Category Archives: Christian Living

Empty Capsule

Every Saturday morning, I have the exciting task of filling my pill organizer for the week. This last time, I grabbed the capsules from one bottle only to find an empty capsule. The contents were missing. I stared at this finding and considered how it was no longer useful. The medicine that was to be contained in the capsule was missing. The capsule was empty, so it was worthless.

Sadly, too many people think of themselves as the empty capsule. Some people do not think they have the right ingredients within to make a difference. Some people think they are missing something that will make them special. Some people hear negativity so much it results in a feeling of worthlessness.

Fret not my friends. Though this empty capsule of mine got tossed in the trash, we live in a world where God’s math matters most. He takes each of us and does something great within. We simply need to let Him have His way in us. He placed things within you that you do not even know are there. He has given you the foundation to carry out the destiny He placed within your heart. He knows you by name, and He knows every hair on your head. You are priceless. 

Today, remember this truth. Remind yourself again tomorrow. The worth of something is always the price someone is willing to pay… and when we look at that math when it comes to our relationship with God, it doesn’t make sense at all. He paid the ultimate price—the very life of Christ Jesus—what a hefty price that points to your truth worth. God loves you. Oh, how He loves you!

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” – 1 John 4:16 [ESV]

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Stretch Out Your Hand

When Moses was given a special mission by God, the doubts seeped in and he didn’t have the confidence to move forward. God provided a staff. When tossed down, the staff became a serpent. If that wasn’t strange enough, God told Moses to stretch out his hand, to reach, to grab the serpent by the tail. Talk about a scary moment. Yet when God said, “Stretch out your hand,” the Bible says, “so he stretched out his hand.” Moses did as God commanded and was able to experience something awesome.

If Moses did not stretch out his hand, if he let fear dictate his actions, Moses would not have enjoyed the moment of watching God move in this amazing way. If Moses would have planted his feet firmly and made the decision not to listen or not to trust, he would have missed the crucial part of the sign God was providing. He would have also lost the opportunity to bring this all before Pharaoh and live out his destiny.

Today, ask yourself what you need to stretch out your hand toward and what God wants you to grasp. What is God leading you toward? What is before you, and are you ready for the next step? If you cannot think of anything, open the Word and let His Truth seep beneath the surface. Often if you believe there is no movement on the forefront, the true need is to draw near to God. 

“But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail’—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—‘that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.’” – Exodus 4:4-5 [NASB]

Largest Crowd

I do not like large crowds; when I am around a large crowd I am overwhelmed by the noise, the energy, all of the different things happening at once in the different people groupings. It is horrific and takes me hours to desensitize from being drenched in a crowd for a set amount of time. Birthday parties are limited. Concerts are even more difficult because of its an even larger group setting and because most shows include strobe lighting. The name for this condition is sensory overload.

Though I do all that I can to avoid large groups, the Psalmist speaks of the largest crowd within his vantage point. In reading today’s passage, he isn’t necessarily speaking of a specific large group gathering, but rather a response to God and His faithfulness. As a result of God’s deliverance, there will be an overflow of gladness and every part of the Psalmist’s being will shout praise to the Lord. The Psalmist describes praising God wherever he goes. The Psalmist speaks of finding the largest crowd possible to shout for the Lord. The Psalmist also speaks of the inability to hold in his praise.

Think about this passage. Consider what the Psalmist is saying. Everywhere he goes, he will praise God. He will find the largest crowd so that he can praise God before them so the people will all hear of the goodness of God. The Psalmist also speaks of the inability to hold his praise inside. Let this passage marinate longer. Do you praise God everywhere you go? Do you have a desire to give God praise and glory all the time? Are you in a place in life where you cannot hold in your praise?

“Then my fears will dissolve into limitless joy; my whole being will overflow with gladness because of your mighty deliverance. Everything inside of me will shout it out: ‘There’s no one like you, Lord!’ For look at how you protect the weak and helpless from the strong and heartless who oppress them. Then I will praise you wherever I go.  And when everyone gathers for worship, I will lift up your praise with a shout in front of the largest crowd I can find! Then I won’t be able to hold it in— everyone will hear my joyous praises all day long! Your righteousness will be the theme of my glory-song of praise! – Psalm 35:9-10, 18, 28 [TPT]

Have Never Been

There are so many created things all around, and each thing is created for a purpose. I love technology and I am continuously amazed at all things new. It’s crazy to think that my watch can perform an ECG, but this is what the creator purposed for the creation—a watch that does more than tell time, a watch that improves life quality. Even so, there are things the watch cannot do yet, and possibly some things that it will never do—it all depends on the creator, or as they are known in the tech world—the developers.

Now getting away from technology, let us focus on people. We are God’s creation. You are God’s creation. Each person—yes this means you – was created for a specific purpose in mind. Our purpose is broad as well as specific. We have the big purpose of making God known, of sharing the Gospel, of living for Jesus and pointing to Him. We also have specific purposes for life, things God has for you alone to do as part of the body of the Church. We each have different skills, experience, gifts, etc., all for God’s glory.

