Monday, August 30, 2010


..."Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory!...." - 1 Chronicles 4:10

He is mentioned only once in a brief description in the Old Testament,
yet what he says and what his life bespeaks could fill volumes. He was a
man whom God saw as worthy of a request that had significant
consequences for him and his family. His name was Jabez. Here is how the
Scripture describes him:
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him
Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." Jabez cried out to the God
of Israel, "Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let
Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from
pain." And God granted his request (1 Chronicles 4:9-10).
When you think of territory, you probably think of land or some area in
which you have dominion. Jesus often spoke about giving responsibility
based on what we do with the little things first. Jabez must have been a
very responsible person. God describes him as honorable. Jabez must have
understood what it really means to be blessed by God. He was a man who
knew what it meant to press into God and ask for God's favor with
passion. God saw the heart of this man and gave him his request. His
borders were enlarged! He lived a life free from pain. Imagine that!
The only reason God will enlarge a person's territory is that He knows
that person will use it responsibly. He will steward what is given in
light of God's Kingdom. God truly wants to increase our territory to
have greater influence in the world around us. That territory can mean
personal influence and/or physical territories.
It is rare to have a life without pain. Pain is often necessary to mold
us and shape us. This is the only exception I have seen in Scripture.
Jabez must have been quite a man with incredible integrity and purity of
Are you this kind of person? Can God enlarge your territory and entrust
you to use it for His purposes? Ask God today to enlarge your territory.
Ask Him to make you the kind of man or woman who is worthy of such

Saturday, August 28, 2010


"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do." - Ephesians 2:10

Eric Liddell was an Olympic runner from Britain who won a gold medal in
the 1924 Paris Olympics. He was a man who had a deep commitment to the
Lord and had future plans of being a missionary. In the meantime, he
knew God had given him a special gift to run, and he often said, "I feel
God's pleasure when I run."
He spent years training for the Olympics. He passed each hurdle and
qualified for the Olympics. Finally, the day came for him to run in the
games that were held in Italy. There was only one problem. One of his
running events was held on Sunday. Liddell refused to run on Sunday,
believing it dishonored the Lord's Sabbath. He held to his convictions
and brought great persecution on himself. He made a decision that even
if it meant losing his opportunity to compete, he would not run. God's
laws were greater than man's applause. Just when the circumstances
seemed hopeless, another situation arose that allowed Liddell to run on
a different day.
So often this is the case in the spiritual realm. God tests our hearts
to see if we will remain faithful to Him at the cost of something
important to us. Once He knows where our loyalty lies, He opens a new
door that meets the desires of our hearts.
God takes pleasure in seeing His creation used for His glory. Liddell
understood why he was made to run; he used his gift of running to bring
pleasure to his Creator. Later, Eric Liddell went on to serve God on the
mission field.
Does your life work bring pleasure to the Lord? Do you understand that
God instilled certain gifts and talents in you so that He might find
pleasure in His creation of you? Take pleasure in the gifts God has
given to you this day. And let His glory shine through you.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


"And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed
against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their
trust in Him and in Moses His servant." - (Exodus 14:31)

What makes an effective Christian leader today? Is it charisma?
Is it ability? Is it communication and oratory skills? God's view
of an effective leader has nothing to do with these qualities.
They may be a part of an effective leader. However, the core
attribute of a Christian leader is his integrity with God and his
obedience to follow Him. When this happens, God manifests His
power in and through that leader. Moses was effective because he
was willing to obey the commands God gave him. When Moses did
this, God manifested His presence in him. The result was that
people followed. They followed because they saw God working in
and through the man. They saw that this man was worthy of
following because God's anointing was on him.
When people see the Lord's power manifested in your life, they
will have a healthy fear of the Lord. They will look at you and
say, "This person has something I don't have that is worthy of
more investigation." Your challenge is to seek the Lord with a
whole heart, resulting in God's power being manifested in the
daily activities of your life. When this happens, you can expect
others to be drawn to what they see in you. The problem with many
Christians today is that non-Christians see nothing different
about the way they live to motivate the unsaved to desire their
What makes you different from your neighbor? Is your experience
with God noticeably different from that of the man next door? If
you're not experiencing regular encounters with God, it's time to
ask why not. We don't live day-to-day for the next spiritual
experience, but we should see by-products of a life centered in
God that is reflected in fruit from His presence in our lives.

