Monthly Archives: October 2013

That’s no army…

This is a devotion I wrote several months ago; but, I think it is worth repeating. Sometimes we need reminding Who is on our side. May God bless you and give you exactly what you need today to fulfill His plan in your life.

2 Kings 6:16-17, “‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered, ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so 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.”

The king of Aram is at war with Israel during the time of this scripture. He has a problem because every time he tries to attack Israel, somehow, the Israelites know it. He calls together his advisors and asks, “Who is the traitor in our camp? Who is notifying the king of Israel of our plans?”

He is told that it is not the betrayal of one of his advisers. Instead, it is the prophet, Elisha, who hears the words spoken by the king even in his bedroom. “‘None of us, my lord the king,’ said one of his officers, ‘but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.'” 2 Kings 6:12.

The king of Aram sends servants to find Elisha and report back to him. He is told Elisha is in Dothan. Immediately, he sends horses and chariots and strong warriors to Dothan to capture the prophet.

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh, my lord, what shall we do?’ the servant asked.” 2 Kings 13.

Sometimes we face bigger than life situations, insurmountable odds, and incomprehensible problems that make us want to crawl into a corner and hide. I’m sure the servant of Elisha felt this way when he saw the Aramean army in full strength encircled around them. But if we could only see the forces behind us. If we could only see God’s army of angels; God’s fiery force; God’s mighty warriors, we wouldn’t shake at all. We’d probably laugh at our opponents.

Crocodile Dundee is a popular movie about an Australian man. He was rough and tough and lived off the land. No croc was too big for him. In the movie, Dundee finds himself in New York City. A gang member pulls a knife on him and demands he give him his wallet. Dundee shrugs his shoulders and replies in his Australian accent, “That’s no knife,” as he chuckles and pulls out a knife three times bigger, “THIS is a knife.”

What Elisha was saying to his servant is, “if you could see what is really out there, you would know not to fear. That’s no army…THIS is an army.”

The more our spiritual eyes are opened, the more we will understand our physical circumstances. Victory is at hand, we need only to see the hand of God in it.


If God…Has God…Did God??

There are two scriptures I want to focus on today and they are very close to one another in scriptures. The reading comes from Matthew 3:17. Jesus has gone to John the Baptist and has asked him to baptize Him in the River Jordan. As soon as Jesus is baptized, the skies open up and the Spirit of God descends from heaven “like a dove” and lights on Jesus. Verse 17 says, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.'”

In the very next chapter of Matthew, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert for the purpose of being tempted by the devil. It doesn’t say, “He went into the desert to fast and pray and potentially be tempted; possibly be visited by the devil; or to be on the look-out for Satan; no, the Spirit, which just landed upon Him from Heaven and declared, “This is my SON…,” led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Verse 3, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Don’t you want to just stop right there and say, “What an idiot!” The Heaven’s just opened up and the Word of God declared, “This is my Son!” And the very first words of Satan to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…” Talk about overlooking the obvious!

And yet, Satan uses the same lines day after day with you and me. How many of you are buying what he is saying?

Has God really given you power over me? Did God really say you would be healed? Does He really have your best interest in mind here? Are His plans really to prosper you? Will He really turn this situation for good? Do you really think He is in control of your life?

Blah, lah, lah, lah, lah…and yet we continue to fall for it.

It’s time for some of us to tell Satan to take a hike. Matthew 4:4 gives Jesus’ answer to Satan’s idiotic question, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

I want to take my fist and shake it in the air and declare, “Satan, if God says it, I believe it. Take your doubt, your temptation, your chaos, and …”

The reality is, if Satan can use such on Jesus, how much more is he going to use on us. God sent Jesus there for a reason, to allow us to see how utterly ridiculous Satan’s arguments can be. God had just opened up the skies and announced, “Jesus is my Son! I love Him!” Can you get any clearer than that; and yet, Satan has the audacity to still question it? It’s pretty obvious in this example; but, know it is pretty obvious in your case and my case too. God’s Word is alive and well and true. If He says it, don’t let anything tell you differently.

