Tag Archives: trusting God

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.

 

 

 

Real Hope (Psalm 59)

I had a conversation with someone recently who doesn’t have a relationship with the Lord. The fear in her voice was strong as she talked about the covid19 virus. That fear paralyzed her. She had no hope.

The hope she expressed was merely wishful thinking. She said things like, “I hope my family doesn’t get it,” “I hope this ends soon,” “I hope the government does something about this.” But the more she spoke, the more evident it became that she had no real hope at all.

David knew what it was like to live in fear. He lived amid a plague of jealousy and hate. Spears and arrows were aimed at his heart. In fact, we’ll find out he self-quarantined in a cave to protect himself from coming in contact with those spears and arrows.

Today, instead of weapons of war pointing at us, we have a virus, germs, disease taking aim. And, like David, we are hunkered down, removing ourselves from the danger of contact. But not all of us are experiencing the same thing.

Some are isolated in their homes, wringing their hands, stuck to the TV news channels, hoarding toilet paper. And some are joyfully spending time with family, playing games, singing praise songs, even reaching out to help neighbors.

I know not everyone is living one extreme or the other. But I think how we approach this virus depends on where we place our confidence.

Do I look to the government or medical researchers for protection? Or do I look to God? Do I trust social distancing, or God? Do I look for answers in the media? Or do I go to the Word of God for answers?

Listen to what David said during this frightening time in his life:

O, my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (Psalm 59:9)

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praises to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (verses 16-17)

David repeatedly called God his fortress. To me a fortress is that sturdy, impenetrable place where no harm can come. David could rest in that fortress, and so can we.

Now, don’t misunderstand. I don’t believe that putting my hope in God will make me immune to this virus. But living in the fortress that is God gives me the assurance, the real hope, that if I stay healthy and don’t get this virus, I win. And if I get this virus and die, I win.

Am I worried about this virus? I can honestly say no. I’m following orders and staying in my home, washing my hands, etc. But I’m not losing sleep over the “what ifs.” I’ve given God those “what ifs,” and I pray you have, too.

I believe real hope isn’t a state of mind. I believe real hope is a constant relationship with the God of Creation, who does all things well. That’s not just wishful thinking.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and His righteousness. It’s that solid rock, that fortress, that strength, that love.

My hope is real because God is real.

What Do You Do When You Lose? (Judges 19-21)

There is so much in these three chapters, some of which can get my blood boiling. I have to keep reminding myself that this was a time when Israel had no king, and everyone did as they wished.

But today I was encouraged as I read. Israel was going to war in order to purge the evil from among them. Yes, they were going to destroy their brothers the Benjamites because that tribe was evil.

Israel went to the Lord, and God told them to go to war against the tribe of Benjamin. Israel acted in obedience to the Lord. But the first battle saw 22,000 Israeli soldiers cut down. Did you notice 20:22? I love it!  After this devastating loss, the men of Israel encouraged each other!

They went to the Lord and wept, and asked Him what they should do. Again, God said, “Go to battle.” The next day Israel attacked Benjamin and this time 18,000 Israelites died. After this second defeat the Israelites did something that speaks to me.

They went back to the Lord. They wept, fasted and prayed. They offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. A third time God told them to go into battle, but this time He added:

tomorrow I will give them into your hands.

Sometimes we might think that if we are obeying God, if He is in our situation, that ought to guarantee a victory. And often it does. But what happens if we don’t get the results we are looking for? What if we fail miserably?

Do we quit? Do we wash our hands of God? Do we grumble and complain? I think we can learn something important from the example of the Jewish army here in Judges.

The Israelites encouraged each other after their defeat. Sometimes we need our brothers and sisters to be that encouragement for us. Sometimes we need to hear someone tell us to hang in there, to keep going, to not give up. Sometimes we get our strength when God uses the voices of His children on our behalf. And, friend, each of us can be that to a brother or sister who is experiencing defeat. Let’s not be quick to condemn. Let’s be quick to encourage that struggling saint to do what Israel did next:

The Israelites when to God. Not just once. Not twice. Three times. They went to God and kept going to God. They weren’t one and done. And God rewarded their faithfulness by giving them the final victory.

Dear ones, let me encourage you today. You may be fighting what seems to be a losing battle right now. We are all in a weird situation because of this virus, and some of you have lost your income, maybe your health, and maybe you have lost loved ones because of this disease. Others of you may be fighting a spiritual battle with sin. I don’t know.

But hear me say, hang in there. Go to God and keep going to Him. Storm the doors of heaven, barge into the throne room. Ask God to reveal sin in your life, and be quick to repent of it. Ask God for direction, then obey Him. Trust Him. Yield to Him. Don’t tell Him what you want done, be sensitive to what HE wants done. Then do it.

You might not get a victory after the first battle. Let each failure draw you closer to Him. Let each defeat cause you to trust Him more.

I know God will bless you as you obey Him. And, folks, the victory is the Lords! Don’t forget whose side we’re on. The truth is…

WE WIN!

You Don’t Have To Be Strong (Judges 6-7)

So many times you hear people say some situation is too hard for them to handle. The burden is too heavy to carry, the enemy too strong to defeat.

That’s what Gideon told God about the Midianites. But God, in 6:14 said:

“Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand.”

I know! It sounds like God is saying He’s not giving Gideon anything more than he can handle in the strength he already has. People, even many Christians, hang on to this idea like it comes straight from the Bible. And this verse certainly seems to indicate that is true. But please don’t stop reading at verse 14.

Gideon cries, “NO! I am too weak. My whole family is weak. The enemy is too strong!”

Gideon recognized that the task at hand was beyond his capabilities. And, friend, sometimes… always… that is the first step to victory.

God says something in verse 16 I don’t want you to miss. The Lord answered:

I!

“I will be with you. I will defeat your enemy.” In other words, “Go, Gideon, in the strength you have… WHICH IS ME!

Gideon was right to say he didn’t have what it took to defeat his enemy, and so are you when faced with that daunting mountain you’re facing, that sin you know you need to turn away from, that illness you’re fighting, that loved one who is going in a wrong direction, that toxic relationship you’re in.

But the good news, the really good news contrary from modern day thinking is: YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE STRONG! So much harm is done when we tell each other we should be able to handle something, to conquer something. “Tell yourself you are strong.” “Tell yourself you are more than capable.” “Keep telling yourself.” “And when you find you really aren’t all that strong, feel guilty about it because you SHOULD be strong.”

“After all, God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

That is such a lie! That is Satan’s attempt to replace God with yourself. Here’s what the Bible says about that:

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

My grace us sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. (Isaiah 40:29)

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory… (Exodus 15:2)

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7-8)

Just Google “Bible verses about strength” and read what God wants you to know. Take the pressure of being some strong, capable, powerful person off your shoulders and run to the God of Strength. If you know God you don’t have to be strong, because…

HE IS!

And I promise, if you ask Him to be your strength, He will be your strength beyond what you can even imagine.

I’m going to leave you with something Paul said. Please notice what is missing in this verse. It doesn’t say be strong in your own power. It says:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10, emphasis mine)

 

 

 

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.