So I was reading my devotional this morning and the verse was 1 Samuel 17:45. David is facing Goliath with a sling and five stones while Israel’s army remains away from the battle front in fear. As I was reading the account I came re-read the full account to capture the context.
We have been going through a trial and what I believe is a spiritual attach in a certain area of our life. I believe it is a spiritual attack because I believe God is at work in this place. Everyone has had I believe good intentions, but I struggle internally to discern whether God’s will was sought or if fleshly desires directed paths.
In 1 Samuel 17:38-39 we read
Then Saul clothed David with his military attire and put a bronze helmet on his head, and outfitted him with armor. And David strapped on his sword over his military attire and struggled at walking, for he had not trained with the armor. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, because I have not trained with them.” And David took them off.‘
The word Trained here means to test, and prove. We see this same word is Psalm 26:2
Examine me, LORD, and put me to the test; Refine my mind and my heart.
Saul had good intentions of equipping David for a battle he saw through his eyes and through his perspective, Saul thought he knew what David would need to fight the battle, but David knew the battle was not his but the Lord’s battle. David was walking on the battle field outfitted with a lot more than the what He could carry his hands, he was walking on the battlefield with the Power and Might of the Lord God Almighty, the one who spoke creation into being, with power to cause dry bones to come alive, to calm the wind and the waves.
We may have good intentions in our heart, but God is the one who truly knows what we need, He is the one with the big picture and is all knowing, the one with divine wisdom.
Paul writes to the Philippians, And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
Let God go before you today, He knows the struggles you face, He will send angels to strengthen you, only He can direct your paths for success. Not to say that we shouldn’t encourage or help or listen those around us in need or those with struggles, I do have people in my life who are Godly and speak Godly wisdom into me, but we need to make sure we are seeking God’s will and wisdom in these situations. We are called to help carry each other’s burdens, but we need to seek Him in all circumstances.
In the 6th grade boys life group that I lead, we have been studying the disciples, who they are and how the were called to be a follower of Jesus. This past week we studied the conversion of Saul (Paul) and his Damascus road experience. I was reading his Acts 9 over and over last night along with his retelling of the account in Acts 22 and 26. There are some fascinating parallels to, what I believe to be, every true followers experience of being saved.
First of all, I believe every follower’s experience is a very personal experience. Paul could hear Jesus voice and what he was saying whereas the men with him only hear a sound. Acts 9:7 says “The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.” Acts 22:9 which is Paul re-telling the account says “And those who were with me saw the light, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me.” Only Paul could understand Jesus and what He was saying. God is a very personal God and He calls us to bear our own cross and follow our own path. He knows each of intimately and before we were born. He wants to hear from each of us and what each of us has on our hearts.
Second, we are helpless without Jesus. Paul was made blind and had to be helped to where he was going. Acts 9:8 says “Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.” Because of our own sin and decisions we make, we can’t save ourselves, its only through the work of Jesus can we have fellowship with God. Jesus creates the bridge that crosses the chasm between us and God. We can’t be good enough, serve enough or love others enough to get us into heaven, only the Love of Jesus and us accepting that love can we be made righteous in God’s eyes. We also have to be humble enough to be willing to be led.
We gain vision and different perspective when we accept Jesus. It was only after the Holy Spirit entered Saul was he able to see again. Acts 9:17-18 says “So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like fish scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;” Saul literally had something covering his eyes, we walk in darkness when we are without Jesus, the Holy Spirit is our guide and navigator, a gift from God as a result of us coming to Jesus through faith.
When we follow Jesus, we won’t always know where He is taking us. Acts 9:6 says “but get up and enter the city, and it will be told to you what you must do.” Saul had to go somewhere first then be told what he was supposed to do. Abraham also had to move his family for God, but God didn’t tell him where he was going. We are called to live by faith and not by sight and only with a humble heart can we truly follow God’s leading, resting in the assurance that He is in control.
We become God’s instruments when we accept Jesus’s calling. Acts 9:15 “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;” We all have a role to play and purpose in God’s Kingdom, He wants us to follow while being all in, not luke ward but on fire for Him.
We all persecute Jesus before we accept Him as Lord and savior. Acts 9:5 says “And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,” We are either on Jesus’s side or against Him, there’s no gray area or in between, we have to accept Him with all our heart, we can’t decide what part of His calling works for us and what doesn’t, being a Follower of Jesus is not always convenient.
A followers of Jesus we all suffer to some extent. Acts 9:16 “for I will show him how much he must suffer in behalf of My name.” Around the world its not hard to see where Christians are suffering in bad ways for the name of Jesus, even here in the US we are seeing more subtle persecution against us as followers. Eleven of the disciples died horrible deaths because of their faith. But God promises to be with us if we stand firm on His name.