Nonetheless, we have a problem at times with seeing what God sees. Remember, we cannot think like Him (Isaiah 55:8-9). Just like Moses declared, “I have never been,” so do we make the same declaration. When we are faced with hardship, beginning a new season, etc., we say we cannot do it. We do not have the strength. We do not have the time. We do not have the money. We do not have the skills. We do not have… fill in the blank. Even though God, the Creator, declares it to be—we blindly say, “I have never been.” We instead believe those words. We stand back from what God has promised. We stand back from what God has purposed. We remain stuck in the “have never been” statements of life. Yet God is calling us for more. He is still making the declaration. His Word still rings true as much yesterday as it does today. It doesn’t matter what you “have never been”—it matters what He is going to help you to be. It all comes down to trust. Are you going to trust God to do the “eloquent” in your life?

“Then Moses said to the LORD, ‘Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” – Exodus 4:10 [NASB]

Fortune Cookie Devotion Series: Sun Shine

“Let the sun shine on your soul.”

I thought today’s fortune cookie was strange. “Let the sun shine on your soul,” is what I read, and I continued to contemplate it later in the day. What does it even mean to have the sun shine on your soul? I picture some weird fantasy super-hero movie with sun rays pouring into the chest of the main character, providing special powers or increased energy. 

As I consider the sun, I am reminded of the life-giving qualities of the sun. We need the sun. Sunshine is beneficial and necessary for life. The quote is simply telling readers to let what is beneficial to your soul be permitted. In Isaiah 44, we read about parched fields and a bad thirst. Yet we also read of something beneficial being provided for salvation. Water will be provided to quench thirst. The parched fields will be irrigated. God promises to pour out His Spirit—His life-giving Spirit.

When I read these words, “Let the sun shine on your soul,” I am reminded also of the positive things that we should allow into our lives. The Bible tells us to watch our heart. The Bible tells us to watch our focus. Along with allowing the Spirit of God to have His way with you, will come the teaching and conviction and encouragement needed to be selective to what we allow in, what we let seep inside. We know what is inside will eventually come out. We also know that though the Spirit of God has the strength to resurrect Jesus from the grave, He will not force Himself upon us. We ultimately must surrender, respond, and move in step with Him. This is all a part of letting the sun shine on your soul. Today, get some of that sun shine and enjoy!

“For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children.” – Isaiah 44:3 [NLT]

False Hope

I recently took my son to a Post-Apocalyptic themed restaurant at Fishtown in Philadelphia that boasted different décor including jackets and custom gear, weapons, and a virtual reality lounge. It was a great night on the town; the food was great, the music was great, and it was fun to see all of the costumes and weaponry that was to be seen as the Post-Apocalyptic remains from battle.

The weapons on display were many, but they reminded me that “the weapons of man are false hopes for victory.” The truth is we often try to attempt things by our own human strength, and yes at times we do succeed. But in the end, without Jesus, we are nothing. True victory is through Christ alone. We will always get so far in life by our own skills, experience, etc., and yet all comes from God, and we will never fulfill our true purpose and reach full satisfaction without Him. 

When we have weapons that we have devised to help us with the battles in life, we come to realize that the weapons are not always able to achieve the victory. Taking vitamins, getting more education, training in the gym, improving eating habits, etc. all can have a positive impact on your life. This positive direction may provide you some false hope that you can do anything. And the world wants you to think that you can do anything. Many even cherry pick scripture to try to make you get those “I can do anything” feelings like the self-help books declare. Yet no matter the strength and the weapons, you are still limited. Yes, with God, anything is impossible—but we tend to forget the with God—we tend to forget the source. May you be reminded today of your dependence on Jesus Christ. Surrender once again to Him, your true hope—your true victory. To Him be all honor, glory, and praise.

“Human strength and the weapons of man are false hopes for victory; they may seem mighty but they will always disappoint.” – Psalm 33:17 [TPT]

Uncontained Joy

When you think of uncontained, what do you imagine? I think back to the unrestrained flood waters after the torrential downpours of Hurricane Sandy. I picture the uncontrolled water shooting out from the burst pipe during the one frigid winter I forgot the turn off the outside water line. I remember the uncontained pool water when my dog decided to put too much pressure on the side of the pool, causing a huge burst of water to pour out into the yard.

The Bible says in Psalm 33 that as we trust God, we rejoice with an uncontained joy. Imagine that—an uncontained joy. That seems like something that is not seen much inside or outside the church walls. We have become a closed off people. We do not worship freely, but instead we stand still as to not draw any attention toward us. Instead of focusing on the One we are worshiping, we want to make sure we do not look strange. Rather than glorify God through the achievements and victories, we forget to give God any credit. We keep that praise from Him because it is not the in thing to say.

