Archive for the ‘direction’ Category

The downfall of _________ ( I Samuel 15)

February 13, 2018

 22 And Samuel said,

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
    as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to listen than the fat of rams. I Samuel 15:22

Each day it seems as if our nation sinks to new lows in morality.  Daily the major news networks carry the stories of people who have been engaged in immoral behavior.  This behavior leaders to their downfall.

Question:  “Are there things in our lives, if made public, would certainly lead to our downfall?”

Someone once said, “Everyone would leave town if our sins were recorded in the local newspaper.”

In I Samuel 15 we read the first hand account of the downfall of a king.  This kings name is Saul.  He was called to be Israel’s first king.  His calling came out of his nations desire to be like the other nations of the world.  His life would be filled with constant battles with the enemies of Israel.  His life would end on a battle field.  His story is of one who fell hard because his life did not line up with God.

Three things directed this man to his certain downfall.  We see them in Vs: 18-19:

  • Saul disobeyed God’s command.
  • Saul desired the treasure of this world.
  • Saul willfully sinned against God.

Let’s think through these steps for a moment.  God clearly directed Saul, but Saul said, “I do not want to do this.”  Saul’s desire was to have his own plan.  Saul set aside God’s plan to accomplish his own plan.

Question: “Has this ever happened to you?”  Maybe even now you are about to step into a moment that will lead you down.  I plead with you, obey God’s Word.  Pray and confess the unholy desires in your heart.  Reject the old nature that is pulling at you.

Truly there is a better way.  God wants your heart first.  Seek Him fully and submit to Him fully.  Joy will come to your life!!!

Check out Mark 12:28-33  

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

What Are You Watching? (Ezekiel 33; Psalm 81-82)

September 30, 2014

“So you, son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel.  Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.”  Ezekiel 33:7

Last week many of the national TV networks (In the United States) began their fall line up of new episodes of programing.  Many people were anxiously awaiting the new season of their favorite TV programs.  Recently I encountered someone from another city who said they had favorite shows to watch every night of the week.  I thought, “This could not be good.”

Question:  “What are you and I watching?”

Believe it or not, what we watch plays a big role in how we carry out our lives.

Think it through:

Ezekiel has been called of God to be a prophet for God’s people during their exile.  His job was simple.  He was to share with God’s people what God was sharing with him.

God’s describes this calling in the form of a metaphor.  The metaphor being that of a guard who is responsible to stand at his post, most likely on a spot on top of the wall by the gate of the city.  He was to watch for the enemy and he was to warn his people if an enemy would come.

This was his job.  If he warned the people and they did not heed the warning, he was in the clear.  But if he did not warn the people, then he was guilty of not doing his job.  So the question that we would ask the watchman each night was this, “What are you watching?”

Let’s dig deeper:

1.  Is God speaking to us today?  If so, what is He saying?

2.  What is our response to what He is saying?

Now let’s dig even deeper:

1.  Are we setting aside time each day to comprehend what He is saying?

2.  How much time are we setting aside to communicate with others what He is saying?

Our response:

It is so true, “What we give ourselves too is really what we are passionate about!!!”  This day I know there is both eternal and personal implications to what I have read.  Listen to what the Lord says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked would turn from his way and live.”  The Apostle Peter shares this same message in II Peter 3:9.  The question is, “What are we watching?”

He is thinking about you (Psalm 40-41; Ezekiel 4)

September 1, 2014

“You have multiplied,  O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.”  Psalm 40:4

There I was, sleep escaping me because I was trying to think my way through many different circumstances of life.  It was now into my second or maybe third night of battle through what I could not understand.

Question, “Do you ever find sleep escaping you because of the thoughts you are having?”

If, so I challenge you to consider Psalm 40.  Here we find David both praising God and pleading with God concerning his life.  Here is the deal.  God has brought David through a time that is compared to what Jeremiah writes about in Jeremiah 38.  David is praising God for how he has delivered him.  But he also is pleading with God because of another trial he is facing.

Question:  “What will give us the victory over our troubled thoughts?”

“God is thinking about you!”

Think this through:

I.  You and I must praise God for His thoughts, Vs: 1-10

This is amazing, “God’s thoughts toward us are beyond our comprehension.”  Check out Isaiah 55:8.

