Tag Archives: faith

Isaiah 12-15; Waiting AND Watching

Isaiah penned these words when the Israelites were at a very low point in their history. God had allowed hardship and captivity to come to the Jews as a result of their disobedience. Isaiah gave them hope.

“This won’t last forever,” he seems to tell them.”Those who abuse you will be destroyed.”

Matthew Henry tells us the Babylonians were destroyed. The things God told Isaiah were going to happen happened. But not for another two hundred years. The people who first heard God’s promises never lived to see them fulfilled. Many were born and died in captivity.

I am reminded God’s timing is not always our own. But even in our darkest hours, God does not leave His children without hope.

Chapter 15 begins with a prophecy concerning Moab’s defeat. Henry tells us this particular prophecy was fulfilled only three years after Isaiah wrote the words. I love that. God allowed His people to see concrete proof that He keeps His word, that faith in Him is not misplaced. It wasn’t everything He promised. But it was something.

I think God would remind us He hasn’t changed. Some verses come to mind:

We know all things work together for the good for those that love God… (Romands 8:28)

Is any among you in trouble? Let them pray… (James 5:13)

He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. (Psalm 102:17)

Scripture tells us over and over to put our faith in God, and He will never let us down. He hears and answers prayer. You can count on it.

But sometimes it seems like we’ve been waiting two hundred years for an answer, doesn’t it? Reading Isaiah today reminds me that I can trust God with everything, including the timing of answered prayers. He’s reminding me that praying is not the same as rubbing a magic lantern and immediately being granted three wishes.

Reading Isaiah today also encourages me to watch in the meantime; to pay attention to the other answers to prayers along the way; to recognize God’s hand in other areas of my life. Because God wants me to know I can trust Him, And He’ll prove I can trust Him every day.

Reading these chapters in Isaiah strengthens my faith in my God. It helps me know that He is my hope, and I can trust Him with today, and tomorrow. It reminds me that I can pray, put my requests at His feet, and know that He’s got this. And it convicts me to take a step back, and let God be God.

He’s actually pretty good at it.

 

 

 

Job 11-14; Zophar

“Things could be worse.”

Really, Zophar? That’s just mean to say to someone who has lost everything, including his entire family, and his health; someone who has reached rock bottom and feels helpless and hopeless.

I don’t think Zophar cared how his words would effect Job. He, like his cohorts, seemed to simply enjoy the sound of his own voice. None of them were interested in listening.

I want to listen, to put myself in the mind of Job. That’s not easy to do as someone who has not suffered a fraction of Job’s suffering. Job was ill, and lost, confused, depressed, betrayed, harassed, and misunderstood to the point where finding energy to form words was a struggle. But here is what Job says from that very dark place:

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him. (13:15a)

Job teaches us that we are all the same; created beings inferior to God, living in a world over which He is Sovereign, accountable to Him alone.

Here’s what struck me about that. In spite of Job’s understanding of his low position before God, he still wanted to face Him. He still wanted to go to Him because Job trusted God in spite of what was happening in his life.

Job didn’t place his hope in coming up with the right words or attitude to sway God. He didn’t “think it to be it.” Job knew he had nothing to offer God. He was broken and empty. He had questions, sure. He wanted to defend himself. But in the end, even as his wife advised him to curse God and die, Job placed his hope in the Almighty.

Peter talks about the “living hope” we who live after the cross enjoy. (I Peter 1) His name is Jesus! Circumstances aside, the God of hope sees you, hears you, longs to comfort and strengthen you who are his children through the precious blood of His Son.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

2 Kings 2; The Road To Faith

Elisha saw God’s chariot accompany Elijah into heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah skipped the dying and went straight to God’s Presence in a dramatic display. Everyone knew that God was coming to get Elijah. Elijah told Elisha if he was privileged to witness the getting, God would bless him. Elisha saw. And he was blessed.

But not everyone saw what Elisha saw. The men waiting for Elisha to return hadn’t seen the chariot or the whirlwind, and they found it hard to believe. So because of their persistent pleas, Elisha let them search for Elijah, knowing full well they were not going to find him. Elisha let them search because he realized they needed to know for themselves that Elijah was gone.

Reminds me of Jesus’ “doubting” disciple. The other disciples had seen the risen Lord. Thomas hadn’t been there when Jesus appeared to them. So, even though I’m sure he remembered Jesus saying He would rise again, Thomas had trouble believing He’d really risen in the flesh. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Later, Jesus did appear to Thomas. The disciple saw for himself Jesus was alive. And he believed.

