Word of the Day

Shut Up Legs

Romans 5: 3 – 4            GW

But that’s not all. We also brag when we are suffering. We know that suffering creates endurance, endurance creates character, and character creates confidence.

It’s July 19th and we are deep into the running of the Tour de France. I love biking so I love to watch the race, but there is more to the Tour de France that I enjoy than just a bike race. There are beautiful views of France and its architecture, gorgeous churches, history lessons and their impacts, insights into the people of the various regions, and more, much more, in fact. One of the most captivating elements of the Tour de France though, is the human drama. The racing that goes on is fabulous and exciting but following the riders’ personal stories and triumphs is riveting. These professional bike riders turn themselves inside out with massive efforts. Mile after mile they continue to ride after their legs have begun to loudly complain.

One recently retired but still popular rider is Jens Voigt. Among other things, Voigt is known for his saying, “Shut up legs.” In fact, he had it on his top tube where he would see it when he looked down. Instead of letting his legs dictate his outcome, he made up his mind what he wanted to do and then expected his body to obey. He didn’t let the pain and discomfort dictate his race. I love this so much. In fact, I need to get his T-shirt with “shut up legs” emblazoned across it because like “Jensie,” this is my philosophy on life.

If you want to see suffering, watch one of the mountain stages of the Tour de France. Despite their suffering, though, they persist. That persistence produces endurance in their minds and bodies. Endurance absolutely does produce character. The top riders know how to suffer but their perseverance has produced confidence. They know they can push themselves and triumph. It is tried and tested.

You don’t know what you can do until you push yourself. We have to learn to stand on faith even when everything in us is yelling to quit. We’ve gotta yell back, “Shut Up!” We are the masters of our destiny and if God has given us something to do then we have to go all in like these professional bike riders.

Ask yourself, who is in charge? Is it fear, or is it you. What forces are keeping you from reaching the finish line? Let your faith speak louder than your fear. Don’t let the circumstances dictate your race. As I say often, “The facts don’t count.” What counts is your belief, tenacity and your ability to persevere in the grace of the Lord. If God has called you to climb a mountain then you can, no matter what the facts say. Speak to your mountain. Let it know that it must obey you. The mountain does not determine the finish, the character of the person determines the outcome.

Don’t be a quitter. Don’t give up when the going gets hard. Don’t stop believing just because you cannot see the finish line. Go on You Tube and watch this video of Jens Voight
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zreFKnBLDjg) and take inspiration from a champion. See determination in action and let it encourage you to persevere through challenges and seeming impossibilities. Get a big dream in front of you and chase it down. When it gets tough speak to those circumstances like Jens Voigt. Tell them to shut up!

Sell Out

2 Chronicles 16: 9

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

Do you ever wonder what God is up to? What is he doing with His time? Now you know. He is scanning the whole earth looking for those he can support and strengthen. God wants to bless us. He wants to uphold us by His strong right arm but the truth is that we won’t let Him because we don’t allow ourselves to receive from Him. Some of us lack belief, others lack expectation. Still others of us don’t appreciate His goodness.

Being blessed is a process of teamwork. The first part is that we must be dedicated to God. Do you see that He scans the world looking for a heart He can work with? Those are important words and if we are not living in the blessing as fully as we think we should be, then this is the place for us to begin our analysis. We see that God wants to bless us. He wants to support us in all we do. He is just looking for someone who will cooperate with Him. His eyes constantly search for someone who is wholeheartedly in for Him. Is that you. Is your heart for God? Are you completely sold out to Him?

If you answered, “Yes,” then God is all in for you too. My next question is, “Will you allow yourself to be blessed?” Some people have difficulty receiving. It begins with believing that God wants to bless His people. Hebrews 11: 6 reads, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” We have to believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. So, He is searching the earth for those whose hearts believe that He is and that He is a rewarder. You see, you are not sold out to God nor wholehearted towards Him if you don’t believe His word and even specifically this verse from Hebrews. He is looking for someone who will believe that God is for them in every way. He wants us to lean on the expectation of His strong support.