Please spend time here.  When we understand this truth, the following will happen:

a.  We will wait patiently for God to deliver, Vs: 1-2

b.  We will worship passionately, Vs: 3.  We will be saying, “Lord, it will be amazing how you work for your glory.”

c.  We will work persistently , Vs: 5-10.   David will share God’s victories with the world. He will delight to do His will.

II.  You and I must plead with God about His thoughts, Vs: 11-17

a.  Lord, I know you will-see me through because of your mercy and love.

b, Lord, I know you will-overcome, because you are a great God.

c, Lord, I know you will-be on time, because you are a right on time God.

Our response:

You and I must think correctly in the night times of our lives.  We must be a people who follow Peter’s direction, “Cast all of our care upon Him, because He care for us,” I Peter 5:7.

It was the leper who discovered the great care of the Lord when he touched him in Mk 1:40-45.

Brothers and sisters, “This day I have made my choice to praise Him for His thoughts.”  The way He has planned to get me through every day, is greater than I can imagine.  This day I have made my choice to plead with Him to show me His thoughts.  I will join David in saying, ” I will delight to do your will Oh Lord!!!”

A good place to be (Psalm 34; Lamentations 3)

August 26, 2014

“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles,” Psalm 34:6

Question, “Where is the best place in the world to be?”  This was the question I possessed to my youngest son as we began our devotion time last week.  As John thought about the question and his answer, I could see in the excitement of his eyes that there were some good places going through his mind.  But there was one problem, “of all the good places,” where was the best place?

Brothers and sisters, it is the same way in our lives as well.  There are many wonderful places where we can go.  I think of the joy I have in going to church with my brothers and sisters.  I also think about the joy of going home every evening.  I think about the wonderful moments when I get to go to my parents home. I think about the brothers and sisters in Malawi Africa.

However these places could never be of joy unless there was another place at the top of my list.  Here is the place, “In the arms of the Lord.”

Think it through:

David has been on the run from Saul for many years.  He is weary of the fight.  David decides to leave Israel and go down to live among the Philistines.  Very quickly he realizes this is a mistake.  We find this story in I Samuel 21:10-15.  In this moment David cries out to God.  God leads David out from the this place.

The verse that speaks most to me in Psalm 34 is verses 18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

David realizes his mistake and quickly runs to the Lord.

Psalm 34 has so much to say to the person who is trying to determine where is the best place to be in life.  As I read through this chapter I could not help but see the parallel to the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:2-11.

Those with the right spirit understand the best place to be is in the arms of Jesus.

Our response:

You possible could be going through a hard moment in your life as you read this blog?  It could be that you are unhappy in the place where  you are residing?  If so, I challenge you to consider who wants to guide you and have sweet fellowship with you.  His name is Jesus.  Here is what Jeremiah discovered, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness,” Lamentations 3:22-23.

No matter how weary or how wicked you have become, God is willing to receive you, if you follow the path of Psalm 34:18.  Turn to this path today.  Truly this is the best place to go.

The Best Place to Hide (Psalm 17, Jeremiah 41)

August 13, 2014

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”  Psalm 17:8

Question, “Have you ever hidden from someone?”  I can remember hiding in our basement one evening waiting for my dad to come home from work.  He would always come to the basement and take off his work boots before entering the house.  I can still remember the look on his face when I jumped out at him as he opened the door. I also can still remember the punishment I received for scaring Him.

This morning I found myself being challenged to trust in God as one who would hide under the shadow of his wings.  The analogy is one that is clear to anyone growing up on a farm.  Jesus uses this same analogy in Luke 17:44, “As a mother hen would gather her chicks under her wings.”  The picture is of our Lord inviting us to come close and remain under His perfect care!!!  Under His shadow is the best place to ride out any storm.

Think it through:

David is being pursued by evil people who are accusing him of evil.  David’s response is three-fold:

1.  David follows God’s paths, Vs: 5

God has validated David’s faithfulness in the path of life.  David was not perfect, however he was pursuing God’s will in his life.

2.  David is focused on God’s provision, Vs: 6

David knows he is loved by God and he will be protected by God.

3.  David is filled with God’s perspective, Vs: 15

“As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.”

David knew the only safe place to hide was under God’s shadow.  Even if he were to die in this conflict, he would live again because of God’s love.  This is the only place to daily hide!!!

Our response:

Remember our question, “Have you ever hidden from someone?”  Maybe you are hiding from the very one you need in your life.  This one is God almighty.  Many people sit in the shadows of life with a dark cloud hanging over their spiritual lives simply because they are trying to do live alone.

