Monthly Archives: February 2016

He adores hearing from you!

Ecclesiastes 5:1, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”

The Hebrew word for guard is Sha-mar meaning to take great care of something. It means to pay close attention and to protect from intrusion. The word Sha-mar places the responsibility on self. It is our duty to guard and protect and defend.

In this scripture from Ecclesiastes, we are requested to watch ourselves carefully as we go to house of God to worship Him. Our worship must be about HIM and our minds must be fixed upon the things of God.

To honor God in worship, here are some steps you can follow to help you guard yourself:

1. Prepare for worship. Have a good mental attitude. Go before the Lord with a humble and expectant heart. Look forward to going to church or reading your Bible in the morning or meeting with God in prayer. It isn’t a chore but a privilege.

2. Prepare yourself to adore Him. Open your heart and spirit to emotionally connect with Him. It isn’t a ritual; it is an action of openness prompted by one’s self in loving expression to our Father.

3. Be prepared to concentrate. Turn off your cell-phone. Stop making mental lists of what you have to do. Stop planning and find a place in your head to focus on God, and only God.

The scripture tells us to “go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools.”

4. Approach your time of worship prepared to hear from God either through music or sermon or the Word of God. Don’t be foolish and run your mouth endlessly. One of the reasons people have a difficult time hearing from God is not because God isn’t talking, they aren’t listening!

5. Listen to God and then respond. It is so difficult to speak to someone who you know isn’t listening to you but calculating a verbal response in his or her head. When God speaks to you, listen to what He is saying.

Worship is a time to glorify God; to connect with Him; to hear His Word; and to rejoice in Him and praise His Name. Think about how you worship God. Make changes if necessary. Enjoy being in His presence for He adores hearing from you.


What are you but a shepherd boy!

1 Samuel 17:28, “When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

I can imagine the scene in my head – older brother scolding the younger – “Go away! What are you but a shepherd boy! Go tend to your sheep, BRAT!”

But David was on a mission for God. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites occupied the other. A champion warrior named Goliath from Gath taunted the Israelites. The Bible tells us he was 9 feet tall!  “He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.” (This guy is one bad CAT and nobody wants to deal with him!) Goliath shouted to the Israelites for someone brave enough to come and fight him. If the Israelite wins, the Philistines will be subject to them; but, if he wins, the Israelites will become subject to the Philistines. Saul and his army were terrified. Nobody wanted to take this guy on, and I can’t say I don’t blame them.

David is the youngest of eight boys belonging to Jesse from Bethlehem – three of the sons are in Saul’s army, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah. For 40 days the taunting had been constant, and daily Saul could not produce someone to fight Goliath. Jesse sent his son David to bring his boys food. When David arrives, it is early morning and he hears the words of Goliath.

Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”  David asks the men.

Eliab, his older brother, overhears the questions and angered by David, attempts to get rid of him. But David hears a word from God. David knows Who he serves. His God can defeat this uncircumcised Philistine!

Some of us can be Eliab’s in other’s lives. The negative, “you can’t do it!” “get out-of-the-way!” “you are incapable!” voices which interfere in the plans God has for people. Some of us don’t want to defeat the giants in our lives because we don’t believe we can.

And then, some of us listen to the Eliab’s of our lives. We listen to those who are the nay-sayers and we buy into the doubt of our abilities to do all things through a mighty, powerful God.

Which are you?

God has a purpose for every one of us. He has a plan. He needs to use our abilities to benefit His Kingdom; but, first and foremost, we have to tune our hearing into Him. Selective hearing – directed toward the Word of God – removes the Eliab’s of our lives. Pray today about what God needs you to do. Ask Him to remove the voices of Eliab in your life.

           


Faith in the wrong things

Psalm 20: “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May He remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now this I know:     The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Lord, give victory to the king!  Answer us when we call!

Anxiety hits all of us at some point in our lives. Some of us have learned to handle it better than others. God does not want us to be anxious about anything. When we find ourselves in distress, Psalm 20 can bring us the comfort we need. I used to have a friend who carried this Psalm around in his wallet. I often saw him pull it out before football games. The greatest part of this scripture is found in verse 7.

Some of us trust our cars more than God. Some of us trust our jobs more than God. Some of us trust our homes, our education, our friends, our looks or our money. We are putting our faith in the wrong things. None of those things can save you!

God tells us the way to attack anxiety is to trust in the name of the Lord our God. It is that simple.

Today, reflect on Psalm 20. Outwardly speak the words of affirmations – “I do not trust in chariots or horses…NO! I trust in the name of the Lord my God.” Try it the next time you feel worried. See what a difference it can make.


May your God rescue you…

May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” -Daniel 6:16

Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, full count, score is tied, and of course, it’s for the league championship. The anxiety in the small stadium of our hometown builds as the high school pitcher, adjusts his cap, glances over his shoulder to first base, winds to throw…

Life is like that. Sometimes we are faced with difficult odds. I’ve been that pitcher and so have you. The solution could go either way – we can win or we can lose. One throw. One chance.

Daniel’s life was at stake because he chose to worship God and not the king. Even though he knew by worshipping God he would be thrown into the lion’s den, he openly stood in his window, in full view of everyone, and praised his God. His sentence by the king, as he well knew, was the lion’s den.

When I struggle with faith, I often imagine Daniel walking to the pit, knowing the lions had not been fed for several days. Was he afraid or was he assured? I can imagine he remembered the times in his life God had shown up before. He knew the power of God’s miracles; and yet, his life was not without trials and struggles.

