Tag Archives: daily walk

2 Kings 11-13; As His Father Did

As we are introduced to one king after another in the northern and southern kingdoms of the Jewish nation, we are told whether they were good kings or bad. And very often we find out whether or not they followed in their fathers’ footsteps.

There are a lot of things about my own dad I would like to exhibit in my life. His quick wit and generosity, his love of God’s creation and his sense of adventure. But there are also some things I don’t want to model, like his quick temper and critical spirit.

When I take inventory of myself, I see a lot of Dad in me, both the good and the bad. It makes me stop and consider what influence I am having on the little ones in my life. Would it be a good thing or a bad thing if they did as Aunt Connie did?

One of my nephews has a birthday today. He’s a daddy himself, with four precious children who will have to decide one day whether they want to  follow in his footsteps or not. I hope they choose to be like their father who loves God and follows Him unashamedly. Happy birthday, Ryan. I have tears of joy in my eyes as I remember the past thirty something years, watching you grow into the man you are today. I wonder what kind of influence I have been on you, your brothers and sister, your cousins, and now the next generation of people I love with all my heart.

When I read about Elisha here in 2 Kings I see the kind of influence I’d like to have myself. Elisha was a godly man, a man who never compromised his faith, a man everyone knew as a man of God. And when Elisha died, his influence didn’t die with him. Touching Elisha’s bones brought life.

I have Steve Green’s “Find Us Faithful” running through my head.

You see, this life I’m living isn’t just about me. In fact, it’s not about me at all. As a Jesus follower, my life is about Him, and the impact I have on my world in His Name. It’s living a life that would inspire my loved ones to live lives doing what is “right in the eyes of the Lord” because they saw that in me.

Even after I am gone, I want the fire of my devotion to continue to light their way, my footprints to lead them to believe in Jesus as their Savior.

I hope you’ll go to You Tube and listen to “Find Us Faithful” today. May it be the prayer of your heart, as it is the prayer of mine. And may we live lives that would please God if our children did as their father or mother or aunt did.

My dear Heavenly Father, thank you for my parents and the influence they still have on me today, years after they’ve gone to live with you. God, I want to be gentle like my mom, to pray like she prayed, to love You like she loved You. I want to be self-sacrificing like Dad was, and to be uncompromising in my belief the way he stood firm. God, I want my love for You to translate into something my nieces and nephews want for themselves. And I pray my sweet great-nieces and nephews will see Jesus in me, and be drawn to You. Find me faithful, Lord. Find us all faithful.

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I Samuel 17; The Battle Is The Lord’s

You know the story. Little shepherd boy takes on the giant and wins. A boy armed only with a sling shot kills a warrior covered in armor and carrying an enormous sword. On paper, David had no chance. But we don’t live on paper.

It wasn’t that Goliath had been disrespecting the armies of Israel. David was upset that Goliath was dishonoring God. This wasn’t merely a confrontation between two warring nations. This was a spiritual battle at the core.

Saul wanted David to put on his armor and carry his sword to face Goliath. David just couldn’t do it. It wasn’t him. It didn’t feel right.

I was reading what J. Vernon McGee had to say about this in his “Thru The Bible Series Commentary” on First and Second Samuel. He suggests that sometimes we try to be something we’re not while serving God.

“Let’s not try to be something we are not, or try to do something we are really not called to do. If God has called you to use a sling shot, don’t try to use a sword.” (p. 98)

Oh sure, many of us would love to be that soloist whose voice is like an angel, or that teacher who has the ability to make God’s Word come alive, or that seamstress, that carpenter, that baker, that encourager, that hostess who shares God’s love through their abilities. And sometimes we decide we ARE that singer or that teacher, and often that can lead to failure.

David, empowered by God didn’t have to look like a soldier, or even use weapons that made sense to everyone else. I love what David told Goliath right before he threw that stone that killed the giant:

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. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.  (17:45-47)

Do you want to see victories as you serve your Savior? Then be the person God created you to be. Hear Him call you into service designed especially for you. And remember, it’s not about you. It’s about the God you serve.

The battle IS the Lord’s!

I Samuel 13-14; Follow The Leader

If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?

Ever hear that one before? Maybe you’ve even said it to a young person you are concerned is following the wrong crowd. We all want our children to be leaders. But is there a time to teach them to follow?

My church had VBS this week. What a great time we had talking to kids about how much the Creator of the universe loves them, and how far that love goes to save them. We were Galactic Starveyors!

On our last night, when we were having our last practice before the closing program for parents, we had a visitor. An 11 year old boy came with his grandma, who was one of our teachers. I was in charge of music, and encouraged the youngster to practice the songs with us. I tried to assure him I’d help him learn the motions as quickly as possible.