Monday, August 23, 2010


"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of
life." - Proverbs 13:12

Life is filled with disappointments. Many of God's greatest servants
experienced deep disappointment in their journeys of faithfulness to
God. Joseph, after spending years as a slave and in jail for crimes that
he did not commit, revealed deep disappointment when he was forgotten
another two years in prison. John the Baptist, when awaiting execution,
doubted whether Jesus was, in fact, the Christ because he was sitting
there awaiting his death. Elijah, losing all hope and despondent to the
point of death, asked God to take his life in the desert; and Peter, who
left his fishing business and invested three years of his life only to
watch his Savior crucified, wondered whether the purpose of those three
years could be justified.
When life doesn't add up, it leaves the heart sick. When we have done
all we know to do and the formula has not worked, it leaves us
questioning. These are times that try the very souls of men. There is no
human sense to be made of it. We are left with a choice: to cling or not
to cling. There are times when holding on to our Master's robe is all
that we can do. It is all that He wants us to do.

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not obtained by sudden flight;
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
Standing on what too long we bore,
With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,
We may discern-unseen before-
A path to higher destinies! ~Longfellow

There is only one answer to life's disappointments. Like the psalmist,
we must "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He
alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be
shaken" (Ps. 62:5-6).

Friday, August 20, 2010


"Simon, Simon, satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed
for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned
back, strengthen your brothers." - Luke 22:31-32

Have you ever perceived yourself to be at one place spiritually only to
discover that you were actually far from this place? Peter perceived
himself to be so spiritually strong that he was prepared to suffer
greatly for his Master. Yet Jesus knew where Peter really was in his
own pilgrimage. He knew that Peter's enthusiasm did not match his reality.
He was suffering from an attitude of self-righteousness. So, how did
Jesus help Peter match his perception to his reality? Peter was the
object of a divine setup.
First, notice that satan asked permission to sift Peter as wheat. Jesus
determined that satan would be used to bring Peter to the maturity
level both Jesus and Peter really desired. And Jesus was praying that Peter
would pass the test. Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three
times that very day. Peter could not believe what Jesus was saying.
Sometimes the lessons we must learn are very painful. This experience
was necessary in Peter's life. It was necessary to purge Peter from his
sin of self-righteousness. This very lesson would allow Peter to come
face to face with his own misperception of where he was in his
relationship and devotion to Jesus. When he was forced to confront
this,it nearly broke him apart. He wept bitterly once he realized he had
done just as Jesus had predicted.
This confrontation with reality is necessary at times in our lives. Do
not be surprised if Jesus allows you to experience some painful
circumstance. You may be the subject of a divine setup designed to
bring you to a greater maturity level in your walk with Jesus. It may not be
a fun experience when you go through it, but you will, like Peter, become
a leader whom God will use to lead others.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


"Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until
morning." - (Exodus 16:19)

Have you ever seen God do something really good in your life only
to find that you have abused the blessing He gave you? Such was
the case of the Israelites as they were traveling through the
desert on their way to the Promised Land. God was providing for
them in miraculous ways. Manna was provided each day as their
bread. God gave Moses specific instructions as to how this manna
was to be eaten. God said each one was to gather only what he
needed for that day. No one was to keep it until the next
"However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part
of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to
smell. So Moses was angry with them" (Ex. 16:20). God was
teaching the Israelites daily trust in His provision for them. He
wanted them to trust Him one day at a time. If they tried to
hoard, God put a self-destruct feature in the manna. Yet God also
told them to gather two days' worth on the sixth day so that they
would have manna to eat on the seventh day. Interestingly, this
manna did not stink or have maggots.
For many years I gathered manna in business out of fear of not
having enough. One day, the Lord decided that manna should be
destroyed in order for me to learn total trust in His provision.
When we operate out of fear, we can expect the Lord to lovingly
discipline us in order to help us learn to trust Him. There is a
danger when we seek to "insure ourselves" against calamity. If
your actions are born from fear, you can expect God to
demonstrate His loving reproof so that you might not live in

Monday, August 16, 2010


"Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I
was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus." -
Galatians 1:17

