Tag Archives: trusting God

Don’t Be Discouraged (Deuteronomy 30-31)

How are you fairing during this quarantine? I trust you are well, and making good choices for yourself and your family. Seriously, have your hands ever been this clean?

I know for most of you, this is not a vacation. Loss of wages is serious. Bills still need paid even if the money isn’t coming in. Your kids need you to guide their school work, AND to be creative about how they spend their days, after days, after days. It’s not exactly what you signed up for, is it?

Toilet paper? Yeah. There’s that.

For many, this virus epidemic is more than an inconvenience. Having the virus is serious, and some people are dying. Our entire world is feeling the effects of this thing, and it’s hard.

But as bad as it is right now, reading Deuteronomy 28 reminds me it’s not as bad as it could be. What God has recorded in this chapter is truly awful. He is warning His people what the consequences for disobedience looks like. And it’s ugly.

Some people are saying they don’t know why God would allow this virus to go unchecked. Personally, I don’t know why God didn’t remove His protection long ago. I mean, we haven’t been exactly obedient for quite some time, have we? Is this virus a judgment on sin? I don’t know. But I do know God said this:

Be strong and courageous…, The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (31:7-8)

Now Moses was talking to the Jews about entering the Promised Land. There would be trouble ahead, but in 30:15 God told them that His children had a choice. They could choose life and prosperity, or death and destruction. Then He commanded them to…

love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws.”  (verse 16)

Obedience to that would mean choosing life. Disobedience would mean choosing death.

Remember God is talking to His children. And, friend, I believe He’s talking to His children – His Church – today. Let’s each of us who know Jesus as our Savior reevaluate our relationship with Him while we are practicing social distancing. Let’s spend time in His Word and let Him lay a heavy finger on sin in our lies, to point out inconsistencies in our walk, to reveal Truth.

Then may we confess, draw close to Him, love Him like He deserves and determine to walk in His ways. May we keep His commands and decrees and laws, resting in the fact that if we do, He will go before us and be with us, He will never leave or forsake us, and we need not be afraid or discouraged, because He is true to His Word.

It’s easy to be fearful during this time in our lives. Those who don’t know God probably have reason to fear. But we who are His children through the blood of His precious Son need not be discouraged or fearful. Do you believe God means what He says? Then hear Him say, choose life today. Obey Him. Trust Him. He goes before us and will never forsake us.

Don’t be discouraged.

 

 

Just Move On (Genesis 20)

Sometimes I read about Isaac and the feud with the Philistines over the wells, and think, “Why didn’t he fight for his rights? Why didn’t he stand up to the bullies and tell them he’d dug those wells, so they should just go and dig their own? Why should Isaac lose what he’d worked for?”

Instead, Isaac gave in, packed up and moved on to another location, dug another well. Then, when the Philistines came and claimed that well, too, Isaac reacted the way he’d reacted before. He packed up and moved on to yet another location, and dug yet another well. The Philistines took the second well right from under Isaac, and Isaac appears to not even have objected. He simply moved on.

That just isn’t done in 21st Century America. I mean, people have gotten into fist fights, even pulled guns on one another over parking spaces at the grocery. You don’t step on the  perceived rights of an American these days.

Was Isaac so weak, did he have so little faith that God would fight for him over the wells? What gives?

This is what I hear God say to me this morning: It wasn’t that Isaac didn’t trust God. It’s that Isaac trusted God a great deal. After digging the third well, and without any objection from the Philistines this time, Isaac said:

Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land. (26:22)

The truth is, sometimes battles present themselves that God does not want us fighting. Sometime we don’t need to respond if someone baits us with a political position, or a moral dilemma. Sometimes God wants us to back away, move on instead of taking up our battle position.

Yes, there are times God wants us to go to war. But sometimes war is not His will, even though Satan would love for us to jump into the fray. God may want us to move on instead.

Isaac was sensitive to God’s leading, and God led him to greener pastures where Isaac could flourish. I know you’ve heard it said, “Pick your battles,” and I think that is sound advice. Here might be the better advice, though:

Pick God’s battles.

Notice in the verse I quoted above Isaac said, “… the Lord has given…”

It wasn’t about winning a fight, it was about waiting for God’s best. And God always gives His best when we are in a position to receive it. Sometimes we just have to keep moving on until we are in that position where God can and will bless us.

