Category Archives: Weekly Devotional
It is often my custom to read a chapter of Proverbs every day. I love the wisdom contained in the pages. Even though I read it often, it seems like new nuggets of wisdom jump out at me regularly. My dad always used to suggest that to people, and I even suggest it myself, now. Proverbs has 31 chapters, and it is know as the book of wisdom. There’s one chapter of wisdom for every day of the month! As I was sitting in my comfy chair reading Proverbs 26 this morning, verse 17 stuck out to me so much. It was almost like a ton of bricks just fell in my lap!
Proverbs 26:17 AMP – “He who, passing by, stops to meddle with strife that is none of his business is like one who takes a dog by the ears.”
Not every pot we walk by in life needs to be stirred. I tend to feel like I know what is best not only for me personally, but for all those around me as well, and if you don’t believe me, just ask me! It’s something I have been working on in my personal growth and in my pursuit of less. I can wear myself out with a quickness trying to attend to the affairs and business of others. I am learning that managing my own life is enough for me.
I never would have considered myself a busy-body or a gossip – although that certainly applies with this scripture. What I’m talking about for me is feeling the need to share from my pearls of wisdom how things should be done, and if it still isn’t done in a way I would like, then I’d get in there and do it for them! Granted, some areas of my life demand that I get involved. Some areas of your life demand the same from you. These are our pots. They are our responsibilities. I operate a private school. What happens in that school is my business, and I need to be involved. I need to stir that pot. Those of you with children, your child is one of your pots. It is totally ok and necessary to be in your child’s business. I’m not asking anyone to let go of their responsibilities.
What we are talking about is letting go of things that we can’t or don’t need to control. We can’t make other people do what we want them to do! Believe me, I have tried!! It usually doesn’t end successfully. Do we really need to instruct our spouse on the proper way to chop an onion or load a dishwasher? My puppies wouldn’t like it very much if I picked them up by their ears, and Proverbs tells us the people that surround us won’t like it very much when we meddle in areas that are not ours in which to meddle. More often than not, my need to unnecessarily control will end in the other person resenting me, and I end up with needless emotional turmoil. Too many cooks in the kitchen makes for a bad meal. We can walk past the pot without picking up the spoon to stir it.
Just a side note: Leviticus 19:17 AMP tells us, “you shall not hate your brother in your heart; but you shall surely rebuke your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.” Galatians 6:1 AMP also says, “Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and will all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.” There are times that we need to get involved. There are times when we need to call sin for what it is; however, the majority of the time, we just need to focus on our own business and let everything else be.
PRAYER STARTER: God, grant me the wisdom to stay in my lane. Help me to know what to say and when to say it. Show me what pots are mine, and give me strength to let go of unnecessary control over others. Thank You for peace that passes all understanding. I thank You that the Holy Spirit leads, guides, and directs me in every step I take.
Take No Offense…
I’ve heard it said, “Holding a grudge doesn’t make us strong; it makes us bitter. Forgiving doesn’t make us weak; it sets us free.” Isn’t that the truth! Every single day, we are given multiple opportunities to be offended by others. Someone cuts us off in traffic – now we’re offended. Our husband or wife says something to us in a less than loving tone – now, we’re offended. We didn’t get the grade we thought we deserved – now, we’re offended. We feel like we were overlooked for a promotion – now, we’re offended. We find out someone has been spreading gossip about us – now, we’re offended. Our friend doesn’t want to do something we want them to do – now, we’re offended. In those moments, we have to decide if we are willing to trade our peace for offense. We don’t have to be offended. We choose to be offended. An offence is defined as something that is designed to irritate, annoy or anger; cause resentful displeasure; to affect disagreeably; to hurt or cause pain. If I don’t watch myself, picking up offences can become a daily habit. Luke 17:1-5 tells us, “He [Jesus] said to His disciples, “Offenses will certainly come, but woe to the one they come through! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”” Jesus was telling us that there is no way getting around opportunities to be offended; however, when those times arise, the choice the believer must make is to forgive and let go. Upon hearing this, the disciples said, “increase our faith!” They knew how easy it can be to feel justified in our offended state. We need faith in God that when we release it to Him, He will take care of it and heal our hearts.
There are three types of offense we will face in life. The first type is imaginary offense. This happens when we perceive some type of hurt that is simply not there or didn’t happen. The next is accidental offense. This type of offense happens when a person unknowingly does something that hurts our feelings or upsets us. The third type of offense is real offense. This is when a person does something on purpose to cause pain to another person. We face these situations every day. They come at us like little presents waiting to be opened. When faced with offenses, we must decide whether we will pick them up or leave them there and keep going. Acts 24:16 tells us, “Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavoring in all respects] to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscice, void of offense toward God and man.” It will take exercise and determination to not be offended when bad things happen. If we are going to live a life free of offence and unforgiveness, we are going to have to daily work at it. Forgiveness doesn’t come naturally. Our flesh wants to get even or see people get what they deserve. This type of thinking is dangerous. It will evolve in to bitterness and slowly eat us up from the inside out.