The apostle Paul tells us in the first chapter of Galatians some of the
facts surrounding his own conversion. He tells us that he clearly
understood the call Jesus placed on his life. He did not have to consult
other men about this calling. But before he was released to begin his
own mission, He went to Arabia for three years. Why did Paul have to go
to Arabia for three years before he ever met another disciple of Jesus
The Scripture does not tell us plainly why Paul spent three years in
Arabia. However, based upon many examples of God placing special calls
on people's lives, we know it often requires a time of separation
between the old life and the new life. No doubt, Paul had plenty of time
to consider what had taken place in his life and time to develop an
intimate knowledge and relationship with the newfound Savior. His life
was about to change dramatically.
So often, when God places a call on one of His children, it requires a
separation between the old life and the new life. There is a time of
being away from the old in order to prepare the heart for what is
coming. It can be a painful and difficult separation. Joseph was
separated from his family. Jacob was sent to live with his uncle Laban.
Moses was sent to the desert.
When God began a deeper work in my own life, it required a separation
from all I had known before. He removed all that I had placed confidence
in up to that point. It was very painful and very scary since I was in
my mid-40's. In my mind, it was not the time to start life over. I had
been making plans for early retirement. God had a different idea. He
removed all my comforts and security in order to accomplish a much
greater work than what I could see at the time. The picture is clear
now. I understand why it was necessary, but I didn't at the time.
Perhaps God has placed you in your own desert period. Perhaps you cannot
make sense of the situation in which you find yourself. If you press
into God during this time, He will reveal the purposes He has for you.
The key is pressing into Him. Seek Him with a whole heart and He will be
found. God may have a special calling and message He is building in your
life right now. Trust in His love for you that He will fully complete
the work He has started in you.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Hand grenades or land mines?

Husbands and wives are usually one or the other when it comes to dealing
with conflict in marriage – we tend to either explode immediately or bury
our feelings to be triggered at a later date. Some of us are quick to
throw our anger and pain right back at our spouse when a conflict
surfaces. Some of us avoid conflict at all costs, burying our hurt deep in
the recesses of our hearts until our spouse inadvertently detonates the
If you are married and are two hand grenades, explosions are probably
frequent, but quick, leaving scars on your souls.
If you are married and are two land mines, explosions are rare, but huge,
leaving craters in your hearts.
If you are married as a hand grenade and a land mine, watch out, you never
know when the explosions will come and they inflict all kinds of damage.
Which one are you?
Conflict is a reality in all marriages. How you deal with conflict is the
ultimate test of your ability to communicate as a couple. Fortunately,
scripture provides us with meaningful insights into effectively resolving
conflict. The following five exhortations, founded on Scripture, are vital
to accomplish redemptive conflict resolution.
1. Approach Each Other with Kindness and Concern
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is
helpful for the building up of others according to their needs that it may
benefit those whose listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Rejection, fear, and bitterness destroy communication, and conflicts
cannot be resolved in threatening environments. Therefore, couples must
seek God’s perspective in establishing an environment of kindness and
concern. We are to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving
each other, just as in Christ God forgave” us and to “clothe [ourselves]
with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Ephesians
4:32; Colossians 3:12).
These positive attitudes form the “door” to marital communication through
which husbands and wives must enter if they hope to resolve their
2. Establish an Atmosphere of Mutual Vulnerability and Transparency
“For I wrote out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many
tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for
you.” (2 Corinthians 2:4)
Vulnerability is the ability to share one’s innermost feelings, thoughts,
concerns, and aspirations without fear of rejection. Before differences
can be resolved, both spouses must be able to trust each other enough to
openly share without being put down or scolded.
This requires transparency — showing an honesty and openness in disclosing
events, opinions, and feelings. If one spouse is truly transparent, the
other will feel trusted and loved as well as respected. Being vulnerable
says, “I respect and trust you enough to be transparent.” Transparency
says, “I love you” and “I need you.”
3. Become Effective Listeners
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become
angry.” (James 1:19)
When trying to resolve our conflicts, rather than listening we often tend
to fall into one of these traps:
Planning our answer before our spouse is done talking
Selectively hearing what only sounds right to us
Coming into the conversation with our judgments already made
However, proper listening resolves differences by clarifying what our
spouse is really feeling and saying. Consider these characteristics of
effective listening:
Creating a non-threatening environment of understanding
Shutting our mouths and opening our ears!
Seeking clarification
Providing more empathy rather than merely sympathy
Demonstrating a teachable spirit
4. Speak the Truth in Love
“Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is
the Head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)
Speaking the truth in love requires discipline and a true desire for
redemption. Here are a few points to keep in mind when speaking the truth
in love:
Your goal should be to restore your spouse.
Your motivation should be to gain understanding.
Avoid cutting remarks that could start the “insult cycle.”
Try to keep your emotions under control.
Be a good listener by stopping and restating your spouse’s argument.
Make sure to pick a private place and optimal time for communicating.
Work toward prompt resolution and do not let the conflict linger.
5. Be Willing to Forgive
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father
will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14)
Giving and receiving forgiveness is a nonnegotiable issue in resolving
conflict and creating better communication with your spouse. Your ability
to forgive your spouse is directly related to your spouse’s ability to
rebound from conflict and sin and also to forgive you.
When you say, “I just can’t forgive you for what you did,” what you really
mean is, “I choose not to forgive you.” Forgiveness is an act of the will
based on faith in Christ.
When your spouse wrongs you, immediately entrust yourself to the Lord.
Seek His perspective on the matter. Leave revenge to the Lord (Romans
Remember, every marriage encounters conflict. In this conflict we have an
opportunity to choose to trust God and His principles – leading to
redemption and resolution – or to trust our own human instincts – leading
to continued pain and desolation.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


