The Highest

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” Jesus

When we are in Mammoth, our beloved vacation spot, my wife and I love to take our reclining chairs and a mug of hot coffee into an open area, put on some worship music and then simply watch the stars.

The entire time, we are reminded of how small we are and how BIG our God is. There is no authority or being higher or bigger than our God.

Nehemiah knew this truth. He repeatedly used the phrase the LORD God of heaven in his book. He was faced with a humongous task and was given an even bigger vision to accomplish that task.

Yet, he had to get the highest authority on earth at the time, the Persian King, to not only let him return to Jerusalem, but to also give him the necessary resources and authority to get it done when he got there.

So what did Nehemiah do? He went up the chain of command! He appealed to the King of kings – the LORD God of heaven.

When God puts a vision on your heart, it’s usually much bigger than you can do on your own. Why? He wants you to trust in His ability not yours to get it done. So, when that vision becomes reality, there is only One Person who can take the credit, Him.

Are you facing a humongous challenge in doing what God asked you to do (victory in your marriage, over your drugs of choice, etc.)? If you are, let me ask you one extremely important question: Are you staying plugged into the highest authority – the LORD God of heaven – or trying to get it done in your own power?

As you read Nehemiah’s story, you’ll find him constantly calling upon the King of kings for his strength and provision. The God we love and serve is above all – our doubts, our insecurities, even our opposition.

Remember and rely on this truth: Our God is The Highest. He is the LORD God of heaven and no one can stop Him from doing what He wants done with and for Him.

Present with Jesus

Momentary pleasure can lead to long-term pain. Momentary pain can lead to long-term gain.

The following got me thinking about how I live in relation to what we call today. Our answer has implications for all areas of our lives.

“We human beings have a natural inclination to fantasize and worry about the future and to replay the past in our heads, over and over.

“Our minds are like monkeys, vaulting from thought to thought like monkeys swinging from tree to tree. And what is the end result? We spend a significant portion of our lives engaged, not fully in the moment, but in thoughts of the past or future. We constantly sacrifice the now, the actual, living present, for fleeting thoughts of what was or what will be.”

Hmm. Will we miss today’s moments for yesterday’s hours or tomorrow’s months? This is our choice. When you are with your kids, spouse and/or friends, are you fully engaged in the moment or elsewhere? Are you open to the new ways of victory the Lord wants to show you or stuck in the old ways of failure?

Our past is over and forgiven, why live there? Yes, we plan for tomorrow, but it is still all in the Lord’s hands; so, why sacrifice today in the service of tomorrow?

Enjoy the moments of today with Jesus. You can’t get them back tomorrow. Follow Him as long as it is called now.

Faith Stretching Focus

“When we work, we work. When we talk to God, He works.” Hudson Taylor

I had had a great time in the Word the evening before we went kayak fishing on Tioga Lake, just outside Yosemite National Park.

I’ll paraphrase what the Spirit had Habakkuk write. When there is no hope for future employment, food on the shelves and your current reserves are next to nothing, what do you do? You rejoice in the Lord and take joy in the God of your salvation (Hab. 3:17-19). He is the one who provides your security, not your situation.

What does this have to do with fishing? If you knew me, you know how competitive I can be. I don’t mind others catching fish. In fact, I brag with my friends, “We don’t fish, we catch.”

And, I especially love the way my bonus son cooks fresh trout. It’s yummy delicious. I’m hoping everyone catches their limit as that means more yummy deliciousness to go around.

Well…keep in mind we were all using the same rigging and bait while fishing in the same spot. Yet, everyone caught their limit while I brought nothing home. Was I frustrated? What do you think!?

Yet, the Lord brought Habakkuk to mind. Was my competitive nature going to ruin my entire time? It was a gorgeous day of deep blue skies while an eagle soared above. What could be better? Fish on my stringer; oops, I mean nothing. LOL.

It’s a visual I use when I can’t get a grip on the future based on the present. My Father tells me, despite what I see, rather don’t see, to rejoice in Him, not in what I’m not seeing. He will take care of me today and tomorrow. Will I trust Him in the midst of uncertainty?

Faith requires God’s child to examine their focus. Is it on the Father and what He has done and can do or on themselves?

You become what you focus on and what you focus on only gets bigger. So, let your faith stretch your focus so you can enjoy today with your Father while He fixes what you can or cannot see.  


Reflection needs truth and honesty.

There are numerous days and weeks throughout the first half of the Bible where the worshiper was asked by God to spend time reflecting on where they were in case they needed to make a course correction.

One of the reasons we don’t want to spend time reflecting on where we are, though, is because we don’t want to be honest with ourselves. If we spend time reflecting on what God wants to say to us, it might require change.

Yet, if we don’t change course, we’ll keep doing what we are doing. And what should the obvious questions be, “Is what I’m doing right/truthful? Is what I’m doing/thinking pleasing to God?” Might this line of listening show that we are headed in the wrong direction? Ouch, right?

This is why there was another side to these days of reflection. They had sacrifices associated with them. Hmm, I guess we now know why. We might need them upon reflection of where we are.

Yes, Jesus paid the price for all our sin. Yes, there is nothing He won’t forgive. But hear me, Jesus would rather not have to spend time forgiving you when He could spend time enjoying your company!

Instant pleasure brings short-term gains, but long-term pain. Making the course correction now is much easier than it will be later.

Let your daily devotional, quiet time or whatever you call it, be a time of reflection. Hear His voice in the Word. Hear the Spirit evaluate where you are and need to go based on what you heard. And know this, your Father will be right in front smiling as you walk into His arms wherever this journey will take you.

Turn it Around

Victor or victim is your choice, not your circumstances.

The Bible is the only book that describes reality as it really is, not what we hope, think or want it to be. And, it tells of a real enemy who wants to destroy you. Just ask Daniel.

All he did was do his job with excellence, which created job envy by those who worked for him. These men then wanted him completely out of the picture so they got the boss’s ear and worked their way to getting Daniel a death sentence!

Life happens to us all; and, it’s not always fair either. Some of it is caused by our choices and some by the choices of others. Yet, we love a God who is a redeemer, who can turn sadness into joy…if you play the victor card rather than the victim card.

Victors learn and grow from these sad or hard times, which brings joy. Sadness for them is merely an opportunity to grow. Victims wallow in their bad fortune, focus on and let it consume them. Sadness only mutates in this environment.

James tells us to count it all joy when tough times come our way by taking control of our attitude through focusing on and following Jesus, which leads us to be more like Him – perfect (1:2-4).

But you say, “I can’t become perfect this side of heaven.” True. But you can become more like Jesus, the One you love and has everything you need.

Victims blame circumstances and others. Victors use those same circumstances to become more like Jesus.

Turn that joy robbing situation into a growth opportunity. The choice is yours – become more like Jesus or stay where you’re at, sad.