Mountains, God’s Voice & Trust

Psalm 125: A mountain can withstand a storm’s fury standing tall and erect, yet from a spoken word from the God of the universe, the rocks can tumble forth. The psalmist recalls a time when it seemed like life’s troubles, like tumbling rocks, came calling. The nation was experiencing all of the dangers the evil one would or could plan against them. They needed a reminder that “if” they trusted in the LORD, they would know He is both deliverer and the creator of heaven and earth.

The prophet Elijah had to learn that valuable lesson, and he learned in a mountain cave 40 days after he ran away from his victory at Mt. Carmel.

Like us, Elijah was sure he knew God on Mt. Carmel. However, when Jezebel sent a scathing message of imminent death, he fell into depression and ran away. Sound like us? Satan likes to send us into a dither right after a victory.  After running forty days, Elijah found himself in a mountain cave where he heard God’s voice. “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  But, God’s voice was not in an earthquake or wind but the still soft, whisper of God. In the same way, God speaks to us in His Word not in a storm but in His quiet whisper.

 Have you just experienced a victory? Be on guard, Satan is ready for the attack.

Stand still and hear God’s still quiet voice.

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Standing Firm

Trust and Obey

Psalm 112 The world clamors for peace and harmony, yet they deny the radical conversion that Christ performs when one yields to Him and chooses to bear His yoke. They choose ridicule rather than the path of godliness—yet they cannot deny the evidence which stares them in the face. They cannot understand how it is possible to stand firm when faced with adversity. They are like Job’s comforters, which could not wrap their minds around Job’s intense faithfulness amid the worst tragedies to befall a man. How could he sit in ashes and mourn yet keep his faith in God?

What was his secret?

Like the psalmist, Job, and the saints who chose Christ, they knew the blessing of walking in harmony with God. Each decided to let God train them to walk beside Him in the furrows of the good, bad, and ugliness of life and then recorded their steps on parchment for us to read.  It is titled  “trust and obey – there is no other way.” They could then see beyond the temporal circumstances to the eternal reward for those who walk uprightly. They submitted their will, heart, and mind to Him.  They chose not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of their mind.  They knew no matter the circumstances of life: “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. May the name of the Lord be blessed.” Therefore, we like the psalmist can say: “I will not be shaken, and I will remember Him who is just and knows the beginning from the end.”

What choice have you made?

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“Speeches Reveal the Heart”

Job 8 to 10 Job is facing a severe trial, and at his initiative, he has chosen to quarantine from his home and wife. His friends come to visit and sit six feet apart for seven days without a word for the sight of Job in his distress is so severe. Then, one by one, they begin to dialogue with him about his trial, but instead of gentleness, their words are harsh and full of criticism.

As Job listens, he begins to think of the wonders of creation and the God he has served for many a year. He wonders why this is happening, but his faith remains steadfast, although he asks how a human can be just before God? He shares his understanding of the God he knows, one who is wise in heart and might in strength. His ability to remove mountains shows his power, and he alone spreads out the heavens and treads on the sea waves. Jesus did just that as he walked on the waves on the Sea of Galilee to prove He was God.  Job asks if he passes by me, I cannot see him, and that is precisely the scene the disciples describe. [Mark 6] Zechariah and the Psalmist also describes Him as the one who crosses the sea of storms and will calm its turbulence. [Zechariah 10:11/Ps 107:29]

Faithful one, do you see Jesus as Job speaks? Do we come to God to plead for His mercy for those who are suffering? Do we stop and ask God to understand this dilemma? Do we have the same measure of faith as he; Even if he slays me, I will hope in him.”

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“The Battle is God’s, Not Ours.”

God's battle is not ours

1 Chron 20 What do you do when you hear bad news? What did the author of this passage want to teach us? First, even kings and leaders who are in authority face fear.  We can relate to this story because today, the virus has opened Pandora’s Box of fearful tendencies. Will I have a job? Where will I get the funds to pay for simple things like water, gas, and yes, groceries?  The author also wants us to learn that fear either drives men to God or away from God—which means once again—men have choices. 

