand!
Next time you find yourself totally amazed at something you
hear, watch or eat, be reminded that God is more awesome and greater than
anything we can experience here on earth.
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will
for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
The beginning of last week, right as I was about to go on my
lunch break at work, my wife called to tell me that the hose spigot broke off
and she could not get it to turn off.Apparently my youngest daughter turned it on and turned too hard.As I was driving home, all I could think
about was how we could get it turned off.I was thinking that it would take me a while to get things figured out
and I may have to call my supervisor to tell him I would be a while.
Once I got home, I tried turning it off at the spigot, but
then decided to just try shutting the main water valve off in the house.When I went inside to locate the valve, I
noticed that there was a single line specifically going out to the spigot and
it had its own valve.Turned it off and
that took care of the problem within just a couple minutes of being home.Problem temporarily solved.
As I was on my way back to work, I was relieved and thankful
the situation was not any worse.It
could have been a lot worse and I was so glad and thanked God for the situation
that turned out easier than I had planned.Not only was it a quick, temporary fix at the time, I realized that I
had also made a ham sandwich that day, instead of taking a lunch I had to heat
up.I was able to eat that on my way
After looking at the handle later that night, I discovered
it was just a broken handle and the spigot was intact still.All it took was a trip to Menards and less
than five dollars, it was fixed!Yay!
I share all of this with you to say that something that
could have been really bad turned out to be very simple and was better than I
first thought.That happens a lot in
life.We often think the worst at first,
but then so many times, things are simpler than expected and God provides a
very easy solution.Not always, but many
I was reminded that day to be thankful for the ways God provides.I was reminded to be thankful when something
seems bad at first, but then turns out better than expected.When it is a cheap fix, that is even
better!And, I did not have to heat a
I encourage all of us to be reminded to look for the ways
God provides in the simplest ways to show us that it could always be worse and
to be thankful when circumstances turn out better than we thought at first.
Thank God for the times when bad turns to not-so-bad.
The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a
furnace, purified seven times over.
People have the best intentions in their heart when they
make promises, but so often, those promises become broken for one reason or
another.It is really tough when someone
makes a promise to us, because in the back of our mind, there’s usually just a
slight thought of “What if he/she breaks the promise?”We want to believe someone is genuine and
will always keep the promise, but human beings make mistakes and often break
While we often have the best intentions when we make a
promise to others, there is One Who will never break a promise and His promises
are always true.In all the years I have
been a Christian, I am so very thankful I can rely on God’s promises to be
pure.There is absolutely nothing more
pure that His promises.They are greater
than anything I can possibly imagine.They
are real and full of life.
Even in the times when it’s hard to trust God, I can always
lean on His everlasting arms and rest on His promises.Some of you reading this today I know are
experiencing some real heartache.
Your marriage is falling apart.
You just lost your spouse.
You just lost a child.
You or a loved one has an incurable disease.
You just lost your job.
Perhaps you are dealing with one of these scenarios or
another one in which your trust and hope in God is being challenged.It’s understandable.You would not be human if never questioned
God.It is important in these times to
hold on to that hope you have and not let go of His promises.
There are some days when I know that I am told to trust and
hope in God, but it is so hard because I feel nothing and I wonder what He is
doing.However, holding on to the hope
of what I know He has done in my life in the past teaches me to trust Him.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at
all times and in every situation.The
Lord be with you all.
Life can surely become hectic and chaotic and some days it
seems we don’t even have time to catch our breath.Whatever the situation or circumstances, we
often find ourselves caught up in the busy, non-stop lifestyle of activities we
are involved in.
Maybe you are not caught up in that busyness, but perhaps
life has been crazy, hectic and chaotic because of one dilemma after
another.Maybe there has been sickness,
death and disease in the family or friends and loved ones going through very
difficult times lately.
Let these words from Paul be a comfort to you in whatever
hard times you are experiencing.Maybe
you need some peace in your life right now, whatever your situation may
be.Perhaps you need to just feel one
day of peace amidst all of the frustrations you are going through.
