Tag Archives: the future

Every Day (I Kings 17)

Many Old Testament stories are familiar. If you grew up going to Sunday School, and if you are as old as me, you might remember flannel boards. Sunday School teachers would put up pictures of the Bible story, move the characters around on the board, as the account of that Old Testament man or woman would come alive. I loved flannel boards.

I thought of that today as I read about Elijah. I remember the flannel board story of the prophet lying beside a stream, hand stretched upward while ravens brought him dinner. I remember the same man standing before an altar, with fire coming down from heaven and burning up the sacrifice while terrified priests looked on. I remember seeing Elijah in the kitchen with a widowed mother.

And that’s the story that spoke to me this morning. The widow was starving. There was a serious famine in the land and the food supply was dwindling. When Elijah meets her, she tells him she is getting ready to fix dinner from the last of her resources. She was going to use the last of her flour and oil to make bread for her son and herself, knowing that would be their last meal before they starved to death.

Elijah, upon hearing their situation, said to the woman, “Feed me first.”

Really Elijah? You want this woman to use her last bit of food to take care of you before she takes care of her son? What are you thinking? I am sure none of us would condemn the woman had she turned the prophet down and fed her son.

But Elijah promised the woman that the flour and oil wouldn’t run out until God made it rain. What speaks to me is the woman’s reaction. She fed Elijah with her last bit of flour and oil. She fed Elijah instead of feeding her son.

When this dear widow went back to her kitchen she probably didn’t know what to expect. I don’t think she could prepare herself for what she saw. There was flour in the jar and oil in the jug. She fed her son! And she continued to feed her son. In fact, Scripture tells us:

“So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.” (17:15-16, emphasis mine)

If you are like me, you might be missing out on God’s provisions because you don’t give Him the first of your day or you’re finances. You might read your Bible when you find time, and give to your church after you pay your bills. You make sure you take care of yourself before you obey God’s command to take care of widows, or to go and make disciples, or to love your enemies and do good to those who mistreat you.

In fact, there is a popular lie out there, touted by some Christians, that say we need to take care of ourselves first. They will tell you you can’t love others until you love yourself. They say you can’t serve until you are satisfied, can’t be effective unless you are happy. That is totally opposite of what Scripture teaches us.

I’m pretty sure the widow didn’t feed Elijah because she felt good about herself. She fed Elijah while her own tummy was growling and while she feared the future. She fed Elijah, knowing her own son was starving.

And because she did, there was food every day.

Do you trust God? Really? Do you trust Him with your time and money, with your family and friends, with your job, your health, your future? Then give Him the first of what you have. Paul tells us to die to self, not build ourselves up. Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, not get revenge. He tells us that the first will be last and the last first, that we who give up our lives find life.

God can, and wants to, bless us every day beyond what we ask or think. The only thing that is holding Him back is you and me. He promises that if we give Him all we have, if we surrender ourselves, if we don’t hold back, He will bless us…

every day!

September 4 – I’ve Got Confidence

Ezekiel 24-27

All the cities Ezekiel is pronouncing God’s judgment over were cities that had things going on. They were successful merchants and traders, or they housed mighty warriors. They were sailors. Bakers. Jewelers. People living in comfort.

But they denied God, and God was going to demonstrate what the consequences are for sin. Nothing they had placed their confidence in would be able to save them.

Where have I placed my own confidence? Is it in myself? In having a healthy body? Career advancement? My family? My possessions? What about my reputation, or my generosity?

God would have me see that anything I think I have or am cannot stand against God’s holiness. He is the ultimate authority, the final Word. If I’ve placed my confidence in anything other than God Himself, I will be as devastated as the people I read about today.

Oh, I’ve got confidence. But it isn’t in me! I have confidence in God. I believe He is who He says He is, and means what He’s said. I’ve got confidence that God is going to carry me right into eternity because I have accepted His gift of grace through the blood of Jesus.

I have confidence to face today because God has promised to go with me. God is my confidence.

