Tag Archives: daily walk

Job 25-28; Bildad’s Parting Shot, Job ends His Defense

Job’s final thoughts are lengthy but so rich in content. I didn’t get through all the chapters of his response because chapter 28 stopped me in my tracks. I wish I could say I saw this truth in my first read-through. Actually, it was Warren Wiersbe who pointed something out that opened my eyes and convicted me. (Be Patient, page 106)

Here’s the gist:

People (and I am talking about me) put so much time and effort into getting ahead, on careers, or family, or popularity, or sports, or having a manicured lawn, etc. I myself went to college after high school, got a teaching job, then went back to school at night to get a Masters Degree.

Many people put in overtime at work, take work home, hoping to be considered for that next promotion. We take out loans to buy the big houses and fancy cars, then take on a second job to pay for them.

So why aren’t we putting that much effort into knowing the Lord? Why don’t we put in half that effort to know Him?

I have to confess that during the years I was working and going to school, the journals I keep with my time in the Word reveal days and weeks when my Bible wasn’t even opened. Time with God was the first thing I sacrificed to accommodate my busy schedule.

Job talks about mining gold and precious stones, and I can only imagine the effort that required in his day. Wisdom, he says, cannot be bought with gold. No matter how hard you work for the gold, or how valuable you think that gold is. Some things can’t be bought.

How much effort are you putting in to your relationship with Jesus? How much time do you give Him every day, how often do you talk to Him? Being a follower of Jesus requires more than a prayer of repentance. To follow someone, you’ve got to move.

Let’s move toward God by shutting ourselves away every day to be alone with Him, to let Him speak to us through His precious Word. Let’s tell Him what’s on our hearts, and watch what He can do when we include him in our day. You might think you don’t have time. I would argue that you do.

 

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Job 22-24; Eliphaz, Final Thoughts

Something Eliphaz said right off the bat here in his last effort to “fix” Job has me thinking. Here’s what he said in 22:2-3:

Can a man be of benefit to God? Can even a wise man benefit Him? What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous? What would He gain if your ways were blameless?

Can I be of benefit to God? Can I cause Him to feel pleasure? Some people think because God is Sovereign that means He is self-sufficient and does not need anything whatsoever. I am one of those people because I know that at any time God has the ability to do anything and everything He wants. He is able.

But I also see in Scripture His self-imposed need of us. He created us with the ability to choose because He knows choosing to love someone is sweeter than being forced to love. (which, as I think about it, isn’t really love at all) God needs us to choose Him in order for Him to feel the joy that comes with that decision.

We tend to shy away from saying God “needs” anything because that implies imperfection. But if the “need” is self-imposed and can be overridden at any time, there is no weakness or imperfection. God chose to limit Himself when He chose to create people with the ability to choose Him or reject Him.

There’s a flip side to this coin. My choices can and do grieve Him when I choose to disobey, or when I participate in ungodly behavior. I cause God to feel pain when I turn my back on Him.

Our character, our choices, our love of God is important to Him. I think He cares about what we are wearing today. Every word that comes out of our mouths, every action, every step we take is important to God. Why? Because we are important to God. Because He cares about each of us, personally, intimately, lovingly.

God delights in fellowshipping with you when you choose Him. It’s a benefit to Him, and the reason you were created in the first place.

God delights in our obedience. When we choose to walk with the Lord, the benefit to God isn’t only personal. When we obey Him He can use us to reach out to lost people who come our way. We can be beneficial to God in the work of sharing the Gospel, and seeing souls won for eternity. That would give Him pleasure upon pleasure! What would He gain if we are blameless, Eliphaz asks? So much!

So much of what I have been taught centers around the benefits for me when I follow the Lord. And there are many! He gives me forgiveness, He directs my path, He loves me, He provides for all I need, and on and on and on…

Today I am considering what I bring Him, when I love Him like He deserves.

I am humbled to think that God might have need of me. Because it goes without say, I need Him more. I want to bring God pleasure today by the choices I make, by my thoughts and actions. I want to benefit Him in His work, and not be a hinderance. I want to bring Him joy, because He has filled my life with so much joy.

Dearest Heavenly Father, I am blown away at the thought that there is something you need me to do today. You need me to choose You, to represent You, to talk about You, to show unsaved people what being forgiven by You looks like. God, more than anything today I want to bring you pleasure, I want to benefit Your work in the lives of people around me. Thank you for the privilege. May my life be a pleasure to You.

