Tag Archives: faith in God

May 18; Clinging To The Altar

I Kings 1:1-2:12; Psalm 25: 2 Samuel 23:1-7; I Chronicles 29:23-30

Warren Wiersbe said something about this passage that has me thinking today. (With the Word; Oliver-Nelson Books, 1991; page 197). David was old and dying. God had told him Solomon would succeed him as King of Israel.

However, another son, Adonijah, had other ideas. Adonijah gathered support, including some of David’s top men, and made himself king before David died, and before Solomon was anointed in their father’s  place.

As soon as David heard what was happening, he took matters in hand and made Solomon king in a very official, very public way. Then he had King Solomon sit down on his throne in front of the world.

When Adonijah and his cronies heard the news, they panicked and ran for the hills. I’m sure the words “treason” and “death” were ringing loudly in their ears. Adonijah ran, too. But he didn’t run for the hills, he ran to the altar of God, grabbed hold of the horns of the altar, and stayed right there. He wasn’t there to offer a sacrifice for his sin. He wasn’t there to meet God. He was there because he thought the altar was as safe a place as any. Surely Solomon wouldn’t kill him while he clung to the altar of God, would he?

Wiersbe likens this to people who cling to their religion. “Adonijah fled to the altar for safety, not for sanctity.”

Some people feel “safe” if they attend church, write a check, volunteer at the church’s food kitchen or clothing closet, if they take communion, or pray a row of beads, if they’re baptized, or sing in the choir. They cling to the horns of the altar without letting the altar do its work in them, to change them, to deal with the sin in their lives.

I want to ask you a question today. Are you religious? Or do you have a personal relationship with God through the blood of Jesus? I’m asking myself the same thing.

March 3; Let’s Do This

Numbers 11-13

Back in June of 2015 I wrote about a former student of mine who lives his faith in God out loud. (They Hated Me Without A Cause). This young man is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. I thought about him today as I read these chapters in Numbers, because my friend is facing giants today.

Thirty years ago he was born three months premature, weighing in at a whopping 1lb 12oz. The doctor told his parents he hoped they’d have better luck next time. But this tiny baby spent 120 days in the NICU, then went home with his parents and has lived a perfectly normal life. I knew him as a middle schooler and trust me, he was a normal middle schooler! 🙂

He is a military veteran, married, and a hard worker. He has the most positive outlook on life of anyone you’ll ever meet. You never feel worse after spending time with this young man.

And he has cancer. Last week he was hit with the news that he will be fighting Stage 2 bladder cancer.

Moses sent out twelve men to spy out the land God had Promised to give them. Let’s not forget that fact. God had PROMISED to GIVE them the land.

You know the story: the twelve searched the land for forty days, came back with amazing fruit and a glowing report as to what that land offered. But instead of celebrating the good things God was giving them, all those men could focus on were the giants living there.

“It’s too much!” they complained. “We’ll never be able to defeat them.”

All the spies seemed to agree with this sorry assessment – except Caleb who exclaimed, “Let’s do this!”

I’ve never been diagnosed with cancer, so I’m not going to pretend I know what my young friend is feeling. He says he’s worried, and scared. He has questions. Who wouldn’t? He admits he knows he’s in for the fight of his life. But he, like the Caleb we read about here in the book of Numbers, says, “Let’s do this!”

He is not cowering in fear in the face of this giant. If you would visit his FaceBook page you would see post after post of Bible verses declaring God’s power, God’s goodness, God’s love. He continues to be a voice of one who has put his trust in the Lord Jesus, and whose faith is stronger than his fear. He knows God has promised him that He has a plan for him, plans to give him hope and a future. (from Jeremiah 29:11)

With his permission, I’d like to share this young man’s name, because his parents gave him a name meant to fight giants. His name is Caleb Jacob. Caleb, one of the two spies who saw God in the land of the giants.

I know many of you are facing giants of your own. They come in all shapes and sizes. But they are intended by the enemy to get our eyes off the Lord, to replace our confidence with doubt, to question God’s love or maybe even existence. I would challenge you to search the Scripture for God’s promises to you. Just like he PROMISED to GIVE the land to the Jews, He’s PROMISED His presence, His strength, His power, and eternity with Him to those who know Him.