If we want peace and joy in this life we have to know and follow God’s will. Acts 26:14 says “And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’”. A goad is like a cattle prod, its used to move cattle, if the cattle don’t go where the cattle driver wants them to go he prods them. If we go along with God’s will and purpose for us, we won’t get prodded, which is more joyful and peace.
We are to take the Gospel to those who need to hear it. Acts 26:16-18 says “But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you as a servant and a witness not only to the things in which you have seen Me, but also to the things in which I will appear to you, rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’” Those without Jesus are walking in darkness, its up to us who walk in the light to share the light. Before Jesus’s ascension he commissioned the disciples to make more disciples. Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
I hope you know Jesus, its the best and most important decision you’ll make in your life. Life is not always easy as a follower of Jesus, in fact life most likely will become tougher because once you make that decision you become an enemy to Satan, but you have the best defense in the Holy Spirit and can live with a peace that is beyond our understanding and comprehension, but its awesome! Stand firm and walk in Truth and Light.
In my quiet time last week I was reading Philippians 2 and thought about how the world looks at and emphasizes the importance of leadership. But how often we forget as Billy Graham writes “if we are employers or supervisors, we are to do “what is right and fair” to those who work under us. After all, he [Paul] reminds us, we, too, have a Master, and someday we’ll give an account of our lives to Him – including how we treated others.”
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4.
But Paul goes on to say, that we should have this attitude, which is the attitude that Jesus had.
I think as followers of Jesus we can agree He is the greatest leader to walk the earth and the gold standard by which we should pattern our leadership abilities after. During His three years of ministry He always had people following Him. A good leader knows how to get people to want to follow them.
We see Jesus’s followers leave Him is when He is arrested, but He didn’t give up on the mission He was sent to do, another sign of a good leader. Jesus will stick with us through the hard times and adversity we face.
We also read about how some of the disciples thought following Jesus was too tough. But as Peter responded “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” John 6:68.
Jesus is the only way to eternal life, He is the only way to true fulfillment and in order to achieve this we need the attitude of Jesus, look to others first. Looking to the interests of others and putting others first may not always get the big reward or raise or job promotion, but there is a bigger prize awaiting those who exemplify the servant leadership which Jesus modeled for us. We need leaders with fortitude, willing to go through the grind of the tough times and be a reflection of the One who saves.
Let others see Jesus in you so you can let Him proudly tell you “well done good and faithful servant.”
We had an issue arise in out family this past week due to the actions of one of our children. It was an act that truly hurt me and broke my heart. It was a decision they made that can lead to a path that can be a life changer if not dealt with early on and swiftly. What hurt and broke my heart was that they had stepped into a realm that I had prayed and wished they never would because I know once you do somethinga it can’t be undone. It was something I, as thw shepherd of my family, have worked hard to protect them from. In a way I feel like I have somewhat failed in my role as a father, protector and shepherd.
As I was reflecting on this afterwards the next day l, I also realized I got a glimpse of what it’s like to sin against the Father and how He must feel. The significance of my sins grew.
Ephesians 4:30 says Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption
Barnes notes says, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God – This is addressed to Christians, and it proves that it is possible for them to grieve the Holy Spirit. The word used here – λυπεῖτε lupeite – means properly to afflict with sorrow; to make sad or sorrowful….Do not act toward the Holy Spirit in a manner which would produce pain in the bosom of a friend who loves you.
Our Holy and Loving Father loves us incredibly. I love my kids so much, I am so proud to be their earthly father, to have them as my kids and I want so much good for them and it blows my mind to think God loves me so much more, so much to sacrifice His precious gift of Jesus, to let Him die a horrible death in my place.
Yes it was painfull to walk through what we did, but sometimes we have to walk through the valley to get to the mountaintop. We have to walk through the darkness to get to the light sometimes. I told my child I was disappointed, but I told them I still loved them, I was proud of them for who they were and I would walk with them through this thing. Jesus promises the same thing, yes there are consequences to our actions, sometimes painful, but Jesus will walk with us through the dark times, He is the light we need when walk in darkness.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I fear no evil, for You are with me;Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4-5
With today’s times and culture, our country and world is profoundly divided. Its easy to choose a side and get comfortable on whatever side you choose. I listened to a sermon by Matt Chandler for the second time this morning and it hits the nail on the head probably better than anything else I have listened to lately.
He talks about no matter what side of whatever issue you want or choose to be on, you will find you are right and you will find people who will affirm you and support you, and we can easily say that God is with us.
But the point he makes is that there is a third side, God’s side. Its easy for us to position ourselves and pull God to our side. But are we will to look and pray to God to see where He sits on the issues at hand and get on His side. Matt goes in Joshua 5:13-15 where Joshua is about to lead Israel and march around Jericho for 7 days and he is confronted by the captain of the Lord’s army.
Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, he raised his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” He said, “No; rather I have come now as captain of the army of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” And the captain of the LORD’S army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Joshua 5:13-15
I have been talking recently with the men in my men’s small group about how the church has let culture infuse its beliefs and way into the church instead of the church infusing its beliefs and Truths into our culture, which causes followers of Jesus to be on the defensive. We as followers of Jesus need to be on the offensive, speaking God’s Truth into the world.
The twisting of God’s words by Satan is what lead to the fall of Adam and Eve. Satan questioned and put doubt into the mind of Adam and Eve. We need to re-look at God’s Word, the whole Word, and hold fast to His Truth and not just the parts that are easy, but the parts that make us uncomfortable with ourselves as well. We love to quote Scripture, especially the parts that are comfortable or highlights sin in others lives, but its easy to leave off the parts which reveal the sin in our life. As Matt says, its easy to be a subject matter expert in the sin in someone else’s life, but we don’t want to go near the sin in our life. As I continue to study God’s Word more and more, I find that there is generally a command before or that goes with the promises of God. Its easy to claim the promises, but we don’t want to claim the command.
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Yes, God does have plans for us, He is for us, He does want us to prosper. But we forget this verse was spoken just before Israel went into bondage for 70 years, we don’t want to talk about that part, because its uncomfortable.
If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send a plague among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
See, God won’t heal our land until we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways. Why would He heal our land while we live in our sin and selfishness? He can’t be in the presence of sin! When Jesus took the sin of the world in His back, God turned His face from Jesus. If God turned His face from Jesus, we would be foolish to think He wouldn’t do the same to us.
We need to self reflect at times in humility and mourning over our sin and go to where God is and not continue to try and pull Him along the way we are going.
I do believe God is still at work in our world today, I do believe there is still hope for change in our world today. But we as followers of Jesus, not just believers of Jesus, need to re-center ourselves on who God is and who we are as followers of Him. Its easy to be a believer in Jesus, but I believe to be a follower takes things to another level. We need to be in prayer each and every day for strength for each day, thanking Him for the grace and mercy He pours over us and pray for the wisdom to navigate each day showing grace and mercy to the those around us, standing in His Truth and not the truth spoken to us by the world.
Be a light to the world today, let others see Jesus in you today.
I am an early riser. During the week I get up early in the morning before everyone else and I spend time reading my Bible and praying. I then head to the gym and work out.
I was reading this morning in Romans 12
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
To most of us these are pretty familiar verses, specifically the first part of verse 2, about being transformed and renewing our minds. But the second part of the verse is what stuck out to me this morning. Why do we need to be transformed and renew our minds? So we may prove, or discern or as the Greek says, test, what the good and pleasing and perfect will of God is. We are bombarded with information these days and what I believe these verses are saying is we need to renew or change our perspective to see things from a Biblical standpoint or try and see things from God’s perspective as best we can and test the information that come our way. We can’t understand or see God’s will if we are looks at things through the lenses of the world, we need to look through the lenses of God’s Word and Truth to understand what His will is.
Think about it, why would someone give up His most precious gift for someone else, the world and out culture speaks just the opposite, logically, it makes no sense. But God loves us so much He gave His one and only Son to pay for our since so we could be in His presence and have fellowship with Him.
Now for the the body part, I am a proponent of exercising, I am no fitness nut by any means, but as I get older, my body, and mind, tends to function better with exercise and physical exertion. While I understand some people have physical limitations for whatever reason, time can also be a constraint, some exercise is good for you, even just walking. God created our bodies and since we are stewards of everything God gives us, we need to try our best within our abilities to take care of ourselves. Our bodies are the temples which the Holy Spirit dwells within once we become followers of Jesus. So we should do our best to take care of His temple living sacrificially and for His service for His glory. There are days I don’t want to get up and would rather get another hour or so of sleep, but I find if I start my day exercising, I actually have a little more energy for the day.
So I look at the start of my day as my spiritual workout followed by my physical workout. We read often that Jesus rose early in the morning to pray, I believe He did that to commune with the Father to figure out the plan ahead, to make sure He was on the right track following the Will of the Father.
I pray this encourages you to start the day in God’s Word, praying and talking with your Heavenly Father seeking Him and His will for you for the day. Wrestle over God’s Word, It and He will bless you for it, Jacob did and God blessed him for it.
With the start of the new year, I have seen some headlines for articles talking about the new laws going into effect. I was speaking to my wife about how it seems like with more new laws more of our freedoms seem to be going away. I made the comment that if people would drive with reasonable mind and care, we wouldn’t need speed limit signs or if people drove with common courtesy we wouldn’t need stop signs. Unfortunately new laws get put in place when people do bad or stupid things.
I have been studying the creation story a lot lately, reading it over and over. Before the fall, Adam and Eve had complete freedom in the Garden, they had just one rule, don’t eat from the one tree. Adam failed in his leadership of Eve and Eve failed in upholding her fear or reverence for God. Enter sin into the world.