Let’s determine to be in God’s Word every day, to pray without ceasing, and to be sensitive to God’s leading in every situation. Then let’s let God move in our hearts as to whether we fight or just move on. May He find us obedient however He leads.

 

Funeral Arrangements (Job 1-5)

I’ve never known anyone who suffered the same devastating losses Job did in one day. I certainly haven’t come close to that magnitude of loss. But I have experienced loss. And so have you. And there is something we can learn from Job’s example.

After hearing that his crops, livestock, and children were all suddenly gone, Job affirmed his trust in God. Most of us are familiar with Job’s response to this great loss. He said, “I came into this world with nothing, and I’ll leave here with nothing. Everything I’ve ever had was given to me by God, and it’s up to Him whether I keep them or not. May the name of the Lord be…

praised!”

Really? Not questioned? Not accused or discarded? Not shaken a fist at or maligned?

The Bible tells us that in all his losses, Job didn’t sin by charging God with doing anything wrong. Later, in 2:10, Job even says: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job didn’t sin by anything he said, even when most of us would say we’d understand if he had.

Are you experiencing loss? Maybe not even a recent loss, but a loss from your past that has kept you at arms length from God? I pray you will read what God would say to you today through these chapters in His Word.

I think Job’s example tells us to go ahead and mourn. Tear your clothes, shave your head, or scrape your skin with broken pottery (figuratively, of course). But in that period of mourning don’t sin, don’t make matters worse by cursing God when all He wants is to be your comfort and strength. Job praised God in the depths of deep pain and suffering. We can praise God in the depths of ours.

I want to share something I heard yesterday at the funeral of a young woman whose life was cut short as suddenly as Job’s children’s lives were cut short that awful day. One of the pastors, this woman’s cousin, reminded us that her death came at no surprise to God. And he assured us that God welcomed that precious woman home the moment her spirit left her physical body. We can trust God even in our mourning and through the “what ifs.”

We mourn. She rejoices. We weep. She sings. We are paralyzed with grief. She is dancing before the Lord. And she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

One day, because this girl at the age of six made her funeral arrangements by accepting Jesus as her Savior, we will see her again if we have made the same confession, accepted the same forgiveness for our sin, and placed our funeral arrangements in the hands of God. Death has no power over those of us who know the Savior.

That’s not wishful thinking. That’s not some fairytale made up by weak people to get us through hard times. It’s a fact. You and I will both die one day. We came into this world with nothing, and we’ll leave here the same way.

Except for one thing. I’m leaving here with a robe of righteousness placed on me by Jesus. I’m leaving here with confidence that my sins are forgiven by the precious blood of my Savior. My funeral arrangements are made. And when I leave this life, I’m going to go live with Jesus. Forever.

I’d like you to come with me.

December 9; I Give Up

Acts 21:1-23:11

I had to chuckle as I read these chapters today. Not so much because what I read was funny, but because what I read was so me. (Sadly).

Paul was heading to Jerusalem. Along the way, all kinds of people told him not to go, that only trouble waited for him there. Agabus, a prophet, specifically told Paul that he would be arrested if he went to Jerusalem.

Well, that did it. When the people heard what the prophet said they pleaded with Paul to change his plans. They begged and wept trying to get him to give up this crazy idea of going to Jerusalem. But Paul was adamant. He was going to Jerusalem in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ whether they liked it or not.

Then this:

When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” (21:14)

Maybe it’s the wording in the NIV, but that is where I chuckled at the foolishness. They did everything they could to convince Paul to do what they wanted him to do. Then, when they finally realized he was having none of it, THEY GAVE UP.

That is totally understandable. Eventually you quit beating a dead horse. But the sad thing is,  it was only when they had given up their own efforts did they say, “The Lord’s will be done.”

To me it sounds the equivalent of an adolescent trying to get his friends to do something he wants to do, then when the friends aren’t interested in giving in saying, “Fine. Have it your way.”

“Fine. Have it God’s way.”

I wish I could tell you I have never said that myself. After praying for something, trying to manipulate circumstances in my favor, thinking positive thoughts, and realizing I’m not any closer to getting my way than I was at the start, I then take a deep breath and pray, “Not my will but Thine be done.”

