Grumbling or Trusting

God is Jehovah Jireh

1Kings 17-19  Do you grumble? If you say yes, you are just like King Ahab who grumbled about Elijah and about a drought. Like many, we grumble and do not thank God for His provision. To teach Ahab that He, not Baal, is the God of the universe, God would use his faithful prophet, Elijah, and a drought. Elijah is a man of God who came out of nowhere to confront King Ahab about his lifestyle.

After the confrontation, God protected and provided for Elijah in dire situations because nothing is too hard for God for that is his name: Jehovah Jireh, our provider. He sent Elijah to a place of refuge from the wicked king and queen at the brook Cherith. There, ravens brought him food every day until the brook dried up. Then God sent him to a widow in Zarephath. God again provided oil and flour day after day. But when the widow’s son died, both she and Elijah needed the only resource left: prayer. It was the faithful prayer of Elijah that restored the child to the woman. In the meantime, while all of this was going on, God provided a simple man named Obadiah to protect and provide for a hundred of God’s prophets.

Step by step, God provided for every need. If He could use unclean ravens, an unnamed widow, or an Obadiah, will He not provide for your every need? Do you trust Him to take care of your essentials or are you just grumbling like Ahab?

God Tests Balaam & Us

God tests our heart motives

Numbers 22  Just as we test metals to determine their worth, so God tests our hearts to know it’s worth, and as Paul prayed, so should we: That “our God will make [us] worthy of His calling.” [2Thess 1:11] Enter Balaam, the son of Beor, a false diviner whose worth will be proven. When the Moabite King sent a delegation, God intervened by asking Balaam,  “Who are these men?” Balaam kept up a dialog with God about them, and on the surface, it seems that he was obeying. However, as we see, Balaam fell headlong into the temptation of earthly riches, which was more potent than obeying God. Like many today, Balaam tried to appear righteous by his answer that he could not curse Israel, but his actions prove the opposite. Balaam sought ways to obey God and yet get the riches the King offered.

The last test came when God explicitly tested Balaam when he said: “if” these men have come to call you, get up and go with them. But Balaam didn’t wait for the “if” clause and instead got up and went.

Today God tests our hearts just as He did Balaam’s. Therefore, we must ask God for his wise counsel and we must stand firm.  God gives us tests to discern if we will obey His voice or our own.

Merciful God & Answered Prayer

Pray for your children

Gen 19 God is the Living and Holy God who loves purity and hates sin. He is gracious to save and a righteous judge towards the sinful.  The book of Genesis provides all of these pictures of God and in contrast, the “man made in His image” as tainted, sinful, and without hope minus the mercy of God.

Abraham’s pure heart is revealed as he asks God if he will destroy the righteous with the wicked. Lot’s heart is revealed as one who wants to be a fence sitter. Even the city dwellers see his hypocrisy. How different Lot is from Noah who lived in the world but was not a part of it. Peter describes Lot as a righteous man, but here we only see him as a man who has lost his testimony in the marketplace and his home. “This man came to live here as a foreigner, and now he dares to judge us!” [Gen 19:9] Even “Mrs.” Lot loves Sodom more than God!

Abraham had begged God for ten righteous to be saved, but only Lot and his two daughters survive.  These daughter’s act of incest is living proof of those who do not train up their children to follow God.  

What are some lessons we can glean from this passage? (1) God loves the prayers of his saints, and our prayers matter. (2) What you sow you will also reap. (3)We must be as bold as Abraham to pray for those who are perishing.

“Is There Life After Death?”

Where will you go after death?

Job 14-16 Job asks the age-old question: “man dies and is powerless, he expires – and where is he?” and “if a man dies, will he live again?”  Job struggled, but Jesus gave the answer: I am the way to the afterlife; believe in me.

It seems that all religions/faiths believe in some form of afterlife, but the real question is what Job asked: “will he live again?” The resurrection of Jesus proves that there is life after death. Jesus spoke of the reality of our destiny in [Luke 16:19-31]. Two men, Lazarus, and the rich man die. Jesus pulls back the curtain into eternity to show us that our destiny is sealed while we are alive.

Our witness to that truth is Jesus Christ, who “died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures and that he appeared.” [1Cor 15:3-7] He appeared to not just Peter but to the many that went forth to tell the world: yes, there is life after death.

From Jesus, we can know that yes, we will live again. The question all need to ask is:  where will you and I  spend eternity? The two thieves on the cross and the story Jesus told in [Luke 16; Luke 23:39-42] tell us that man must choose NOW for once death comes, there is no return ticket to this earthly life.

What will you choose?

Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life.” [Jn 10:40 and Jn 5:24]. 

“From Blindness to Sight”

Once blind now I can see

John 9 Sometimes we wish we could have been an observer of some incident told by the biblical authors.

In John 9 we meet several people who are spiritually blind as well as the man who is physically blind. Forgetting that blind people really have extraordinary hearing, the disciples ask incredibly insensitive questions: “who sinned, this man or his parents?” This beggar had most likely heard others ask the same question, but now Jesus will give them a lesson they will never forget. His healing will glorify God and reveal those who are also blind spiritually. Crafting a mud pie, Jesus sends the blind beggar to the pool of Siloam to wash. As he removed the mud, the man now saw what he previously had known only by sound.