 

Nehemiah 4-6; Fighting the Good Fight

The Jews worked fervently to get the wall built. But they never took their eyes off the enemy, and were always armed for battle. They recognized the enemy’s cunning attempts to thwart God’s work. But the wall was built in 52 days, in spite of the enemy’s best effort to stop it.

I think Christians working in churches are doing a pretty good job of getting things done. Outreach programs, inviting atmospheres, Bible studies, and child-care. I’m not so sure we’re doing a great job at arming ourselves against the enemy.

Read these chapters in Nehemiah and you will see Satan’s tactics; the offer of friendship, deception, fear, lies, etc. The enemy even “got in” to the inner circle by marrying the daughter of a prominent Jew. The Jew’s enemy was relentless.

And so is ours. God seems to be asking me to check my own battle stance. Am I busy doing things for the Lord, with one eye on my enemy? Or am I assuming that the enemy can’t touch me as long as I’m working for God? Have I put on the armor of God, do I wield the Sword of the Spirit? Am I studying God’s Word so that I understand Satan’s battle plan, can recognize his tactics, and fight when his arrows are pointed at me?

I must remember that Satan’s goal is to destroy the Church one soul at a time. May I fight the good fight as I do the things God asks of me. May you do the same.

Nehemiah 1-3; It Starts At Home

The conditions of Jerusalem grieved Nehemiah. His reactions to the news of that great city, reduced to rubble, was to fast and pray. His sorrow was a “sadness of the heart,” as observed by King Artaxerxes.

Nehemiah left the comforts of living in the palace of the Persian king, and went to Jerusalem to see what could be done to rectify the situation there. There are so many spiritual truths tucked into this precious book: How to go about beginning a project, how to handle opposition, what a healthy church looks like. This book is rich.

Here’s what came to mind this morning as I thought about these three chapters: So often I hear people lament the condition of the world, the corruption in our government, the immorality, the blatant sin, the disrespect for God in our society. I hear people grieved at the condition of the Church, bemoaning the fact the Church is losing its influence. I believe some are as grieved about the state of things today, as Nehemiah was at the state of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah went to Jerusalem, rallied the people to action, and the job got done. And here’s how:

People took care of the conditions in their own back yards.

Yes, the wall was rubble all around Jerusalem, an overwhelming task for any individual. But each person picked up a shovel and cleaned up the part of the wall closest to them.

Yes, the world is in sad repair. Yes, the task of cleaning it up seems too monumental. But I believe God would have us understand if we want our world repaired, it has to start at home.

You aren’t responsible for the world’s condition. But you are responsible for the condition of your home, which occupies a portion in the world.

Parents, do you hold your children to a Biblical standard of behavior? Kids, do you read the Bible and long to be right before God? Are you obedient? Adults, do you participate in drunkenness, pornography, vulgar language? Are you a watered-down version of what God demands?

Let’s not just shake our heads at the depraved condition of our world. We can change this world, one back yard at a time.

Ezra 1-3; Getting Our Priorities Straight

This was a great time in Jewish history. After 70 years of captivity, they were going home. King Cyrus gave them the go-ahead to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. He even provided much of what they needed to get the job done. Over 40,000 people packed up their things for the long, happy journey.

I love that the first thing they did upon arriving in Jerusalem, was to repair the altar. And as soon as they could, they began using it for the sacrifices they had so long been unable to make.

They repaired that altar, even though they had a bit of fear concerning the people around them. But they did not let their fear paralyze them. They celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, offered the regular burnt sacrifices, the New Moon sacrifice, and all the sacrifices for all the sacred feasts. Plus freewill offerings! That altar got a workout. And all of this happened before the temple foundations was even laid.

I like this example. It demonstrates the priorities that we should have when doing God’s work. How many good projects fail when God’s people get ahead of Him? We are excited to get started on that building project, or that outreach program, or hiring a pastor. But we don’t spend a lot of time dealing with the sin in our own lives, worshiping God and praising Him for who He is, and seeking God’s direction first.

The Jews in Ezra took two years at that altar before going ahead with the building project. Two years before the temple foundation was even laid.

We are a people who demand instant gratification. It’s hard to wait, even for the light to change. But so often in Scripture God tells us to wait, to be still, to seek His kingdom, to hear from Him.

Let’s face it. We like to win. We like to be the first church in town with a state of the art sound system, or the catchy named coffee shop in our foyer, or the satellite site, the largest sanctuary, anything that will make us stand out as THE church.

