Why should I be afraid?

Psalm 27

DSC_4924The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.

The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.

Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.

Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.

Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

It’s good to recognize a job well done

I don’t like it when people make a fuss over me. Quiet acknowledgements are nice. Low-key congratulations are great. All the same, any sort of recognition is nice, even if it requires a whole room of people to turn around and stare at me.

It’s nice to know that people recognize an accomplishment or an achievement on your part, regardless of if they make a big deal of it or just whisper quiet congratulations with a handshake as you pass. And, you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that.

Personally, I don’t work for accolades or recognition. I don’t need acknowledgements or shoutouts. But when someone takes the time to acknowledge a job well done? That means a lot to me.

Part of the job I was working at the beginning of this week was the audio/visual coordination for my old company’s national sales meeting, and that included a large awards dinner on Tuesday night. It’s a pretty big deal. Swanky. And it’s neat, becuase a lot of the sales guys from the organization are recognized for their accomplishments. They aren’t driven by accolades, but it’s nice to be acknowledged.

viega_nsm2015Today’s verse is Proverbs 3:27.

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.

It’s common sense, isn’t it? If you know someone has done a good job, don’t hesitate to acknowledge them. Sometimes we don’t. It can be because we’re shy or scared or because we think that we don’t have a place congratulating someone. Maybe we think they don’t know us. Maybe we think they don’t care what we think.

But I can tell you from personal experience, regardless of how well I know someone, I always appreciate it when they take the time to mention their thoughts or feelings on something I’ve done. Granted, it’s nice if it’s positive feedback, but constructive criticism is good too.

If someone in your life has done a good job, tell them. If you see someone working hard, recognize their efforts. It’s good to acknowledge a job well done, and you never know how you might encourage someone else.

Knowing stuff matters, but not being a jerk matters more

I’m helping out at the National Sales Meeting for my old company this week, managing PowerPoint presentations and training the person who will be filling my shoes next year. And it’s amazing to me where God shows up. He makes Himself obvious to me in places where I don’t expect.

One of the general session presentations yesterday afternoon really struck a chord with me, on a level much deeper than numbers and statistics and sales figures. It was a presentation on the difference between aptitutde and attitude.

You see, aptitudes are gifts or talents you are born with. Attitudes are up to you to chose for yourself. Aptitudes can be taught, and attitudes can’t. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about your job, your family, your group of friends, your ministry, or whatever, your attitude matters more than your skillset.

bad-attitude_650Today’s verse is Daniel 1:8.

But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.

When the Babylonians invaded Israel, they selected lots of young people who were intelligent and trainable to learn Babylonian ways. Among those young people was Daniel, and Daniel realized he couldn’t change his situation. But when he realized the people ate foods dedicated to idols, foods that were against the law for Jewish people to eat, he asked permission to eat something else.

He could have gone about it another way. He could have just refused to eat the food he was given. After all, he was basically a prisoner. He’d been taken from his home and family. He had every right to be angry and upset. But instead he asked for permission.

See, Daniel was bright and smart, gifted, talented. He’d been selected because of his intelligence. He’d been chosen because of his aptitudes. But Daniel succeeded in Babylon because of his attitude.

You can be the most skilled employee in your workplace, but if you have a bad attitude, you won’t do very well. Maybe you’ll make it for a little while, but eventually you’ll lose your footing because it’s your attitude that matters.

Aptitude can be taught. You can always teach someone a new skill. But you can’t teach attitude. Attitude is something that you have to choose for yourself. The example used in this presentation yesterday was an alcoholic. You can tell someone he or she is an alcoholic over and over again, and they won’t believe you until they understand and realize it for themselves.

Knowing stuff is important, yeah. But not being a jerk is more important.

God has given you special skills and talents, and you should never take them for granted. But never forget that a skilled person that’s impossible to work with won’t ever accomplish much. God blesses you wiht talents, yes, but He blesses a good attitude abundantly.

Learning to trust God’s complete provision

I double booked myself. Again. I hadn’t done that in a long time. I told someone I could give them a ride at a certain time, but I forgot I had already arranged to help somebody out on the same day.

What do you do when you need to be in two places at once? How do you decide what is more important? They’re both important.

The way it works for me? When I end up double booked (which has happened more frequently than I care to admit), I pray about it. Maybe that sounds cliched, but when I am lost, that’s the best solution I’ve found to help me get sorted out again. And usually, God tells me what I need to do. He makes it clear to me what I’m supposed to choose.