"After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land." - 2 Samuel 21:14b

During the reign of David, there was a famine in the land for three
successive years. So David sought the Lord regarding this famine, "Why
is there famine on this land?" The Lord answered David, "It is on
account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the
Gibeonites to death" (2 Sam. 21:1b).
Years earlier, Joshua made a peace treaty with the Gibeonites.
This, too, was an act of disobedience. When God called Israel to come
into the Promised Land, they were to destroy all the enemies of God.
Joshua failed to see through the ruse of deception when the Gibeonites
portrayed themselves as travelers. The Israelites signed a peace treaty
only to discover who the Gibeonites were after the fact. Now, they had
to honor the treaty. However, this led to intermarriages and much sorrow
for Israel. Years later, Saul made a decision to kill the Gibeonites.
The nation was now receiving the punishment for their sin of
disobedience through a famine. David knew that famines could have a
spiritual source, so he inquired of God and God answered. The source was
Saul's murder of the Gibeonites. Once David knew the source of the
problem, he took action. He repented on behalf of the nation and made
restitution. The famine was then lifted.
Do you have a problem that seems to be a continually unresolved issue?
Have you asked God to tell you the reason for the problem? It may have a
spiritual root that is still unresolved with God. He may be allowing
this pressure to bring attention to an issue He wants you to take care
of. Ask the Lord today to give you revelation on your problem. As a
loving Father, He desires to make known anything that stands in the way
of fellowship between you and Him. However, His righteousness must
always be upheld.

Monday, August 9, 2010


As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from
heaven flashed around him.
- (Acts 9:3)

* For Moses, it was the burning bush.
* For Peter, it was walking on water.
* For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, it was walking through
the burning furnace untouched.
* For Paul, it was being blinded and spoken to by Jesus on the
Damascus road.
* For Daniel, it was deliverance from the lions' den.
* For Joshua, it was parting the Jordan River and crossing into
the Promised Land.
There have been many defining moments in the lives of human
beings that changed their lives forever. These defining moments
often set the course for the balance of their lives.
We could go on and on. Each of these servants had years of
preparation leading up to their defining moment. These moments
forced the servants to be involved in something beyond their
human experiences. It took them outside their own paradigms of
life. God had to move them outside their own boxes. And when He
did, their lives were never the same.
You may be in one of three stages of life: You may not have had
your "defining moment" yet-God may be preparing you with many
important life experiences. You may have had your defining moment
and you are living out your call. Or, you may be toward the end
of your journey and you have already experienced what I speak of.
We are all called to a relationship with God; and we are all
called vocationally, which is often ushered in by a defining
moment. And there can be more than one defining moment, each
pointing you down a path that God foreordained from the
foundation of the world. The secret of a great life is often a
man's ability to discern the defining moments given to him,
understanding them, and learning to walk in the path that leads
him to his ultimate destination.
Once you have had a defining moment, you are never the same. Pray
that you have eyes to see and ears to hear when your Master
brings a defining moment into your life.

Friday, August 6, 2010


"... I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing:
therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou
mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and
that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is thy life, and the length of
thy days... ." Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a

