Tag Archives: Mercy

The pebble in my shoe

pebble

I know we have all been there.  Especially runners.  This is how it plays out for me:

I look outside and see the sun shining, a gentle breeze, and I begin to mentally prepare for it.  I slide my shoes on and they feel great, maybe even lighter today.  Phone strapped to my arm, ear buds in and comfortable.  A quick stretch or two to loosen up and get the blood flowing.  I step out on the porch and walk quickly – with a lighter step to the end of the driveway.  I look up the street and set my focus, hit start on my tracker and  begin to jog.  My steps feel great.  My core is tight and I am focusing on the first song.  In my playlist it’s a great song by Chris Tomlin called God’s Great Dance Floor.  I round the corner at the bottom of the street and I am feeling great.  It seems like no time and my tracker is proudly announcing the first mile is complete.  “That seemed faster today,” I think to myself.  Then it happens.  A slight discomfort in my right shoe.  Maybe it’s nothing…no there it is again.  Somehow I have picked up a pebble.  It’s rolling under the center of my foot on every stride.  Now my focus is elsewhere.  I don’t hear the music, I am locked in on the pain with each step. My mind begins to battle a little.  I can stop and fix it, quickly and keep going, but I have a great pace and I want to run from beginning to end.  I keep going, but the pebble is still there.  It feels like it is piercing my foot with each stride I take.  I have lost all focus on the world around me and can think of nothing else but that small pebble.

Every person reading this probably thinks the same thing.  Take the shoe off, shake out the pebble and keep running. That’s the logical thing to do.  You’re right.  It is.  But as this happened to me not too long ago, it made me think about my life in general, especially my Christian walk.  How many times have I let a pebble – some sin that keeps burrowing into my soul take my focus off Christ?  How often have I left that sinful pebble in my soul and tried to just deal with it on my own?  This happens more often than not.  My “I can do it myself” mentality takes me down a dark path and before I realize what happened, I can’t find God anywhere in my life.  Wouldn’t it be simpler for me to stop and get rid of the pebble?  Better yet, when that pebble seems more like a boulder, wouldn’t it be easier to rely on God’s ability to remove it from my life?  I was reminded of David when he fell for Bathsheba.  2 Samuel 11 paints a picture of a spiral out of control.  David sinned, first when he looked on this woman while she bathed, then taking her into his bed which resulted in pregnancy.  Reading through the passage, we see David losing all focus on the battle he was leading, and instead being consumed with trying to get out of the mess he had created.  Choose today to check your shoe before you run.  Finding the sinful traps in your life and praying for God’s strength to avoid or overcome them is the recipe for a closer walk with Christ.

Lord, today I am thankful for your love and mercy in my life.  I am thankful that you love your creation and willingly laid down your life so that I could have mine.  Thank you for never leaving me and for your power and strength over my sin nature.  I ask for your help in removing the pebbles that cause my focus to be turned from you.  I rejoice in your word and promise to always be by my side through this life.  In Christ I pray – Amen.

Stop Wandering, Turn North

wandering

I am 100% male.  I know this, because of the obvious, but also because I despise asking for directions.  I am a careful planner, and do my very best to be sure I don’t have ask for directions, but ultimately end up making a wrong turn here or there, and then the real struggle begins.  I first try to problem solve. While driving 75 mph, arguing with the mapping app on my phone, I end up driving further in the wrong direction, and when it’s a family trip, end up in a disagreement with my wife that adds to the list of things to do: be humble, say you’re sorry, and thank her for still loving you.

Life can be like this too.  I was working on a half-time devotion for the upward basketball games this weekend and came across one that I really found intriguing and it is where I focused my time in God’s word this morning.  Deuteronomy 2:3 says “You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough. Turn northward.” (ESV).  A little context.  The Israelite’s had been wandering around the desert for 40 years (and my wife thinks that extra 5 miles we drove, while I tried to figure it out, was a waste).  Now, God was directing them on the path that would lead them to the promised land.  His simple instructions, quit wandering around, turn northward were epic.  Simple, deliberate and I can almost imagine with a bit of sarcasm in his voice.  Are you done now?  You tried it your way, didn’t work out, ready to listen?  How many of us are wandering around our own desert trying to find the right path, or direction that will take us to our “promised land”?  How often does our wandering cover the same paths, time and time again?

This scripture stuck out to the original author of the devotion and I have to say, I agree.  God specifically pointed them northward…because that was the way he wanted them to go.  Now, remember I have ADD, so I heard north and immediately thought of a map…and maybe a squirrel and a tree, and…

But the word north, brought a picture of a map to mind, and on the map, north is…up.  Where is God?  We are told to look up to the heavens, to lift our voice up to our heavenly father.  So in essence northward may have been the direction of travel, but it was also invoked my natural instinct to think of looking up to follow God.  God is still speaking this same truth to us today.  To anyone that will listen, to anyone that cries out, where should I turn?  God speaks, through His word, and says, enough is enough. I will show you the right path towards where you should be, to what I have for you, and that path is always toward Him.