Are you facing a giant? Be the one to take God’s hand and say, “Let’s do this.” Would you pray with me for Caleb and his wife Kassi as they begin their own battle with cancer? I pray God will be glorified as they face this giant, and may He be glorified as you face your own.

 

Judges 6-8; Fear and Fearlessness

I live on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, so one of my least favorite movies is “Jaws.” I’d rather not think about what’s swimming around out there. But the movie makers did an incredible job of instilling fear into the audience with the use of music. Well, two notes, really. They’d play those two notes softly at first, then gradually those notes would get faster, and louder, then at just the right moment, the shark would attack, leaving the audience gasping or screaming at the screen. During the movie, hearing those two notes caused heart rates to rise, even if the action on the screen was happy and carefree. Those two notes could make you believe something bad was about to happen.

Fear often causes us to lose control, and we wind up screaming at a movie screen while sitting in a cushioned chair thousands of miles away from any ocean. That’s why I never liked haunted houses, either. The longer I groped my way through darkened halls, the faster my heart beat, and the more irrational thoughts became reality, sometimes causing me to see things that weren’t really there.

So I’m reading in Judges today how Gideon, with 300 soldiers, lamps, and trumpets, defeated an army of 15,000. And I had one of those laugh-out-loud moments.

The night before the battle, Gideon and one of his soldiers, sneaked into the enemy camp. God, wanting to ease Gideon’s fears, told him to go and hear what the enemy soldiers were saying. Gideon learned that the enemy soldiers were telling each other that the Jewish God was going to help the Jews, that the battle was already lost before it began.

Now, Scripture doesn’t tell us this, but when I put myself in the enemy’s shoes, I can imagine their confidence was low. I imagine the more they thought about what could be ahead for them, their level of fear rose. I bet they didn’t sleep peacefully the night before they knew there was a good chance they were going to die in battle. If it were me, I’d toss and turn imaging worst case.

Then, just before dawn, this sleep deprived and fearful army were startled by the sound of trumpets, the crashing of breaking glass, and the sudden light of dozens of torches. You’re going to think I’m a bit morbid, but here is where I laughed out loud.

Because I pictured the Three Stooges, suddenly surprised, and hitting and poking each other in the dark.

These soldiers, fueled by their fear, began thrashing their swords, killing anything that moved, not even realizing they were killing their own.

How often in Scripture do we read, “Fear not?” Or how often are we told by God not to worry? Even when we know God’s got this covered, do we allow our fears and worries dominate our thoughts, causing those sleepless nights, that anxiety, until we begin to see things that aren’t even there?

We’ve got to understand that, at the height of fear, we are apt to think and act irrationally, impulsively, distrustfully. We’re liable to start striking out at the people closest to us. God wants better for us than that.

Gideon was comforted and strengthened when God assured Him of the victory. I believe God would like to do the same for us.

Are you facing something really scary? Do you hear that two note Jaws theme getting louder and faster? Then pray. Read God’s Word. Trust Him. Hear Him assure you He’s got this covered. Then believe Him.

Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you. (from I Peter 5:7). He cares that you have peace in the storm, that you are prepared to face the battle, that you are sober minded and able to act and react rationally, and with confidence in His ability to give you the victory.

I pray that you will live fearlessly as a result of putting your faith in God.

August 13 – Roots

Jeremiah 14-17

It’s been a hot and dry summer here in Ohio. The grass is brown, the flowers have wilted, leaves on trees droop. The last few days there has been an occasional shower and even a few heavy rains, but so far it doesn’t seem to have had much effect on the landscape.

In fact, I went out in bare feet yesterday to get the mail, and the grass was still dry and brittle. It’s been that parched here. Even a bit of rain isn’t enough to quench the ground.

Jeremiah says people who put their trust in mankind, or even in themselves, are like that. (17:5-6) Like tumbleweeds in a desert, like a desolate land of salt, they are cursed with a thirst that cannot be satisfied. Oh, many will say that’s not true, that they are just fine without God. Jeremiah says they’re so used to living in the wilderness they won’t even see when prosperity comes.

Then the prophet goes on. People who put their trust in the Lord are blessed!

For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. (17:7-8)

We who plant ourselves close to the Living Water will have deep roots, we won’t fear the heat of battle or hardship, and our faith will stand firm even when things around us dry up. Then, because of our witness, people will want what we have. We’ll bear fruit!

Where are your roots planted?