The text above is an episode in the history of Israel. What would
happen to you if you were in the same valley of decision between these two
mountains? Let me help by giving you some principles of choice.
First, you are free to choose. Every day, God gives us the freedom to
make choices about what we think is going to be good, or even best for
Second, you're not free not to choose. To decide not to choose is a
choice. Am I making any sense? Let me make it very clear – to decide
not to choose good is always a choice to choose evil. Jesus said, "He that
is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me
scattereth abroad" (Matthew 12:30). If you do not crown Jesus, you
crucify Him. There is no middle ground.
Here's the third principle – you're not free to choose the consequences
of your choice. Let me illustrate.
Stand beside an open window on the tenth floor of a building. You're
free to jump. Now, that's a foolish thing to do, but if nobody is there
to restrain you, you can choose to do so. Stay in the room or jump out.
Now, if you decide to jump, then you must be ready to face the
consequences of that choice.
The fourth principle is you are free to choose, but you're not free to
achieve. Now, what do I mean by that? Well, suppose I chose to achieve
as a professional basketball player. Well, you look at my frame and you
say to yourself, "How can he even hope of achieving success?" And
you're probably right.
You see, I can make all the choices I want. I can even have all the
hopes and dreams I want. But, I have to be realistic to see that I
might not achieve success simply because I have chosen to do something.
Now, the fifth choice principle – a big choice will take care of a lot
of little ones. Let me give you another illustration of this.
I am a man who has made up his mind that I am going to be loyal to my
wife. You see, I don't have to worry when I check into a hotel whether
to watch pornography or not. I don't have to be concerned whether I am
going to flirt with another woman.
I don't have to keep making that decision to be loyal to my wife. I've
made that decision and that one big decision takes care of a lot of the
other little decisions.
Sixth, God has already chosen you, that you might choose Him. That's
why we're called His elect. "We love him, because He first loved us" (1
John 4:19). Had God not first chosen us, we would never have the inclination
to choose Him. Thank God for His sovereignty!
And lastly, the day of choice is passing away. Don't think that you
have forever to make up your mind whether you're going to be a follower of
Jesus Christ or not. Make your eternal salvation secure today.
You can know immediate joy. Why wait to have joy when you can have it
right now? I'd be a Christian if there were no heaven or hell for the
joy that I have today in Christ.
You may die tonight. These may be the last words you ever read about
salvation in Jesus Christ. After you die, there are no second chances
to get saved. Choose life.
Jesus Christ is coming back. Matthew 24:24 says, "Therefore be ye also
ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." If
you don't think He's coming, then that is a fulfillment of this verse
because He's coming when you least expect Him.
Each time you decide against Him, you harden your heart. Hebrews 3:7-8
says, "Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts." A
person becomes proficient at anything he does for a long time. You can
become a professional Christ-denier.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Debt. For some people, it's as certain as death and taxes. Often, it
may even appear to be a "necessary evil" along the road to financial
As debt increases, it tends to follow a similar pattern: a credit card
here, a loan there, a mortgage, maybe an occasional impulse purchase,
and before you know it, you're sitting atop thousands upon thousands of
dollars of unpaid bills.
These bills come every day, disguised in nondescript envelopes and
transported with a smile by the postman. But hiding inside those
envelopes is your own personal prison, preventing you from living with
freedom and confidence.
Debt leads to stress, worry, and anxiety. It affects every area of
life,from your friendships to your career. And, as all too many couples
discover, unresolved debt can ruin a marriage.
But in the midst of this financial despair, there is hope. God did not
intend for us to live in debt. He has a plan for our finances. He wants
us to save and spend our money wisely. And, more importantly, He
expects us to give back a portion to Him. Only then, when we surrender our
finances to God through tithing, will we begin to experience the
blessings He has in store for us.
We have a choice: follow the world's financial plan or follow God's
financial plan. The world tells us to take, take, take. Society wants
us to stockpile everything we obtain into a reservoir of material goods.
But it's a cycle that never ends. The more we get, the more we think we
need. And then, when we're gone, what do we have to show for our lives?
Our desires are never satisfied because, in trying to seek happiness in
material things, we have forgotten our ultimate need-God. Searching for
meaning outside of God is an empty, hollow pursuit.
God's plan for us is much different than the world's. While society
tells us to take and accumulate, God tells us to receive and
redistribute. "For by your standard of measure," Luke 6:38 says, "it
will be measured to you in return." Whatever we give, God will bless us
accordingly. Will He always bless us financially? No. But we will see
His presence in our lives. God will begin to provide for us in ways
that we never thought possible; all we must do is give.
Instead of stockpiling our earnings, God asks us to tithe, to give to
others, and to do so cheerfully, not begrudgingly. As 2 Corinthians 9:7
tells us, "God loves a cheerful giver." He wants to bless us, to use us
as a channel- not a reservoir-so He can utilize us to bless others.
What do we give to God? In His Word, He asks us to give back to Him at
least ten percent of everything we earn. For every dime we make, God
wants a penny. And he wants the first penny, not the last; we should
never give God our leftovers (Proverbs 3:9). As the saying goes, "Give
God what's right, not what's left." If we don't tithe, we are taking
from God what is already His (Haggai 2:8). Malachi 3:8 says, "Will a
man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?'
In tithes and offerings." We are actually robbing our Creator!
God's plan is simple: give and receive. Sometimes it's hard for our
mere human minds to understand how God works. How can we give when we're in
debt, when we can't even make bill payments on time?
But that's where trust enters the picture. "Trust in the Lord with all
your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways
acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Proverbs
3:5-6). All we must do is trust in God, and He will provide for our needs.