SOAP – Day 161

S: The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the lord. (Proverbs 16:33 NIV)

O: This was the last verse I read as part of my 1 year reading plan today and one that reverberated with me the most out of all of today’s scripture. The reason why is, as we near the celebration of Jesus’s birth (4 more days!) I was wondering last night, what if Jesus was born NOW, into the day and world we’re living in RIGHT NOW? As with any child born recently, I am sad that they’re growing up in a world full of anxiety, uncertainty, stress and evil-doing. I’m sure relationally, it may not be so different than 2,000+ years ago, but that’s when this verse gives me hope and comfort.

A: How does this verse give me comfort? I remind myself that God is in control and everything that is happening is because He is allowing it to! So when I fear what our governments are doing, how the economy is going and how growing up in this world is seeming worse and worse, I am comforted. Even on an individual basis, we have free will, but we also have God to help guide us and put people and events into our lives that will help us stay on course. This is why I also am not stressed about the state of our world, God determines the outcome, God is in control and I will not question why decisions are made, but look for God’s hand in these decisions.

P: Father God, thank You for all that You have given us, for Your word and the ability to gather in fellowship and learn more about You at any time. Thank You for these verses and the comfort that it brings us. Please help remind me that it’s not about the event or the decision being made, but about how You are in control and you will use everything for Your glory. I am glad that You are in control and not me or man. Thank You for determining how the pieces fall into place, we praise You for Your love and discernment. Amen.

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It’s never too late!

Just some disclosure, I’ve been out of church much longer than I’ve been in church. I always believed in God and Jesus as the son, but rarely prayed and never professed my love for Him and sure never thought of sharing the gospel like I do now. I always thought to myself, “I’ll do all that stuff when I’m old…really old…like, nearing death-bed old.” But some of us never get that chance or never will. The world is an unpredictable place, full of sin, unpredictability and temptation. I’m so glad I didn’t wait any longer before I took my first step into a relationship with Jesus and I pray that you won’t wait any longer if you haven’t yet or haven’t in a long time like me. Read more here to learn how to enter into that relationship (not religion) with Jesus. Now, onto the story!

Just a lesson here that effort pays off, even if you think the clock has stopped! Ex-Dallas Star turned New York Ranger (boo!) Brad Richards sunk a goal last week with just a tenth of a second left on the clock! Yes, it had to be reviewed, but watch the video below and you’ll see that it was GOOD!

It just goes to show, don’t give up when the clock is nearing “quitting time”, put in that effort, go for it and see what happens! “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;” (2Peter 1:5 NIV) Read more of 2Peter 1, it’s a good one (click the script)!

SOAP – Day 157

S: Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:23 NIV)

O: So many times I’ve kicked myself for not showing enough appreciation or even worse, appreciate at all for what someone has done for me. Even showing acknowledgement for what I am observing (e.g., “Hey, that was great parenting right there!” or “Wow, your kid is so talented!”).

A: Why do we hold back? Why is it so easy to be critical and speak our mind THEN? Why don’t we say what we’re thinking, especially when it would be positive and uplifting?

From a leadership perspective, consider the classic Bear Bryant quote, one John Baldoni opines in his Harvard Business Review article, “Humility As A Leadership Trait”: “If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you.”

P: Father God, thank You for Your blessings and wisdom that You have given me through Your word. Thank You for speaking to me through my prayer and meditation, please help me focus “speaking my mind” more on the positive than on the negative in this life. Please help me overflow with graciousness so that I may be a well of gratitude. Thank You for all that You have given us, please continue to pour Your blessings on Your followers. Amen.

SOAP – Day 156

S: “And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.” (2 Samuel 24:16 KJV)

O: In this passage, I find some great leadership lessons for leaders at all levels. David has recently become anointed as king and in a moment of weakness (pride, maybe?), he counts his people and is more of less standing back, looking at his people with a “look what I’ve done” attitude. There was no glory to God here and Joab knew it…then David knew it and had to choose God’s punishment. After the 3rd day of wrath, David finally stepped up and admitted wrong.

A: As you are a leader of people, it may not be an entire company or a division or even a group, but you are a leader of people whether you realize it or not. Understanding and admitting to God that none of this was you, that it was all Him is key to understanding that you are not in control of the next move (and this can be a very scary thing to some people). God wants you to put all of your trust, faith and love in Him. And unlike anyone else in this world that you may have tried to do this with, God won’t let you down!

P: Father God, thank you for these days that you give us and for all of the blessings you have poured out on me. Thank you for finding favor with me and blessing me with the strength, courage and wisdom to help lead when given the opportunity. I pray that I never take my eyes off of you and never try to fool myself that any of this is done on my own accord. Please come into my heart and overflow me with your love, grace and wisdom. Amen.

SOAP – Day 153

S: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:16 NIV)

O: Although I could write pages on this verse and topic, I know I’ll lose you the TLDR crowd, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. I had a pride problem for years and it almost destroyed me, my family and everything I held dear to me (i.e., my relationship with God). I didn’t know I had a pride problem, it was something my wife (because she loves and cares for me) pointed out. It took me a good year to recognize, accept and seek help, but I pray it won’t take you nearly as long and I pray that you have someone in your life that will lovingly let you know. And if you don’t think you have a pride problem, you’re likely in bigger trouble than you thought (and if you just scoffed at this statement, then case closed).

A: I use the term “had” above loosely, I still struggle with pride. From acting on it to acting on behalf of it, I still have to examine my thoughts, motives and actions and apply them to biblical principals and the ‘ol WWJD question. If you have too much pride, you will fall, it’s only a matter of time. Please seek biblical counsel and support through your pastor or your accountability partner as soon as you can. 