That brings up another point from today’s verse. God isn’t looking just to sprinkle you with blessing or just give you a small step up. He is a big God and wants to show Himself strong to you. He wants to “strongly support” your dreams and goals. That means that not only is He in your corner, but He is the loudest cheerleader you have. He wants to give you all He has. That ends up boiling down to all you will receive. He isn’t trying to be a subtle encourager. He wants to get loud and flex His muscles with strength.

I think if you will mediate on this verse, you will find more here than you have previously considered. I hope it blesses you from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet. Get your heart fully committed to the Father who loves you and who wants to be your supporter. Be sold out to Him. Believe Him and let Him help you.

Choked

Mark 4: 19

[A]nd the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Most people would probably say that they are not enjoying all of the victory in life that they would like. Jesus tells us here why some of their work is unfruitful. The Word is getting choked out. It is so easy to start out right where you need to be and then the next thing you know, something is spinning out of control. What happened? Usually it is one of the above. I would add one other item to the list.

Sometimes busyness is the thing that chokes out the Word. We get too tied up in the things of this world and with running around trying our very best to get everything done only to realize that we have neglected the most important thing.

Look, you have seen plenty of wealthy celebrities with their lives in complete shambles. They were deceived into thinking that wealth and fame would make them happy. Striving for the money and the toys has left us all empty. When our desire for the things of this world outweighs our desire for the things of God, it is inevitably going to go badly for us. And as children of the most high, we should know that we do not even have to pursue those things like the world does. We seek the Lord and he gives us the desires of our hearts including some toys and other things that enrich life.

If we do not want the Word to be unfruitful, then we must guard ourselves against getting our eyes on the things of this world, including our jobs and other activities to the detriment of having our attention stayed on God, His son, His spirit and His Word. If we keep our priorities in line and keep our desire fixed on the Lord, then all these other things will be added to us.

All the Time

2 Chronicles 26: 5

And as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered Him.

God is just waiting for you to seek His guidance so that He can lead you into His blessings. He wants to help you with all life’s questions and choices. He can give you His Godly wisdom rather than you having to search for answers. He can tell you in a minute what might take you years to research and learn. All He is waiting for is for you to seek Him in all of those things. You have to open the door to Him. You are going to prosper and succeed in all you do when you have the wisdom and guidance of the Lord. His all knowing can be your benefit.

We all need to learn to pray constantly. We need to be in prayer about every little thing. We’ve got to stop making prayer into some ritualistic event so that we can, with ease, enter into God’s presence at any moment. I am not saying that you shouldn’t have quiet prayer time with God in your private space. I am saying you cannot wait until you have that perfect circumstance in order to talk with the Lord. Why do you think He is omnipresent? It is so He can be with you every minute of every day. Sometimes I talk with Him while I am pumping gas or walking through the grocery store. We need to invite Him into all of those moments as well as our spiritual time. He wants to be our everyday Lord not just our Sunday Holy God.

We prosper and succeed when we seek Him and we need His help all of the time. Therefore, let us learn to seek Him often so that we can walk in His grace and in His wisdom.

Behind My Back

Isaiah 38: 17      AMP

You have loved back my life from the pit of nothingness (destruction), for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

Do you ever wonder what God is thinking about your sin? Well, here is your answer. He has forgotten it. He cast it behind Him. It is where He cannot see it or be reminded of it. Maybe you should cast it behind your back as well.

The God’s Word version adds this, “Now my bitter experience turns into peace.” Why? Because God has forgotten our sin. Our sadness and disappointment from our many mistakes and sins is changed to peace because God has looked upon us with compassion and never-ending mercy. Romans 8: 28 reads, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Did you ever consider this includes our sins? It does say “all things” does it not? So all of your errors, whether intentional sin or errors in judgement are cast behind God’s back because He cares for you. He is turning your bitter experience into peace; peace for you, peace between you and He.