Do you need peace in the midst of a troubled marriage?
Do you need peace as you are dealing with the recent loss of
a loved one?
Do you need peace as you deal with a teenager who is in
Do you need peace as you are on your last bit of hope for a
friend or family member dealing with a disease?
Do you need peace as you deal with a daily job you cannot
stand going to?
God provides peace that is beyond our understanding.He will provide a peace that will calm our
soul.Sometimes, we just need one hour
or one day of feeling a little peace to give us some hope.God promises to never abandon us.Does He promise to remove the struggles or
the situation?No.But He does promise to give us peace if we
will just trust Him.
I hope and pray that whatever situation you may be
experiencing right now in your life, allow God to be your peace.Pour your heart out to Him and ask Him to
fill you with His peace that transcends understanding.No one knows you better and no one
understands your pain or situation more than Him.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but
painful.Later on, however, it produces
a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
All of us have come from different upbringing backgrounds as
far as how we were disciplined.Every
family does it differently for sure.Some of us experienced some pretty harsh circumstances when it came to
being disciplined for things we did wrong.Others experienced less drastic and more reasonable punishments.There are so many different ways to
discipline and most of us have experienced our fair share as we grew up.
I remember being disciplined when I was young.Whether it be my mom, dad, grandparent, aunt,
uncle, a teacher or someone else who was in authority over me at any given
time, I remember unpleasant times of being told I was doing something wrong and
having to suffer a consequence for it.I
often remember pleading often, “Please don’t do it!I promise I’ll never do it again!”I think I remember those words coming out
of my mouth often.That pleading didn’t
get me very far because the person giving out the punishment knew I needed to
“Learn” is the key word here.We all want to learn, but sometimes we really
learn best through our times of discipline.We all remember a time or times when we learned a very hard lesson and
it was painful to experience, whether we were spanked, grounded from going
somewhere or had something taken away from us.I remember times when I was disciplined and did not like it at all, but
looking back later on, I was very appreciative someone took the opportunity to
set me straight and give me a hard lesson.
God loves us very much, and because He does so, He also
gives us hard lessons of discipline at times.We often plead with God, but He knows that so much good and learning
will come from the discipline.We will
learn and often those times are when we learn the most.When Paul received his “thorn” in the flesh,
he pleaded for God to take it away.But
God said “No” and said His grace was sufficient.
We don’t like to hear that.We want God take to take away our problems and our pain so often.We want to learn and grow, but we want it
without the pain of discipline and punishment.It doesn’t work that way.Parents
discipline to train children and God disciplines to also train us.It’s inevitable and for our own good.God wants to strengthen us to become better
followers and to develop our faith more.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help
come from?My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
We all long to receive wisdom through our lives.As we grow up through childhood, our parents
and other family members help to teach us things we need to learn.We also receive instructions and learning
from teachers at school.As we continue to
grow through our lives, we learn valuable lessons from various people that we
come into contact with.
Some people we meet give us bad advice, while others give us
great advice.We are always searching
for insight and direction in life.It is
wonderful to gain insight and wisdom from people who care enough to love on us
and share with us valuable life experiences to help us avoid the same pain and
We not only look to people for wisdom and insight, but often
we end up looking to worldly things for insight and direction.We often turn to many things for help, other
than God, when times get tough.We turn
so often to temporary happiness through worldly promises that end up becoming
an epic fail.This often brings pain,
and sometimes tragedy, into our lives.We are desperate to grab onto something that brings temporary help.So often these things just provide a band-aid
solution to our problems and don’t give us the long-term help we need.
I am so guilty of turning to earthly sources of wisdom
instead of turning to what God tells me and how He wants to directs me.We need to be honest and examine our lives
and fill in this blank, “My help comes from __________.”Where does our help come from?What are we putting our hope in?Where are we turning to?Who are we going to?What are we going to?What do we rely on most?What instant satisfaction do we turn to when
stressful times come?
