Category Archives: Bible

Your Faith

Isaiah 7

Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm. (7:9b, NLT)

What are your thoughts? God said this to King Ahaz when the kingdom of Judah was in serious trouble from Syria and Israel. Those two nations were primed and ready to attack the Jews in Judah, and they had the manpower to do some damage.

Ahaz was understandably nervous about the situation. Maybe nervous isn’t a strong enough word. Terrified might be more accurate. The king and the people “trembled with fear like trees shaking in a storm.” (vs2b)

God saw the fear, but He also had a plan that was much bigger than the fear the people were experiencing. So He sent Isaiah to Ahaz to encourage him.

Don’t worry, Ahaz. God’s got this. You don’t need to “fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers.” Sure, they are plotting an attack, but it will never happen.”

Now you’d think those words from God Himself would alleviate any uncertainty Ahaz was having. He had been looking at his enemies as formidable foes, but God saw them as has-been, ineffective weaklings. Ahaz had been looking at his enemies, thinking he needed to face them in his own power. God told him they had no power!

God said this about the threatening kings:

Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. (vs 8)

Israel is not stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. (vs 9)

But then he said the words I quoted at the beginning of this post. The King James version says it like this:

If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Ahaz had a choice. He could trust God to come through like He’d promised. Or he could face his enemy in his own strength, and take his chances. On the surface it seems like a no-brainer. But I’m not so sure it was.

In our present culture we celebrate self-reliance, don’t we? We admire people who have worked hard, who’ve overcome obstacles by sheer will, and who are self-made men. Yet I think that’s been true since the garden when Adam thought he didn’t need God, that he could make up his own set of rules and do just fine.

I read a post from a fellow-blogger, Darryl Dash (DashHouse.com), entitled “In Whom Do You Trust?). He said something that has me thinking:

“Whatever we trust in place of God will eventually turn on us and destroy us.”

Money? Popularity? Relationships? Power? Self? What is it you trust for your happiness and well-being? What is it you trust for your eternity?

Pastor Dash says, “Self-reliance is deadly.” I think Adam would agree.

If you read on in this chapter of Isaiah you’ll hear God say, instead of looking toward armies to protect you, look toward a child. A virgin will be with child…

There’s the crux of the matter. If you are trusting anyone or anything other than Jesus, you’re putting your faith in burnt embers and has-been kings. If you are trusting anyone or anything other than Jesus, God cannot and will not make you strong.

But, my friend. If you let go of self and shut out all the other voices out there, if you put your faith in God alone, there is no battle you need to face alone. There is no enemy too strong for God to defeat. There need be no fear, because God’s got this.

I hope you’ll take a serious look at your faith today. You might say you have faith in God. In fact, I hope you do. But do you really have faith in God? Or do you have faith in God, plus something else. You know, just in case God doesn’t come through.

Can you have equal parts of faith in God and in yourself? What could be wrong with that?

Simply put, that’s not faith in God.

And unless your faith is firm, God cannot make you stand firm.

Perspective

2 Kings 3

It was just water.

The Jews were heading toward battle and had run out of water for themselves and their horses. Of course, their first reaction was to blame God for “calling” them to war just to kill them.

God delivered them anyway. And without any rain, God filled the valley with water enough to satisfy their need.

Here’s what struck me this morning. The Moabites were positioned on the other side of the valley. When the rising sun reflected off the water, it looked red and the enemy thought – blood!! “Those stupid Jews just killed each other. Let’s go collect the plunder!”

But the Jewish armies weren’t dead. They were armed and ready for battle and soundly defeated the unsuspecting Moabites who’d mistakenly thought they had won.

Christians and non-Christians are on opposite sides of the valley. We look at the events of life, the state of our nation, our health, our struggles, and the world from different perspectives. Non-Christians can see something as a victory, not realizing it will end in defeat. Non-Christians can fight the battle by their own logic and strength, but they will end up looking foolish when they do not win.

We Christians know that a battle is not the war. Things might be hard, we might lose a battle with evil here and there. But the war is already won. Jesus wins. And as His followers, we are on the winning side.

So, on which side of the valley do you stand? What is your perspective on the events of life? I pray your feet are firmly planted on the side of God, according to His Word the Bible, and through the blood of Jesus. Because, my friend, that is the only winning side. I don’t care if you’re seeing something else from a different perspective.

Follow My Example?

I Chronicles 29

King David gave generously from his own treasures toward the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. Then he went to the people and challenged them to follow his example.

That spoke to me today. God has give me so much, blessed me way beyond what I deserve. Not financially, necessarily. Although I have enough to be comfortable. But I certainly don’t have the equivalent of tons of gold and silver to throw around.

Yet God is reminding me how truly rich I am.