The next time you hear that whisper in your mind, “Did God really say He’d take care of you? Are you really His child?” Answer with a resounding “Yes!” and go about doing the business God has for you.

I pray for clarity and wisdom for you today as you deal with others and with yourself. Know God has all the answers for you, He just needs you to ask Him.


How many holes are in your fence?

I once heard a story about a father who was having a difficult time teaching his teenage son to control his temper. He decided to give his son a bag of nails and a hammer with the instructions that every time his son lost his temper, he was to hammer a nail into the fence. The first day, when the father came home, the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Every day the nails became less and less. Finally, the boy no longer needed to drive the nails into the fence.

When he told his father he had controlled his temper all day, his father suggested that he pull a nail out of the fence for every day he controlled his temper. Before long, all the nails were gone. The boy went to his father and told him he had pulled all the nails he had hammered into the fence, out. His father was very happy; but, he took his son to the fence.

“Do you see all the holes in the fence from the nails you hammered into it?” the father asked.

The boy nodded.

The father continued, “That fence will never be the same because of your anger. The holes in the wood will always be there.”

When we say things to people in anger, those words will always be there; just like the holes in the fence. When we say things to hurt others, we forever change that person. His father explained to him, “If you drive a knife into man, no amount of ‘I’m sorry’ will take the scar away.”

Think about the way you are speaking to others today. Are your words useful and productive? Could you say them a different way? A more positive way? A less hurtful way? Pray to God and ask Him to help you hold your tongue when necessary and rephrase your words when an immediate response is not possible.


God-breathed

Psalm 1:1-2, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,  and who meditates on his law day and night.”

Blessed is the one – Those words in and of themselves should make us stand up and take notice. Isn’t that what we all want? To be blessed by God? When I read those words I want to say, “Yes! What do I need to do?” We have no problem when we hear an ad on TV, “Lose 20 pounds in two weeks. Follow this full-proof plan!” We grab our phones and start dialing to order for $19.99 a month. Here, the Holy Spirit is telling us how to have a blessed life.

who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers – No one wants or sets out to be a sinner. A four-year old doesn’t profess to his parents, “I think I’ll grow up to be wicked.” Sin has a way of creeping up on us unexpectedly at times and blatantly at others. It should not be welcomed in our homes, our cars, our workplace, our schools. We do not want its company. We do not want to follow its example.

but whose delight is in the law of the Lordand who meditates on his law day and night. – God wants us to make Him a daily habit. Everything in scripture leads up to Christ. The  ultimate goal in reading the Bible is not so we can win a Bible trivia contest or quote scripture to impress others; it is to cultivate a relationship with the Savior of the world. From cover to cover, the Bible is all about our salvation. Why wouldn’t we read it?

2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”


The First Step

Jonah 1:4, “But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”

Most of you know the story of Jonah. The guy who was swallowed by the big fish and lived in its belly for 3 days. He got there because the Lord asked him to go one place but he wanted to go another. And knowing he was disobeying God, he set out to “flee from Him.” It seems crazy  for someone to attempt to run away from God – the Creator of the Universe, the omnipotent King of all kings, the Great I am. Is there anywhere we could go that He wouldn’t see us? Find us? Reach us? When we read the story of Jonah, we almost laugh at his stupidity; yet, even now, some of us are just like him.

Unsuspectingly, some of us justify our actions, even though we know they are in opposition to God’s word. We disguise sin as cultural norms, political correctness, and claim the God of today is not the God of yesterday. The world is a different place, we assert. I often wonder if Jonah was thinking the same thing. He probably felt he knew more about the people of his time than God; after all, he was in the here and now!

A young man came to my office many months ago. He wanted to get married. “Could I do the ceremony for him?” I knew he and his girlfriend had been living together for several years and I asked him about it.