The answers may make us cringe.Is God really our true source of help in all
times of need?We often answer “Yes”
right away, but if we’re completely honest, He is often not Who we go to
first.We have so many opportunities and
temptations at our disposal to turn to when we need help.However, the only true and wisest source we
can go to is God.We shouldn’t rely on
our own ideas and what we know.We must
turn to Almighty God.Most of us are
fortunate to have good and trusting family and friends who will share Godly
insight and advice to us suggesting that we pray and ask God for complete
Who or what is your true source of help?Every day, I am praying that God will be my
only source of help.I want to listen
and be attentive to Him and not turn to the worldly ways of temporary
Wisdom and advice from others is beneficial, but our main
source needs to always be God.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we
affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
We hold tightly onto many things.Some things we hold onto a little tighter
than others because of how important they are.We hold tight to our kids when surrounded by a large crowd and when
there is a lot of traffic so that they don’t get lost or hurt.We hold tight to something fragile if we are
surrounded by moving objects or other people that could bump into us causing
them to fall.
Kids certainly hold tight to parents when something scary is
surrounding them or they feel a certain fear of their surroundings.They don’t want to let go.They feel secure as long as the parent is
holding on.We like to be secure and we
like to feel secure about things we hold close.We want to protect and keep from harm.
In this passage, we see a call to persevere.We are told to hold close to the hope and
faith we have in Christ because He can be trusted.There are a lot of things in this life that
offer promises, but we know that only Christ can truly be trusted to keep His
promise.We can trust Him especially
because He died for us on the Cross, was buried and then rose from the dead to
conquer death!He is alive and fully
worthy of being trusted.
Now, let me be clear that trusting in Christ is not to say
that we will have a trouble-free or pain-free life.Holding onto Him and trusting in Him does not
mean there will not be times in life when our faith and trust in Him is not
tested.It sure will be!I have heard so many stories and examples of
people who have trusted in Christ, but then when hard times come, they give up
and lose faith claiming that God does not love them or is not with them.
God never once said “In this life, you will never have
problems and life will be filled with easy times. “God never said this and never will.We are guaranteed there will be troubles and
problems.However, just as Christ has
overcome troubles, we also can over come through Him.
Out of all the years I have been a Christian, I am so very
thankful I have God in my life because I know I would have given up on life
long before now if I did not have God to trust.I have gone through some pretty tough times where I doubted and my faith
was really put to the test.Even recent
times in my life, I have had those tests and it became hard.However, all that God has done in my past
taught me to hold on and stay faithful.It is hard when things do not make any sense and to keep going.But, stay faithful and hold tight to Him, no
Let us hold tight to the hope we have in God because He
truly can be trusted.
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I
may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the
beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”
For the past couple of months, our pastor has been going
through various passages in Ecclesiastes and it has been opening my eyes to the
fact that so many things I chase after in life are completely meaningless in
themselves.In the past many years of my
life, I have found myself chasing one thing after another, hoping to find true
meaning.Solomon chased after so much
and finally concluded that apart from God, any other longing or chasing is
As I have continued to think about this over and over again,
I am realizing how desperately more I really need God to lead me and to rescue
me from my attempts to so often follow my own desires.I truly want my desire to be nothing but
seeking God every day and doing the best I can to surrender and submit to His
ways and His plan for my life.
I guess I sort of feel like Solomon in that I have chased
after so many different things in life and just always come up dry.I think this or that will satisfy, but as
David says, he wants to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.And, as Solomon found out, everything else
apart from chasing God, is utterly meaningless.
Through the various personal journeys I have been on in the
past years, I’m discovering more and more that God is teaching me to draw near
and close to Him.He allows me to
realize the ways I go on my own leave me out of breath and gasping for
Him.Only He can truly satisfy me.I’ve found myself in the valleys and on the
mountaintops at times.But I can truly
say that I learn the most when I’m in the valleys and that’s where I find
myself longing more and more for Him.My
ultimate desire for Him grows and I just want more!