I have my health, a working brain. I have hands and feet and a voice. I have Jesus! I have the forgiveness of my sin, and the gifts of having the Spirit of God in me: love, joy, peace…

I have God’s own words at my fingertips!

The questions then, are these: Am I using these things generously toward the building of God’s Church? Am I investing in people, introducing unsaved people to their Savior?

And, would I ever in a million years suggest you follow my example?

I’m wondering if I’d want you to put in the same amount of time I put into serving God; if I’d want you to use your talents in the same way I use mine for the glory of God. I wonder if I exercise my faith in a way I’d want you to exercise yours, or am I serving half-heartedly, giving only what I think I can afford, hoping you’ll not notice?

David said, “follow my example.” Can I say that to you?

If not, why not?

David’s prayer in verses 10-19 reminds me that everything I have belongs to God. It all came from God in the first place. I own nothing. I am nothing. But I am a steward of everything He’s given me.

May God, when He examines my heart rejoice when He finds integrity, when He finds me giving away with both hands what He’s given me, so that someone will come to His saving grace.

I pray the same for you.

Look Up

Psalm 57

David didn’t have Google. He couldn’t pull a MacArthur, Henry, or Moody Commentary off the shelf, turn on the TV to a Charles Stanley sermon, or listen to a podcast by a popular preacher. David didn’t look to Kay Arthur or Joel Osteen for answers.

In 1 Samuel 23 we see David go directly to the Lord for answers. And in Psalm 57 David shares what that entails.

  1. I look to you for protection
  2. I hide beneath the shadow of your wings
  3. I cry out to God most high
  4. I cry out to God who will fulfill his purpose in me
  5. I place my confidence in God
  6. I thank and praise God
  7. I praise God for his unfailing love and faithfulness

If you read 1 Samuel 23 you’ll see God did answer all of David’s questions.

Now, if you’ve been with me for awhile you know I don’t discount the wisdom of people shared in sermons, blogs, and commentaries. In fact, Matthew Henry said something that got me thinking along these lines this morning, and prompted me to take a closer look at Scripture.

In regard to Psalm 57:3 Henry points out “that all (David’s) expectation is from God… Those that make God their only refuge, and fly to Him by faith and prayer, may be sure of salvation, in His way and time.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary in One Volume; Marshall, Morgan & Scott; 1960; p 636)

Did you catch the word “only” in that? Henry goes on to say that we can look for answers on earth, but if we do “refuge fails, no help appears.” Have you found that true in your life? I don’t care if it’s my blog rantings or the careful study of men like Matthew Henry. We can’t be your refuge! Only God can be that, and really, you shouldn’t want or need another!

Henry also says on page 636 that “those who lift up their hearts to things above may expect all good.” If we look at the Bible, in the accounts of people like Moses, Joel, David, Paul, James, etc. we will hear the exact same thing. God is the giver of good things, including insight into His Word and the rules and ability to follow them.

Oh that the Church – you and I – would put aside the books and blogs and TV shows and open our Bibles. Oh that we would not depend on the teaching of man, but would allow God to teach us by His own Words. Oh that we would stop fashioning our religion, our worship, our churches according to what makes people comfortable, and look to heaven above.

Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.

Everything We Need

Psalm 34

Sounds like another health and wealth gospel. But don’t let that fool you.

In reality, there are Christians who are sick and starving, homeless and without means to provide for their families. So how can we make sense of verses 9-10 which clearly say if we fear God, we’ll have all we need. If we trust God, we will lack no good thing.

Tell that to the Christian living on the streets with a cancer diagnosis.

But why is it people who truly fear, worship, stand in awe of God, and people who trust God and submit to Him are some of the most joyful, most contented people around? It’s because God is true to His Word.

God does give us everything we need. The Apostle Paul expressed that beautifully in Philippians 4:11-13, and again in 2 Corinthians 12:9. I hope you’ll take time to read those verses and hear what someone who had a tough life says about what God gives.

Matthew Henry, on page 610 of his Bible Commentary published by Marshall, Morgan & Scott in 1960, that if we look at this psalm as merely promising physical comfort we miss the most important thing. God not only works FOR us, He works THROUGH us. To me that means God is right there with the Christian, leading, directing, comforting, strengthening, and revealing Himself in marvelous ways.

The psalmist encourages us to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” and there is joy when we attach ourselves to Him in all circumstances. God is a personal God, intimate, present.

Romans 8:28 tells us that God works things out for our good if we love Him. 2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds us that our troubles today are leading toward an eternal glory that far outweighs any hardship we face in this lifetime.

So yes, God does give us all we need, and we lack no good thing when we taste and see that He is good!

