If I had just…

1 Samuel 15:10-11,”Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 ‘I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.’” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.”

Regret is painful. I do not know anyone who does not have regrets in some form or another. “If I had just taken a different path…if I had not spoken those words…if I had studied harder…if I had not gone that day.” Regret for humans is a belief that if we had not done something, the outcome would be different. Regret for God is not the same.

In this scripture it appears the all-knowing, supreme being of God made an error or a bad decision. We all know that God knows the beginning and the end. He holds our future in His hands. Nothing surprises God; but by our definition of regret, this scripture might make us wonder.

God’s decisions are made perfectly and righteously; however, it doesn’t say He enjoys seeing the trials and struggles we have because of those decisions. It was probably disheartening for God, to see the actions of Saul; even though He knew those actions before Saul ever made them.

Remember, when Jesus faced Pilot, He had no doubts as to what would happen. He knew the pain He would endure. He knew the anguish; but, He went through it anyway because of His deep love for us.

God, knowing how Saul would turn-out, chose him to be king anyway. 1 Samuel 15:29, “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”

God, the Glory of Israel, does not change his mind – He isn’t like us in that regard. What is difficult for Him is seeing the result of the decisions that He made; because of His great love for us, it is hard to watch us mess up. It’s hard to view our choices.

There’s also more to glean from this scripture. When we are disobedient to God, as Saul was, we hurt Him. Many times we don’t think about that. We are caught in the middle of sin and are either trying to hide it from God (impossible) or repenting of it. Either way, we are so self-absorb in our doings, we fail to realize what we are doing to our Savior.

Today, take some time to thank Him for the love He has for you. Apologize for hurting Him with your sin. Rejoice in knowing the depth of love God has for you. Spread that love to those you encounter today.


Do it anyway

I remember when Daniel was a little boy. I gave him $5.00 to run up to the concession stand at the ballgame and get himself a hot dog and coke. It was a really tight score and I didn’t want to miss a play! His older brother, David, was sitting on the other side of me; and Daniel, holding the money in his hand, hesitated. At the age of 6, he was uncertain about going up the bleachers alone. I tapped David on the leg and instructed him to go with Daniel.

“Daniel, it’ll be ok. David will go too. Don’t be afraid. It’s ok,” I assured him.

In Judges 7:10, God is instructing Gideon in similar fashion. He has asked Gideon to go into the camp for him but Gideon is afraid. God tells him, “But if you are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp.”

Sometimes, God asks us to do something; maybe move to a new city; change careers; have another child; go on a mission trip; start school; and we know we hear God but we’re afraid to do it. Being afraid is OK; in fact, God understands that we are apprehensive. If we were all confident and strong-headed, we couldn’t rely on Him, now could we?

The key is, when we are afraid to do it, we need to do it anyway. I guess you could say, we need to just do it afraid; because we know who is guiding us. Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Knowing who is fighting for you is just as important as what you are fighting about. When faced with an overpowering armed force, Elisha’s servant called out in fear, 2 Kings 6:17, “And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 

Whether He is asking you to deliver a message for Him or fight a battle, God will not only provide all that you need, He will go before you, beside you, and behind you. He’ll give you the words you need to speak; He’ll give you the courage and boldness; and He’ll give you the tools to do it. What you have to do, is do it. Even if you are afraid…


He will move mountains

Mark 2:5, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'”

Jesus was teaching in a house in Capernaum. The people wanted to hear him so much there was no room to get in and it appears the house was surrounded by people. Four friends of a paralytic man carried him on a stretcher to be healed by Jesus. When they got to the house, they realized there was no way they were going to get in through the front door because of the crowd.

Mark 2:4, “Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.”

If you have ever cracked walnuts, you know how hard it is to get through the outer shell. We keep working at it because we know inside the hard shell is a wonderful tasting nut. We wouldn’t worry with it if we didn’t have the belief that the nut was inside.

This guy’s friends not only loved him and wanted for him to be healed, but they believed he could be healed. If I could make a YouTube video of the event, I would titled it “Faith in action.” When they realized they couldn’t get in the house, they climbed up on the roof and dug a hole large enough to then lower him down through the hole. Can you imagine what was involved in the doing so?

There are times when we have to carry the load. We have to have faith for our friends and family. Sometimes, a person cannot do it alone. Do you realize the faith of our friends can change our circumstances? Prayer is important – yes! But there are times when your friend needs more than your prayers, he need s to see your faith in action. Maybe he  needs you to fast for him. Maybe  she needs you to invest money in what  she is trying to do. Whatever the situation, as Christians, we have a responsibility to show our faith for someone else’s need.

When Jesus sees our faith in action, He will move mountains for our friend.


In His shade

Security is an important element in our lives. We want to know that we are secure in our relationships with family and friends. We like to have a comfortable nest egg incase we have a financial emergency or are approaching retirement. Being assured our health is good is especially important to us. At night, we lock our doors and windows so that we feel safe while we are sleeping. What we don’t spend enough time contemplating is our eternal security. Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty;”

Several weeks ago, I was at an outdoor event in 95 degree weather. The heat on my skin burned and I started to look for a tree with shade. Around the corner of the building, I noticed a weeping willow tree and walked over to it to stand in its umbrella like shade. Under the tree, I felt 10 degrees cooler. It made me think of this verse from Psalm 91 and how God’s shadow hovers over us, protecting us.