In this story, the king hears disturbing news about enemies on his borders. He can gather his army, or he can seek advice and help from God. The tension in this story is the same many are facing today. We read that God steps in and anoints someone to come alongside to speak words of comfort and wisdom to the king. You may be fearful because of the news about the virus.  Many are asking, should I shelter in place, but if the economy reopens, should I step out or stay isolated? These are real-life questions with many unknown answers. And like Jehoshaphat, you may not know what to do.

It is then that a voice of wisdom steps out of the crowd to tell us that ‘the battle is God’s, not ours.’ God is asking us: will we trust Him even if we can’t see the future?

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How do you face the death of a dream?

Dreams that die

1 Chron 17 Being quarantined to protect ourselves from the coronavirus has been a challenge for many. Some of us have had our dreams put on hold or even terminated. This might be a good time to ask God what He is doing. Does He have a different plan for your life?

King David had a vision or a dream. It came from a pure and humble heart. There was nothing wrong with David’s dream, and there may be nothing wrong with yours. But God wants us to dream with Him. Sometimes we share our dream with those closest to us, just as David shared his with the prophet Nathan. Nathan was excited and encouraged David to commence—but then God came to Nathan with a message for David. God was not only delaying the dream, but he also was not going to fulfill it. Hearing Nathan brought David to a point where he had to make some choices about how he should respond to the “death of his dream.”  He went in and sat before the Lord humbly. How we respond shows whether our dream was ours or His. Note this lesson; God didn’t take away David’s dream. Instead, God was saying; your dream is too small. I have bigger plans for you that you can’t even imagine just as the prophet Jeremiah told the Israelites. In a nutshell, God said: I have plans to prosper you and to give you a future filled hope. {Jer 29:11 author’s thoughts}

Don’t stop listening when God says no. He usually has something far greater or bigger than you can imagine.

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When Tests Come, Trust God

Prayer is the answer

2 Kings 18 Hezekiah lived in a time when Judah had prophets like Isaiah to guide and teach.  Hezekiah was mentored by him nearly all his life, yet Hezekiah had two areas of weakness: fear of men and pride. Hezekiah fell into the trap of fear when Assyria threatened his kingdom. Although the Assyrian king accepted his tribute, like Satan, he upped the ante and Hezekiah prostrated himself before the Lord. That is how Satan works; he will give a little only to take a lot. Beware of Satan’s tactics. He is our arch enemy.

Hezekiah fell ill unto death, and Isaiah tells him God is knocking at his eternal destiny door.  Hezekiah wept before God and reminded God of his faithfulness and he was healed. But, then another enemy, Babylon, comes knocking and Hezekiah is fooled by their gifts and get well wishes. Hezekiah’s heart was proud of his wealth and missed an opportunity to share the power of prayer and God.   The Chronicle writer notes that God left Hezekiah alone to “test what was in his heart.” Pride is one of Satan’s masterful tools.

Hezekiah possessed God’s blessings, and God approved him, but he failed in these two areas and missed the golden opportunities God placed in his path.   

Have we missed them as well?   

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God Answers the Barren with Fruit

1Samuel 1-4 Yesterday we walked with Ruth from Moab to Bethlehem and saw the hand of God at work. Like Hannah in our story today, she had been barren until God touched her womb. God has placed these women in scripture that we might see His blessing after years of barrenness.

Hannah was not only childless, but she lived in a family where there were two wives. God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman, but her husband, Elkanah, like some others in scripture, failed to keep that rule.  Hannah’s rival was jealous and lacked compassion for Hannah.

Trials and storms either drive us closer to God or far away. Hannah chose to draw near as she cried out to El Roi, the God who sees and hears. Hannah knew her only resource was to pour out her heart to God. She was desperate, and in that desperation, she made an unusual vow to dedicate the child back to God.  Ecclesiastes reminds us that “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in paying it…and don’t tell the priest “it was a mistake.”

God hears our cries, and God answered with a little boy she would name Samuel meaning “asked of God,” who would become a leader in Israel. Even if you are facing adversity this day, stop and pour over this prayer of Hannah and pray her words back to God. Hannah learned the truth of Phil 4:7; bring all requests to God and His peace will guard your heart.

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“Knowing the God of Our Past, Present, and the Future”

deut 1 prov 3 trust in the Lord2a

Deut 1-3 God is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Failure only happens because of our unbelief in this truth.