I know that I have witnessed young people who just let themselves go before Jesus. They lift up their hands; they dance like they truly have seen the face of God. This is probably as close as we get to David dancing without the “proper attire.” Today, check your joy meter. Is your joy contained? Are you even feeling the joy? What is stopping you from rejoicing in the Lord with your everything?

“As we trust, we rejoice with an uncontained joyflowing from Yahweh!” – Psalm 33:21 [TPT]

Success

“If you develop the habits of success, you will make success a habit.”

Today’s fortune cookie sounds like it came from a best-selling self-help book. I am a big fan of building positive habits in life, habits that benefit my well-being physically, mentally, spiritually, etc. I have seen that good habits brings rewards.

I still remember when I was in college, one of my professors wanted us to ask people the definition of success. The question surely points to what a person values in life—what matters most. The Bible tells us that if we follow God, if we take the path less traveled, that we will succeed in everything. This sounds crazy. Now hear me out—this is not prosperity gospel. 

Pay attention here—you follow God, and you slowly come to realize God’s plans for your life and your perspective changes. The success is different; your definition of success changes. It no longer comes down to the car you drive and the money in the bank; you want to live for Jesus and glorify God. Through the Spirit’s leading and your local church, you begin to develop habits of a follower of Jesus. You pray, you serve, you study the Bible, you worship, you tithe, you hear the Word preached, etc. As you grow in your relationship with God, as you draw near to Him, the fruit appears. Good things do happen, just as you also deal with struggles to strengthen your faith. Success becomes more about living in the presence of God, and your purpose you live out for His glory. This is the true success, and this brings true satisfaction to the child of God.

“Fulfill your duty to the LORD your God. Obey his directions, laws, commands, rules, and written instructions as they are recorded in Moses’ Teachings. Then you’ll succeed in everything you do wherever you may go.” – 1 Kings 2:3 [GW]

Offended

Everyone gets offended. Lately it seems like it happens at every turn. I am offended. This offends me.I remember when I was younger, I had issues with self-control stemming from my AdHd, and I had difficulty relating to others. I found myself often blurting out things and my words would offend others and resulted in many awkward moments. I had great difficulty making real friends, and some things I said were held against me. Two stories I remember not-so-fondly from my childhood include my encounter with an overweight nurse while getting burn treatment for my arm, and an episode with a relative regarding cigarette smoking. Some of my words never were forgotten or forgiven, despite my lack of understanding the issue with them.

Over the years, I have learned more about self-control. I have made many changes and formed many habits to help with my AdHd. Though I still have some struggles with relating with others, I certainly have improved. Yet, I look around and I see that so many people still are getting offended—but it is much worse. The sad truth is the result of the offensive words and deeds. People hold it against others. People take something someone said and misinterpret it, and forever the person is disliked. Forgiveness is far from being found.

Yet as we think about the truth of the forgiveness of God, and we think about how people cling to anger and bitterness, we are found in contempt. We have offended God. Again and again, we have offended God. We will continue to offend God. Even so, He forgives us completely. He never holds it against us for our ignorance. He never lets our selfishness or lack of control taint His love for us. He does not tell us we are no longer welcome and out of His social group. He does not let the offense cause a break in the relationship—instead, God fills the gap with His love and grace. Today, consider what offenses you may be clinging to, and who needs your forgiveness. You may find that you need to forgive even more than the other person needs your forgiveness. 

“For no matter how hard they try, God finds no pleasure with those who are controlled by the flesh.” – Romans 8:8 [TPT]

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” – Colossians 3:13 [NLT]

Fortune Cookie Devotion Series: Always Cast

Fishing advice came within a recent fortune cookie. I am not interested in doing any fishing; in the past, I had better luck catching seaweed and it wasn’t my cup of tea. However, Jesus taught His friends to be fishers of men, and we have all be called to make Him known. This particular fortune cookie advised to, “Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be fish.”

When you consider fishing for men, this is the best advice. We should always have our hook cast. We should always be ready to share the reason for our hope. Where we often go wrong is when we decide who and when and how everything should happen. We box ourselves in when we think our witnessing will be to a specific person or group in a specific way at a specific time. We limit what God can do through us when we do not live as if the hook is always cast—the opportunity for God to move to always be possible.

The truth is we are witnessing with every word and deed. The truth is that the world does not need people to try to show others that they have the right answer in Jesus, but to instead love upon the world and through this love, the world may come to know Jesus. It is in the moments when you are being real, in the moments when you are being you, in the moments when you are not trying to “win one for the team,” that you will truly glorify God and share the mighty power and love of Christ Jesus. When you least expect it, the Spirit will move, and people will come to know the truth of God. You are never hooking anyone. You are also never opening eyes. The Good News is always cast because of the Spirit of God and because of His goodness and grace. We are mere vessels with the privilege to be used by God for His Kingdom building.

“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” – 1 Peter 3:15 [NLT]

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35 [CSB]