“Just follow me,” I said.

Without skipping a beat the boy replied, “I’m not a follower. I’m a leader.”

I get that. He’s a good looking boy, a good student, a gifted athlete, and an all around nice guy. I hope he’s a leader in his school. I think his classmates would do well to follow his example.

But is there a time when even the best leaders should learn to be followers, too? I will tell you he got up there with the rest of the kids and did a crash course in song motions. Not an easy thing to do in front of peers who already knew what they were doing.

The Israelites and the Philistines were preparing to go to war. Not only was the Israeli army outnumbered by about a gazillion to one, on the day of the battle “not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or a spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.” (13:22)

Can you spell “defeat?”

So Jonathan told his armor bearer to follow him and together they’d sneak into the Philistine post. His armor bearer replied, “Do all that you have in mind… I am with you heart and soul.” (14:7)

If your friend jumped into the Philistine camp, would you jump, too?

How do you know when to lead, and when to follow someone else’s lead? In this case Jonathan asked for God’s direction, then followed the Lord into battle – just he and his armor bearer – and defeated all the men at the enemy outpost.

Who do you follow, and why? Maybe you’re a Type A person who feels you’re the only one who can do any job, so therefore people should follow you.

There are so many theologies preached by so many different preachers, so many programs touted by so many “experts,” so many opinions voiced by so many people. Who do you follow?

My prayer is that you will weigh everything and everyone according to Scripture plus nothing. Only that which is grounded in the Word of God is worth following.

Jonathon waited for God. We need to, too. Whether it’s a building campaign, a missions trip, a city project, a Sunday School curriculum, our leader should first and foremost be God.

If God is laying some position of leadership on your heart, go to Him. Test Him. Then obey Him.

And if God is raising up another to lead you, go to God. This might just be a case where God is calling you to follow with your “heart and soul.”

Judges 19-21; Obedience and Failure

Have you ever felt led by God to do a hard thing, prayed about it, obeyed His leading, only to fail? What do you do about that?

The men of Israel felt led to go to war against the tribe of Benjamin because of the grievous sin that tribe had committed. But even though the Israelites got the go-ahead from God, the tribe of Benjamin routed them. 22,000 Israelite soldiers died that day.

But the men of Israel encouraged one another and again took up their positions where they had stationed themselves the first day. (20:22)

They wept, and prayed, asking God if they should continue to go up against Benjamin. God said, “Go.” And 18,000 more Israelites died in that second battle.

So all the people went to Bethel, weeping, fasting, praying, making sacrifices and offerings. “God,” they asked, “should we fight our brother or not?” God assured them the victory.

They obeyed God even after two disasterous attempts. And they soundly beat Benjamin’s tribe.

Sometimes we might think if God is in it, we ought to have victory. If God prompts us to talk to someone about Him, we ought to see that person repent. If God leads us into a new job, we ought to have success.

Can God nudge us toward failure? He did here in Judges.

I guess I take from this the idea that our obedience is the most important thing. Not the outcome of our obedience. The question isn’t, am I successful, but am I obedient?

If God is in it, failure shouldn’t be the final act. The Israelites went to war three times before they saw a victory.

I figure obedience is my responsibility. I’ll let the outcome up to God.

Judges 10-12; Vows Like Mist

I always have a hard time reading about the idiotic vow Jephthah made to God, and the fact he killed his own daughter to honor that vow. God had given Israel the victory. But was that victory a direct result of Jephthah’s vow, or was it because God simply wanted to rescue the Jews? Did Jephthah’s vow have anything to do with the result? I don’t think it did.

I noticed the silence for the first time today. First, God was silent when Jephthah made the vow. God didn’t ask for or acknowledge the vow. Secondly, God was silent when the girl pleaded with her dad for a two month reprieve. And I don’t see Jephthah checking with God to get His approval for the delay. Thirdly, God was silent when Jephthah “did to her as he vowed.” I don’t read where God blessed Jephthah for following through, for killing his daughter. This seems to me to be a one sided vow.

I’ve read this before and felt the lesson here was for us to be careful what we promise God. And that is a good lesson to learn. I’ve even read it and applauded Jephthah for following through with the hard task of fulfilling his vow. But today I feel God has me looking at the kind of vows He wants of us and holds us accountable for, and for the vows He doesn’t even consider worthy to acknowledge.

For instance, when Jephthah promised to kill the first thing that came out his front door, he was promising to break the sixth commandment. That would be no different than saying, “I’ll have sex with the first person who walks out that door,” or “I’ll make an idol of the first tree I see.” Are those vows we think God would want us to honor? I doubt it.

