Tag Archives: encourage

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]

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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]

Fortune Cookie Devotion Series: Wiggle

“Life is not a struggle. It’s a wiggle.”

When I saw this “fortune” cookie, I laughed out loud. A wiggle? When I think of wiggle, I think of the Wiggles, a children’s musical group that my kids loved to listen to over a decade ago. I can still find myself singing along to those songs of a former season when they seep out of my memory bank. The other wiggle, the slow movements from side-to-side, are just that – movements. 

“Life is not a struggle. It’s a wiggle.” To me, this reminds us that through life, there is always movement. Only God is constant. We choose if we wish to wiggle forward or backward in every situation, with every response, etc.

Life is a struggle. Unfortunately, too many people think that there is an answer to remove the struggles of life. People think that a self-help books will have an answer. People believe there has to be a remedy to all of the problems they are facing. People think that when you “find” Jesus, the struggles disappear. This is all far from the truth. Yes, when you come to know Jesus and you follow Him, life is different; however, the struggles never go away. The only difference is you have the power to overcome through the Spirit of God. It doesn’t mean that the struggle will go away, but that you will have the strength to go around, go through, or knock down—whatever God wills! Just keep wiggling. May He continue to guide you through each movement side-to-side from now through eternity.

“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” – 1 Corinthians 4:20 [NLT]

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” – Ephesians 3:16 [NLT]

Fortune Cookie Devotion Series: Wisdom

I love Chinese food. I used to save the fortune cookies and give them to my daughter, but recently I’ve been cracking them open myself and seeing the fortune found within. I built up quite the collection on my desk and started to see the truth in them. May these “fortunes” bless you as they have blessed me.

“Professionalism is knowing how to do it, when to do it, and doing it.”

A professional is someone who is more advanced than an amateur. Today’s fortune cookie “wisdom” makes sense—a professional knows how to do something, when best to do it, and of course, can then do it. 

When I think about this term professional, I think of wisdom. True wisdom is defined as having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. Wisdom helps a person to know not only how to do something, but when it actually should be done (if at all). There are situations in life when we may know how to do something, but we get the timing all wrong. There are moments when the greater act of wisdom is a response of not doing anything.

Each of us is on our own journey, and wisdom helps us to travel well. This wisdom comes from God (Ecclesiastes 2:26, Colossians 2:2-3). If you are ready for the best travel companion, draw near to God. He is the giver of wisdom. He will help you to be more aligned on His timeline. You can truly be a good professional, not just in knowing how to do something, but in knowing when to act and when to pause, when to speak and when to listen, when to stand up and when to yield. 

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:5 [ESV]

Weeds on My Leg

My neighbor always lets his weeds get 2-3 feet high. Sometimes as I am navigating down the footpath, a weed will rub against my leg and I jump in the air and quickly look down to make sure I’m safe. In my mind, I know that he never addresses the weeds. But even still, I look down because there is a small chance that a mosquito or spider or something else is crawling on my leg. I hate bugs.

When I was a pastor, I always encouraged people to look in the Bible to see the verses I was referencing in a sermon. It was important for me to point people to the actual scripture so that everyone could see what God says. Even though most of the time it is only weeds rubbing against your legs, every so often there is a mosquito or spider crawling on your leg. If you are looking in your Bible to see what God says, you can check for yourself. You aren’t trusting it’s a simple grazing of a weed. You’re able to know it is just a weed. This is important for your walk with Jesus—to know for yourself what God says. Yes, you won’t know it all. Yes, you won’t understand it all. But open up His Word and seek Him.

There are a lot of commentators of the Bible. There are thousands of pastors and theologians. Interpretations vary at times because people allow their own misconceptions and traditions to speak into the Word. People read what they want to read. People cherry pick. People have agendas. People are broken. I’m not suggesting that the last sermon you heard was wrong or that commentaries are bad. My pastor shared a great message from God this past Sunday, and my bookshelf is lined with commentaries. My suggestion, my desire for you is to always seek Him and His Word for yourself. Independent Bible reading and study should be a regular occurrence. What is God saying to you today?

“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” – Psalm 25:5 [ESV]

Fortune Cookie Devotion Series: Spotless

I love Chinese food. I used to save the fortune cookies and give them to my daughter, but recently I’ve been cracking them open myself and seeing the fortune found within. I built up quite the collection on my desk and started to see the truth in them. May these “fortunes” bless you as they have blessed me.

“No matter what your past has been, you have a spotless future.”

The past is the past. Perhaps the memories stay, the scars remain. Even still, the past is still the past. Unfortunately, some people cannot forget your mistakes. Some people cannot forgive your missteps. Sometimes you cannot let go of something from your past. Sometimes despite your efforts, the past keeps coming to the forefront of your mind, and things once “settled” are rehashed again.

But history is different from God’s vantage point. When you believe in Christ Jesus, the past is forgiven. The crimson stain is white as snow. Your sins are forgiven as far as the east to the west. Through Christ, you have a great inheritance—as a child of God, you are co-heirs with Christ. You truly have a spotless future.

When you hear taunts from your past, remember what God says about you. Remember that you are forgiven. Remember that you were bought with a price. Remember that you have been set free. Remember that you have a spotless future. You have overcome through Christ! Declare this today!

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18 [ESV]

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” – Psalm 103:12 [NLT]