Tag Archives: faith

June 23; As Surely As I Live

2 Chronicles 24:17-25a, 25:1-40; 2 Kings 12:17-21, 4:1-44, 13:4-11, 8:1-2

It spoke to me this morning when I read about the Shunamite woman. She had treated Elisha with kindness, and as a result, God blessed her with a son. But years later, the boy died suddenly. The Shunamite woman, without hesitation, went straight to Elisha.

When Elisha heard her story, that her son had died, he immediately sent a servant with specific instructions. Then the woman said this to the man of God:

As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.

So often we hear of people facing hardship and loss and their response is to get angry with God, and walk away from Him. The woman had the opposite response.

And that’s the response I want to have myself. Whether good times or bad, I never want to leave God. I’ve lived long enough to have gone through some hard times. I’ve had loss, and faced giants. I can honestly say I’ve never been tempted to walk away from my Lord. In fact, I will say I was probably the closest to Him during those hard times.

As surely as You live, I will not leave You, Lord.

June 10; Walk By Faith, Not By Sight

Ecclesiastes 11-12; Psalms 73, 88; I Kings 11:41-43, 14:21; 2 Chronicles 9:29-31, 12:13-14

Solomon tried so hard to find meaning, contentment, and happiness. But he was looking in all the wrong places. Asaph almost lost his religion because he, too, was looking at the wrong things. He admitted he was jealous of evil people who prospered while he couldn’t catch a break.

“…in vain have I kept my heart pure…” (Psalm 73:13)

If we walk by sight, if we keep our focus on other people and circumstances, we will be as frustrated and depressed as Solomon, and as ready to give up as Asaph.

We who know the Lord, walk by faith in Him who is faithful. We keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We live to love Him, instead of living to have Him make our lives easy.

Solomon himself said that fearing God and obeying Him is everything.

And it is.

May 25; But Then Monday Comes

I Kings 8:62-9:28; Psalm 132; 2 Chronicles 7:4-8:18, 9:21

Solomon’s Temple was completed, and busy with activity. But Solomon didn’t just sit back and enjoy the fruit of his labor. He built a house for his wife, built and rebuilt cities, conquered other cities, built ships and financed mining expeditions, and he observed all the feasts and Sabbaths of the Lord.

Have you ever been involved in a project that required long hours and hard work, decision making, and overseeing workers? The job is complete, you step back with a sense of accomplishment and euphoria. You drink in the accolades, and have a wonderful sense of well deserved satisfaction.

But then Monday comes.

Have you ever been on a retreat or at a conference where your heart soared in worship, you were encouraged, uplifted, and challenged? You leave there excited to be a child of God, and excited about what He is doing in your life.

But then Monday comes.

Life is full of ups and downs. Some people are driven to live in a state of euphoria, some others experience  the down times and can’t seem to pull themselves up. Because when Monday comes, when things settle down and the day-to-day happens, you are the only one changed. The demands of the day are the same as always. The attitudes of people around you are the same as they were. And you have some choices to make.

The same is true in our walk with the Lord. Sometimes God brings us through valleys, and sits us up on that mountaintop. He is so real to us we feel like we could reach out and touch Him. We look around with His eyes of love, and see this wonderful world He created. But it’s unrealistic to think we can stay there. Because Satan is gearing up for round two.

Sometimes our walk with the Lord feels distant. We don’t feel blessed, or even heard. We try, and try, but nothing changes. I think that is a tragic place to live.

God seems to be encouraging me, through Solomon’s example, to keep going. There is always something to be doing for God’s Kingdom, always people to minister to, phone calls and visits to make, people who need to hear what Jesus did for them. Sometimes you have to get off the mountain to meet people where they are. And sometimes you have to let God drag you out of the pit, and into the lives of others.

Solomon enjoyed the celebration of the Temple’s completion. But when Monday came, he started another project, then another. I am reminded that the work of the Church, the effort to make disciples, to minister to hurting people will never be done until God calls us home or Jesus returns. We’ll have our ups and downs, our victories and defeats. But when Monday comes around, where will we be?

Besides, no matter if we are basking in the satisfaction of a job well done, or struggling to keep our heads up, we have reason to lay it all aside and praise God. Solomon did.

