I like winning. I wish I could say I always win, but I don’t. Sometimes I get second place. Okay fine… sometimes I lose. Have you ever met someone who always seems to win no matter what they are doing? Those people are so annoying inspiring. Whether it’s a card game or a basketball game, they seem to get the victory. Every. Single. Time. Which is great if you are on their team and not so great when you are on the other team.

There was a guy in the Bible like that. He just couldn’t lose. In fact, whenever he engaged in battle, the song “All I do is win” mysteriously played in the background. His name was David. Check this out:

1 Chronicles 18:6b The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.

1 Chronicles 18:13b The Lord gave David victory wherever he went

This guy was a first class winner. So much so, that this statement is repeated twice in the chapter. David had victory. Wherever he swung his sword, victory. Anywhere he set his feet, victory. On any battlefield, victory. Now before David gets a big head about all this winning, let’s look at the three key words in these verses. “The Lord gave”  The Lord gave David victory. Because victory belongs to the Lord. 

So many people are living their lives in defeat. They live their lives in a constant state of struggle, anxiety, depression, and gloom. Hope is not here and peace is not present. Yet they struggle to find some semblance of victory. Even just a little one would suffice. Their efforts are strained until they can strain no more. There is nothing left in the tank. They couldn’t achieve it. There must be no victory left for them.

Yet the truth is this, THE LORD GIVES victory. He has called us to be a victorious people. He has brought us out of the darkness and into the light. He gave his very life, defeating death, not only for his victory, but also for ours. We don’t have to live in defeat any longer. We, too, can live in the victory that the Lord gives.

Proclaim this over your life today: The Lord will give _________ (insert name) victory where he/she goes. 

If you will walk in the power of His Spirit and in His truth, I believe that statement will be as true for you as it was for David.

How did you know that?

Genesis 43:33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment.

how did you knowHave you ever been in a situation where someone seems to know a lot about you, but you know nothing about them? It’s kind of uncomfortable, really. There you are face to face with a stranger and they are talking to you about things in your life that you’ve never shared with them.  You just want to say: how did you know that? Do I know you?

In Genesis 43, Joseph’s brothers were in that same kind of situation. Not only was he asking them about his family, he invited them to dinner and perfectly seated them in their birth order.  I’ll tell you what, they were certainly trippin’ out. How did he know that!?  You see, to them, Joseph was a perfect stranger.  They had no idea who he was but he knew exactly who they were.  He had insight into their lives that messed with their heads.

I think God is like that. He knows us really well. He reveals things about us that we didn’t know about ourselves. Sometimes we are completely in the dark about it. We are living our life for ourselves and He intersects it with revelation. He reveals our identity, our faults, and our destiny. He speaks purpose, and hope, and calling into our hearts that crave it. And we didn’t even know we craved it at times.  He knows. Yes, He knows.

I love to live for a God who knows things I don’t know. He knows me better than I know myself.  Like Joseph’s brothers, it blows my mind some days. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

*The God who knows is the God who formed you. He knows your name and He knows your future.

Let’s talk about your feelings, bro

Genesis 40:6-7 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”

prisonersI have things to do, places to go, people to see.  I have stuff I need to accomplish.  We all do; that’s how life is.  When I’m trying to get through the line at the store, I am in a hurry. When I am stuck in traffic, I am frustrated.  I’ve got to go, people!  Do you ever feel that way?  Of course you do.

Joseph had things to do, too.  He was in charge of the prison, or at least a section of it. He was given charge to oversee prisoners. He had a job to do. He had meals to bring, jobs to hand out, paperwork to be filled out. He was a busy guy.  Yet he stopped to notice something – the emotional state of the prisoners.  Who cares about the emotional state of a prisoner? They did something wrong so forget about how they feel. Of course they are dejected… they are in JAIL! But Joseph wanted to know why they were sad today.  Let’s talk about your feelings, bro.