What is your ultimate desire?What do you find yourself chasing after so
much?We all have to admit that we chase
after a lot other than God in our lives.We find ourselves chasing after marketing promises of different things
that promise to satisfy, but then only leave us so very thirsty for more.
I want to share with you all that my ultimate desire is to
do nothing but chase after Him and gaze up on Him.I know only He will satisfy and provide
ultimate fulfillment.Like David and
Solomon, they both came to realize that nothing else is meaningful except being
fulfilled by God and Him alone.I want
God to create within me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within
me.Everything in life, apart from God,
is absolutely meaningless.
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.
We have all bought into gimmicks in our lives, haven’t we? Whether it’s an infomercial that we stumbled onto as we clicked through channels, an advertisement that came through our e-mail or a very persuasive sales person who knew how to get you to agree, we have all bought into something like this at one time or another. We became persuaded when we thought we never would. Somehow, something that doesn’t look good at first slowly starts to grab our attention and desire if we focus on it long enough.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we have all bought into lies in our lives at one time or another. Perhaps some of us have found ourselves buying into one lie after another, not realizing that we were being tricked. There are certain people who really know how to win us over with their sly persuasion. They know the words to say to get us to sign on the dotted line.
Consider the scenario that started the first gimmick. We might read this story again after having read it who knows how many times in Sunday School and wonder why Eve allowed herself to get worked over mentally and emotionally by Satan. We might look at her with a raised eyebrow and think, “How could you Eve? What were you thinking?”
However, before we even consider picking up that stone to cast her way, we need to think about our lives and how so very often we also buy into the lies of the enemy. Every single one of us is guilty of this scenario. Probably multiple times throughout our lives. Unfortunate as it is, it happens all too often. We get tricked and the enemy knows how to win us over and sugar coat things to entice us. Before we know it, WHAM! He’s got us! Ouch, that hurt! We feel the pain later as we realize we bought into yet another lie.
I want to encourage all of us to think through situations in the future as we come to decisions where we choose whether to buy into a lie or walk away. It isn’t easy to walk away when we’re enticed. We must learn to listen to the Spirit and His leading when these times come. Take a few extra moments and really consider the outcome. Pray and ask God to give you wisdom.
Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about
everything.Tell God what you need, and
thank him for all he has done.
have a little trouble with the first part of this passage.Okay, okay, I struggle a lot with it!If this passage actually was written to
describe me, it would probably read, “Pray about a few things, but worry
about everything”.Yeah, you heard
it right!I often find myself not
praying as much as I should and I tend to worry about almost everything.Doesn’t everyone know that if I don’t worry
about something all of the time, then life just isn’t going to be right???
That’s crazy talk, isn’t it?But how many of us are actually living this day to day, but we don’t
want to admit it?Paul tells us to pray
about everything, but not to worry about anything.And, I’m so guilty of messing this passage
all up.I do tell God what I need, but
then I go right back to worrying about everything again.Ahhhhhhhh!Make it stop!!!
It’s hard to not worry.We spend so many days of our lives worrying about things that probably
won’t even happen or probably aren’t even true.Sometimes we worry ourselves sick.It’s a good idea when we start to worry, to pray and ask God to bring us
peace.Just having that communication
with God and asking Him to give you peace during your time of worrying can
really help you to feel better.
I want to encourage all of us to come to God every day, give
Him our needs, thank Him for all He has done and stop worrying about so
much.Yes, so much easier said than
done, I know!Sometimes, we might
literally stop praying about anything and worry about everything.I think we’d all have to admit that often
times we do fall prey to even this.There are honestly times when I stop to think if I’ve even prayed
through the day at all when I’m worrying about so much.I’m ashamed of that, but God helps to remind
me that I need Him and I need to stop and take the time to pray and connect
Not only are we to pray about everything, but we need to
take time to thank Him for all He has done and all He continues to do.It’s so important!I challenge and encourage all of you to make
it a point to connect with God to begin your day and ask Him to help you not
worry, but to pray about everything.Maybe just little prayers throughout your day.A few words here and a few words there as you
go through your day.Or perhaps you
might have more time to bring a few sentences or paragraph prayer to Him.Whatever it might be, bring it before God and
ask Him to give you peace and guide you.
