Tag Archives: trust

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! ūüôā

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.

 

February 3; Discouragement Throws a Shadow Over Hope

Exodus 4:18-7:13

The Jews had it bad enough. Long after Joseph and his brothers were dead and gone, their ancestors found themselves slaves in Egypt. By now these people were born slaves, and the harsh treatment of Pharaoh and his thugs was all they knew.

But here comes Moses with a word from God. “I’m getting you out of here.” When the Jews received the news, they immediately bowed down and worshiped.

Hope. It’s a beautiful thing. Even a glimpse of hope can cause a heart to sing. That glimmer of light through the clouds gives reason to rejoice. And as a Christian woman, I can rejoice in the hope that is mine through Jesus. This life is not the end. These trials won’t last forever. My enemy Satan cannot win!

I don’t have just a glimpse of hope. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood, and His righteousness. I am His. He is mine.

But something happened to the Jews. God didn’t immediately open the doors of freedom and march them out of Egypt that same day. They continued to do the slave-thing, day after day after day.

Then, to make matters worse, Pharaoh didn’t take Moses’ request for a few vacation days so the people could go into the desert to worship God very well. In fact, he made it harder for the Jews to do their job, then beat them when they couldn’t get the job done.

You call this a rescue?

Moses pleads with God on their behalf, and God assures him He has a plan.

“…I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to¬†give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the¬†Lord.”¬† (6:8)

Moses assured them God is true to His word. Don’t lose hope. But 6:9 says:

…but they did not listen to (Moses) because of their¬†discouragement and cruel bondage.

Sometimes, even Christians who have placed our hope in Jesus, get discouraged. Health issues, jobs, relationships, plans begin to crumble, and we feel like those Jewish slaves must have felt. ” I can’t…”

Discouragement throws a shadow over hope.

Are you discouraged? Maybe God is using this time in your life to nudge you in a different direction. Maybe He is revealing a sin you need to confess. Or maybe His timing ¬†just isn’t the same as yours.

Don’t lose hope. Don’t let the discouragement stop you from looking ahead, trusting that God’s got this, even if we don’t feel like He does at the moment. If you have placed your hope in the Lord, trust Him to open the doors, part the seas, rain manna from heaven at exactly the right time.

I pray you will let your hope throw a shadow over your discouragement.

 

 

Isaiah 12-15; Waiting AND Watching

Isaiah penned these words when the Israelites were at a very low point in their history. God had allowed hardship and captivity to come to the Jews as a result of their disobedience. Isaiah gave them hope.

“This won’t last forever,” he seems to tell them.”Those who abuse you will be destroyed.”

Matthew Henry tells us the Babylonians were destroyed. The things God told Isaiah were going to happen happened. But not for another two hundred years. The people who first heard God’s promises never lived to see them fulfilled. Many were born and died in captivity.

I am reminded God’s timing is not always our own. But even in our darkest hours, God does not leave His children without hope.

Chapter 15 begins with a prophecy concerning Moab’s defeat. Henry tells us this particular prophecy was fulfilled only three years after Isaiah wrote the words. I love that.¬†God allowed His people to see concrete proof that He keeps His word, that faith in Him is not misplaced. It wasn’t everything He promised. But it was something.

I think God would remind us He hasn’t changed. Some verses come to mind:

We know all things work together for the good for those that love God…¬†(Romands 8:28)

Is any among you in trouble? Let them pray…¬†(James 5:13)

He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. (Psalm 102:17)

Scripture tells us over and over to put our faith in God, and He will never let us down. He hears and answers prayer. You can count on it.

But sometimes it seems like we’ve been waiting two hundred years for an answer, doesn’t it? Reading Isaiah today reminds me that I can trust God with everything, including the timing of answered prayers. He’s reminding me that praying is not the same as rubbing a magic lantern and immediately being granted three wishes.

Reading Isaiah today also encourages me to watch in the meantime; to pay attention to the other answers to prayers along the way; to recognize God’s hand in other areas of my life. Because God wants me to know I can trust Him, And He’ll prove I can trust Him every day.

Reading these chapters in Isaiah strengthens my faith in my God. It helps me know that He is my hope, and I can trust Him with today, and tomorrow. It reminds me that I can pray, put my requests at His feet, and know that He’s got this. And it convicts me to take a step back, and let God be God.

He’s actually pretty good at it.

 

 

 

2 Samuel 16-18; Positive Thinking Garbage

Absalom wanted to be king over all Israel, and in order to do that he needed to get rid of his dad and his dad’s followers. Absalom wanted David dead. But in the pursuit of his father, Absalom got his hair caught in the branches of a tree, and became a sitting duck for David’s men. The rebellious young son was killed.

Now David had given strict orders that Absalom was not to be harmed. “Protect him,” the King pleaded with his soldiers.

So David sat expectantly at the city gates, waiting for word about the battle and fully expecting his son to be brought to him in chains. But alive. The watchman saw a runner in the distance, and told King David about it.

“If he’s by himself, he brings good news,” David declared.

The watchman saw another runner some distance behind the first. “This one’s bringing good news, too,” insisted David.

The watchman recognized the first runner. “He’s a good man,” said David. “He’s bringing good news.”

But we know neither runner had the good news David wanted to hear. All the positive thoughts David could muster couldn’t change the fact his son was dead.