Standing before the neighbors, the parents and the religious leaders see the evidence — but they want him to deny his healing! His parents even skirted his healing issue out of fear. Ask him; he is of age. Amazingly, before them stands a man physically healed of his blindness, yet they sit in judgment. They had the opportunity to give God praise, but instead, they scoffed.

When Jesus touches our life, there will be scoffers who want us to deny our spiritual healing. How will we respond? Do we give God glory?  

Who is the real blind person in this story–the beggar or those who saw the result?  

Reach Out and Touch Someone

reach out to someone today

Isaiah 16 You may or may not remember that slogan from the 1980s, but a marketing idea at the phone company hit home and so began one step closer to the art of instant communication. Instead of waiting days for snail mail now, it is voice mail. The days of rotary phones are over. Now nearly everyone on the planet has a rechargeable cell phone. Now we use our phones to call, do our banking, and read instant messages, but nothing matches a friend’s sweet voice checking in on us. Even though we are more connected than ever before, we still need that personal one on one chat with a precious friend or family member.

 In Isaiah 16, God’s heart sighed for the prodigal Moab. They had long ago walked away from Jehovah, but Jehovah had not walked away from them. Yes, they brought this problem on themselves due to their pride and idol worship, yet even in that, God reminds the Israelites to do what He would do:  Hide the outcasts from those seeking their demise and do not betray the fugitive. God is saying remember to demonstrate the attribute of compassion to those who are suffering.

Who is in your circle of acquaintances or friends who need that special touch today?

As the Lord has compassion on us, so we are to have compassion for others. It goes both ways, for you never know when you may be facing difficulty and need that special touch.

“The Sin of Unbelief and the Rewards of Belief”

2Kings 7 to 10 There are two kinds of people in this world; they either believe the Bible, or they don’t believe it. You can’t mix in those people who say they believe some of it. Those are still unbelievers. They have one thing in common; they see the evidence but cling to their unbelief. They look for excuses not to believe even when the evidence is before them. God has no mercy on those, and at death, they will join the Luke 16 rich man in torments.

So what does have to do with today’s reading? The story begins and ends with a man who scoffed at Elisha’s prophecy of the salvation of a city. Lepers find the coats and armor and horses of the enemy left behind; go to the city to report it, but the king surmises a ploy. He sends horses and men to check it out, and the city is saved. In the end, the scoffer was trampled and died just as Elisha said he would because of his unbelief.

Is there any hope? Yes! God gives us a ray of sunshine in the Shunammite woman who obeyed Elisha, leaving her home to reside in the Philistine territory during the famine. After the famine, she returns home to claim her land. In the palace Elisha’s servant, Gehazi just happened to be in the presence of the king and verified her story. The king returned her property and the profit of it during the years she was gone.

Both stories reveal the principle of belief vs. unbelief and the rewards or consequences of each. Which category fits you?

From Unbelief to Belief

1Kings 8-10 There was no social distancing the day Solomon dedicated the Temple. The dedication lasted for seven more days. Also, three times a year, Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar he built for the Lord.  God was at work there in Jerusalem.

The news of the dedication spread from Jerusalem to many nations—until it reached the ears of the Queen of Sheba. God had turned the world upside down, yet the Queen was skeptical. She could not believe what others had said and decided to see for herself.  She responded as unbelievers respond to our transformation. In fact, in the book of Acts on the day of Pentecost, a crowd gathered and heard the disciples speaking in their own language. Some jeered at the speakers, but many believed, and 3000 people were added to the new church. She came and plied Solomon with many hard questions.  Unbelievers do the same to us and why need to hide God’s word in our hearts so we can witness with boldness. End of story, the Queen was amazed; all that she had heard was true.

When others hear our testimony, are they amazed and see that our life has really been transformed?  Do they walk away like her saying, “The report I had heard was true!” Do they leave praising God? 

David’s Terrible No Good Day

1Samuel 29-31 David has lived in fear of King Saul. His solution was to align himself with the enemies of Israel, who turned out only to be okay as long as he could play-act with success. But, when his host, Achish, decides to join with the other Philistines, his charade comes to a crashing halt. Achish was naïve to think that David would fight with him and the other Philistines against Israel. David played the innocent party but was probably relieved when the rest of the Philistines refused to let him go to war with them. But, that was just the next in a series of problems which he faced just because he thought he could handle this his way. Three days later, upon his return, he found Ziklag empty of all the women and children and burned to the ground.

Fast forward, David sees that when you leave God out of the equation, you are left with scars and an army who are ready to revolt.  It is then that David cries out to God to help him in his leadership skills, and God directs him to retaliate against the Amalekites who Saul was supposed to eradicate but did not.

David is in Leader Training 101, and so far, he has earned only a C grade! That is how life is when we when play Satan’s game. Seek God’s face and trust him wholly. What grade would God give you?

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.