The Winning Side

I Samuel 14

We all like to be on the winning side. I was a die-hard Cleveland Indians’ fan for literally decades (until they got woke) and I will tell you it wasn’t always fun wearing Chief Wahoo t-shirts. Many years people would laugh at “the mistake on the lake.” But during the 90’s when the Indians made serious runs at a World Series title, Indians fans came out of the woodwork! The Chief was everywhere, and “Go Tribe” was our mantra. It was so fun!

Winning draws people in. That’s what happened in 1 Samuel 14. When Jonathan and his armor bearer were defeating the Philistine army, people noticed and got excited. Warriors literally came out of hiding in caves and joined the battle BECAUSE they were winning.

Well Christian, where are you in this battle against our enemy? Are you hiding in your pew and behind a few praise songs? Do you turn on a live stream in your home on Sunday mornings?

Or are you out there wielding your sword? The truth is, if you know Jesus as your Savior you ARE on the winning side in this war against Satan. We WILL win this war. Satan WILL be defeated!

But we need you today. We need you to get out there and join us in the battle we face today.

If you aren’t serving in your church, if you aren’t forging relationships with your neighbors in order to introduce them to their Savior, if you aren’t studying the Bible, praying, growing, standing up, and moving ahead – you need to crawl out of your hiding place and join God’s army. Now! You won’t be sorry.

It’s great being on the winning side!

Can You Imagine?

Judges 17-18

In those days Israel had no king. People did as they wanted. It resulted in idolatry, war, murder, dishonesty, lawlessness. Each person could make up his own truth.

Wait.

What?

You can’t make up truth. Truth, by definition, is true. Right?

It would be utter chaos if people could make up their own truths. Can you imagine?

Proof Enough

Judges 6

Gideon needed proof. But he had proof.

When he realized he had been entertaining the angel of God, I would think that would have been proof enough. But a doubtful Gideon asked for another sign.

Jesus tells us it’s a wicked generation that asks for a sign. (Matthew 12:39, 16:4). Yet some people think they need the experience of speaking in tongues, or witnessing a miraculous healing, or seeing feathers fall from the rafters in order to believe that God is who He says He is.

Yet these same people often don’t take time to watch the sunrise, or may fail to marvel at the tiny fingers and toes of a newborn. They aren’t blown away at how God heals the scratch on their arms, or at seeing His strength in the wind. A changed life when a sinner repents ought to speak of the existence, will, and working of God in our lives and in this world.

But for some, that’s not enough.

Foolish and wicked.

We tend to look at the sky, at current events, at man’s opinions to find proof that Jesus is coming soon, when God has given us His word that He is coming again. That should be all the proof we need.

Jesus Himself spoke of heaven and hell, of grace and judgment, of holiness and sin. It’s pretty foolish to question Him or doubt what He said is true. Look at His birth, and His life on earth. Look at the cross. Look at the empty tomb. All proof that He has the authority to speak for God.

Do you need proof God exists? Read what He says about Himself. Trust that the Bible is true. Obey what it says. Seeking a sign or an experience is self-centered and anti-Christ.

Seek Him. He’s not hiding. He’s given you all the signs you need if you’ll just get out of the way, and pay attention.

He is proof enough.

Be Strong and Courageous

Joshua 1

One of my goals in writing this blog is to encourage people to fall in love with God’s Word. I hope you are all reading it every day and allowing God to speak His Words directly to you.

Today, I just want to share what God said to Joshua as he was to begin leading Israel after the death of Moses. In the times in which we live, it just might be exactly what God wants to say to us, too. May it challenge and bless you as it has me this morning.

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. This is my command – be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:8-9)

Are You Taking Notes?

Deuteronomy 17

In Good News Club yesterday, one of the third graders got out his notebook and began to take notes. One of the volunteers, not knowing what he was doing, asked him to put it away. He obeyed.

Later, he let me look at what he’d written. He’d copied the memory verse, our five rules, our “Word Up” which was: God Can Change Me. He jotted down things from the lesson like, “All have sinned,” “Not everyone goes to heaven,” “Jesus died for our sins,” and John 3:16. He did such a good job!

One of the commands God gave the kings of Israel was to copy His law in their own hand. Then they were to keep their copy and read it every day.

This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way…” (17:20)

Moses also said that in writing and reading the Law, the king would learn to fear God and learn to obey the instructions.

Here’s a thought: if you are one who says you have trouble understanding Scripture, or have trouble concentrating on what you’re reading, get a notebook and a pen and begin to copy a portion of Scripture in your own hand.

Maybe copy the book of John. Or some psalms. Or copy James or one of Paul’s letters. You might be surprised at how that simple act can help your understanding, and retention of God’s Word.

It was commanded of Old Testament kings. It might be useful for God’s servants in 2022.

But even if it doesn’t help – it certainly can’t hurt!