Daniel had been taken captive from his home as a young man and made into a eunoch by the Babylonians. His entire life had been twisted and uprooted, separated from his family and culture, and forced into slavery. I’m sure as he journeyed to Babylon, he diligently prayed for God to save him; to free him from bondage; to prevent bodily harm to him; but God didn’t – not in the way Daniel probably wished.

As he walked to the lion’s den, what was on his mind?

Sometimes in life we know the situation could go either way. Mistakenly, we use faith as a wish. Like a child, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight!”Faith is not about having life work out the way we want; faith is about believing God’s way is the best way and trusting in Him for the best solution.

May your God rescue you… Every step Daniel took toward that lion’s den, God was with him. Every time he lifted his foot, God placed it on the ground. As he fell freely into the den of lions, God surrounded him lovingly, assuring Daniel of His presence for Daniel was His son. As he faced the lions, God shut their mouths and Daniel was not harmed.

Faith is knowing no matter the outcome, God will always rescue you. It might not be in the manner you believed. Daniel probably hoped God wouldn’t allow the soldiers to drop him into the pit. Talk about the bottom of the ninth! But God did show up and He did rescue Daniel and He will rescue you, too.

Faith is really about the courage to step. It is about lifting your foot not knowing the direction of placement or where exactly you will be landing. Faith is about trusting in God that whatever happens, it will be for His purpose and your good.


He delivers

Psalm 86:4,”Hear me, Lord, and answer me,  for I am poor and needy.Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord,  for I put my trust in you.”

Whatever you are facing today, know you can trust God. He hears your cry. He knows your need. He will bring joy to you, even in your darkest hours.

All around me I see people in trouble; people in pain; people sick; people with heartache. I’m sure you know many as well. Maybe you are one of those people. God wants to hear the prayers of His people. He wants to give grace and mercy. He wants to deliver you.

Sometimes it can be hard to know if He really understands or hears our prayers; especially, when deliverance is needed quickly.  Today, believe your answer is coming. Pray for joy and peace. Ask for favor and mercy. When we put our trust in God, He delivers. You can count on Him.


The One Who Got Out!

Matthew 14:27-29, “But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ 28 ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ 29 ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'”

This scripture comes from the story so many of you know. To summarize, Jesus has just performed the miracle of feeding the 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish near the Sea of Galilee. He sends the disciples ahead of him by boat so He can have time alone to pray. A gigantic storm comes up and the disciples are in the boat, fighting for their lives against the waves and the wind and the rain. Jesus walks out on the water toward them and they think He is a ghost! He calls out to them not to be afraid, “It is I.” Peter realizes the miracle. He sees Jesus walking on the water and he calls out to Him, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”

Faith is a risk. We want to pretend it’s easy; but, we live in a world that tells us, “seeing is believing.” Jesus tells us differently, “Believing is seeing.” Faith takes courage. It is about stepping out when we have no idea of  the outcome. Some of us want to stay in the boat; even when Jesus is telling us to come, we are just fine in the boat – no thank you – but not Peter.

Jesus says to Peter, “Come.”

Peter steps out on the water. The winds are howling and blowing all around him. The rain is barreling down and the waves are rocking his body. He is in the middle of the storm. And when he notices that he is out of the boat, in the middle of the ocean, in a huge storm, he takes his eyes off His Master and looks at the wind.

This morning I’m writing a devotion, not about the 11 disciples that stayed in the boat. I’m writing a devotion about the 1 who got out of the boat.

As he begins to sink he cries out to the Lord and Jesus reaches His arm out and saves him. Understand, Peter didn’t just jump out of the boat, he asked Jesus. Jesus told him to “Come on!”

My question to you this morning is how many of you are sitting in your boats asking, “God, should I do this? Should I?” And God is saying, “Come on! Come on, Peter!”

I love that Peter was willing to do what no one else was willing to do. Yes, he sank; but he learned. He learned about keeping his eyes on God. He learned that faith is about concentration. The storms will always be around us. Our eyes have to stay fixed on Jesus. Peter became a bold and strong deliverer of the Word of God.

Matthew 14:31, “‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’”

Peter may have had little faith but far greater to have little faith than none.

How many of you are still sitting in your boat, watching Peter? It’s time to take that step out on the water despite the storm; despite the wind; despite the waves. It’s time to concentrate on the One who has called you.

On a final note, I’ve heard so many sermons and read many commentaries on how, why, when, and where Peter stepped out on the water. I’ve listen to people criticize and applaud him; but I’ve never heard the story of why John or Matthew or Andrew or James stayed in the boat.

It’s time to get out of your boat!


How to face our giants

1 Samuel 17:32-37, ” David said to Saul, ‘Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.’

33 Saul replied, ‘You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.’

34 But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.’

Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the Lord be with you.’”

Goliath was a giant, fighting against the Israelites for the Philistine’s army. No soldier wanted to fight him. Because of his large size and brutal strength, he terrorized people with fear. He thought he was indestructible. He thought he had the upper hand. He thought he was the most powerful, and then he met God.

David knew how to face a giant. He didn’t cower down. He didn’t puzzle over the appropriate method of ambush or the right weapons for the fight. I imagine as he stood before the giant Goliath, who had killed many men, his knees shook, his heart pounded, his stomach probably flipped a few times; but David shouted, “…You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45)

The Bible actually tells us David ran quickly to the battle line. He proclaimed the name of the Lord and God’s mighty power to overcome anyone who stands against Him. David ran toward the giant; he did not run away from it.

Some of us need to learn how to face our giants. Some of us need to run towards our problems and stop running away from them. Some of us need to introduce our Goliaths to God.

Do you realize Who stands ready to battle with you? The same God who enabled David to kill Goliath. Today, talk to God about your Goliaths. Confidently move towards those obstacles, knowing the Lord Almighty stands behind you.