I love the way God allows us all to be individuals. He meets each of us where we are. I had a pastor once who became a Christian after reading the book of Revelation in the Bible. It scared the faith into him.

I know others who came to the Lord after a tragedy, some after hearing a sermon, some were drawn to Jesus by love. Some people need to see God’s hand, witness a miracle before they’ll believe. Others believe as soon as they hear what Jesus did two thousand years ago.

After Thomas saw Jesus and believed, Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

I don’t think Jesus was scolding Thomas with these words. And I don’t think Elisha was upset with the men who felt they needed to go looking for Elijah before they’d believe God took him.

Not everyone takes the same road toward faith. It’s personal. It’s intimate. And it’s God-lead. I guess I’m saying if you’re the type of person who needs to see before you believe, God knows you are. Ask Him to show you. Beware that He might show you through hardship, but if you need tangible proof, He can do that. Then believe, and be blessed.

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t need to be shown anything, but can believe in Jesus by trusting in His Word, God knows that, too. Believe, and be blessed.

Because God wants you to know Him. He is personally, intimately interested in your eternal soul, and He longs to fellowship with you. Seek Him. You’ll find Him on the road you are traveling.

2 Samuel 16-18; Positive Thinking Garbage

Absalom wanted to be king over all Israel, and in order to do that he needed to get rid of his dad and his dad’s followers. Absalom wanted David dead. But in the pursuit of his father, Absalom got his hair caught in the branches of a tree, and became a sitting duck for David’s men. The rebellious young son was killed.

Now David had given strict orders that Absalom was not to be harmed. “Protect him,” the King pleaded with his soldiers.

So David sat expectantly at the city gates, waiting for word about the battle and fully expecting his son to be brought to him in chains. But alive. The watchman saw a runner in the distance, and told King David about it.

“If he’s by himself, he brings good news,” David declared.

The watchman saw another runner some distance behind the first. “This one’s bringing good news, too,” insisted David.

The watchman recognized the first runner. “He’s a good man,” said David. “He’s bringing good news.”

But we know neither runner had the good news David wanted to hear. All the positive thoughts David could muster couldn’t change the fact his son was dead.

We’ve all heard there is power in positive thinking, that if you think it you can be it, that negative thoughts bring negative results. David would tell you that philosophy is garbage.

Your thoughts, dear one, have no control over the universe. Positive thoughts might make you feel good, they might even prompt you to take positive action. But there is nothing magical about your thoughts. And anyone who tells you differently is lying.

However, if you direct your thoughts in prayer to God, and allow Him to work in your circumstances, you’ll be amazed at what He can do.

Last year I shared with you my encounter with Hurricane Matthew from the island where I live off the coast of Georgia. We are once again bracing ourselves for Irma. I’m not happy about it, for sure.

I don’t know what will happen. But I can tell you with all assurance I am not going to greet that storm, standing on the pier and thinking positive thoughts. I am not going to “will” the storm away by thinking good things.

But I am praying to the One who has control over the weather, as shown in Scripture. I am going to pray to the One who stood in the fire with three believers who told their would-be murderer, “My God can save us from this fire. But even if He doesn’t save us, we will not serve any other God. Period.” I’m praying to the One who does all things well, even when I don’t understand His ways.

Your positive thoughts going out into the universe are meaningless. Why not pray with me to the God who created the universe, and believe that no matter what happens, He is able to see us through.

My prayer is that, of course, we all will be spared from the devastation this storm brings with it. I pray that lives will be spared. And I pray that through this storm, the Spirit of God will speak to hearts who don’t yet know Him, and lives will be changed for eternity.

I’m asking you to pray for all of us in the path of this particular storm. I’ll keep you posted if I can. May God be praised in all things.

Ruth 1-4; The Master Weaver

This book is a beautiful picture of how God can use the circumstances of life to weave a tapestry more glorious than we can imagine. I was thinking about that as I read Ruth’s story and began to see some of the individual stitches that combine to make her tapestry, or the picture of her life:

Because of a famine, Ruth met and married her Jewish husband. She accepted, and was accepted by, her mother-in-law, Naomi, and their love for one another is legendary. The deaths of her husband and father-in-law led her to leave her home and family, and move to a country where people of her nationality were not welcome. Ruth thought that caring for her mother-in-law was more important than what people might think about her.