My prayer is that we all will be exactly where God leads us, busy working, continually praising Him, for His sake and His glory. And one day, when we look into those eyes, we’ll hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And we’ll have lived our last Monday.

 

April 16; Practical Faith

I Samuel 18-20

David had faith in God, and God blessed him. The Bible tells us everything King Saul gave David to do, he did it exceedingly well. God’s Presence in David’s life was obvious.

But here’s what dawned on me today about David’s faith. Having faith in God didn’t require David to check his common sense at the door. David’s faith in God didn’t assume God’s will would be done without David’s cooperation. David had what I believe was a practical faith that pleased God. Now before you think I’m blaspheming, hear me out.

David seems to have realized God can use the people in our lives to help us along the way. We see how often Jonathan, the son of David’s sworn enemy, helped David, kept him out of harm’s way, spoke up for him and tried to get Saul to reconcile with David. We don’t read where David ever said, “No, that’s ok, Jonathan. God’s got this.”

We see how David’s wife, Saul’s daughter, lowered him out of a window in their home, so he could escape Saul’s men who were coming to get him. We see how Samuel, at risk of his own life, stood by David, even though his heart may have been a bit drawn to Saul. But Samuel didn’t waiver in his support of David, God’s Anointed. And we don’t see David turning down the help from either one of them.

I believe Scripture teaches us that allowing other people to lend a hand, doesn’t indicate lack of faith. In fact, other people might be the answer to our prayers of faith. God created us to have relationships – first with Him – then with others. Having faith doesn’t mean we ignore those relationships, thinking we will just let God do His thing.

Maybe God wants to do His thing through people close to us.

Let me say here and now: I have faith in God. I trust Him as completely as this mortal can trust. But I need you, too.

Some of you who read this blog are friends of mine right here on the island. Some of you are family who I love so much. Others are people I’ve crossed paths with over the years, and who hold a special place in my heart. Still others of you I’ve never met, except through this cyber-word of ours.

God is reminding me I need every one of you if I am to accomplish His work in me. I need you to hold me accountable, to encourage or scold me. I need you to stand beside me or push me. I might need you to fight my enemy alongside of me, or simply revel in God’s goodness with me.

I need you.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have faith in God. It’s that I have faith that God will use you to be His voice, His arms, His wisdom so that I will grow into the woman He wants me to be. Thank you to so many of you for being exactly that in my life on so many occasions.

Can God accomplish His will with or without us? Of course He could. But I think His will is that each one of us recognize our roll in His will being done. I think that’s the practical side of faith. And I honestly believe it honors God. Let’s, all of us, be sensitive to God’s leading when one of His children could use a hand. Let’s be a Jonathan, a Michal, or a Samuel for each other when the need arises.

And the need will arise. Common sense tells me none of us have it all together all the time. Isn’t it good to think someone will allow themselves to be an answer to our prayers, and give us a hand during those times? Isn’t it a privilege to be that someone for someone else?

 

April 8; Laying It All Out There

Ruth 3-4; I Chronicles 2:3-16; I Samuel 1

What I read today seems to be in direct contrast to what I read yesterday. Yesterday I saw people skirting around God’s law, living right on the edge of obedience, justifying sin for a greater cause. Today I see some women who put it all out there, who seems to have trusted and obeyed God completely.

Naomi had lived for a time outside of God’s will.But she’s home now. She didn’t know how she’d be received, didn’t know if she would live or die. But she and Ruth threw themselves on the mercy of the kinsman redeemer. And they were saved.

Hannah prayed from the deepest recesses of her soul, she poured out her heart to God, laying all her desires at His feet. He answered, and she was blessed.

All of these women emptied themselves and fully trusted God to take care of them. That’s what God wants of me, too. Not a woman who lives on the edge, but a woman who thrives right in the middle of His will. Not a woman who tries to manipulate Him into giving me what I want, but a woman who wants what He wants. His desire is that I be a woman who lays it all out there, throws myself on His mercy, obeys Him completely, and trusts Him fully.

Here I am, Lord. I give you my past, present, and my future. I give you my hopes and dreams, desires and need. I don’t want to hold anything back. I don’t want to tell you what to do. Thank you for redeeming me, for welcoming me home by the blood of your Son. Help me to trust you with every detail of my life, like you deserve. I am laying it all out here, Lord. Thy will be done.