P: Father God, thank you for your wisdom and grace that you accept us as we are and who we’ve been. Imperfect and unworthy until the day we are with you, you love and welcome us just the same. Please speak your insight and wisdom into the lives of those struggling and suffering with pride. I pray that you reach them before they fall, before they descend deep but more importantly, before anyone gets hurt. Thank you, God, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Additional resources:

Press On in Joy…Humility (Hill Country Bible Church, Leander, TX)

The Enemy Within: Pride (Crosspoint Christian Church)

What About Me? (Hill Country Bible Church, Leander, TX)

Monsters Inside Me (First Church, Burlington, KY)

SOAP – Day 151

S: “Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.” (2 Samuel 16:23 NIV)

O: I’m going to admit to you that I read beyond what I was supposed to read today as part of the One Year Bible I’m doing through YouVersion, I hope you’ll forgive me 🙂  The verse I chose above didn’t stick out to me at first, but as I read a little into 2 Samuel 17, I noticed just how important it was and it started to tug more and more on my consciousness as I meditated on it. I can look at it as, “be careful how we seek counsel” very easily as I’ll often seek advice on smaller decisions and if the first person I ask has an answer that I agree with or that falls in line with what I was thinking, I often just go with it.

I can also look at it from a “be careful who we value advice from” angle just the same. I tend to have a handful of people who I pretty much think are the wisest people I know and that what they tell me must be true (my wife is on that list and no, I’m not sucking up, she doesn’t read this blog). I have to be careful with how I approach this advice so I’m not either holding it over Godly counsel but also not treating it as the ultimate truth.

A: This verse really made me think about the “who, how and when” aspects of seeking advice and acting on that advice. I need to be consistent with seeking God’s advice and thinking of God’s plan for me (especially when the advice seems to go against what I want).

P: Father, thank You for the counselors You have placed into my life, I pray that they are loyal servants to You and that You fill their hearts and minds with Your wisdom. I also pray that You help lead me to You when I need direction, to be my only compass as well as to not hold others higher than You. Please come into my heart today and fill it full of Your love, wisdom and guidance, Lord. I also pray for Your protection over my friend Peter Horn today and the doctors that will be working on him. Please come over this situation and allow calm hands, peace and quick recovery to flow into this procedure. Thank You for everything You do for us, in Jesus name, amen.

SOAP – Day 148

S: “8 Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice. 9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the lord establishes their steps.” (NIV) “8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right. 9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” (KJV) “8 Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. 9 We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” (NLT) “Far better to be right and poor than to be wrong and rich. 9 We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it. It Pays to Take Life Seriously.” (MSG)

O: Focusing more on verse 8 between the two passages and reading it from different translations, it really starts to hit home and make more and more sense to me. I find it less and less surprising that fame, glory and “achievements” are later found out to be gained through bribery, deceit and corruption. This used to really appall me, made me wonder how such a person can do such a thing but through biblical teaching and maturity, I’m reminded that we all fall short of the glory of God (and is that what I was doing, holding that person up to god-like standards?).

A: This verse jumped out to me more than anything this morning (and I’m in some exciting parts of 2 Samuel). I will look around at all of the blessings I have and that I have achieved by being obedient to God rather than looking at what I don’t have or what I could have if I was corrupt.

P: Father God, thank you for everything you have blessed me with. Please come into my heart and fill me with content and joy that You are all I need. I also pray that You have your way with others to help show them where true joy and happiness live and the rewards of righteousness. Amen.

The power of a new tool

Awesome video of Ryan Kesler picking up a brand new stick after breaking his and the first time it touches rubber, look what happens! I use a variety of tools to help me through my day and with my walk with Jesus (paper, phones, computers, etc.). If you feel stuck or that you’re not getting where you want, you might want to try a different format or formula, you never know what will come of it!

SOAP – Day 148

S: “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” – http://bible.us/John17.26.NIV

O: In my Bible, this passage (John 17:20-26) is under the heading, “Jesus Prays For All Believers” which is contained within a series of prayers Jesus is praying the day before He is to be arrested and crucified. Jesus spends time praying to God for his followers and His believers, for glory and unity to come to God out of what is about to happen. This is very heavy to me when I think about it as, Jesus prayed for ME right before HE knows what is about to happen. ME…..YOU…..US. WOW!

A: Jesus was selfless, thoughtful and never took His eyes off of God (knowing full well the rejection and persecution He would have to face). I pray that my thoughts and actions are surrounded by the same spirit that Jesus had, that I am not seeking personal glory or acceptance with this world. I want to have my eyes so fixed on God and that my words and actions show to others without a doubt what my motives are (glorification to God).

P: Father God, thank You for the wisdom and guidance that You have given us that help teach us the ways and actions you want us to follow.Father, I pray that you help correct me and keep me on this path, to keep my eyes fixed on you and that my thoughts, actions and words are for Your glorification. Amen.

SOAP – Day 147

S: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” http://bible.us/John16.33.NIV

O: So many times, Christians…believers in these very words and those of us of “unshakeable” faith fall into the snares of anxiety and fear. I think these feelings are natural to feel at first as long as we don’t forget the words above.

A: I know it’s easy for me to get bogged down with worry after worry after worry, especially  as a leader, a father and a husband (that usually means worry∞).

P: Father God, thank You for Your comforting words, for Your heartfelt and honest wisdom and for those counselors, protectors and friendships that You have placed in my life. Please continue to flood my heart with your knowledge and love so that I may be an example that one wants to seek “what I’m on” to help lead them to You. Amen.