“God’s Mercy!”

God's mercy

2Chron 33 There is nothing like hooks in your nose, bronze chains, and extradition to a foreign land; a prison cell, cold gruel, day-old bread, and water to awaken your senses, and that is what happened to King Manasseh. He then “realized that the Lord is the true God” and repented. It was because of the mercy of God that he was released and returned to his kingdom. God’s mercy is overflowing!

God has placed this event to remind us that it begins with how you pay attention to the Lord and His Word. A word of caution here: his sin, just like ours, does impact family and children. His unrepentant son Amon is proof of that.

The Chronicler records these words: the annals record all his sins and unfaithful acts, and identify the sites where he built high places and erected Asherah poles and idols “before he humbled himself.” [2Chron 33:19] Mark that last phrase: he humbled himself, and that is what God is seeking.

You can listen and repent now, or you can do it later, but beware because God doesn’t guarantee there will be a tomorrow. Unfortunately, Amon learned that lesson the hard way; his life ended in an assassination.

“Our Response Reveals our Heart.”

My heart reveals who I am

2 Kings 20 God has placed this story of King Hezekiah to teach us several wise lessons. The backdrop began in the life of Hezekiah when he endured a terminal illness. Perhaps you can relate because you, too, are facing a terminal illness. When we hear devastating news, do we go to God, who is the author and finisher of our lives as Hezekiah did? How we respond reveals our heart. God not only heard Hezekiah’s plea but, in His graciousness, chose to heal him miraculously. God was gracious and gave him a sign of his answered prayer for healing, and the addition of fifteen years added to his life. How do we respond to the good news?

Not long after, some Babylonian visitors came supposedly to encourage Hezekiah and he revealed all of the treasures of Israel. Did all of their false overtures blind Hezekiah? Why did he not take them to see the House of the Lord? By showing them the riches of Israel, Hezekiah revealed a proud heart. When confronted by Isaiah, Hezekiah’s response in vs. 19 seems out of character, but is it? How we respond reveals our heart. Hezekiah was like those who accomplish much and take the credit upon themselves. How do we respond when others gush over our accomplishments?

The lesson we can glean from Hezekiah is that our words and actions reveals who we truly are. What is your response?

Corporate Worship

Worship God alone for He is Creator

Psalm 95: Every day we are to step aside from our work and spend time with God. On the first day of the week, we join others in worship in a place set aside just for that. The psalmist encourages that time by repeating “let us,” thus asking all of us to join together by singing, shouting out praises, entering his presence with thanksgiving. The world stops and asks why we do this. The psalmist replies that the Lord is a great God, a great king who is superior to all gods.

Romans 1:20 reminds us that we can see God’s invisible attributes in his creation. The psalmist notes that the depths of the earth are in his hand, the mountain peaks belong to him, the sea is his—for he has made it. It isn’t just the physical evidence of He being the Creator, but He reveals that He is deeper and higher than us. Each creation is a picture of who He is.  Therefore, come “let us” bow down and worship. “Let us” kneel before the Lord, our Creator.

The psalmist notes the warning if we fail to take the time to honor Him as the Israelites of old did. He made a vow in his anger that they will never enter the resting place I had set aside for them. May we heed that until heaven and earth are dissolved, this could happen to us.

May your day of worship be pleasing in His sight.

God’s Hidden Valiant Warrior

be strong and courageous

Judges 6-7 As our story opens, we find fearful Gideon hiding in a winepress, threshing his family’s wheat crop. At that moment, an angel of God appeared, telling him he was a brave warrior. Does God ever come to you when like Gideon? Gideon will soon be the brave warrior of fleeces and lapping water fame. But for now, he is hiding in a winepress to thresh his family’s wheat harvest because of fear.  Does that fit the description of a warrior? Warriors are supposed to stand tall, face the enemy, and be victorious, yet Gideon lives by fear. Gideon and the Israelites were living examples of the first part of this verse:  “The fear of people becomes a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be set on high.” [Prov 29:25] Gideon questioned the angelic presence;  if God is for us, why are we facing this? If God is near to us, why don’t I see or experience him?

