If God is with you, who can stand against?

January 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Saul is afraid of David. In Samuel 18, we see how Saul responds to David’s success in battle. After David conquered the Philistine, he became known. His popularity grew. He became close to Saul, and he became very close to Jonathan. David was appointed a high position in the military. David led many campaigns and was always victorious because God was with him.

Then one day they came through a town and the townspeople were dancing and singing. A lady sang that Saul killed thousands, but David kills ten thousands. This took Saul to the wrong side of the tracks. He suddenly knew that David was getting very strong. He knew he would have to watch out.

I think in his mind, he was not afraid of David as the absence of God’s presence in his own life. We can all look at Saul and think, man this dude is cracked. You can tell God is with him. You know the drill. What are you thinking? But in hindsight it is easy to make this determination. I mean over 2000 years pass by and we can look at these years passing here and make the bold determination. But I bet if we were to look into our own lives we would be able to see Saul in us. We would see where we sabotage those around us, those we love, because of our own blinders.

Know this, that you may be a Saul today. But you also may be a David.

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Slaying the giant in our lives

January 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Samuel 17 is one of the most told stories in Sunday school classrooms across America, and maybe around the world. The familiar narrative describes how a young boy, minding his own business, was asked to take some food to his brothers on the battle field. He leaves his humble post, tending the sheep, to make the delivery. He gets there and suddenly realizes that he must do something else. He has no idea what he is about to step into. Just moments before cresting that last hill to meet his brothers, I am sure he already had his day planned out. He was going to drop off the grinds and head back to the sheep, maybe play a little music, maybe sing a bit. You know, praise God a bit. But no, this was not the plan at all. He needed to save the world first.

Though this may seem like he did just that. If you look at the story, you will see that God was with David when he met Goliath. He says specifically that God will deliver his head to me. Something interesting about the story that I never picked up on before was this. The author spends a tremendous amount of time getting the stage set for the challenge. He goes into great detail how well Goliath was clad, he had massive armor, his sword, his sheer size was easily twice the size of David. He gives a description how David was presented with some pretty awesome new tools as well. But David declined. He said why would I use tools that I am not familiar with, I will just use a couple stones and a little sling I have on me. The amount of time that the author spends on setting up the dual ends in an anticlimactic way. He slings a stone, kills Goliath, and cuts off his head with the man’s own sword. That’s it. That is serious business, but I do not think that was the point.

God was in control and He was to be glorified that day.

Let’s go back to David when he was headed to his brothers. He always had his sling on his person. He was prepared. He did not go empty handed. Though God would give him the victory and he trusted God intrinsically, he was still prepared. This is my focus for today. Just because God is with us, does not give us a pass to be less prepared for the task at hand. It still takes courage. It still takes what no other normal man would consider a fair fight. I must ask this question: What are you doing today that is a God-sized fight? What are you doing today that is so big that without utter dependency on God, you would fail?

This is the essence of our faith. What if you were required to do something like this? Are you prepared to call on the name of God and command victory? Are you prepared? Now we may think that it was David’s skill with a sling that helped him in this fight. But if you were to ask David, I bet he would have a different answer. I bet he would tell you that His God, who controls everything was the sole reason for his victory. I really believe he was prepared physically and his abilities were great, but his intimacy with God was far greater. He was ready in another way.

If we really believe that God is who He claims to be, why do we live like we do?

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Do you have eyes to see?

January 23, 2012 Leave a comment

I always like the way God leads people in the old testament. Samuel knows the Lord has rejected Saul. He mourns for this. Why does he mourn? Was it because he poured his life into Saul, maybe spent the last 40 years coaching him? I don’t know. But in any case, he get’s the ole spanish elbow – he’s out.