Worry about nothing, pray about everything.Good challenge from Paul!
As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for
you, O God.
The past few weeks, our pastor has been preaching on the
book of Ecclesiastes. It has been such a
blessing to hear these sermons and to learn more about how Solomon longed for
so many things, had and experienced all he wanted, but was still dry and longed
for satisfaction and fulfillment more than ever. As I have continued to think about this, this
passage came to mind one morning as I drove to work. I was overcome with emotion and immediately
told God that I was so sorry for longing after things of this world
continuously and always being left dry.
I thought about how I so often chase after fulfillment in
the world, when what I should be doing is chasing after God alone and allowing
Him to be my only source of fulfillment and satisfaction. I find myself becoming so desperate and
certain the next things will bring fulfillment and a quench of my thirst for
satisfaction. However, I continue to
feel dry and left dry. God nudges me as
if to say, “Zach, why do you keep chasing after the things of this world
when you know I am the only One Who can quench your thirst for more?”
As I continued to think about this verse through the day and
the rest of the week, I just had a desire to long for God and to think more
about how I try to chase after fulfillment in this world instead of Him. Why do I keep chasing and chasing and chasing? All I do is wear myself out and become more
and more and more dry from the world. I
keep thinking about Solomon and all his experiences and how we came to realize
nothing he experienced in the world gave him satisfaction or fulfillment. We have a lot to learn from him!
My question for all of us this week and on is why do we keep
chasing after the world when we know that God is the only One Who truly
satisfies? Why do we not long for Him
more and more and more each day? As we
continue to chase after Him, He fulfills us and satisfies us. However, something extraordinary happens when
He does this! We continue to long and
yearn for even more and more. We can
never get enough of Him and we just continue to long for more! That’s an amazing journey! I want that!
Do you want a continuous longing for things of this world
and continue to be left dry and unfulfilled?
Or, do you want to long for a wonderful and amazing God who leaves us
not only truly fulfilled and satisfied, but also leaves us with a desire for
even more of Him? I want that!!!!! Do you? I hope so!
As the deer longs for streams of water, my prayer is that we
will also long continuously for the Living Water!
Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I
rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and
innocent about what is evil.
Through many years of my experience in church services,
youth group, church camps and youth conferences, I’ve enjoyed the song “Romans ”.
I’m sure many, if not most, of you know this song. “Be excellent at what is good, be innocent
of evil. And the God of peace will soon
crush Satan. God will crush him underneath your feet.”
What a great song this is and I’ve had so much fun singing
it at the various services I’ve attended.
Not only is it a great song to do motions to, but it’s got a fantastic
message. The Apostle Paul is very clear
in this passage to encourage us to be wise and excellent at what is good. We need to focus on those things which please
God and bring Him glory. He also says to
be innocent of evil. Stay away from
it. Don’t go near it! Don’t play with it! Don’t mess around near it! Don’t “poke the bear”!
We often find ourselves in situations where we end up doing
just the opposite. We become weak at
doing good and we become more guilty of evil.
We all fall victim to this. Satan
knows the buttons to push! It is so very
important that we stay focused on growing in God’s Word so that when the times
of testing and trial come, we can be strong and stay excellent at doing what is
good and steer clear and be excellent of evil.
We don’t need to be curious of what the evil is and go anywhere near
it. As my dad used to tell me when I was
growing up and I’d mess around with thoughts of doing bad things or get tempted
to do them, he’d say “Just leave it alone”.
Good advice dad!
There are times in life when we just need to leave things
alone and that includes evil. Don’t go
near the edge of the cliff. Stay as far
away from it as possible. Be excellent
at the good things and smart about the traps of evil. The only way we can grow in this way is to
stay strong in His guiding Word of wisdom and to grow in our faith.