So foolish. God is reminding me today that having His will accomplished in my life needs to be my first thought, my first wish, my first prayer. Paul’s friends were right. Paul was arrested and beaten in Jerusalem just like they’d feared. But Paul had said he was willing to be bound, even killed for Jesus’ sake there in Jerusalem. He trusted God that much.

Friend, wanting God’s will in our lives should never be a last resort. I’m pretty sure those of us who know Him would say without hesitation we want God’s will in our lives. Then, from the start we need to learn to say:

I give up.

October 20; Worry

Luke 12:22-13:17, 13:22-14:24

Why do Christians worry? I mean, I think most of us do at some time or another. We worry about our children, our health, the state of the world. We might worry about tomorrow, or today.

Jesus reminds us that worry is a waste of time. Someone once said worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.

But I think worry is a bit more serious than that. Worry tells God I just don’t trust Him enough. That’s serious.

Look around. God takes care of His creation. And we who were created in His image are the apple of His eye. Why would we even consider that God can’t handle whatever we are facing?

Jesus tells us to seek first His kingdom. Everything else will fall into place. Are my eyes on God? Is my focus on my Savior? Am I praying God’s will be done, and meaning it?

Then there is no reason to worry. Verse 32 tells us, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Let that sink in.

Back in the day we used to sing a chorus, “Why worry when you can pray? Trust Jesus, He’ll lead the way…Why worry, worry, worry, worry, when you can pray?”

The answer to that musical question is, “I don’t know.” There is no good reason to worry when you can pray. Let’s pray.

August 23; Stay Or Go

Lamentations 5; 2 Kings 25:22-26; Jeremiah 40-42

The Jews were in a sad state. Many of them had been taken captive and forced into Babylon. Many had died from the famine, or had been slaughtered by the enemy. Even when it looked like a remnant would be safe, the enemy stepped in to destroy even them.

So finally, the last remaining Jews looked to God. “Where should we go, God? Tell us what to do.” The enemy was closing in, so God’s answer was surprising.

“Stay put.”

He told them if they stayed He would bless them and protect them. Leaving, He said, would be a fatal mistake.

Sometimes staying put is hard. Standing firm is scary. Trusting God seems good on paper, but when that enemy is bearing down on us, our reaction might be to run. Hear God tell us that if we stay, He will build us up and not tear us down. He’ll plant us and not uproot us. He’ll be with us, save us, and show us compassion if we stand where He stands.

I think this applies to so many things in our lives. Certainly standing for the truth of Scripture. Certainly standing up for God’s definition of sin, worshiping God in truth. It might be applied to a marriage commitment, parenting, a job. I have no idea what God is speaking to you about today.

But if God says, “Stay,” He’ll be exactly what you need to stay and thrive. If He says stay, stepping away comes with serious consequences.

So do we stay or go?

August 19; It’s Not About The Rags

Jeremiah 34:1-22, 39:1-18; 2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chronicles 13:15-21

The king couldn’t escape God’s wrath. The most powerful man in the country had no defense against the hand of God, even with his strong army fighting for him. Zedekiah tried to run, but he was captured, his children killed right before his eyes, then his eyes were gouged out of his head, and he was thrown in prison.

God had repeatedly warned King Zedekiah, but he continually refused to repent. He ended up paying a high price for his disobedience.

However, an employee of the king, a Cushite named Ebed-Melech was saved by God. Do you remember Ebed-Melech?

We met him in Jeremiah 38. He’s the man who rescued Jeremiah out of a cistern, where the prophet had been left to die by Zedekiah’s thugs. Ebed-Melech thoughtfully provided rags to be used as cushions under Jeremiah’s armpits so Jeremiah wouldn’t be cut to shreds as Ebed-Melech lifted him up out of the well by a rope. He not only saved Jeremiah’s life, he did so with a great deal of kindness and consideration. I like Ebed-Melech.

Now here in Jeremiah 29 we hear God promise Ebed-Melech he will be rescued himself. But not as a reward for being considerate to Jeremiah. God said:

I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declared the Lord. (29:18, emphasis mine)

I am reminded that no amount of thoughtful, kind, or sacrificial deeds can buy my salvation. No one had more to offer than King Zedekiah. No one had more resources at his disposal. Ebed-Melech, just a regular guy, was saved because he trusted God.

And, dear one, trusting God is what will save you and me, too.