Human beings (especially males) are independent creatures. We don’t like to think we need help or assistance with anything.  That is what we teach our young men from day 1, be independent.  The truth is, we need someone to give us direction.  We need someone to guide us.  When we turn toward God, we find that someone, or better yet, we find that only one that can lead us in the right direction.  Our sinfulness is what keeps us wandering our own desert, turning down the wrong paths, and following the wrong directions.  When we turn toward God, we find our focus and direction and most importantly a life free from the guilt and dependence of sin.  John 14:6 is an often quoted verse of scripture, but it is so plain and clear.  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me.” (NIV)

Jesus went to the cross to bear the punishments for my sin, and all the sin of humanity.  He did it without any expectation of compensation from me or anyone else.  It was a free gift to an undeserving world.  It is through that free gift of grace that we are able to live the life God intended for us.  To follow the right path, in the right direction.

Friend, are you wandering today?  Are you tired of doing the same thing over and over again, with no sense of direction or purpose?  Do you find yourself on worn-out paths that keep your circling the mountain?  Well ENOUGH is ENOUGH.  Turn to Jesus today and follow his direction.

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Father God, today I thank you for the gift of your word, and for the gift of salvation through your son Jesus Christ.  I thank you that I am 100% yours, and that nothing can ever change that.  I thank you for the Holy Spirit that guides me everyday.  I pray that someone may read this devotion today and see their need for you.  I pray that you will help me depend on your word and your direction to lead my family and raise my children to understand their need for you.  Help us all to submit to your direction and plan, and give you all the glory forever.  In your name I pray, Amen.

 

Take a breath and…Jump

jump

I came across a great video clip today of popular tv show host – Steve Harvey as he gave an impromptu motivational speech to his audience before an episode taping.  The clip was titled Jump.  Steve does a great job of laying out the fact that no one that is great got there without being willing to take a leap of faith.  Maybe it was faith that their business idea would be a success.  Maybe it was faith that if they made a large investment it would pay off.  Maybe it was faith that if they got the courage to ask the girl out, she would say yes.

He used an illustration of walking to a cliff and looking out to see other people soaring by – flying.  They are going from one success to another, and enjoying life’s moments all because they weren’t afraid to make the initial jump.  About half way into the clip, Steve made reference to the word of God and to a very well known principal – gifts.  Steve shared with the audience, in that moment, that we are all gifted when we are created.  (Props to Steve for using his position on that stage to share that we are created beings, with a father in Heaven that loves us).  

“You can not simply exist in this life”

God doesn’t create anyone without gifting them, he would go on to say.  Now, he didn’t dive into spiritual gifts, but instead insisted that we all have a purpose.  A talent, or ability that makes us unique and allows us to have success or fulfillment in this life.  But that gift was like the parachute on your back, as you stand on the edge of the cliff.  If you don’t jump, you can’t open your chute, and if you don’t open it, your gift stays tucked away on your back and is never used for God’s intended purpose.

So what are gifts that our Heavenly father gives us?  2 Corinthians 9:8 says, God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have abundance for every good work.”  Grace is never-ending from our Father.  He freely gives it to us, as much as we need.  God only requires that we are ready to receive that grace by having faith, humility and sincere love.  The most important gift is the gift of salvation.  That grace which is extended to each of us as God’s creation ultimately leads us to salvation through Jesus Christ.  In that salvation we have a savior that will save us from everything we face.  This doesn’t mean we won’t face things, but he’ll bring us through it and never leave us to  handle it on our own.  The greatest gift is an eternal relationship with the one that created us.  Hebrews 7:25 tells us that he is able to save to the uttermost those that come to God through him.  There is no one that is “incapable of being saved” and that Nothing can withstand or thwart His prayers for those who walk in covenant with him.  Nothing beats Jesus.

So what do we have to do to receive these gifts, to really understand our purpose to realize our gifts, to be fulfilled in this life?  Jump.  Jump when God  knocks on your heart’s door and asks to come in and dwell with you forever.  Jump when God challenges you to move in a certain way, or to be used according to his purpose. Jump when you are standing on the edge of that cliff and trust that God will open your parachute and reveal His glory in your life.

Father, today I thank you that you gave me the courage to jump and I thank you that you are the wind that fills my parachute and that you continue to help me open that up and continue to love me and extend your precious grace to me when I fail.  Help me to always trust you and jump when you show me the opportunity.  In Christ I pray, Amen.