I want to challenge you to dwell under His shadow.  You will find the peace and perspective you need to dwell securely no matter the storms.

Trying To Understand (Psalm 13-14, Jeremiah 39)

August 11, 2014

“Consider and answer me, Oh Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” Psalm 13:3

Here in Psalm 13 David gives us a strong metaphor, “The eyes of his heart.”  If you were to consult with a doctor, you would discover the following, “Your heart does not have eyes.”  No big surprise here!!!

Here is the surprise, “The heart needs spiritual eyesight.”

The Bible teaches us that men do not have spiritual eyesight.  Mankind is unaware that their hearts are corrupt.  Here is how David describes our heart condition in 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, there is no God.  They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds. There is none who does good.”  

Think it through:

I.  God gives spiritual eyesight only to those who are in covenant with Him, Psalm 13

It is to those that God graciously opens their eyes that experience spiritual eyesight.  Such people see their sinfulness and rebellion against God.  Such people repent of their sin and seek to align their lives to God.  Such is the life of covenant with God.

This does not mean that a person will never suffer or they will never struggle.  We see this clearly in David’s plea in Psalm 13.  But such a person will be blessed with spiritual eyesight to understand.

II.  God gives spiritual eyesight to those who are committed to Him, Psalm 14

Now that a person is in covenant, they must live their lives as a committed follower of Christ.  The Psalmist describes such people as the generation of the righteous!!!

All of this teaches us the following:  “It is by grace that we are forgiven and it is by grace that we have spiritual eyesight.”

Our response:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Rom. 6:23

“Having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,” Ephesians 1:18

This day I challenge you to praise Him for His grace in your life.  This day I challenge you to seek to see through His eyes what He has for you in this and every day!!!

Working at the Wheel (Jeremiah 17, Mark 3)

July 22, 2014

“So I went down to the potters house, and there he was working at his wheel.”  Jeremiah 17:3

Question, “Who is at the wheel in your life?”  This question assumes that one understands the metaphorical connection in the question.  In a car, it is the steering wheel that is connected to the tires in-order to govern the direction the car will travel.  In the car of your life, someone or something is at the wheel.

Consider this reality:  In infancy it is the stomach that steers the child to crying.  In childhood it is the passion that steers the child to explore everything.  In the teenager years it is the flesh that steers the student to want to do their own thing.  In the college years it is the steering wheel of individuality that leads them in different directions.  Finally in the adult years, it is the steering wheel of adventure that keeps us on certain paths.

Bottom line:  Through it all one is governed by someone or something that is steering the wheel of life.

Consider what God is teaching Jeremiah through the metaphor of a potter at the wheel working the clay.

Think it through:

As the earthly potter is at the wheel working physical clay so is God at the wheel of humanity working as He chooses for His glory.

Unlike the earthly potter who works with clay that is already in existence, God creates the clay he works with (Ephesians 1:4).  The early potter had in his mind what he wanted to create, so to does God have in His mind what He wants to create in us (Psalm 51:10).  The earthly potter works with the clay and so to does God work with the clay of His people (Hebrews 12:5-11).

Footnote:  “If the clay does not conform to the potters hand, he will refashion the clay.”  In a similar way, “When God’s people do not conform to the work of His hand, He chastens the spiritual clay to make them as He intends for them to be.”

Judah would not conform to God’s hand.  She wanted to be at the wheel of her own life.  She wanted to design her own course in life and she wanted to direct her own course in life.  The result was captivity and cave-in.  She became a worthless piece of pottery.

In Mark 4 Jesus speaks about 4 kinds of soil (Soil turns into mud when water is added, hence clay can come).  Only the soil that is receptive to the makers hand (Word or direction) produces a crop!!!

Our response:

Are you at the wheel of your life?  If so, expect rough roads ahead.  If this is you, “repent of this action.”  Surrender the wheel to the only one who can take you in purposeful directions!!!

Is God at the wheel of your life?  If so, trust in that He knows what He is doing.  Walk in faith through every shaping moment.  Check out Mark 4:35-41.

Heavenly Father, “You alone are Lord of the wheel of my life.  Direct me in correct paths for your glory.”  