None of those things are necessarily bad. But I wonder if sometimes we get focused on the project, and forget to wait for God’s direction before jumping in. I wonder if our projects are counter-productive when we allow sin to go unchecked in our hearts, if we don’t wait on God’s timing and direction.

Do we want God’s blessings on our efforts? Whether it’s the events of our day, or a major decision we must make, or a big project in our churches, I would suggest we follow the example here in Ezra.

Spend time… a lot of time… at the altar; wait on God… no matter how long it takes; then follow his lead and get busing doing what He asks. That seems to me what getting our priorities straight looks like.

 

 

2 Chronicles 21-24; The Reign of Joash

What do you read? Who do you listen to? Where are you on Sunday mornings? The answers to these questions are extremely important.

Joash did a lot of good as king of Judah. He rebuilt the temple, returned the people to worshiping God, destroyed the temple of Baal and killed Baal’s priest. There was quite a revival among the Jews during the first years of Joash’s reign. During those years the king stayed close to Jehoiada, the priest of God. He listened to Jehoiada’s counsel, and did good in the eyes of the Lord.

But Jehoiada died. And things went downhill from there. Joash stepped out on his own, and sin reared its ugly head.

Is there someone in your life who holds you accountable in your walk with the Lord? Someone who prays for and with you, someone with whom you talk about what God is teaching you, then checks to be sure what you are learning is true according to Scripture? Are you in God’s Word every day, reading and listening as you pour over its precious pages? Do you stand with a congregation of people each week, serving and worshiping God as He deserves?

Or do you think you can live this Christian life on your own? If that is your attitude, I would challenge you to read Joash’s story here in 2 Chronicles, then rethink your position. Good things happened as long as Joash was partnering with a godly man. Read for yourself what happened when the king lost that influence.

As I was writing this, the thought occurred to me that I have the responsibility and the privilege of being a Jehoiada to someone else. It’s a two way street. I need someone who will keep me in check, and I need to reach out to someone who needs me for the same reason.

May all of us walk in Truth, hand in hand, strong and determined to be the Church God wants us to be.

I Chronicles 17-21; Our Worst Enemy

The Bible spends a lot of time talking about warfare. There are many examples of how to (and not to) fight our enemies. But what if I am my own worst enemy?

Hanun’s dad, King Nahash, died, and Hanun found himself king of the Ammonites. Nahash and David had formed a bond, so David sent a delegation to pay his respects to Hanun in the loss of his father.

How did Hanun receive this kindness? He humiliated David’s men in a most degrading fashion. When David heard what had happened, he didn’t retaliate. He could have taken revenge on Hanun on behalf of the humiliated men. But David’s concern was for the men themselves. Hanun wasn’t even worth acknowledging.

Sometimes ignoring someone who wants an enemy is the best way to handle them. The fact that David ignored Hanun made Hanun look bad. David took the high road and left Hanun alone in the gutter.

Now here’s where Hanun becomes his own worst enemy. He could have allowed David’s actions to convict him, drive him to his knees in repentance, and cause him to ask David and his men for forgiveness. We would be reading a completely different account had Hanun humbled himself.

But he didn’t. He responded to David’s lack of retaliation in anger. How dare he ignore me? Who does he think he is? I’ll show him.

Hanun allowed his pride to take over, and rallied an army against the Jews. A lot of men died as a result. David’s army routed Hanun’s. It didn’t have to be that way.

Dear one, we don’t have to react every time we think someone is unfair to us. Walking away from a conflict isn’t weakness. In fact, very often it is the most daring course of action.

My heart breaks for my great-nieces and nephews as I realize they are growing up in a world of reactionaries. Self absorbed, ego driven, prideful behavior is honored in our society. You get your fifteen minutes of fame if you don’t walk away from a conflict, no matter how wrong you are. The high road, it seems, is for losers.

Sure there is a time to pick up a sword and go into battle. David did that in the chapters we read today. But when I hear God say we are to love our enemies, do good to those who misuse us, pray for those who are unfair to us, turn the other cheek, I don’t believe picking up a sword should be our first response to conflict.

If we allow our pride, or our sense of fairness, or our fragile egos dictate our reactions, we become our own worst enemies. Let’s determine to represent Jesus by living according to His example. Let’s face opposition according to Scripture. How many times do we read to stop, to listen, to just be still, before we read the battle is the Lord’s.

I’m ok with Satan being my worst enemy. I’m not okay with me taking over that role.