What strikes me is the fact that Joseph cared at all. He was probably making his rounds either waking them up or bringing them breakfast. He had other prisoners to check on, but he stopped to find out how they were doing. So often, we get consumed with what we are doing, that we miss out on connecting with others along the way. If we could just get our minds off of ourselves for a moment, we would see that there are dejected people crying out. If we would take time to notice others, we might even have the opportunity to give them some of the hope that we have in Jesus.

*Are you consumed with your own stuff? Take a look around and ask God to give you opportunity to help someone else.

Need some life?

Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

breatheThere’s a big difference between dirt and a man.  Dirt just sits there.  It serves a purpose, but it has no life.  It can’t experience joy or sorrow, love or betrayal.  It’s just dirt.  It’s not among the living. Dead stuff doesn’t do much.  Have you noticed?

At the beginning of time, God created the heavens and the earth.  He made dirt and from dirt He made man.  They had both been made.  But God did something different with man than He did with dirt.  He gave him life.  And it wasn’t just life that was given, it was the very breath of God that was breathed into him.  God breathed His life into us so that we could live gloriously with Him.  Since then, however, some things within us have died.  Our dreams have died.  Our motivation, our peace, our joy, our love… all dead.  We search for the shock paddles hoping to jump-start those dead places.  But it doesn’t seem to work.

What we need is His breath.  We need His life.  He wants to take the places in your life that have become dirt and breath life into them again.  He desires to breath into your dreams and into your joy.  His heart longs to breath into that place that can’t give or receive love.  He has been in the business of breathing life since the beginning of time.  If he can do it with Adam’s entire being, don’t you think He can do it with part of yours?

*What places do you need God to breath life into?  Write them down and begin to ask Him specifically to breath life into these areas.

That’s a lot of encouragement

2 Thessalonians 2:16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

boy-with-musclesI know a lot of people who are really going through some hard stuff right now.  Sickness, heartache, financial struggles, identity, workload, and the like.  Some of them are even going through more than one of those!  These kinds of things can lead to anxiety, fear, and depression.  They can lead to apathy and wanting just to give up altogether.  It would be nice if someone would just come along with some encouragement.  They really need that right now.

Encouragement is such a great thing, isn’t it?  When our spirits our down, someone comes along and lifts us up.  If you break down the word encourage, it literally means to fill with courage.  That’s what we really need!  We need to be filled with courage to face the heartache.  We need to be overwhelmed with strength to take on an impossible workload.  We need bravery to weather this financial struggle.  Encouragement.  That’s what we need.

The good news is that God is never short of encouragement.  It says here in 2 Thessalonians that by his grace, he has given us eternal encouragement.  That’s a lot, my friend.  Eternal goes on forever; it doesn’t run out.  So in the midst of whatever it is you are facing, ask him to encourage your soul.  Ask him to pour out his grace in such a way that your spirits are lifted.  He created you, knows you inside and out, and loves you!  Let him infuse you today with a grace that will change your perspective and turn your situation around.

*Could you use some encouragement today?

When your world falls apart

Micah 7:7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.

What do you do when your world falls apart?  You just lost your job.  Your husband left you.  The bank is calling looking for your mortgage payment.  Your kids are out ruining their lives and you feel powerless to stop them.  People look at you and judge you with their eyes.  You feel alone and afraid.  As much as this sounds like a country song, it’s unfortunately the story of someone you know.  It might even be your story.  So what do you do when your world falls apart?

In Micah 7, Israel’s world was falling apart.  Micah was a man called to be a voice for the Lord.  He stood alone. He stood for the Lord.  The best people were wicked at best; the worst, absolutely repulsive.  These people make America look good.  Really, they were gross.  He says that Godly people have vanished from the land.  He states that both of their hands are good at accomplishing evil.  Yes, Israel was falling apart at the seams.  People were turning on each other, households were dividing, and friends betrayed friends.  It was the way of life.