Also, where do we see God honoring human sacrifices? Yes, I remember Isaac. But Isaac wasn’t killed. God doesn’t ask for anyone’s blood to be spilled on an altar, except that of His Son.

Sometimes people make rash promises to God, then live for years with the burden of fulling that promise, when God wasn’t even in it in the first place. It’s a waste of time and energy, it holds us chained to a cardboard wall. It’s meaningless.

God doesn’t barter. He doesn’t trade His blessings for anything we withhold from ourselves, or anything we do as a result of a one sided vow. I think what I hear Him say today is, if I have held myself captive because of a misplaced vow, I can let it go. He’s not going to hold it against me.

Make a vow to love God, to repent of sin, to follow His Son, to resist temptation. Those are vows God holds us to, and the vows He blesses. Let the Bible be the standard by which you make your vows to God.

Otherwise, that vow might be as binding as mist on a sunny day.

 

Judges 6-8; Fear and Fearlessness

I live on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, so one of my least favorite movies is “Jaws.” I’d rather not think about what’s swimming around out there. But the movie makers did an incredible job of instilling fear into the audience with the use of music. Well, two notes, really. They’d play those two notes softly at first, then gradually those notes would get faster, and louder, then at just the right moment, the shark would attack, leaving the audience gasping or screaming at the screen. During the movie, hearing those two notes caused heart rates to rise, even if the action on the screen was happy and carefree. Those two notes could make you believe something bad was about to happen.

Fear often causes us to lose control, and we wind up screaming at a movie screen while sitting in a cushioned chair thousands of miles away from any ocean. That’s why I never liked haunted houses, either. The longer I groped my way through darkened halls, the faster my heart beat, and the more irrational thoughts became reality, sometimes causing me to see things that weren’t really there.

So I’m reading in Judges today how Gideon, with 300 soldiers, lamps, and trumpets, defeated an army of 15,000. And I had one of those laugh-out-loud moments.

The night before the battle, Gideon and one of his soldiers, sneaked into the enemy camp. God, wanting to ease Gideon’s fears, told him to go and hear what the enemy soldiers were saying. Gideon learned that the enemy soldiers were telling each other that the Jewish God was going to help the Jews, that the battle was already lost before it began.

Now, Scripture doesn’t tell us this, but when I put myself in the enemy’s shoes, I can imagine their confidence was low. I imagine the more they thought about what could be ahead for them, their level of fear rose. I bet they didn’t sleep peacefully the night before they knew there was a good chance they were going to die in battle. If it were me, I’d toss and turn imaging worst case.

Then, just before dawn, this sleep deprived and fearful army were startled by the sound of trumpets, the crashing of breaking glass, and the sudden light of dozens of torches. You’re going to think I’m a bit morbid, but here is where I laughed out loud.

Because I pictured the Three Stooges, suddenly surprised, and hitting and poking each other in the dark.

These soldiers, fueled by their fear, began thrashing their swords, killing anything that moved, not even realizing they were killing their own.

How often in Scripture do we read, “Fear not?” Or how often are we told by God not to worry? Even when we know God’s got this covered, do we allow our fears and worries dominate our thoughts, causing those sleepless nights, that anxiety, until we begin to see things that aren’t even there?

We’ve got to understand that, at the height of fear, we are apt to think and act irrationally, impulsively, distrustfully. We’re liable to start striking out at the people closest to us. God wants better for us than that.

Gideon was comforted and strengthened when God assured Him of the victory. I believe God would like to do the same for us.

Are you facing something really scary? Do you hear that two note Jaws theme getting louder and faster? Then pray. Read God’s Word. Trust Him. Hear Him assure you He’s got this covered. Then believe Him.

Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you. (from I Peter 5:7). He cares that you have peace in the storm, that you are prepared to face the battle, that you are sober minded and able to act and react rationally, and with confidence in His ability to give you the victory.

I pray that you will live fearlessly as a result of putting your faith in God.

Judges 4-5; Too Religious?

Have you ever stopped yourself from speaking about the Lord in a conversation, because you didn’t want to sound too religious? What does being “too religious” even mean? And why wouldn’t we want everyone we meet to recognize the fact that we walk with God?

The song Deborah and Barak sang after their victory over Sisera is full of joyful praise, unashamed devotion to the One True God. He had done great things for Israel. And they were singing His praises!

God is still doing great things. Shouldn’t my praise of Him be as bold? I like how the song ends:

But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength. (5:31)

I want to wake up every day, eager to shine God’s light on the world. I want to represent Him to a lost world, with unabashed devotion. No apologies. No hesitation.

That old sun comes over the horizon every day and takes over, the darkness has no strength against it. I’m pretty sure the sun never worries about shining too brightly. Why should I?

So if someone thinks I’m too religious because of my love for the Lord, praise God!