God furthered His laws for us with the ten commandments and Israel eventually ended up with six hundred and ninety something laws. The idea being, if you stay within the laws then you are righteous before God. Further, if you broke any of the laws, God put in place a sacrificial system to get people back on track with Him.
Well, God in His infinite wisdom knew it was impossible to keep this system up and that we couldn’t possibly obey all of the laws.
So out of His love for Us God sent Jesus to settle our accounts once and for all. Jesus came to be the one final sacrifice for those who believe in Him through faith.
“Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrew 9:11-14
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:4
Through faith and only through faith in Jesus are we saved. We can’t be good enough, do enough things right or be nice enough. If that was the case we could boast on our own efforts, but the good news is through Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection, we can boast in Him.
For consider your calling, brothers and sisters, that there were not any wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the insignificant things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no human may boast before God. But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written: “LET THE ONE WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” 1 Corinthians 2:26-31
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:21-26
Jesus stood in the gap for us, He took the punishment we deserve, once and for all. Through Jesus and only Jesus can we have true freedom for this life and in eternity.
But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and after being freed from sin, you became slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:17-18
I pray you have a faith that will stand up to the tests and trials of this life, faith in the One who directs your steps and creates and determines your circumstances, that you would be able to see through the fog and clouds and see Jesus on the other side.
So I heard two messages on waiting this week, while pondering if and what God would be working on in my life. One was by Louie Giglio and the other by Craig Groeschel.
I then listened to another message about finding joy.
In his message, Matt Chandler mentions how Simeon, who had been told he would see the Christ in his lifetime.
And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Luke 2:25-26
All of us are waiting on something in our life. Imagine being in Simeon’s place, having the Holy Sprit reveal to you that you would see Jesus before you died. If we are true followers of Jesus, we are waiting on Jesus, except we, today, are waiting on His second coming.
Two things spoke to me in these messages, one, don’t waste the waiting. Time is never given back to us so we have to make the most of it. We are stewards of the time we have. We must keep our eyes open to where God is at work.
The other thing that spoke to me was, maybe what we are waiting for is not ready yet or maybe we aren’t ready for what we are waiting for. The world was not ready for Jesus to come into the world until the time when He actually came, He came at the specific time ordained by God.
A few years ago now, I was laid off from my job, probably one of the best jobs, if not the best I have had. I could sort see it coming, but God prepared us financially for the time I would be without a job. God had also been laying the groundwork for the job I have now, which is also a great job, one of my favorites, and has been very good for my career. A few years ago I did a project for a client who’s client is now my boss. I was surprised he remembered me from the project, but dring my time off from work, I had been praying that God would somehow speak to the person who would hire me and tell them they needed to hire me.
The waiting times can be difficult, but its possible for them to be joyful as well, we just have to ask for the Spirit to bear the fruit of Joy in our lives in that time. I have to remind myself daily to be faithful, because God is more faithful and He is working in the waiting. I believe its good in these times to wrestle with what you are waiting for and wrestle over God’s words, lay your heart out before God, He wants to hear your hearts desires. Jacob wrestled with God and was blessed, God will bless you as well. All of God’s promises have come true, none have ever failed. If you are a follower of Jesus, He promises to be with you always, you are a temple of the Holy Spirit.
One thing I have been somewhat been wrestling with lately is is FOMO. I heard this term recently and had to look it up to see what it meant. Fear of Missing Out. I imagine we all suffer this to some degree at some point and maybe more at some times than other times.
There are things other people have and are doing and I think that would be cool to have that or do that. There are certain things I would like to do on my own and with my kids and family as well and to be honest, at times I can get a wild hair and it can be, not quite consuming, but it can take up a lot of my thought time and energy.
I heard a quote over the weekend that Ravi Zacherias said, “The loneliest moment in life is when you have just experienced that which you thought would deliver the ultimate, and it has just let you down.“
The bible tells us a few things about lovng the things of this world
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15
We read what Solomon wrote,
Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:9-11
Solomon had everything anyone could imagine wanting and desiring, wisdom, material possessions, status, fame… And look where he ended up.
I tell my kids every now and then that I want nothing more for them than to love Jesus with all their heart and to cling to Him at all times.
The tension is between the desires God gives us and the desire to find full fulfillment in Him and Him alone. I remember talking briefly with a friend about Psalm 37:4, Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart, and he mentioned that the desires of your heart is God.
So how do we find true, full fulfillment in Jesus. The Bible says to seek after God first and He will provide all we need. But what about the wants? How do we satisfy the desires to enjoy God’s creation and see the different parts and experience the different parts of God’s creation. I guess, when we look at God’s creation and some of the things of the world, we have to try and find God in those things and ask Him to reveal Himself in those things.