But what do you do about the person you’ve left hanging? How do you handle that situation? Well, funny story, I offered to help find a replacement for me, and I got the surprise of my life. I discovered that God had already prepared a more qualified person in my place. I just had to ask.

God had already known what I was going to need. I just had to sit back and trust that He would provide.

givingToday’s verse is Philippians 4:19.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

This is Paul talking, and Paul had more reason than anyone to complain about his lot in life. Seriously, I think he spent more time in prison than outside of it. But he never lacked anything he needed.

This is what I need to wrap my head around.

God will always provide what I need. God will always make a way for me. He will always get me everything I need–all of it. Not just some of it. Not half of it. All of it. That’s a promise.

Now, that doesn’t mean He’ll always give us what we want. No, what we want and what we need are rarely the same. But in my experience, I’ve found that most of the time, God still gives us what we want too.

It’s hard to trust Him. It’s a lot easier to just jump in and do what you think is right, regardless of whether it is or not. It may start out easier, but it’s harder in the long run.

But if you can let go, if you can truly trust God with everything, you’ll understand that His provision is complete. He knows what we need, and He provides for us, like a father provides for his children.

He knows what we need better than we do anyway. You know that right? He knows what’s good for us. But we have to take that step where we surrender our entire being to Him. And beyond that, we have to be willing to surrender our future, our comfort, and our preconceived notions to Him.

It’s not easy, but it’s better. And He won’t let us go without.

If you are following God and feel like you’re going without, think twice about that thing you don’t have that you want so desperately. Could it be that it isn’t as good for you as you think?

God already knows what you need, and He wants to give it to you. So just sit back, wait, be patient. It’s much better to be given something than it is to just take it.

Why don’t we ask God for advice before we screw up?

Do you remember a time when you did something without asking for God’s direction first? I’ve done it. And, just being honest, sometimes it works out just fine.

There have been times in my life where I just acted or reacted, and when the dust settled, I remembered that I hadn’t asked God what I should do first. I just did it. And God has always been gracious with me and has always gone before me in every situation I’ve encountered. But it’s a bad habit to get into, running ahead of God.

The irony is that if we’d just ask Him, if we’d just talk to Him, He would answer.

raise_your_handToday’s verses are Joshua 7:7, 10-12.

Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side!

But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings.

You can’t really get the whole story from these few verses, because it’s a long one. You can find the whole ugly deal in Joshua 7. Basically, a dude named Achan disobeyed God and stole some things that he shouldn’t have. Yeah, stealing from God is a big deal, and lying about it is worse.

But that’s not the only point of this story. See, the Israelites were going from city to city, conquering who God told them to conquer. And Joshua had just taken the reins from Moses. He hadn’t been a leader very long. So he was still learning.

And after the city of Jericho fell, the one success no one thought they could achieve, I’m sure they were all hyped up and ready to move on to the next city. So they did. Joshua sent people to scout it out, they said it would be no problem, he sent his army, and they failed. Miserably.

Then, and only then, did Joshua go before the Lord and ask what he should do. But why hadn’t he thought to ask God first?

This isn’t the only time in Scripture where people screw up big time because they didn’t stop and take time to ask God’s advice first. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, there are many, many examples of people who just forged ahead and did whatever they thought was right, only to discover that they weren’t on the same page with God. They thought they were, but if they would have asked, they would have realized they were walking a separate path. And it wasn’t the path God wanted them on.

It’s surprisingly difficult to ask God, though. It’s so much easier just to do it. You know, better to beg forgiveness than ask permission? But that’s a foolish way to live your life, especially when all the answers you need are right at your fingertips.

I know, for me, I can be completely lost and frustrated, and all I have to do is sit down and start talking to God. It doesn’t even have to be about anything in particular. Just talking to Him. Just thanking Him for being there for me. And all of a sudden, I’ll think of a solution I hadn’t thought of before.

That’s not an accident.

Neither is that truth you discovered in your Scripture reading that you’d never seen before.

When you ask God to answer your questions, He always does. Sometimes it’s in your own spirit. Sometimes it’s revealed through Scripture. Other times it’s revealed through circumstances or through the actions of people around you. God has ways of communicating to us that are undeniable, so we have no excuse to not ask His advice.

He’s the God of the universe. He created you and me and everything, and He keeps everything running. We’re crazy if we don’t ask Him for the answers we need. Maybe He won’t give us the answers we want, but since when has getting everything we want when we want it ever been good for us?