When we do these things, we can definitely relate with these
words, “And the God of peace will soon crush Satan. God will crush him underneath your
feet.” God will work in our lives do
exactly as He has told us He will do.
God is on our side and will defend us.
We need to do our part and stay strong so that we can be wise in His
Word to avoid the evil traps.
Be excellent at what is good, be innocent of evil.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in
Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
We have all been through painful experiences in our past
where we didn’t “make the cut”. I
remember in grade school, at recess, when we’d pick teams and the cool people
were always picked first and the least favorite were always picked last. Even though those who were picked last still
made the team, it didn’t feel as if they were “wanted”. It’s not a good feeling.
Think about when a player tries out for sports team. He or she plays so hard and gives their best
to try to “make the cut”. However, there
comes a time when the results come in and you know someone or some people won’t
make the team.
How about if you’ve applied for a certain college and you
really want to get in? They won’t let
just anyone have admission. You must
fill out a form and give references and put a lot of hard work into proving to
the college why you deserve to attend.
Some people will be receiving an admission letter inviting them to
become part of the student body. Others,
they will receive the rejection letter no one wants to receive.
None of us likes to be given a rejection letter or told we
didn’t “make the cut”. It’s a terrible
feeling. It’s not always necessarily
meaning that we weren’t good enough, but then other times, that’s exactly what
it means. It leave us with a horrible,
sick feeling at times knowing we weren’t good enough to make the list of people
who apparently had what they were looking for.
We end up not feeling good enough.
Whatever your situation was, every person experiences some
kind of experience where you don’t “make the cut”. It can be heartbreaking. You wish they’d just accept you for who you
are and not what they want you to be. As
I was thinking about this the other day, and all the experiences in my life
where I didn’t “make the cut”, I thought about how God doesn’t work like that
at all. God loves each and every one of
us and in us, He has created a beautiful masterpiece. He doesn’t sit with a checklist when we give
our lives to Him and say, “Nope, sorry!
You weren’t good enough! Maybe
God accepts us for who we are and is never exclusive. We are a beautiful masterpiece and we don’t
have to change ourselves or try to be someone better for Him to accept us. With God we always “make the cut”! Isn’t that a great feeling? He accepts us regardless of what we are and
what we are not. He then takes us and
continues love on us and mold us more into who He wants us to be.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for
tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
In the sermon this past Sunday at church, this passage was
shared and then Lauren Daigle’s song, “First” was played to close out the
service. It was the perfect ending to a
great and challenging message. As I sat
there and listened to how we so often make excuses for not putting God first in
our lives, I felt so guilty and my heart sank thinking of all the times in my
life I have done and still do this. I am
so good at making other things a priority, but then putting His Word on the
back burner and saying I’ll get to reading more later.
The clincher of the message was when our pastor challenged
us about how so many people say that they are close to God in their own way,
but hardly ever read His Word. He
illustrated how other relationships in our lives would be affected if we never
actually talked to the person or spent long periods of time away from
them. If we greatly lacked in our
communication with our spouse, kids, fiancé, boyfriend, girlfriend, aunt,
uncle, best friend, etc., how in the world could we possibly believe we are
getting to know them better? How could
we possibly claim to know the person better if our communication with them is
little to nothing?
As I sat there and soaked all of this in and listened to the
closing song, this question echoed in my mind and heart, “What does putting
Him first look like in your life and mine?”
This question has haunted me, so to speak, since yesterday
morning. What would our lives truly look
like if we really and sincerely put God first in every part of our lives? What would the deep down truth of this look
like in our lives?
I know in my life, it would look so different than how I am
living. You all have been a part of my
writing life for so many years and you know that I try to be very transparent
in what I write so that I can try to relate to others who read these
writings. I want to be as transparent as
possible so that you all know I am doing my best to be genuine. I am servant of Christ, a husband and a
father. I try so hard each day to be
successful at all 3 of those areas. But
so many days, I feel like I’m doing my own thing and trying to be good enough
without actually putting too much effort into it.