So, how do we know if we are offended or have unforgiveness in us. When we take offense to things that have been said or done to us, we start rehearsing it to ourselves and others over and over again. Instead of dealing with what has happened to us, working through the pain, and giving it to God, we rehearse it, and we tell it everywhere we go. Have you ever seen a child with a boo boo? Most of the time, the child will want to peel off the bandaid and show and tell everyone what has happened. It is the same way with us. We have horrible things that happen to us or are said to us, and our natural reaction is to want to show everyone, tell everyone, and keep picking at the thing that happened until it becomes sore and infected. This is not God’s intention for our lives. There is healing for every hurt that we face. We don’t have to allow the hurts of life to consume us and control us. Psalm 55:22 tells us to “cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved. [1 Peter 5:7].” Another way to know that we are offended or have unforgiveness is if we are unwilling to go somewhere or do something that we would like to do, simply because there is a certain person at the same place. We are allowing ourselves to be controlled by that person. God doesn’t want anyone or anything controlling us. He wants us to be led by the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense.” James 1:19-20 goes on to say, “Understand this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. For man’s anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires].”
God is calling us to forgiveness. I encourage you to let go of past hurts. You will never move forward in your life hanging on to the problems and circumstances of the past. God is not only calling us to forgiveness, He’s commanding forgiveness. Leviticus 19:16-18 says, “You shall not go up and down as a dispenser of gossip and scandal among your people, nor shall you [secure yourself by false testimony or by silence and] endanger the life of your neighbor. I am the Lord. You shall not hate your brother in your heart; but you shall surely rebuke your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. [Gal. 6:1; I John 2:9, 11; 3:15.] You shall not take revenge or bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. [Matt. 5:43-46; Rom. 12:17, 19.]
So, God is telling us, don’t gossip about everything that is going on around us. Don’t hang on to grudges. Be quick and ready to forgive! Matthew 6:15 says, “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.” I don’t know about you, but I need the forgiveness of God. I don’t want to go through life bitter and resentful over things that have happened in the past. I encourage you, if you have unforgiveness or offense in your heart, do as the Disney movie once said, “Let it go!”
When Did Rest Become a Four Letter Word?
Matthew 11:28-30 in the Message Bible says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Does this sound like you? Our culture values busy. Ask anyone walking the social mecca of Monticello, also known as Wal-Mart, how they are, and I would almost guarantee they will say, “I’m so busy!” What are we busy doing? Are we being fruitful, or are we just grinding on the daily hamster wheel of life?
I used to value busy. I used to think that the more things I could pack into my answer somehow made me more awesome, more productive, or more spiritual. I found that all it really made me was grumpy and exhausted. I would come home at the end of the day wondering where my day went and why little to no progress was being made.
God values our quality of life! John 10:10 in the Amplified versions says, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”
This tells us the enemy is seeking to destroy our quality of life. He comes to steal away precious moments which God gives us to steward. He comes to steal family dinner time, precious time praying and interceding for others, time spent seeking God and reading His Word, and seeks to exhaust us to the point where we are ready to give up. When speaking about Satan, the Prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 14:12, “How have you fallen from heaven, O light-bringer and daystar, son of the morning! How you have been cut down to the ground, you who weakened and laid low the nations [O blasphemous, satanic king of Babylon!]” He wants to weaken us and take our joy. No one who is exhausted is full of joy. Why does he go after our joy? Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” Without joy, the believer is rendered powerless.
However, the blame cannot be given entirely to Satan. Eve tried that trick in the garden by blaming Satan for eating the fruit, and God didn’t buy her “the devil made me do it” defense. I have found that sometimes I can do a better job than Satan of putting on myself much more than I can bear. Then, I begin the blame game of trying to ask God why He gave me so much to handle, or trying to tell myself that the old Devil is just stealing my time. In reality, when I am overwhelmed to the point of being ready to quit, it’s normally me stepping outside of God’s intention and design for my life.
God is calling us to come away with Him. He’s calling us to a more intimate relationship with Him. That type of intimacy can only happen when we can devote time to Him – to prayer and reading His Word. We will only be able to devote time to him when we begin to edit our life. Not every good thing we do is something that God intended for us to do. Maybe, the kids don’t need to have 5 extra curricular activities each. Maybe, we don’t need to volunteer for everything going. Maybe, we don’t need to say yes to every opportunity that presents itself that seems good. Maybe, we can learn to be content with doing less, having less, and being less. This line of thinking sounds so weird doesn’t it? As I read those words back, I can almost picture the look on your face. When we are willing to let go of a life lived pursuing the “Joneses,” then we can make room and time for a life lived pursuing the Master.