Through Naomi’s influence, Ruth turned from the pretend gods she was raised worshiping, and accepted the God of Israel for her own. A poor woman with nothing she could call her own, she immediately went to work to support herself and Naomi, and ended up working in the fields of the one man who could redeem her and Naomi, who would marry her, love her, and give her children.

And the finishing touch on Ruth’s story is the fact that Jesus Himself is a direct descendant of this Moabite woman and her kinsman redeemer.

I love how God presented opportunities for Ruth, and how she followed His lead. I love how God was able to take tragedy and weave that into a life that effects me here in 2017. Are you as blown away by that as I am?

We can’t always see how God is working to bring good out of things Satan might intend for evil. We might not see how a choice we make leads to another and another that ends up effecting people down the road.

But I am reminded, as I read the book of Ruth, that God is working in my life today, weaving a tapestry of my life, giving me opportunities to obey Him that will result in something really beautiful. Someone has said that we are only allowed to see the underside of the tapestries of our lives. But I think occasionally God gives us a glimpse at the final product.

Like when someone comes to the Lord because of our influence. Or when we hold that newborn baby in our arms, or realize we were in the right place at the right time to represent Jesus to someone. It’s when we are told that, at the lowest point of our lives, our example spoke to someone about God’s love, or His strength, or His assurance.

We see a glimpse at the final product when we can see that God uses even the most difficult circumstances to produce something beautiful in us.

I want to recognize Gods leading and, like Ruth, take those steps in faith. I want to be obedient to the Master Weaver, and one day lay the tapestry of my life at His feet. I believe, when at last I take a look at the entirety of my life, I will praise my God who made something beautiful out of even me.

Numbers 5&6; Do You Trust Me?

As a woman, I had a hard time reading God’s instructions for a jealous husband. If a man thought his wife had been unfaithful, he could drag her to the priest who would make her drink dirty water that, if she was guilty, would render her infertile painfully and publicly. If she was innocent, the dirty water would do no harm.

The husband needed no proof of infidelity. He just had to be jealous. Doesn’t seem fair. What if a woman was truly innocent and her body reacted to the poison anyway?

And here’s the kicker: Regardless of the outcome for this woman, “the husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing…” (5:31) Plus, no mention is made of the guy this woman was supposed to have had an affair with. Let’s organize a march on Washington or block traffic or something.

But God doesn’t let me go off on tangents very long before He sits me down and reminds me of the Truth. Today I felt Him ask, “Do you trust Me?” If He gave the order, He’s not about to fail to make it work. So I am absolutely 100% sure that not one innocent woman – not one innocent woman – ever reacted to the dirty water.

And I am reminded that just because the male offender isn’t mentioned here, doesn’t mean God doesn’t address adultery elsewhere. God is very specific about sexual sins in both the Old Testament and the New.

So why institute this public judgment on adultery?

  1. It reminds us God takes marriage seriously. Marriage is a picture of His relationship with His church. And He will not tolerate unfaithfulness.
  2. Private sins have far reaching consequences. How many people do you know who are living with disease, abortion, raising children alone, or even poverty, as the result of sins they thought were private?

Then God reminded me that He is able and eager to forgive. We might bear consequences in the flesh, but God can make us pure in His eyes and able to bear fruit for His kingdom. Yes, He is serious about sin. Yes, the guilty will not go unpunished.

But thank God, through His Son Jesus, we can know the forgiveness of any and every sin we’ve ever committed, no matter how bad we think that sin is.

 

The lesson for me today wasn’t so much about the way guilty adulteresses were revealed, although at first I thought it was. The bigger question for me was, do I trust God to do all things well?

The answer is yes, I do.

Leviticus 2-4; Many To One

Maybe it’s because we are approaching Easter. But I can’t help but think of Jesus as I read the instructions for the Old Testament Jews’ sacrifices for sins. The yeast, the oil, the lamb without defect, the blood.

So much blood.

The sinner had to lay his own sacrifice on the altar. And so do I. My godly mother’s faith couldn’t save me. I had to obey God myself.

The dear people in the Old Testament had to repeat those sacrifices year after year. There were many, many sacrifices made on those altars. But Jesus fulfilled the requirements for the forgiveness of sin with His own precious blood.

Jesus became my sacrifice that day He hung on the cross.  One perfect sacrifice.

I am overcome with love and gratitude for my Savior.