What would it look like for you to put Him first? Think about that and take some time to let
that question sink in. What would it
really and truly look like in your life right now to actually make Him priority
over everything else? Making Him first
over every decision you make?
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
We have all walked into restaurants, bakeries and houses
where something was cooking and completely overwhelmed our senses. Just imagine the last time you walked into
someone’s home and they just baked cookies.
Or, one of my personal favorites, walk by or into a restaurant where
steaks are cooking. (I’m salivating as I
write this!) How about walking into a
store were fragrances are sold or candles and the aroma just brings a smile to
We all like walking into places and smelling these
aromas. There is nothing quite like
it. Each of us has a specific aroma that
we enjoy smelling and we know where to go to get that experience. The smell can really “take you away” and
leave you stunned at times. We all like
great aromas. Who wouldn’t?
Aromas attract us.
They bring us closer and closer to whatever is giving off the great
scent or whatever is cooking that smells irresistible. Now, consider the words we say each day and
whether or not those words become an aroma for others to be attracted to? Most importantly, are the words an aroma that
would be pleasing to God? Just like
people can’t resist a great scented candle burning, a steakhouse nearby or
fresh cookies from the oven, the words we use each day should be used to help
people come to not resist knowing God.
The way we live, the words we use, the thoughts of our heart
should all be a pleasing aroma to God and to those around us. He is the One we live for and the One Whom
our hearts should long for. We should be
living to please Him and Him alone. The
way we live and the words we use should be an irresistible aroma for others to
help bring them into an understanding of God and our relationship with Him. In
doing that, help people come to understand better there is a very loving and
compassionate God Who loves them.
As we continue into this New Year, I want to challenge all of
us to consider whether our lives each day, with the words we use and our
actions, give off a pleasing aroma not only to others, but most importantly to
God. How am I living my life each day to
please Him? How am I living my life each
day to attract others to Him? I have to
admit that most days I feel like I’m giving off a stench instead of an
aroma. My life often becomes a stench
because I’m in my own world and doing my own thing, when I should be focused on
living solely for Him and being an example of Him to others.
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and
honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created
and have their being.
All too often in life we tend to focus attention on
ourselves with things we have done. We
all like being in the spotlight at certain times in our lives. Even if we’re not outgoing people, we still
have that deep down feeling of desired attention. There’s not a human being in the world that
doesn’t, as some point in life, like having attention on them.
There is nothing wrong with desiring some attention at times
in life. However, it depends on the
situation and how we deal with it.
Again, so often we take credit for things that we have done, when in
reality, God has done them through us.
Our desire in life may be to serve God, but we get tempted so much, for
different reasons, to turn the spotlight on ourselves when it should be on God.
I remember attending a concert back when I was in Bible
college in Tennessee. A friend of
mine and I went to a Rebecca St. James concert and her stage presence hit me
and I’ve never forgotten it. After some
of the songs, when people clapped and whistled and hollered, she simply stepped
back and motioned upwards with her hands.
She wanted all of the praise to go to God and not to her. It was really impressive and I’ve never
As we approach and begin this New Year, let us make a
genuine effort to do the same thing. Let
us lift our hands in praise to God and step back, so to speak, when the
spotlight turns on us and give Him praise.
Let us show the world around us that we don’t deserve the praise and
glory, but He does!
One of my favorite songs from the group Unspoken is
“Higher”. Some of the lyrics say, “I may never get money, I may never have
But if I'm ever in the spotlight, I'll
point it back Your way. 'Cause standing at the top was never-ever my goal.
But if You put me on a mountain then I'll tell
the whole world. Singing hallelujah 'til I hit the dirt.”
Let us have an
attitude this year to always point the spotlight to God when we are in a
situation where we get attention and recognition. He is our Creator and our goal, as the song
says, should never be to be at the top. Our
goal should be to lift Him high above all and shine His light for all to
The title of
this devotion pretty much sounds cliché, but when will we truly learn to live
out that He deserves all glory? We
deserve nothing. He deserves all.