We’ve all heard there is power in positive thinking, that if you think it you can be it, that negative thoughts bring negative results. David would tell you that philosophy is garbage.

Your thoughts, dear one, have no control over the universe. Positive thoughts might make you feel good, they might even prompt you to take positive action. But there is nothing magical about your thoughts. And anyone who tells you differently is lying.

However, if you direct your thoughts in prayer to God, and allow Him to work in your circumstances, you’ll be amazed at what He can do.

Last year I shared with you my encounter with Hurricane Matthew from the island where I live off the coast of Georgia. We are once again bracing ourselves for Irma. I’m not happy about it, for sure.

I don’t know what will happen. But I can tell you with all assurance I am not going to greet that storm, standing on the pier and thinking positive thoughts. I am not going to “will” the storm away by thinking good things.

But I am praying to the One who has control over the weather, as shown in Scripture. I am going to pray to the One who stood in the fire with three believers who told their would-be murderer, “My God can save us from this fire. But even if He doesn’t save us, we will not serve any other God. Period.” I’m praying to the One who does all things well, even when I don’t understand His ways.

Your positive thoughts going out into the universe are meaningless. Why not pray with me to the God who created the universe, and believe that no matter what happens, He is able to see us through.

My prayer is that, of course, we all will be spared from the devastation this storm brings with it. I pray that lives will be spared. And I pray that through this storm, the Spirit of God will speak to hearts who don’t yet know Him, and lives will be changed for eternity.

I’m asking you to pray for all of us in the path of this particular storm. I’ll keep you posted if I can. May God be praised in all things.

Samuel 10-12; The Loss Of A Child

I was talking to my pastor a while back and shared my confusion concerning the age of accountability. Scripture doesn’t really give a specific number, nor does it tell us exactly what happens to babies when they die.

But if Jesus is the only way to the Father, if His Name is the only means of salvation, what about aborted babies, or infants and toddlers who die before understanding the need of Him? My pastor pointed me to 2 Samuel.

David’s newborn son was sick. And while the baby struggled to live, David fasted, prayed, and wept believing God could heal him. But after the baby died, David seemed to have peace. He got up, went to church, then ate a meal. Strange behavior for someone whose child just died.

David’s sorrow had been for his sick baby boy, a father’s desire to watch that baby grow up, healthy. His struggle was for the suffering infant, and his own grief. But once the baby died, David had the assurance the boy was in the presence of God:

I will go to him, but he will not return to me. (12:23)

It seems David believed in heaven, and was confident that his son was safely there right that minute. And David believed one day, he would go to the place his son was. David would see his son again. Knowing this, David was able to go to his wife, and comfort her.

I don’t know if you have ever miscarried a baby, or buried your infant or toddler. I can’t imagine the pain that brings. But I can encourage you to rest assured that child is in the Presence of Someone who loves them even more than you do.

And, dear one, if you know Jesus as your Savior, you will see your child again. Not in this life, as hard as that is to accept. But in eternity, standing together before God’s throne, loving and being loved by the One who does all things well.

Father, I want to pray for any who read this post who are carrying the weight of grief over a lost child. Is there a greater loss? I pray that each one will know the assurance that their little loved one is alive, and well, and home with You. God, ease the burden of empty arms. I pray for faith to trust You, even in the loss of a child.

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.

Numbers 5&6; Do You Trust Me?

As a woman, I had a hard time reading¬†God’s instructions for a jealous husband. If a man thought his wife had been unfaithful, he could drag her to the priest who would make her drink dirty water that, if she was guilty, would render her infertile painfully and publicly. If she was innocent, the dirty water would do no harm.

The husband needed no proof of infidelity. He just had to be jealous. Doesn’t seem fair. What if a woman was truly innocent and her body reacted to the poison anyway?

And here’s the kicker: Regardless of the outcome for this woman, “the husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing…” (5:31) Plus, no mention is made of the guy this woman was supposed to have had an affair with. Let’s organize a march on Washington or block traffic or something.

But God doesn’t let me go off on tangents very long before He sits me down and reminds me of the Truth. Today I felt Him ask, “Do you trust Me?”¬†If He gave the order, He’s not about to fail to make it work. So I am absolutely 100% sure that not one innocent woman – not one innocent woman – ever reacted to the dirty water.

And I am reminded that just because the male offender isn’t mentioned here, doesn’t mean God doesn’t address adultery elsewhere. God is very specific about sexual sins in both the Old Testament and the New.

So why institute this public judgment on adultery?

  1. It reminds us God takes marriage seriously. Marriage is a picture of His relationship with His church. And He will not tolerate unfaithfulness.
  2. Private sins have far reaching consequences. How many people do you know who are living with disease, abortion, raising children alone, or even poverty, as the result of sins they thought were private?

Then God reminded me that He is able and eager to forgive. We might bear consequences in the flesh, but God can make us pure in His eyes and able to bear fruit for His kingdom. Yes, He is serious about sin. Yes, the guilty will not go unpunished.

But thank God, through His Son Jesus, we can know the forgiveness of any and every sin we’ve ever committed, no matter how bad we think that sin is.

 

The lesson for me today wasn’t so much about the way guilty adulteresses were revealed, although at first I thought it was. The bigger question for me was, do I trust God to do all things well?

The answer is yes, I do.