God doesn’t want to be angry with you. He does not want you condemned or feeling guilty. He sent Jesus so that you could experience true freedom in your life and in your inner self. He has redeemed you from the pit of destruction by His own choice. Why would He hang on to your sin. Why would He continue to dangle it in front of you in that He gave His most precious asset in order to redeem you? That would make no sense.

Is there something that has troubled you for years? Let it go. God has put it behind Him so it is time for you to put it behind you too.

The Prophet Speaks

2 Chronicles 15: 2

Listen to me . . . the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.

The backstory here is that Asa, the king of Judah, called upon the Lord when Judah was confronted by a million man Ethiopian army. Judah had only 300,00 soldiers. God hearkened to the voice of Asa and routed Ethiopia. It was after this event that the prophet Azariah spoke to Asa.

Azariah knew the history of the people. When they sought God, they prevailed, but time and time again, the people turned away from God. When they did, disaster resulted. Azariah went to Asa with a word from the Lord. In effect, this was a heads-up. Asa had just experienced the victory that belongs to those who continually seek the Lord. The word of warning to him, and ultimately to us, is to maintain that which made you successful. Do not cease to seek the Lord daily.

When things are bad, most of us find it easy to call upon God. We are in deep need, that need drives us to His throne room. After the battle is over, we need to heed this word of caution because sometimes we slip away a little. We begin to enjoy the peace and forget who it is who is still at work providing that peace. After awhile we can even begin to think we had something to do with our success. That is when things really go badly for us, so we must continue to search God’s heart and mind for daily life.

Another thing that is note worthy in this verse is the idea that God will forsake you if you forsake Him. Isn’t that contrary to what you have heard before. Hebrews 13: 5 reads, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” I also love these words from Nehemiah 9: 31, “In Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, for You are a gracious and compassionate God.” So, what gives?

It really turns out to be quite simple. You are in command of your relationship with God. The Almighty God whom we think of as sovereign in everything has actually relinquished His power to you in this regard. Therefore, you can think of these verses as saying, He will not forsake you as long as you don’t kick Him out. Of His own volition, God will never leave you nor forsake you, but you have the power to turn Him out. Then, He has no choice.

God’s Economy

Ecclesiastes 2: 26

For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight.

The way of the Kingdom is very, very different from the way of the world. In this verse for today we see God’s economy at work. If you understand this, it will also help you in your giving because you will see that your income and well-being is not based on how much money you make at your job. It is very difficult for us to wrap our heads around that idea but this is a mindset that we must establish.

There are those who gather and this verse tells us that those people are gathering so that they can give it to those who are good in God’s sight. That is the task He has given them. Does it make you feel guilty to think that others toil so that you may have? Many of us have trouble accepting this and that is why we struggle and continue to work hard instead of taking our proper place in God. We have our role too, don’t we? We are they who stand in prayer for those who gather. We have been called by Jesus to a completely different job. Our incomes are guaranteed through him so that we can fulfill our role in our societies. We have not, because we are failing to stand in our office and do that which we are called to do.

There is another hurdle in this verse we must get over. This verse talks about the person who is good. Is that you? How do we know? What is the standard? Well, there was none good until Jesus came and he even said, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone,” (Luke 18: 19). So, who is this good person that God refers to in this verse. The New Covenant answer is, all those who are in Christ Jesus. Mind you, I did not say all Christians or all who delineate themselves as Christians. But those who have clothed themselves in the robes of Jesus’ righteousness are spotless and blameless before God. Hallelujah! That is you. It’s me. In Christ we are more than we could have ever been or even believed for.

So, meditate on today’s verse and then journal it. Ask God what he would further reveal to you about His economy and your goodness in Christ. They are both big ideas, barely scratched upon in today’s devotion but it should be enough to get you started.

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