April 3; Putting Out A Fleece

Judges 5-7

I love how often we see God take the most unlikely candidate, and turn him into a hero. When we first meet Gideon, he is hiding in a winepress so that the Midianites wouldn’t catch him threshing wheat. Then God sits down with Gideon and calls him a “mighty warrior.” Aren’t you glad God looks at our potential instead of our present character? I am!

God goes on to tell Gideon he’d be the one to lead Israel into battle with Midian. He even performed a miracle right before Gideon’s eyes to prove to Gideon God was in this.

Now all of this didn’t automatically make Gideon brave. In fact, his first act of obedience was done at night so no one would see him. Then he called the fighting men of Israel to come together. But the man lived with cold feet.

“God, here’s a wool fleece. I’m going to leave this here overnight. If you are really going to save Israel through me, let the ground be dry in the morning, but let the fleece be wet.”

You know the story. The next morning the ground was dry, and Gideon was wringing water out of the fleece.

So Gideon went to war, confident that God was true to His word.

Umm… not quite.

With a sopping piece of wool Gideon then says, “Let’s try something else just to be sure. I’ll leave the fleece out one more night. This time, let the ground be wet with dew, but keep the fleece dry. Then I’ll believe you are going to be with me like You’ve said.”

And our patient God did just that.

The story doesn’t end there. Gideon and Israel enjoyed a victory over Midian in a dramatic, miraculous way. I hope you’ll read it for yourself.

God is challenging my faith today. Do I take God at His Word, or do I keep insisting He give me a sign? Gideon was weak. Gideon was a coward. And Gideon needed tangible proof over and over that God could be trusted.

Does that describe me? When I read the Bible, I’m reading God’s Word to me. When Scripture says, “I am with you always,” what it really says is, “Connie, I am always with you.” When it says God works things out for the good for those who love Him, God is saying, “I am working things out for your good, Connie.”

Warren Wiersbe said something that stopped me in my tracks:

“Putting out the fleece (asking God to do some special thing to verify His will) is evidence of unbelief and not of faith… Immature faith needs signs for reassurance; mature faith takes God at His Word and obeys.” (With The Word; Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; page 146)

Gideon became a hero. In fact, you’ll see his name among the examples of faith in Hebrews 11. What we read here in Joshua is the growing of a hero. He certainly didn’t start out that way.

Am I still at the starting line? Do I need signs and wonders in order to believe God? Do I find myself throwing out one fleece after another, expecting God to perform for me so that I know He’s there? God forbid. He deserves better than that.

May I, may we, take God at His Word. May we be reading what He wrote to us every day, allowing Him to speak, to direct, to reassure us, to scold us, through the pages of His love letter to us.

And may our trust in Him be so mature, that when He tells us to jump, we don’t even ask “How high?” May we jump with all our might.

 

March 28; Why Not?

Joshua 10-12

Joshua had been tricked into making a treaty with the enemy, now he was in a position to have to defend them. From God’s perspective, they’d been people the Israelites should have eliminated in order to gain the Promised Land. But Joshua, without consulting God, had made them allies.

God had every right to tell Joshua, “You got yourself into this mess. Don’t expect me to bail you out. Call me when it’s over.” God didn’t say anything close to that. In fact, what He did is one of the most amazing miracles recorded in the Bible.

But it’s not the miracle that speaks to me in this passage. It’s Joshua’s prayer. Joshua didn’t just ask God to help him win the war. He asked God to stop the sun and moon. And, he didn’t just pray that prayer in the privacy of a closet. He prayed that prayer in front of all Israel.

Who thinks of asking for anything so outrageous as stopping the sun and moon? God seems to be asking, “Why not?”

I think sometimes my prayers are way too small. It’s not that I don’t think God can make a cancerous tumor disappear. Is it that think He won’t? It’s not that I think God can’t provide, or overcome circumstances.  Maybe it’s that I don’t think it’s His will.

Joshua has challenged my prayer life. What should I be praying for today that hasn’t even crossed my mind until now? I never would have thought to pray that God would stop the sun. I’m asking myself…

Why not?