So now they have to go through the exercise of finding out which son of Jesse that God wants. Now this is interesting to me. Why? God is very specific when he directs someone to do something. So why would he not just tell Samuel to go and get David, Jesse’s son?
I think there is a very specific reason for this. You have Samuel coming into town, he comes in peace. Jesse comes with his sons and Samuel takes a look at each one specifically. Now David was not there, he was discounted. When Samuel tells Jesse that the Lord has not found favor with any of his sons, and asks him if there are any other? David is presented and he is the one.
In this story, you have many people involved. You have a narrative developing about how God works. You have people in every case that can be obedient or disobedient. And the likely subject is most likely the least likely.
This is the point of my inquiry this morning.
Our values can get in the way with kingdom values. We choose the tall handsome warrior, and God chooses the boy who can play for an audience of sheep. How does this pertain to us today? Does God still use people to accomplish His will? Is he still guiding and directing? Who are his loyal subjects, apt to follow him when a rational discourse is not available? Who is looking for the young lyre player, forgotten in the field? I still think this is common today.
How do we develop kingdom eyes in our current world? I think we have several clues in the Bible that can help with the inquiry. However, I think it is helpful to look at Jesus’ life to see it more clearly. Things are never as they appear. (see the parables)
Say you are in want. So you ask God to take care of your needs right. But instead of giving you what you want, you suddenly are presented with an opportunity to give of yourself. You are presented with something that means that you will have to give what you cannot afford to give. Does this sound like a logical step? Would you actually consider giving what little you have to another when you need so much? This is the type of thing I am talking about. Our selfish motivation and personal lordship over our lives would determine that this opportunity is not from God. In fact it is from the enemy. We would be praying for a way to let the person down easy as not to hurt their feelings that we could not help them at this time. But when we lose our desire for self preservation and look to God for his hand to cover us, this is where the magic happens.
I have seen it so many times in my life. Faith is not something we muster, it grows like a plant when it is fed. We see God’s hand in hindsight. We can discern his will in hindsight. But can we see him now? Can we see him in the future? I think we can, but we need to understand the character of God. We need to understand what to be looking for.
So David goes into Saul’s service. Saul is pleased with him and requests that he say in his service as an armor bearer. So the transition that Samuel feared would end badly, the Lord has positioned where Saul is happy to have David right next to him. (another example)
Do you have this type of thing happening around you today? Do you see the hand of God in hindsight? Look for clues today. See if you can see His hand today? Look for ways to encourage another. Opportunity is all over the place when we see with His eyes.
Lord, let us all see with kingdom eyes today, allow faith to grow in our hearts, and may we walk in obedience to the prompting of your Spirit in us.
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There are 2 paths you can go by, but in the long run, there still time to change the road your on.

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Have you ever taken a step back in your life and just reflect? It is always a common practice at the beginning of the year for everyone. Most people will do this and make some over-arching decree in an attempt to remedy the situation, so they will not face the issue next year. The new year’s resolution is normally a good idea. The intentions are typically good and it starts off good. But I would say that almost 100% of the resolutions are never kept. Why is this?

I have given it some thought. It is just an opinion, but I think it has something to do with our fears. The easily identified fruit on the end of the vine came from a complex root system, was fed by outside nutrients, came up through a massive trunk, through tons of branches, through scores of leaves, and ultimately produced itself for your observation. So one sees the belly fat and says, “I need to lose some weight this year. So it was easy to recognize the fat, but what is not so easy to see is your current emotional state, the level of stress, the turmoil of circumstances in your life, the changes in your job, your family relationships, and things like this. Is it possible that simply trying to change behavioristics is a shallow attempt to make deeper life changes?

I have always had problems with New Year’s resolutions because it seems that all the sudden everyone on the planet is not content with the way their life is going and they want to make a change. It just seems kind of silly. It is really setting you up for failure because it is being produced by outside stimuli (or can be), and really doesn’t line up with the way you really think of yourself.

You live the way you do because it lines up with the way you view the world and it really is you. You can try to cast blame on people, places and things, but the reason you live this way is because you want to and in some ways have to live this way.

If you want to make a change in your life, think for a minute, why are you considering this change? Are you seriously willing to challenge the way you view your world? Are you ready to make a core change? This is really the issue. Resolutions fail because 1) people do not really understand how deep of a change they are taking on, and 2) they really like who they are and the way they view the world and really do not want to change.

So how does this apply to the title? Actually we have been talking about it already. Many people are making decisions with the way the live. They are not making a conscious decision to be fat. It is a byproduct of a series of life choices that produce the well insulated body. In a resolution, we may be attempting to remedy the past, or make changes that will benefit us in the future, but we really need to be concerned with today. I am making this change because it reflects who I am today. I am making conscious decisions today because I am pleased with who I am and the way I am living today.

Here is an example. Tom goes on a diet on Jan 1 to lose 40 pounds. He is not happy with his weight and wants to trim down. He is on a track to lose weight for what he will look like in the future. He is willing to sacrifice today for the sake of tomorrow. This attempt may work, but he also may abandon the journey because it is not consistent with the way Tom feels about the present. You see the present if fighting with the possibility of the future. But this possibility has very little experience. It is really brand new on the job compared to this well seasoned present that has a lot of experience and bearing on the subject.

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Who is in control?

January 18, 2010 Leave a comment

In Psalm 11 David is basically saying that God is in control regardless of the circumstances. This is a solid message and one that I think very few Christians truly comprehend.

David basically says why would I run to the hills when I know the character of God? When the arrows are pointed at me, why would I hide when I know who is in control. This connection to the reality of His character brings tremendous comfort, once you learn to trust Him.

I can honestly say, when I was young in my faith, I doubted my relationship with God. I did not understand. I could not comprehend His character. I saw so many bad things in the world. I just figured God showed up when He wanted to. But later, I see His hand all the time. I have grown in my faith to truly trust Him.

This is especially true when I am surrounded by my own mistakes and by others who make poor choices. I can see the consequences of my own actions and also the actions of others. Then we beg for God to intervene and are confused when we are not rescued in a manner consistent with our own ideas and timing.

Look at the last part of the chapter:

7 God’s business is putting things right;
he loves getting the lines straight,
Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall,
we can look him straight in the eye.