Our Everlasting God (Isaiah 45; Revelation 15)

June 13, 2014

“But Israel is saved by the Lord with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity,”  Isaiah 45:17

Last evening my wife and I were standing outside the home where we are staying.  We were on the phone with our oldest son.  We decided to walk around the property even though it was dark.  We noticed overhead that the clouds were getting very dark and the wind was picking up.  Suddenly Sherry grabs me by the hand and says, “We need to get in the house.”  Before I realized it, “I was being pulled very quickly toward the house.”  Once we arrived there, I stopped and looked up.  The clouds were rolling by so fast.  I commented to Sherry, “We have been married for 22 years.  The time has gone by so very fast.”

In this moment I realized how quickly our lives go by, “You and I are but for a moment in time.  However our God is forever and ever.”

This truth was so clear in the book of Isaiah.  Chapter 45 begins with shocking news, “Cyrus is God’s instrument in the moment for God’s work.”  God even uses the enemy to accomplish His purposes.

Think it through:

1.  God works through mysterious ways, Vs: 1-13

There are moments when we argue with God concerning what He is doing, but we know He is the creator and we are the clay (Vs: 9).  He has full authority as the only one who knows the end from the beginning.

2.  God works in a majestic way, Vs: 14-25

Our eternal God sent Jesus to become our Savior. This Savior gives us not only earthly life but eternal life as well, Hebrews 5:9, “He is the author of everlasting salvation.”

3.  God works in a merciful way, Vs: 22

We are a broken people who are following earthly paths without thought of God’s eternal path.  However, God in His mercy offers us another way, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!  For I am God, and there is no other.”

Our response:

As you walk through the days of your life there will be many mysterious things that happen(We ask why and we wonder how these things can be of help).

As you walk through the days of your life there will be a majestic God who desires to walk with you (do not forget to listen to His small still voice).

As you walk through the days of your life there will be a merciful God who offers you a way back when you fail.

Dear Father, thank you for being our God in all the days of our lives!!!”

Before You Go (Ecclesiastes 12, Philemon 1)

April 25, 2014

“…Because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourner go about the street,” Ecclesiastes 12:5

One of the wonderful things I get to experience as a pastor is those moments when I am able to help people with things that they need.  For example, when visiting with a senior adult I will often say, “Before I go can I help you with anything?”  I truly mean this.  And I am truly blessed when they share with me something that they need.

This morning Solomon is writing the conclusion to his book.  Solomon is speaking passionately about the quickness and shortness of life.  He begins the chapter with the following words, “Remember also your creator in the days of your youth before the evil days come and the years draw near.”

Think it through:

1.  Life without God is like living in a house that is falling down, Vs: 1-8

Solomon has encountered many people who are at the end of life and their lives look like a house that is falling down.  He writes and says, “Before you go this way, follow Jesus.”

Question, “Does your life and my life resemble a house that is being built or a house that is falling down?”

2.  Life with God is a life filled with delight, Vs: 9-14

Solomon writes, “The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  

As we live for Christ we are assured of success!!!  This is what is means to build a spiritual house!

Our takeaway:

Jesus gave the same metaphor in Matthew 7:24-27.  He is the foundation on which we should live our lives.  When Christ is the foundation we will have no regrets as we leave this life.

Take time today and ask yourself if there are things you need to do if this were the day you would go to meet God.

Solomon closes his book in the following way, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”  

You Committed to What? (Ecclesiastes 5, II Timothy 1)

April 18, 2014

“Be not rash with your mouth nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth?” Ecclesiastes 5:3

I can still remember when he told me what he had committed me to doing.  My son had told one of our church members that his dad could fix anything on a car.  So in this moment of great faith, he committed me to rebuilding a car engine.  While I was very thankful for my son’s faith, I was not thankful for being put in a position that I could not fulfill his promise.

Question, “Have you ever committed to more than you could produce?”  I am sure that most who read this blog have been there from time to time.

This morning I found myself confronted by Solomon with the importance of always keeping your word.

Think it through:

1.  Solomon teaches us to think before we commit.

2.  Solomon teaches us to totally commit to our commitments.

3.  Solomon teaches us that our commitments are before God.

Our response:

We must realize the seriousness of our commitments.  We are servants of the most high God.  All of our commitments have implications before God.  Each commitment must be thought through because much is hanging in the balance.  Each of us have 24 hours in a day to accomplish all our commitments.  So we must wisely consider because we have an enemy who wants us to accomplish his plan instead of God’s plan.

Solomon closes this section of his writing with this reminder, “But God is the one you must fear.”  

Father, I commit to following your will for my life.  May I be careful to not commit to thinks that are not your will for my life.