 

August 12 – My Prayer For Luke

Jeremiah 10-13

We welcomed the newest member of our family, Luke Mitchell, into the world yesterday. 8lbs 15oz, with a head full of thick, blonde hair. He gave his mommy a very hard time. But she and her precious son are doing fine.

Sometimes when I read God’s Word and hear Him express anger toward disobedience, and see how He disciplines His children, like here in Jeremiah, I can get fearful for the future of the little ones in my life. I recognize the blatant disregard for God in the Old Testament children of Israel as the same as the disregard for God in some aspects of the 2016 Church.

I hear God say, “I have forsaken My house, I have abandoned My inheritance; therefore I have come to hate her.” (12:8) Pretty strong words. We don’t like to think about God hating His own people.

Here’s my prayer for Luke (and the other amazing little people filling our quiver).

May he be raised in the nurture and admonition of God. May he come to know Jesus as his Savior as soon as he understands what sin is and what Jesus did for him on the cross. May he grow up to be a man who knows the Truth of Scripture, who applies it to his life, and who’s stands for that Truth without compromise. May he never give God reason to hate him. And may his life be a testimony that draws others to the wonderful grace of Jesus.

And may God speak to the hearts of all His people today. May He find us obedient, standing in His strength, empowered by His Presence, and not ashamed to make it known. May none of us give Him reason to hate us.

April 25 – Making Memories

I Chronicles 3&4

I am having so much fun this week. My nephew and his family are vacationing here with me on this island where I live. As I read about the families listed in these chapters of I Chronicles I can’t help but think about my own.

I remember the day my nephew was born. I was blessed to be a part of his growing-up years, watching him develop into the thoughtful, fun, Christian man he is today. I stood by and watch him fall in love with a precious girl, marry her, and start their family. Their children call me “Aunt Connie”, and I love that.

I sit here today and watch the little ones play, and my heart nearly bursts with love.

When I read about the families in I Chronicles, I realize I’m reading about moms and dads. People who loved their children, who cared for them, who had hopes and dreams like I have for the dear ones in my life.

The future is uncertain. Trouble may come. But I trust my Savior with the lives of my loved-ones. As I think about my family, I pray for them.

I pray for your families, too. May you all know the same confidence in the Lord that I have. May you hug your families. Don’t waste a minute. We’re going to go and watch some sea turtles released back into the ocean today.

Making memories.

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

Sometimes when I watch the news and am faced with the way Satan’s power seems to be getting stronger in ISIS, in American politics, in our courts and on our streets, when I see flagrant sin proclaimed as the “new normal”, and people who call themselves Christian accept sin and tolerate multiple avenues to God, I get anxious. I find myself worrying about what’s ahead for us in this country, what kind of world my great-nieces and nephews will inherit from us.

Then I read what Jesus said to his disciples right before he was arrested: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in me. (John 14)

History tells us these same disciples endured persecution like most of us have never seen. They watched Jesus die. They fled for their lives. Some were tortured and killed because they did believe in Jesus. But Jesus told them, let not your hearts be troubled.

I don’t know what lies ahead. I can guess according to what I read in the Bible. And the thought of what will probably be makes me sad. I want the babies in my life, their mothers and dads, to be grounded in the Truth of Scripture, to believe in Jesus. Because then I can face the future knowing Jesus is preparing a place for us, to be with him where he is. I can choose to not let my heart be troubled because I believe in Jesus and trust what he says.

I pray the same for you.

Dear God, it sounds like I’m throwing in the towel, and really I’m not. I will continue to pray, to stand for the Truth revealed in your Holy Word, and live my life to reveal you to those who don’t know you. I believe you will continue to bless those who call on you in Spirit and Truth, that your Holy Spirit will continue to draw all men to you as long as there is life. But I also know, Lord, you are coming again. This life on planet Earth is not all there is, and one day that angel will blow that trumpet, and everything will change. And unless your children hold strong, things will continue to decline. So keep us strong, Father. Give us courage and confidence and purpose. Thank you for telling us it’s possible to face the future without troubled hearts because we believe in Jesus. Be with our children and may we raise them to honor and fear you. Prepare them for battle, Lord. Prepare us all. And may you find us faithful.