This also shows David understanding of God’s place in our lives. It is easy to just say that we believe that God is in control. But how does this work in your life today? How does it work when the rubber hits the road? I can honestly say that when I chose to give up control of my life, I had nothing to hide. I could face God without fear. I could seek His face with anticipation instead of fear.

Let’s look at a practical example of authority in our lives that we all can identify with, a police officer. In my youth, I was not a model citizen. I would speed, drink and drive, and who knows what else happened back then. Every time I would get behind the wheel, my eyes would spend as much time looking int he rear view mirror as on the road. I spent so much time trying to avoid getting into trouble. Once I turned 21, my life was miraculously changed. I turned my life over to God and gave up control. The behavioral change had some other benefits as well. I suddenly found myself looking in the rearview mirror for other reasons. I would actually wave at police officers. If a police officer was behind me, I did not fear because I was not doing anything wrong. This understanding of the authority of a police officer did not change. It was always the same. But I changed.

I hope you can identify with this idea. Once we give up control, once we understand who ultimately has control, the world starts making sense.

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Galatians 1 – The proof is in the pudding?

January 4, 2010 Leave a comment

What is going on here? It seems like Paul is talking to this church about some false teachers in a strong way. What doctrine is he referring to. The fact that he brings up his history of persecuting the church as a Jew, I can only assume this is it. That the Jews are coming in and bringing their doctrine with them. And Paul does not like it, at all. What is the big deal anyway?

Sure, we can look at it and say, these stories in the Bible are interesting. Look there are these people who believe one thing and these other people who believe something else. However, does this story have relevance today?

But is it to you? How does your life differ at all if you were to believe as a Jew or as a Christian? What is the difference anyway?

I think this is interesting because if our actions are no different then may not really be a Jew or a Christian at all. It is very telling to take a snapshot of a single day of your life. What do you do? What do you accomplish? Who do you talk to? What is the fruit that you see produced from your involvement?

We all have something deep inside that we believe in. We actually really believe it. And spoken or not, we live in accordance with this belief. The question is, what belief is that?

Most may say, I am Christian and I live that way. This is an intentional statement, but does it truly line up with this core belief?

Let’s look at Paul for a moment:

13For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when God, who set me apart from birth[a] and called me by his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

Paul was changed from the inside out. What he truly believed, he did. He believed that the Jewish tradition was correct, so he persecuted the Church. Then God changed him, and he changed truly. He did not even associate with the old way of life any longer. This complete change is what I looking for in my life. I hope you see the difference in yours.

So now, why does Paul really care anyway. He is changed, so why is he writing letters and starting churches and discipling people anyway?

The difference is simple. You see what Paul’s life looked like before he followed the ways of Jesus Christ, and after. The fruit of his life says it all.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say.

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Are you Trustworthy?

December 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Have you ever stopped and thought, if I could pick one thing to get away with in life, and nobody would ever find out, what would it be? It is a trick question. I have thought about it and it is very revealing. You see the area you select is most likely a clue to hidden sin that already exists in your life in some way shape or form.

If we look at Luke 16, we see three different things going on there. A crooked manager (vs 1-9), how God sees behind appearances (vs 10-18), and the story of the rich man and Lazarus. After reading the chapter, my mind just started pondering my own heart as it relates to trust. The reading has a lot to do with trust and honesty.

Lets look at verses 10-13,

If you’re honest in small things,
you’ll be honest in big things;
If you’re a crook in small things,
you’ll be a crook in big things.
If you’re not honest in small jobs,
who will put you in charge of the store?
No worker can serve two bosses:
He’ll either hate the first and love the second
Or adore the first and despise the second.
You can’t serve both God and the Bank.

In the question, if one is a thief, he/she will think on an item they would like to steal, and enjoy. And hope that nobody would ever discover their trickery. But there is so much more going on. The fact is, if this desire resides in someone, it will find another opportunity to strike again, and again, and again. It will infect every area of ones life. And in the end, will most likely overtake them. The same is true for any hidden sin that you can imagine, it keep growing and growing until it gives birth to action.

Take some time today, get alone for a moment, and ponder this question, “Am I trustworthy?”

You also notice the picture above, this is interesting because it isn’t just about you and your life and your hidden sin. It is about community. You have a responsibility to the whole, to be trustworthy. Give it some thought, there is nothing hidden, all must be seen, all will be seen. One may as well find freedom now and live the rest of their life with joy and peace, instead of regret and fear. We see indication of this in the verses above that point to two different masters but you ma only serve one. The question is, which is it? When we join together as a group of people who can be trusted with little and can be trusted with a lot, then you see other things happening as well. The entire world lights up, the gloom fades away, the smile gets bigger, and life is hopeful, bright, and invigorating.

My pastor once said something that stuck with me, the only thing holding you back is the power of unconfessed sin. I like it. Anyway, kick these ideas around a bit. Leave a comment.

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