Friday, December 23, 2011

The Devil's Seeds of Doubt

Sometimes, God speaks to us through friends, through strangers, or through something we read or see. This week, I think he decided to speak to me through a devotional. Imagine that. ;)

This is from Pastor Bayless Conley's Answers for Each Day daily devotional series.

The Devil's Seeds of Doubt

As we saw yesterday, Satan will seek to attack when we are on the verge of a major breakthrough. I believe there are three distinct areas of attack in this battle. Today I want to cover the first with you. It is found in Matthew 4:3-4,

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"

The devil's first area of attack will be to try to get you to doubt your calling.

Notice that just prior to this encounter the voice of God the Father said to Jesus, "This is My beloved Son!" And that is the first thing the devil challenges, "Well, if you are the Son of God…."

He will do the same thing to you.

What is it that God has spoken to you about that He wants you to do with your life? Has He told you that He wants to use you to funnel vast resources into the gospel? Or maybe God said you are to be a teacher, or that you are going to impact the entertainment industry, or that you are going to be a prayer warrior and tip the spiritual scales in critical times.

Whatever it is, the devil will saddle up next to you and say, "Who do you think you are? What God has told you is just a pipe dream. It's just your own head speaking to you." He will try and get you to doubt what God has said to you and to doubt what God has called you to do.

When that happens, you need to go back to that word that God has spoken to you in order to keep your focus and direction right.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How Can I Help You? ~or~ Making Money Isn't About the Money

Through a series of unforseen events, I've found myself having to re-enter a career field I'd happily placed in the rear-view mirror three years ago. While I was good at it, one of the best if you believe people who give out awards for such things, I pretty much despised every single hour spent in the last job I had in that field. To say I was relieved when I left that field would be an understatement. In fact, I literally felt like a weight was taken off my shoulders, pressure taken off my chest and within a few weeks, I felt healthier, happier and more alive than I had in years. If that doesn't show you what power stress and negativity has on us, nothing will…

So, as you can imagine, I'm not overly excited to go back into that field. In fact, I almost feel the same way you would if you were about to put your hand onto a hot stove, after having been burned badly once before.

Regardless of my feelings on the matter, it is what it is and I have to do what I have to do to take care of my family.

1 Timothy 5:8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Now, I may have just gone through a rather shameful crisis of faith, but at no point would I ever relish the idea of being an unbeliever, much less worse than one. And, regardless of that, God has wired me to take care of my family, so this is what I have to do.

In thinking about it last night, the idea struck me that no one who does a job strictly for the money derives any real pleasure from it. In fact, studies prove the opposite, regardless of what the world might tell us. Money cannot buy happiness, so working only for money is a sure path to unhappiness.

That was most likely the trouble with my last job in this field. I ended up disliking it so much, that it just became about the money and nothing else. Once that happened, the door closed and there was no hope of ever enjoying it again. Don't get me wrong, there were times when I did enjoy that field, and there was a reason I got into it in the first place that wasn't just about the money.

Back then, it was exciting. I never expected to arrive at a place where I was spiritually exhausted, emotionally calloused and mentally jaded.

But, thanks to adverse circumstances (and my own poor way of dealing with them) I ended up there.

Going forward, I want to strive to not focus on the money, but instead to strictly concern myself with helping people. The phrase "how can I help you?" is uttered billions of times a day, all over the world, but how many people truly mean it? Well, I want to be one of those few who do.

If I focus on that and strive to do nothing more than help people, the money will certainly come as a by-product.

On top of that (and the foundation of it at the same time), is the idea that we're all called to be servants. "How Can I Help?" should be the most uttered phrase in the Christian life. Therefore, if I strive to help people first and foremost, I'll honor God's wishes and God will honor that effort.

And, by focusing on what God wants, I won't have time to focus on what I don't want…

I pray that each and every one of you has a very blessed and Merry Christmas!

Father God,
Please place your hand of protection on each and every one that we all know this Holiday Season. Get us all safely through this hectic time, and please heap extra blessings on those who need them most. I would like to ask that you remind each and every one of us that celebrating your Son's birthday isn't about material gain or overeating or any of that, but about learning to serve one another as Jesus served all of us. Please don't let any of us forget that.

In Jesus' name I pray,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


If this blog is for nothing else, let it be for accountability. You have helped me remain accountable and for that, I'm forever grateful.

But, the one linchpin to that is I need to remain transparent with you. Well, in the interests of that, I need to get something off my chest. I've been very unhappy with God lately. I won't call it 'mad' as I think that's a bit too strong. I haven't turned my back on him, or written him off or anything so dramatic as all that, but I have slowly disconnected from Him.

Many of you may recall I posted a while back about a certain career problem I'm having. Well, since asking for prayers on it, the situation has gone from bad to worse. I kept taking for granted the fact that God would show up and fix it, but as far as I know, He has yet to do so. The problem has become a very significant financial strain on my family and at this point has undone about seven years of my hard work.

I didn't realize it was happening, but over the course of the last month or so, I've slowly been pulling further and further away from God. While doing some introspective thought recently, I came to the realization this was due to my unhappiness that God is allowing this business nightmare to continue.

Now, before you jump to the same conclusions I did about how I need to have faith and how God does things in His time, not ours, rest assured I've been there already. But, to deny the fact that I've disconnected, even when I know it shouldn't have, is hardly being transparent. So, I'm admitting my sin, right here and right now. I unplugged from God.

As things have slowly come to a head over the last few days, and I realized this was happening, I've decided the only acceptable course of action is to reconnect. So, please, help me remain accountable in reconnecting.

For those who like to leave comments here on the Proverbs blog, please do so every few days, asking me if I'm staying connected. If you're the email type, please shoot me an email every once in awhile and check up on me.

No one's faith should ever be so weak that watching evil prevail in the short term can sever their connection with God. Admittedly, that's exactly what's been happening to me.

Thankfully, God always knows how to bring us back. Today, I sat down to get caught up on my daily reading and this devotional was waiting for me:

By Janet Conley
How to Stay Connected

Yesterday we discovered the second key to effective prayer is to stay connected to God. The critical question is: How do we do that?

While there are many things we can do, I want to focus on two things. First of all, if you want to have a close relationship with God, it is important to realize just how much He desires to have a close relationship with you.

This is an amazing truth when you stop to think about it. He is Almighty God, and yet He wants to have a close relationship with you.

Romans 5:11 in the New Living Translation says, Now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Through Jesus, God made us to be His friends! So connecting with God starts with remembering He desires to be your closest friend.

Second, you need to practice His presence. Right now God is with you. He is everywhere you go. He is at your job; He is at your home; He is with you wherever you might be, even in the hardest time of your life.

The last part of Hebrews 13:5 says, For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

There was a monk in the seventeenth century named Brother Lawrence who wrote a book called The Practice of the Presence of God. In the monastery there were chimes that rang every hour, and Brother Lawrence would use that as a reminder to connect with God.

If you have a PDA or a wristwatch or a cell phone, you might consider setting it to go off throughout the day to remind you that God is with you. Each time it goes off, spend a few moments communing with Him. Practice His presence. That will help you stay connected to God.

Thanks for walking with me. I appreciate it more than you know and deserve it less than you might think. Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church said in a recent sermon that we're not designed to shoulder our burdens alone and that we should take them to other Christ followers for help. On that note, thank you for helping me shoulder this one.