Tag Archives: trusting God

(I Samuel 19:9-18) Choosing Between Pure Good and Pure Evil

The question posed in my Apologetics Bible is this: “Was Michal right to deceive and lie?” Read these verses in I Samuel, then think about it for a minute. What is your answer to that question? Was she right to lie?

The apologist said that, although God expects His people to be truthful, Michal “was not obliged to give (Saul) information that would help him carry out his wicked act,” that of killing David. He argues that if Michal had not lied, she and David would probably have died.

The writer goes on to say, “…within an environment where human sin abounds, it is not always possible to choose between pure good and pure evil.”

Thoughts?

Personally, I am appalled! God’s demand that His people be holy is NOT situational. Show me a verse where God declares that He only expects holiness of us when it’s convenient. Friend, we cannot decide to be holy when it’s easy, and allow ourselves to be unholy when things get tough.

Here’s what I believe to be true concerning Michal’s lie: She prevented God from revealing Himself to Saul (and us) in that situation. We will never know the miracle God would have performed had Michal trusted Him and told her Dad the truth. I don’t agree with the writer of the commentary that she and David would provably have died. We just don’t know how God would have saved them, because Michal lied.

Like Moses, who threw a veil over God’s power when he tapped the rock in the dessert, Michal threw the same veil over God’s power here. The reality is, both Moses and Michal sinned, and God couldn’t do great things because of their unbelief.

I believe Scripture teaches that any lie – no matter how “small” or how difficult the situation – is sin that comes with a death penalty. Lying, no matter what spin we put on it, is a slap in the face of God.

I have said it before, and I will continue to say it again and again, you and I have got to be reading God’s Word, commentaries, blogs, listening to preachers and teachers with discernment. Do not accept everything everyone says is truth. If I accepted what this apologist said, I might give myself a pass for a sin because my situation is uncomfortable, and sinning is my solution. That, dear one, would be inviting sin into my life and expecting God to be ok with it.

God will never be ok with it.

Choosing between pure good and pure evil is not only possible, it’s expected of us who know Jesus as our Savior. If we think we have to lie to get out of a difficult situation, we are preventing God from revealing Himself, perhaps preventing someone who needs Him from finding Him.

I pray you will consider this issue today. What do you believe about Michal? What do you believe about situational sin? Are all sins equal in God’s sight? Do all sins demand a death sentence? Is it your responsibility and mine to allow God to reveal Himself through us today, no matter what the situation? Do you trust Him?

I pray you and I will choose pure good today. It won’t be easy. But God will be faithful to honor our choice. I believe that with all my heart.

(Numbers 33) Unnecessary Detours

If I counted correctly, the Israelites moved 44 times during their forty year romp through the wilderness. God had brought them right to the door of the Promised Land, but because of their unbelief, they were forced to turn away and roam the countryside.

I taught school for almost forty years. During that time I made eight moves. One was during the worst snow storm Ohio had ever seen. None of the moves I made were fun. I can’t imagine picking up and moving 44 times. That’s more than one a year! No thanks!!

What makes this a tragic tale is the fact they didn’t have to have moved at all. If they had only trusted God, He would have given them the land He’d brought them to. It was right there. It was so close. It’s what God wanted for them. But they just couldn’t trust Him, and God closed the door. Such an unnecessary detour.

As you look back on your life, do you recognize the unnecessary detours you’ve taken because you hadn’t trusted God? It happens. God brings us right to the door of blessing, but we hold back. We try another route. We question, and doubt. And God closes the door.

We find ourselves taking that detour that includes hardships and heartache. Yes, there are blessings in the detours. Yes God can and does use us during those times. But we miss what was beyond our doubt at the time God wanted us to accept it.

God is speaking to me about trust today. Are there areas of my life I keep to myself, things I think I need to handle on my own, ministry opportunities I decline because I think the hurdles are too high? What am I missing if I don’t trust God with it all?

I want God’s perfect will in my life. Not just because there are blessings there, but because it’s God’s perfect will for me. I would rather not take unnecessary detours to get there.

(Numbers 26-30) Priorities

There seems to have been a lot of livestock and wheat among the nomadic Jews there in the wilderness. If you count up the things required for daily sacrifices, not to mention the special occasion sacrifices, there’re a lot of cattle, lambs, goats, as well as bushels and bushels of grain.

So why was it necessary for God to provide manna? Why would the people complain about being hungry? I mean, surely not all of the livestock was unblemished. Couldn’t they have eaten the less-than-perfect animals?

As I was thinking about that this morning, I remembered when Moses told God there wasn’t enough cattle in the world to feed all the people for even a month. At that time God sent quail to satisfy their desire for meat.