In the real world, we know earthly trials will come our way. We are exposed to the elements – good and bad – because of the fall of man. There are times when God doesn’t rescue us from those dangers; but when we place our trust in Him and dwell in His shelter, we can be assured that whatever we face, God will turn it for our good and His glory.  Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. To give you a future and a hope.”

As a believer, when we place our trust in God to keep our soul safe, He will not let us down, whatever our circumstances. Eternal security is given to us because of God’s tremendous love for us. Today, talk with God about your plans. Make sure they are in line with His will. Examine what you are doing to secure eternity. Ask Him to help you dwell in His shelter so that you can be secure in His shadow. You were created with a huge purpose in mind. Allow God to use you. When we stand in His shade, we are defended by the God who will give us everything we need, exactly when we need it.


So that no one can boast…

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

This scripture is the first of the beatitudes and comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, Jesus makes nine statements regarding “who is blessed.” The word Beatitudes comes from the Latin word “beatus” meaning, “blessed” or “happy.”

What does Jesus mean when He tells us “poor in spirit?” If you substitute the word “humble” for “poor,” you’ll understand. Simply put, Jesus is telling us to be humble in our spirits by realizing our dependence on Him. We must acknowledge our own sin; our emptiness; our poverty. We cannot be proud in our hearts, thinking we do not need God. Humbleness starts with the recognition that we cannot exist without God and He is the Commander of our lives.  When we are humble before God, it creates a bond that cannot be broken; a relationship that gives us the life God wants for us.

Arrogance does not exist in a person who is “poor in spirit.” Arrogance over-rides God and puts Him as a secondary source of strength and puts one’s self as a primary source.

How do you become “poor in spirit?”

1. God’s standards cannot be reached by you and me. We need Jesus.

2. Full and total repentance. Our sins lead to death; our dependence on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, leads us to life eternal. There is NO other way.

3. Acknowledgement of our spiritual worthlessness without God. We are nothing without Him. We can do nothing without Him.

4. You cannot save yourself. Only Christ can give you salvation.

Who in the Bible had this attitude?

1. Gideon: Judges 6:15,  “‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.'”

2. Peter: Luke 5:8, “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’”

3. Jesus: John 5:30, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”

The best explanation is summed up in Ephesians 2:7-9, “in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”


It’s no joking matter

Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Often we interpret this verse to mean “mourning” as in grieving the loss of a loved one. No doubt; when we lose someone we love, God comforts us; but mourning here also refers to the grief we feel for our sinful acts. It is a loss of fellowship with God – a separation of our relationship to Him. There are blessings in our conviction over the sin we committed. The blessing comes in the pardon of our wrong doing. Redemption comes because we seek God’s forgiveness; we mourn because we have wronged Him and by His blood we are made clean again.

Jesus was also referring to the sins of the world. Anytime we feel the depth and pain of sin, whether it be our own actions, someone else’s, or the malicious acts of a nation, the sorrow draws us closer to God. In our pain and grief, He extends His hand toward us.

2 Corinthians 7:10, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

There have been times in my life when I asked God to forgive me for something that I did wrong. The attitude in my heart was almost nonchalant – I’d done something wrong, I’d asked for forgiveness, I’m done, right? What I was missing was the true meaning of this verse. God is very grieved when we lie, cheat, judge, steal, hurt others, have addictions, and any other mode of sin. He is hurt by it. When we casually make requests for forgiveness, it must grieve Him even more. The seriousness of sin is eternal damnation – it is no joking matter – and yet, at times we do not understand the seriousness of sin.

Jesus is saying to us, we are blessed when we understand our sin and we mourn over the separation that occurred between us and God when we sinned. This true repentance will bring to us the comfort of God’s forgiveness.

Today, search your heart; ask God to show you areas of wrongdoing to which you need to apply “Godly sorrow.” Sometimes we may need to ask God to give us a sense of sorrow over the sin we’ve committed and for which we are asking His forgiveness. We may need to feel the hurt we have put on others by our actions. We may need to understand how much we’ve hurt God by our sin. It is a privilege when we experience the true sadness for our sinful acts; the burden of death is lifted from us; we are redeem.


Blunders

What are words?

I often think about words and how they impact our daily lives. From what we read to what we hear, words have the ability to make or break our day

Have you ever just messed up? Said something stupid – something hurtful – and are left wondering how in the world those words ever came from your lips? I think we all have at some point in our lives. I used to wish my mouth was a vacuum and I got turn on the suction button at any given moment and just take the words back. But, we can’t.

Matthew 12:36-37, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Steps to guard your tongue:

1. Control your thoughts. Some of us feel free to think whatever we want. No one can hear, right? The reality is, what’s on our minds can sometimes pop out of our mouth unexpectedly. Don’t allow yourself to think harsh words. Don’t allow your mind to run crazy. If you start down a path mentally where you don’t need to go – STOP! Redirect your thinking.

2. Consider before you speak. Choose your words carefully. If you start to grow out of control, take a moment and regroup. Don’t strike out like a snake in a corner. Pause between comments. Run your sentences through your head first. Edit what you say!

3. Say what you meant to say. When you mess up, say you messed up. Tell the person what you meant to say or apologize for being stupid. It takes courage to say you are sorry. And some of us are good at it and some of us are not. When we consider Matthew 12:36-37, it is a wise choice to get it straight now.

Today, work on your language. Think about your words. Control your thoughts. And when you make a blunder, make it right.


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