How often are we set to take on a new project but forget to ask God to go before us, and when we step out, we lose heart because we see with our earthly eyes rather than our heavenly eyes? How often, like the children of Israel, we see the enemies and lose confidence because we forget that God has given us all we need and wisdom for the asking. Remember this truth: the fear of man is a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. [Prov 29:25a]

The same God that took them out of Egypt would be the same God that would go before them. He would carry them; fight for them; provide direction for each step ahead and place terror in the eyes of the enemy. And the same is true for us today!

Is God the same promise keeper to you now as he was in your past? Reread this verse from Proverbs: “trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.”  d of Our Past, Present, and the Future”

God is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Failure only happens because of our unbelief of this truth.

How often are we set to take on a new project but forget to ask God to go before us and when we step out we lose heart because we see with our earthly eyes rather than our heavenly eyes? How often, like the children of Israel, we see the enemies and lose confidence because we forget that God has given us all we need and wisdom for the asking. Remember this truth: the fear of man is a snare but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. [Prov 29:25a]

The same God that took them out of Egypt would be the same God that would go before them. He would carry them; fight for them; provide direction for each step ahead and place terror in the eyes of the enemy. And the same is true for us today!

Is God the same promise keeper to you now as he was in your past? Reread this verse from Proverbs: “trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and He will make your paths straight.”

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Waiting…easy or hard?

Exodus 32 Do you have trouble waiting–especially for God to act, to speak, or “fill in the blank?”

Exodus 32 waiting patiently

Do you become impatient? Do you want to wait, but circumstances take over, and you decide to take matters into your own hands? The Israelites had just said, ‘we will obey.’ Yet when a test came into their lives to wait, their commitment was shallow.  When the people “saw” that Moses still had not returned, they made a decision: Moses’ God wasn’t working on their time table. It won’t be the last time these Israelites have a problem with waiting. They became impatient with Samuel and said you are old and your sons don’t follow, so appoint us a king. King David’s prayer life reveals that he must have had trouble with waiting too, for he wrote three times for God to help him in ‘waiting.’ [Ps 17:14; 37:7, 62:5]

Why do we have a problem with waiting? We misperceive time. The drama of leaving Egypt was still fresh in their minds, and they were anxious to get to the Promised Land, yet God knew that they needed the skill of waiting because time had always been determined for them. Now they were being tested to see if their commitment was real. Sometimes as we wait, we yearn for routine, and we get bored. Without a routine, we get lazy, and we become discontented; we lack a commitment to the cause. Like the Israelites, we do not have perseverance. We think we have the plan all figured out, and we want God to do it ‘now.’ One author put it this way; Waiting reveals the best and the worst in us and also reveals our lack of understanding that God doesn’t work on our time table.

Are you having trouble waiting? Cultivate this skill through prayerful meditation and study.

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Grumbling or Trusting?

Exodus 5 to 7 timea

Exodus 5 to 7 When God calls us to His work do we immediately respond or are we like Moses with his many excuses: I can’t speak eloquently; send someone else or why me? God wants us to trust He will equip us for the task. For Moses, God gave him his brother Aaron to walk beside him. For us, He has given us the Holy Spirit.

Forty yrs. had passed and we find Moses sharing God’s plan to release the Israelites from slavery and the people bowed in reverence forgetting to ask: when will this happen. And so when the sticky-wicket Pharaoh exclaimed:  “I don’t know the Lord!” they were dumbfounded to hear not deliverance but: slave masters increase the workload of the Israelites!

They said: What happened to our deliverance? “You have made us stink in the opinion of Pharaoh and his servants!”  Like us, they had a mindset that it would happen right then and when it didn’t, they complained. Moses wasn’t much better at hearing this news either. “Lord, why have you caused trouble for these people? You have not rescued them!”

When things don’t go as we think they should, we find ourselves wallowing in the pit of grumbling. The Israelites and Moses fell into that trap and we do as well because we are an instant gratification people.

There is an important lesson here for us: God does not work on our timetable! He only asks us to trust in Him with all of our heart and not rely on our own understanding. How are we doing?

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