Not for Micah.  He said, “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD…”  He was determined to be different.  He would swim upstream.  When everyone was running one way, he would determine to run the other.  When they were all walking away from the Lord looking for hope and peace in all the wrong places, He would look to the Lord.  The Lord would be his hope.  God would be his Savior.  God would hear him and answer his prayer.  The world can run its way all it wants.  It can rebel against God and find depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and death.  It can look to wrong places and come up empty.  But not Micah… and not me.  I will watch in hope for the Lord, I will wait for God my Savior; and He will hear me. 



Uphill Stream

Micah 4:1 ​In the last days the mountain of the LORD’S temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.

Streams don’t run uphill. After all that would be quite difficult given the law of gravity.  Streams run downhill of course.  This is something we all know.  I’ve never seen a waterfall falling up.  And a stream follows the path of least resistance.  If there is a channel for it to flow, it will flow through that channel.  It would be very difficult for water to stream up a mountain.  Yet the wording the Lord uses in Micah 4:1 is that people will stream UP the mountain to the temple of the Lord.  Here’s some truth: I’ve never streamed up a mountain.  I’ve labored, sweated, and panted, but not streamed.

People will stream to the temple of the Lord.  They will fight through the obstacles and keep going when they don’t feel like it.  There will be so much hope there that gravity won’t matter.  They will be like water traveling uphill.  No matter what, they’ve just got to get where the Lord is.

I don’t think that defines our culture, does it?  We are complacent, discontent, and cynical.  We don’t like commitment and obligation.  So we end up staying at the bottom of the mountain.  It it seems too hard, we certainly won’t climb.  And we definitely won’t be streaming!  Unless…

Unless that temple is so right, so necessary, so compelling, so real!  Unless that temple is the only chance at true hope!  Unless the church – both the gathering and the people – are so full of life, the world won’t come streaming.  We are the temple of the Lord!  I want people streaming to us for life; but we’ve got to have life to stream to.  There must be evidence that God is present in the temple or else it’s not worth visiting.  I want people to stream to the house of God!  So let’s show them real life and something worth streaming for.

Can you cure me?

2 Kings 5:6-8  6 He brought the letter to the king of Israel, and it read: When this letter comes to you, note that I have sent you my servant Naaman for you to cure him of his skin disease. 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and asked, “Am I God, killing and giving life that this man expects me to cure a man of his skin disease? Think it over and you will see that he is only picking a fight with me.” 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel tore his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Have him come to me, and he will know there is a prophet in Israel.” 

Naaman had a skin disease, presumably leprosy.  Word came to him that there was a prophet in Israel who could cure him of his disease.  So he went to his king asking permission to go see this prophet.  Now keep in mind that Naaman was the commander of the army in Aram.  He better be careful entering Israel’s land or he might be seen as a spy.  Well, the king of Aram wrote a letter to the king of Israel asking him to cure him of his skin disease.  And it is at this point today’s scripture picks up.

Look at the king’s response: he tore his clothes.  He wondered how in the world he was supposed to do  anything about Naaman’s disease.  In fact, he suspected that the king of Aram was sending this guy to him to pick a fight.  “Oh, so you won’t call on your God to heal my commander, huh?  I declare war!”  And the king of Israel was frustrated that someone would actually come to him expecting to see healing.  Elisha, on the other hand, had way more confidence in the Lord.  He called for Naaman and administered his healing.

I wonder who we respond like when people come to us as believers for hope.  I wonder if we are like the king who gets frustrated and says, “what do these people want from me?!”  I’ll tell you what they want from you, they want the hope that you have.  Elisha recognized that this man was not just coming to see the king of Israel or to see a great prophet.  He came looking for the power of God.  And we should expect that people will come to us too, looking for the power of God.  After all, if you want to meet Michael Jordan, find someone who knows him.  So when people come to you with their problems, consider that maybe it’s because they recognize you know someone with solutions.   You don’t have to get frustrated like the king of Israel; just show them the way to the Lord and let Him be their answer.