“We have,” he said almost proudly. “We bought a house together and after 2 1/2 years we think its time to take the next steps.”

“The next steps?” I repeated. “You’ve never taken the first step.”

In order for me to marry him, I told him he would have to move out, live apart, abstain from intimate relations, and do it God’s way.

“Oh,” he smiled, “Pastor, nobody waits until marriage anymore.”

We’ve become a society of rule makers and rule breakers. If it doesn’t meet our agenda, we find some possible way around it. We lawyer it down; read between the lines; and make our own precedent. When I think about it, there is a little bit of Jonah in all of us.

Take God seriously. If there is something in your life you need to change, don’t wait another minute. Bring it to God in prayer. Make it right, before you, like Jonah, end up in the belly of a fish


Forever changed

Acts 3:1-7, “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.”

This story in Acts intrigues me for several reasons. It is interesting that there is a man who has been crippled since birth and people helped him daily by bringing him to the Temple gate called Beautiful.  Why?  So he could beg to acquire the basic necessities of life. I assume, they would pick him up at the end of the day and take him home as well. What a blessing these people were to him.  Without the coins he received each day, he would not be able to live.  Without their help getting there, he would struggle to survive.

When he sees Peter and John, he asks them for money. Peter and John do not have silver or gold to give him; instead, they tell him “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Those words give me chills because of the power behind them. They take the man’s right hand, help him to his feet, and he takes off on strong feet and ankles.  His life has forever changed.

Which was the better help for this man? There is no way to answer that because both acts offered him assistance; yet, Peter and John’s way changed his life.

It brings me to this thought: how often do we encounter people struggling with life, and we want to help them in some way. We see what they need to change themselves, but it is easier to bring them to the Temple gate to beg instead of truly changing their lives. Maybe we do not feel comfortable telling them about Jesus of Nazareth, the King of kings and Lord of lords. We would rather offer sweet words and move on. When is the last time you’ve asked someone if they have Jesus in their life or is it just easier to drop a coin in the cup and walk on by.

I feel stronger than ever that we must become people with the faith and vision to take someone’s right hand, help him to his feet, and in the name of Jesus of Nazareth tell him to walk – in the fullness of Christ, in faith, in obedience, in a life centered by God.

Who needs your help today? Will you drop a coin and pass by, or will you change their life forever? Think about it.


What your hands have done

During the reign of King David, Israel was surrounded by enemies. Very much like modern-day Israel, the nations around her were thirsty for the blood of God’s people. David’s job was not easy. Being under the constant threat of war must have caused him anxiety and fear; yet, he writes in Psalm 143:5 – 7, “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works, and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.”

It’s hard to imagine that the slayer of Goliath knows panic. Consider, if God had given you the power to take down a giant with a stone and a sling, wouldn’t you walk a little taller. Prance like a peacock? Stick out your chest and pound it? But even David struggled with doubt and when he did, he considered all that God had done for him in the past.

God equips us with the resources we need to defend ourselves every day, not so much against blood thirsty warriors as in David’s day, but against temptations; against financial burdens; against marital break-up; family disorder; and against sickness. See, we need the “armour of God” to defend us today just as much as David needed it to defend his people against the violence of other nations.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go,  for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8.

The weapons we fight with today have the power to demolish the strongholds of our lives. You do not have to battle it alone. You do not have to fall into the pit like others. God not only knows what you are battling but He already has a way out for you. “Show me the way I should go, Lord…I spread out my hands to you, O God.”

Someone asked me the other day, “Are you really as calm as you seem to be about life?” I’d love to answer unequivocably, “Yes!” but I am just like you. I struggle with issues just like you do. Every morning, I have to look at the beautiful sky before me as the sun rises and renew my strength in the Lord, just as King David did. Battles rage around us, no different from Israel. But how we prepare for those fights makes all the difference in the outcome. “I consider, Lord, what Your hands have done for me in my past, and I trust in You, O God, for what I need today.”