This is what I feel God wanted me to see in these chapters today: priorities.

God had given specific instructions concerning the sacrificial system. They weren’t suggestions, they were demands. Their sin required those sacrifices be made… and often.

If the people had exhausted their supply of livestock and grain for food, there would have been no animals to sacrifice, no hope of being forgiven of sin. So what do you do? Do you eat like a king for a month? Or do you protect your relationship with God?

The Jews had their priorities straight. As tempting as it must have been to grill a steak or bake a cake, they ate what God provided in the form of manna. It was more important for them to be able to give to God what He demanded.

And here’s the lesson: when we get our priorities straight, when we put God first, when we deal with sin in our lives first, He will supply our needs. Nothing is more important than having a right relationship with God. That which comes after is icing on a manna-baked cake.

That’s how to get our priorities straight.

(Exodus 26-31) Plans and Blueprints and Details

Why did God think it was important to have every tiny detail of the tabernacle spelled out? My brain doesn’t work like this. I honestly don’t care how many rings held a pole or if the covering hung over six inches or six feet or not at all.

I’ve shared my church is in the middle of a building project. There are plans and blueprints and details I don’t understand – or care to understand. But before I walk through those doors and sit in a chair under that roof, I’m going to be very glad someone thought about the feet and inches and materials and placement, and cared enough to not only understand those details, but made sure they were carried out to the letter so the building doesn’t come crashing down on my head.

Now, I know every detail God recorded here in these chapters in Exodus have symbolic meaning and draw a beautiful picture of God’s Sovereign plan of salvation. But when I read this I can’t help but think, not so much of the plan, but the Planner, not so much of the building but the Architect, the Master Designer who not only drew up those plans, but oversaw the process of turning His plans into an amazing place of worship there in the desert. That tabernacle would not come crashing down on the Israelites because it was designed by God Himself and built by people who followed His blueprints to the letter.

That gives me peace and joy today as God’s tabernacle in 2021. Because as interested as God was in every detail of that Old Testament tabernacle, He is infinitely more interested the details of my life. And if I follow the blueprint, if I build according to the plans He has laid out in His Word, I won’t come crashing down even in the middle of a virus scare, or a job loss, or a medical setback, or a change in government.

So I am thankful God included these details I read today here in the book of Exodus. It reminds me how invested He is in the details of my life. The Master Designer is my peace and joy and hope.

Immediate (Mark 8)

I find it interesting, and personal, that it took Jesus two tries to heal the blind man in Mark 8. Or did it?

Some people had brought the man to Jesus for healing, and Jesus took him by the hand and led him to a private spot. This was not going to be a public display of God’s power. This was personal.

Jesus spit on the man’s eyes and laid hands on him. But the man was only partially healed. He confessed he saw, but not clearly. Jesus touched him again, and he was healed.

Now I know Jesus could have absolutely healed him immediately – with a word. (He’d healed people immediately many times before.) So why was this healing a two-parter?

I think it’s something to consider in our day of instant gratification, impatience, entitlement, and self-absorption. We pray and, knowing Jesus is able to answer, we expect immediate results. We don’t want to wait, and we certainly don’t want our request answered in stages.

Then, what if the end result isn’t exactly what we’d prayed? What happens to our faith? What if, when the man in Mark 8 realized his sight wasn’t fully restored the first time, he left in a huff, if his faith was only as good as the immediate? He would have missed the complete healing.

I think of a fellow-blogger who was diagnosed with ALS 24 years ago, is confined to a wheel chair with a mind that is sharp, and a body that will not move. I didn’t know him back then. But I imagine he and those around him prayed for healing. I imagine those prayers are still being brought to God. Those prayers were met in other ways, besides a physical healing. If you want to know more about his journey, check out Unshakable Hope.

Our Good News club is looking at the life of Joni Eareckson Tada. She’s another example of a believer whose physical body was not healed, although there were a lot of prayers to that end. The answers to those prayers came in stages, and the end result looked much different than those praying imagined. But both of these people have ministries today they would not have had if they had been healed of their physical challenges.

As I think about these people, the man in Mark 8, others I’ve prayed for without seeing the results I wanted, I have to ask myself if I really trust God even when my requests aren’t fulfilled in my timing or in the exact way I’ve prayed?

I find it’s not about the outcome of my prayers, but the faith I have along the way. of course I believe God can do anything. He could remove Covid from the world right this minute. That’s not what God wants me to see today, though. God wants me to see Him, to trust Him, to have a faith that is not shattered if answers to my prayers aren’t immediate.