Yet, Gideon is just the kind of person God is looking for so that the “one who boasts, boasts in the Lord.” [1Cor 1:31] The angel of the Lord told Gideon what lay ahead, but he needed more confirmation—not once but twice. God graciously answered because he wanted Gideon to cast off his former view of himself and rise to the occasion.

Perhaps God is calling you to a ministry or a challenge. Are you hiding in a winepress or stepping out so you can hear God saying: “I will be with you.”  

God’s Most Unlikely Characters

Pray for men to lead

Judges 3:7 to 5 If given the opportunity, who would you like to meet from the pages of history? Would it be Abraham Lincoln, Adoniram Judson, or Deborah and Jael from today’s reading? As we browse the pages of this book, we come face-to-face with Joshua’s challenge of Israel’s men to lead. To a man, they said they would, but Joshua warned them that they would not and so it came to pass.  As we wander these chapters, we want to put it aside, for it is the book with the most violence, and we meet the most unlikely characters.

First is the woman Deborah who sat under the Date Palm Tree, solving disputes. What happened to the men’s leadership? We aren’t told. In this chapter, we learn about the man Barak whose name means lightning, but he does not live up to his name. He is, in fact, fearful of many things and will only go if Deborah accompanies him. She reminds him that he may be victorious if she goes, but the glory will go to a woman. And who is this woman but Jael, who is a Kenite, not even an Israelite.

What is the lesson we are to glean? When men do not lead, God will allow another to get the glory. Pray today for the men of our families and our nation. Pray that they are strong and courageous, just as God told Joshua.

“God Has a Plan and It includes You

God has a plan

Numbers 1-2 It has been two full years and still, the people are no closer to the Promised Land than the last experience of the Passover night or their exodus from Egypt. Yet, God’s plan is to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land. As part of that plan, He has Moses begin numbering the men twenty years and older to be His servants in peacetime and in war. What we lack in comprehension, the Holy Spirit reveals to us in our understanding. God wants us to know that He is a God of details. He knows when a sparrow falls; He knows each hair on your head. God has a plan, and your name was on it from eternity past.

God knew that Moses needed others to serve, and God devised a plan for His people. From every tribe, men were to be ready to serve in whatever capacity God had planned. That was then, and it is the same today. God cares for you, and He has chosen you for His kingdom’s work. He calls you His servant. A servant serves others even when inconvenient, whether he or she dislikes the duty.  The circumstances are unimportant. God is looking at our heart’s attitude towards His work.

 In eternity past, He chose you and me for His work, and God did all of that so men who are in spiritual darkness will hear the good news. He uses people like you and me. Amazingly God wants to be glorified through us. Stop and think about that today and praise God for His lovingkindness that He chose you for His work. It is called evangelism.

What work are you doing today that will glorify Him?

Is Holiness a Puzzle? And If so, what is the missing piece?

Jesus is the missing piece to be holy

Leviticus 21 What does it mean to be holy in an unholy world? It means that we stand apart from that which is profane. It means that we see ourselves as saved by His grace and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. It means we are to ask ourselves if we are partnering with those who do not believe. It means we are to come out from among them and be pure, which seems like a strict order as we move and live in a godless society, but so did Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Esther, Ruth, and Jesus.

So back to our question: what does it mean to be holy?  It means that we are to remember that we are part of the priesthood of believers only because of the gift of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It means what God gave Aaron and the High Priest as a standard applies to us in our present age. We do it when we present Christ as His ambassadors and implore them to be reconciled to God in the same way we were. It means that we mirror Christ in our walk and talk, and we can only do that when we know God. We know His character, His motives for our holiness, His standards of purity and righteousness.