I’m reminded of Luke 10 beginning in verse 38: “Now while they were on their way, it occurred that Jesus entered a certain village, and a woman named Martha received and welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His teaching. But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving; and she came up to Him and said, Lord, is it nothing to You that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me [to lend a hand and do her part along with me]!
But the Lord replied to her by saying, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; There is need of only one or but a few things. Mary has chosen the good portion [that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her.”
Here Martha is just trying to be a good hostess. She wants to make sure everything is perfect for Jesus’ visit. She is trying to get the meal ready, make sure the house is clean, and try to make sure everyone has everything that they need. Sound familiar? She sees Mary just sitting at Jesus’ feet, and finally, she can’t take it anymore! She walks up to Jesus and says, “Do something about this! She knows I’m working myself to the bone here! Make her get up and help me!”
Jesus tries to make her see that it’s better to not be caught up in the hamster wheel of life. He tries to invite her to drop all of it and come sit at His feet. Jesus offers us the same invitation today. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. [Jer. 6:16.] For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” Matthew 11:28-30 Amplified Version
Get Your Buts Out of the Way
Our buts get us in so much trouble. I know there have been many times in my life that I felt like God would have me do something, and I would say, “But God…” God isn’t looking for our excuses; He’s looking for our excellence. My dad, Larry Doggett, used to tell me all the time growing up not to “slop-bop.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us that if we are going to do something, “do it with all of our might.” You know there were many people in the Bible that had the opportunity to make excuses; however, through faith, they rose to the occasion to which God was calling them, and the good Gospel news is we can too! Be encouraged, by looking at these people of the Bible, that we don’t have to live a life full of what if’s and excuses.
Joseph had a dream. He was hated for his dream. He was sold into slavery by his brothers and sent to prison wrongfully. If you study out the life of Joseph in Genesis, you will find that he was excellent in all things wherever he went. In Genesis 39, it talks twice of people who could see his excellence in all things and how he walked with God. Even in prison, they gave him the charge over all the prisoners. He was found excellent and trustworthy in every situation. Eventually, he was brought out of the prison and placed in the palace as second in command in Egypt. He ended up saving the people of Israel, his family – even those that betrayed him, and Egypt from famine.
In Exodus chapters 3 and 4, we see God appearing to Moses in a burning bush. To be honest, I’m not sure what I would do if I heard the voice of God coming from a bush. God wanted to use Moses to deliver the people of Israel from slavery imposed by his adopted family. Moses thought no one would believe him, so God took away his excuses that he gave one by one by giving him signs to prove that he was telling the truth. However, Moses still didn’t feel like he could do what God has asked of him. Moses then told God that he wasn’t good at public speaking. God then told him that He would send Moses’ brother Aaron to help. What if Moses had let his excuses get the best of him? What would have happened to the people of Israel?
Paul went from persecuting Christians to persuading people to be Christians. He was shipwrecked, snake bit, stoned, talked about, and hated. Yet, nothing moved him. He did complain about a thorn in the flesh a couple of times. God’s answer for him is found in 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “But He said to me, My grace (my favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed_ and show themselves most effective in (your) weakness. Therefore I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!”
There are also people who didn’t get their “buts” out of the way in the Bible. I’m reminded of the children of Israel in Numbers 13 when God told them to go and take the promised land. They told themselves that it was everything God had said it would be, but they couldn’t do it because they looked like weak grasshoppers compared to the people in the land where they were going. They ended up wandering in the wilderness for forty more years because of the excuse they told themselves. I also think about the rich young ruler that came to Jesus. He had the opportunity to be one of Jesus’ disciples. However, in Matthew 19, it says that he went away sorrowfully because he had great possessions. Now, God isn’t against us having things, but He is against things having us. Jesus knew this man’s heart. He knew the man was putting his possessions before anything else. When we put anything before God, we make that an idol in our life, and God has clearly said in Exodus, “You will have no other gods before Me.”
Getting our “buts” out of the way and moving to a life of no excuses just excellence will require three things from us. It will require God’s presence. God has designed us for a close relationship with him. In the garden of Eden, He came down every day to talk with man. God isn’t looking for us to spend time with him out of obligation. He is longing for us to have a close relationship with Him. Like a loving father, He is interested in our everyday, grocery shopping, work going, car line sitting lives. Living a life of no excuses will also require the power of God working in our lives. Acts 1:8 tells us, “But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.” God doesn’t just ask us to line up our lives with His commands and leave us hanging. He also equips us with the power to change and manage those changes. God is also calling us to live a passionate life. Romans 12:11 tells us, “Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.”