If God answers my prayers in stages, I pray that I will have the patience to see Him working in my life and in the lives of others in the situation with me while we wait. I pray that if the outcome isn’t what I demanded, I will trust Him enough to know and do what’s best for eternity.

I think God is reminding me today to pray, to trust, to have faith that He does all things well, and to rejoice in every step of the way.

Do Not Follow Your Heart (John 6; Mark 7)

I am sure at some time in your life, you’ve heard someone say, “Follow your heart.” Maybe it was said to you as you faced some personal dilemma. Maybe you’ve even said it to someone else you thought needed a bit of encouragement. We want to believe we know what is best for us, that somewhere deep inside us is the key to happiness and contentment. We ask “What does your heart tell you? Go with it.”

Is that sound advice? Listen to what Jesus says about trusting our hearts:

For from within, out of men’s hearts come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. (Mark 7:21-22)

These words are recorded in John 6 as well.

Someone once said to me, “The heart wants what the heart wants.” That may be true. But what the heart wants, according to Jesus, is sin.

We Jesus-followers should never tell another person to follow their heart. Never! Instead we should be encouraging each other to follow God, spend time in His Word and in prayer, ask others to pray with us and for us, truly seek God’s heart in the matter. God will reveal His will if we let Him.

God’s will might not be what our hearts “want.” But wanting what God’s heart wants for us is so much better than we can imagine.

Follow God. Do NOT follow your heart.

A Really Big Deal (Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9)

It occurred to me today that when Jesus fed the five thousand, He used what was given Him. He took the meager portion of bread and fish, and made a meal of it for all the people. He didn’t add a salad or dessert. The meal they ate was a direct result of the food placed in Jesus’ hands.

Sometimes I think we are timid about serving God because we feel what we have is not enough. Or maybe we look at the gifts and abilities God has given us, and tuck them away because we think they are unimportant and insignificant compared to what others seem to have.

But how can you know what God can do with your offering unless you give it to Him? Who in their right mind would have looked at the hungry crowd, then at the five loaves and two fish, and thought: “This will do.” No one!

But placed in the hands of Jesus, it was more than enough.

What spiritual gifts have you been given as a result of your relationship with God? What abilities and talents were you born with? You might think they are no big deal. And you might be right in your own power. The disciples couldn’t feed that crowd on their own, either.

But place your gifts and abilities in Jesus’ hands and watch what a big deal He makes of them. Watch as He takes what you give Him and multiply it over and over. Watch how He takes you and uses you to feed, to nourish, to bless a multitude.

That’s a really big deal!

Just Stop Talking! (Isaiah 30)

My mother underlined the following from verses in this chapter:

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. (vs 15)

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him. (vs 18)

How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. (19)

This is the way. Walk in it. (vs 21)

I just watched a briefing conducted by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. She was answering a question posed by a reporter who continued to talk during the answer. At one point you could hear the reporter ask, “Why aren’t you answering my question?” to which the Press Secretary replied something like, “You obviously are not interested in hearing my answer when you continue to talk over me.”

Now I wonder if we don’t do the same thing to God. The verses Mom underlined remind me that God answers prayer. He does tell us exactly what we need to know. When we cry for help, He always answers.

But sometimes we don’t want to hear the answers so we just keep on talking, keep on praying, keep on asking questions already answered. Sometimes we are so busy telling God what we think the answers should be, we stop listening to what the answers are.

These verses remind me there is strength and trust in quietness. It reminds me that if I am paying attention, God will always say: “Here is the way. Walk in it.” It encourages me to wait for Him because He longs to be gracious to me.

If only I would learn to be quiet, to just stop talking, and listen.

 

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!

Afraid? (Psalm 56)

In God, whose word I praise – in the Lord, whose word I praise – in God I trust; I will not be afraid. (56:10-11a)

I hear a lot of fear in the voices of people these days. Fear about the virus. Fear about the future. Fear about the economy. Fear about the government. We are living in a time in our history marked by fear.

But fear need not be a part of the Christian experience. Why? Because our trust is in our God, our future is held by God, our present is blessed by God.

Dear Christian, please rest in the fact that you are God’s beloved child. Listen to what God would say to us today through the prophet Isaiah:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

People who do not know God have reason to be afraid. They can’t have the same assurance that we who know the Lord have. Our relationship with God through the blood of Jesus, can (and should) block out all fear. After all, God often tells us in Scripture to “fear not.”

Here’s a suggestion: when you begin to feel afraid, praise God like the psalmist said. Do you trust that God is true to His Word? Praise Him! Do you have the Spirit of God living in you? Praise Him! Do you believe that God works all things for the good of we who love Him? Praise Him!

Even during this virus outbreak, we need not be afraid.