God has said over and over: you should be holy because I am holy. You are my people, and thus you stand before an unholy world. The question before us is; are we a holy separated people?  Only through Jesus can we have the missing puzzle pieces of purity, righteousness, and honor.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

God gifts men/women to do the work of the ministry

Exodus 36 to 38 That phrase was coined in the early ’20s to sell Victor Radios, but, in reality, chapter 36 shows us the gift that keeps on giving. God is the one who gifts each person. He gifted the artisans to build the Tabernacle, but He also gifted the people with a willing heart to give to the work. No matter where God has placed you, you have been equipped to do the work of the ministry.

Thinking through all that the supervisor Bezalel had on his plate, he must have learned quite a bit in Egypt. We wonder what his “job” was there. In Exodus 5, we read “The Israelite foremen.” Was Bezalel one of those who learned how to direct a crew that would be under him to build? Where did he learn the working in gold? Did he learn it back in Egypt and now wondered how God was going to use him? That’s how I think. God and I have a conversation: I tell God, “don’t waste this,” use me in your work with the skills you have given to me. What do you say to God?

My father-in-law, was one who could “see” how something was made. If something broke, he would always say, if someone built it, then someone can fix it. He could study a broken piece and could see beneath the outer to the inner and then repair it or rebuild it into a new piece. He passed that on to DA, and he is always saying to me: if someone designed it, then someone can fix it. Both my father-in-law and my husband were/are amazing.

My own Dad didn’t live long enough for me to really understand his gifts, or for me to appreciate them, but he had an inner gift of tenderness that he passed on to me. He could see where a heart was hurting, and he could reach out to fix that broken heart. Unfortunately, his gift was short-lived, and the one person he needed to reach most, he was not able to. I can’t wait to get to heaven and talk to Bezalel and Oholiab and rekindle that relationship with “Grandpa Floyd.”

The people gave willingly and had to be restrained finally. Do I give voluntarily, or do I hold back and wait? God has blessed us. Are we giving willingly and without thinking about the amount or the gift but only that it is being used for God’s kingdom work?

Perhaps you don’t see yourself as a Bezalel or a Oholiab, but only see yourself as a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord.[Ps 84:10] God can use your talents wherever He has chosen.  All He asks is for a willing heart.

Is Your Heart Soft or Hard?

Soft hearts can see God in creation

Exodus 7  to 9   Pride goeth before a fall, and Pharaoh will learn how true that is. God sent the brothers Aaron and Moses to speak to Pharaoh: “Let My people go.” In return, Pharaoh responded, “Do a miracle,” and so they did.  Unimpressed, Pharaoh has his magicians work their magic to turn rods into serpents, but surprise, surprise; the rod of Aaron ate up the magician’s serpents. Pharaoh’s response? He hardened his heart just as God said he would. It was not until the third miracle that even the magicians realized that God’s finger was in it, but Pharaoh hardened his heart.  God provides the evidence, but man must make the decision.

We are living the pandemic life, and the world is searching for answers, and like Pharaoh, the hearts of the world remain hardened. As Paul noted in Romans 1:20; they see the invisible attributes of God in the sunsets and sunrises, the path of the sun and moon, and still, they say: “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice? …I do not know the LORD.”[Ex 5:2] It is because of these prideful statements that we must carry the gospel message to them, EVEN IF they respond like Pharaoh. We must do this because “God is not willing any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” [2Pet 3:9] Moses and Aaron were God’s servants. Are we?  

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

God cares for his own

Gen 41 and 42 Jacob had 12 sons; one was sold, the other remains at home. Christ had 12 disciples, one sold the Savior, and one lied to save his skin. The family dynamics continue. Yet, God in His providence guided each family group to lead others into His saving grace even though they would traverse the hard paths of life until God refined them until they shone like gold.

If we only see Joseph in prison, we have failed to see the hand of God’s providential care for him. God raised Joseph that he might be a savior in times of famine. In a similar way, we can see God’s providential care for the disciples through thick and thin that they might be prepared to share the good news of the gospel to a lost and dying world.

As you look back over your life, can you name the times God providentially protected you and then used you in the lives of others? Do you give God the praise when you can see His hand at work? “You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now, but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with indescribable and glorious joy” [1Pet 1:8]

Job understood that truth: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” [Job 23:10]