October 15

Mark 7:1-8:10; Matthew 15:1-39

I have to say I’m a little disappointed in the disciples. Days after Jesus fed over five thousand people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, a crowd of 4,000 were hungry. Jesus expressed concern for the congregation and the disciples responded by whining that they were too far from the nearest McDonalds to feed them. The disciples even knew there were seven loaves of bread right there.

I find it interesting that none of the twelve jumped up with anticipation, remembering Jesus’ earlier miracle, and expecting a repeat.

But before I get to hard on the disciples I need to take a look inside me. Over the years God has proven to be faithful, to work things out according to his will and my good. He’s answered countless prayers and showered me with blessings beyond what I could have imagined.

So why do I get fearful of the future? Why do I question him when bad things happen? Why do I whine and complain when my situation looks hopeless?

Reading these passages today reminds me that God is able. God loves me. And God holds me in the palm of his hand. With each day God gives me, let me rise with anticipation and excitement, expecting God to do something wonderful. Why should today be any different?

September 12

Zechariah 10:1-14:21

So Zechariah shepherded a flock of sheep that had been marked for slaughter. He must have been kinda tough on the sheep because Scripture says the flock detested him. You can read the account for yourself but in the end, Zechariah quits his job.

He tells the flock (which tells me we’re not talking about wooly sheep here) they could pay him if they think it best. If not, he said, then keep it. 

So… they gave Zechariah thirty pieces of silver. You heard me right. Thirty pieces of silver. Hmmm.

Now here’s where I think it gets interesting. God told Zechariah to throw the silver to the potter. God called it “the handsome price at which they priced me.” Past tense.

Zechariah takes the thirty pieces of silver and throws it into the house of the Lord. Did Judas and the priests read this portion of Scripture hundreds of years after it was written and follow it like a script? Or does God see the end from the beginning?

Is God ever surprised at the events of our lives? The answer, of course, is no. But that doesn’t mean he stops wooing us, calling us, trying to get our attention until the last second. Some of us can get pretty fearful of the future. But rest assured God knows. And in the end, he is going to win and those of us who know him will be on the winning side. 

Father, I pray that your children will trust you with today, tomorrow, and all the tomorrows after that as long as you give us life. Thank you for reminding us that you know the number of our days and that you promise to never leave or forsake us. May we find comfort and confidence in knowing you. Thank you, too, for demonstrating that your written Word is true and that we can put our trust in you because you are who you say you are. And thank you that, as one sheep who was marked for slaughter, you sent Jesus to die in my place so that I can fellowship with you here in this life, and spend eternity with you in heaven.

July 30

Jeremiah 22:1-17; 2 Kings 23:31-37; 2 Chronicles 36:2-5; Habakkuk 1:1-3:19

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.

Recently I have had conversations with Christians who have expressed concern over the future of our world. We have seen freedoms chipped away in the US. There is war over water in over-populated countries. Food shortages. Poverty. The acceptance of sin in society which Christians know can only bring God’s wrath.

I don’t know what the future holds for us who live on planet Earth. I look at my sister’s grandchildren and could go crazy worrying about what’s ahead for them should the Lord not return. The Bible tells us things will continue to erode until that day.

But then I read things like Habakkuk 3:2 and I remember Who it is that holds the future. There is so much evidence of God’s love, his care and protection not only in the pages of the Bible but in history books and in the lives of people I know.

God is still on the throne. He is so much greater than Satan. And, although life will undoubtedly get more difficult, God promises to go with his children every step of the way.

May God’s deeds be made known to our world in 2013. May he renew them in our day.

Remember mercy, dear God. We’re depending on You.