Thursday, June 15, 2017

LET THE LORD HELP YOU



I Sam. 17:45  David shouted in reply, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD Almighty—the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied…..”

      David was a young shepherd boy, not big enough or old enough to yet serve in the army.  The Israelites were in a face-off with the Philistines who were threatening them.  Goliath was a giant who represented the Philistines.  He daily taunted the Israelites, challenging them to provide someone willing to fight him in a hand-to-hand combat.  Whoever would win the contest would determine the fate of the armies.  No one was big enough or brave enough to answer the challenge of Goliath, except David.  He was on the scene visiting his brothers and heard Goliath’s daily taunts.  He was not a soldier, but he was a young lad who was sold out to God and could no longer tolerate the mockeries of Goliath against God and His people.  David went out to fight Goliath with the resources he had---his faith in God, five smooth stones, and his slingshot.  It was enough.  Because David had the Lord on his side, he was able to hurl a stone at Goliath, knock him down, and kill him. 

        How do you face adversity in your life?  Do you rely on the resources of man or God?  Do you have enough confidence in God to believe that the resources He has given you are enough to conquer whatever you are facing in life?  When we rely on the Lord and allow Him to help us we are able to overcome anything.  We can’t determine or dictate the circumstances of life, but we don’t have to become victims to them.  The Lord on our side is enough to overcome all of our obstacles and fears.

        So, why is it that we usually turn to the Lord for help after we have depleted all of our resources first?  Wouldn’t it be a whole less stressful, painful, and complicated if we were to first turn to Him?  The next time you are confronted with a situation that throws you into a tizzy, take it to the Lord before you even think about trying to deal with it.  He will guide you through it and help you to deal with it.  You will never be able to handle things on your own as well as you would if you were to but trust in the Lord and let Him help you.

Monday, June 12, 2017

GOD KNOWS THE HEART


                                                                                                                

I Sam. 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.’

     What did God see in David that Samuel didn’t see? It is so easy to judge a person by what we see instead of what we know. Let’s be honest about it. We do it all the time. We judge a person by what appeals to us and by what makes us feel good or comfortable. We rarely take the time or to get to know someone well enough to really know their heart. And even if we do, we tend to ignore what we really know to be true about them. We also tend to be reactive and influenced by circumstances. Our ability to judge is always filtered through the lens of our imperfect and limited knowledge.

      We must never forget, only the Lord really knows the heart.   Only the Lord is able to make right judgments, because only He knows the intent of the heart. He isn’t fooled by actions. He alone is able to get it right all the time. We must be very careful when we judge others. We need to bathe our judgments in much prayer and in light of God’s Word, knowing even then we may be wrong. It is not an easy task to judge others and it should be done humbly and fearfully.

     We should always consider the fact that our judgments always have consequences. We affect the lives of those we judge and usually our own lives. Remember, when we judge another person, we are essentially judging his worth. We deem him unfit and unable to continue to do whatever he is doing.

       Sometimes it is necessary to render judgment on others because sinful behavior renders them disqualified to continue doing what they are doing. We are responsible before God to hold each other accountable for our actions, but we must be very careful when we do it. The Lord holds us responsible for the judgments we make so we must not do it lightly.

       We dare not cast anyone away and deem them unfit for our fellowship and love because of what may have been said or done. The goal of all judgment we render should be restoration.  And remember, the Word says we are to look inward and judge ourselves before we decide to judge another.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

APPEARANCES CAN FOOL YOU



I Sam. 16:7  But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him.  The LORD doesn’t make decisions the way you do!  People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.”

       We do it don’t we?  Even though we know God doesn’t want us to, we label people by how they appeal to our senses.  We assume they are a certain type of person because of what we think they must be.  We often determine right away whether or not we want to invite them into our world.  Our problem is that we are so easily fooled.  We miss out on some great people in our lives because we hold them at arm’s length and we invite some in who prove to be less than what we thought they would be.  It’s impossible to determine a person’s heart by appearances.  It takes time to figure out whether or not someone is trustworthy and has qualities of heart that we need in our lives.  Sometimes we are fooled, but we are fooled all the time if we rely solely on our senses to determine the heart.

     We must carefully examine a person’s life before we can determine their heart.  We should talk to those who know him/her.  We should take note of how a person handles themselves under pressure.  We should note how they talk, whom they talk about, and what they talk about.  In other words, we should do our homework before we invite someone into the inner circle of our lives.  Lasting relationships don’t just happen.  They are built on the foundation of good character and a person’s character is only revealed over time.

      A word of caution is in order.  Be careful before you judge a person and pronounce him/her guilty of wrongdoing.  Things aren’t always as they appear to be.  If you really know a person’s heart, you will not be quick to accuse them of wrongdoing.  Rather, you will act graciously, forgive them for whatever has been done, and support them as they strive to live godly lives.

     Ask the Lord today to help you be less quick to judge on the basis of appearances.  Ask Him to give you the patience and desire to get to know people on a deeper level.  Ask Him to bring into your life people who you can get to know that will make both of your lives better.  Ask Him to help you be slow to condemn those whose character you know to be godly. And, ask Him to keep you from shunning others just because you may not be initially attracted to them due to their appearances.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

HEART OBEDIENCE


I Sam. 15:22 But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice.”

        First, foremost, and always, the Lord wants your heart allegiance to Him. It doesn’t matter how much you do for Him if your heart is not right with Him. It doesn’t matter what you do for Him if you aren’t doing what you know He wants you to do. You cannot please the Lord by living in disobedience or if you are trying to approach Him any way but His way. The Lord is very specific about this. There is no wiggle room.

       You cannot please the Lord with your pocketbook. No matter how much you give to the cause of Christ, it doesn’t buy you one ounce of favor with God. If your heart is not right in your giving, you might as well keep your money in your pocket. The Lord does not need your money. He wants your heart’s allegiance to Him and nothing else.

       If you are not obeying Him out of your love for Him, nothing that you do in His name matters. You cannot work your way into His favor. Our relationship with the Lord is a grace and not works relationship. He took care of what needed to be done for our salvation. There is nothing we can add to or subtract from His atoning work. Therefore, we live for Him through Him. We obey Him because we love Him and for no other reason than that.

       Do things God’s way and you will please Him. Do things your way, and you will not please Him. You cannot obey the Lord with a proud heart. Only those who humble themselves before God and yield to His way will be able to do what the Lord wants them to do, and thus please Him.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

TOTAL OBEDIENCE



I Sam. 15:15, 22-23  “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep and cattle,” Saul admitted.  “But they are going to sacrifice them to the LORD your God.  We have destroyed everything else”…..But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD, your burnt offerings or your obedience to his voice?  Obedience is far better than sacrifice.  Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams.  Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols.  So because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”

      God does not play around.  He has a purpose for the things He says.  And what He says, He means.  Obedience is a heart attitude.  It is submitting to the Lord and doing what we know God tells us to do.

     God had told Saul through Samuel that he was to go to war against the Amalekites and completely destroy them.  Saul only partially obeyed God.  In reality he didn’t obey Him at all because a little disobedience is the same as a total disobedience.  The Lord does not let us get away with doing what we want to do while serving Him.  It’s God’s way or no way.

       No matter our intentions may be, if we don’t obey God it doesn’t matter.  No matter what we give to the Lord or do for Him, if our hearts are not right when doing them, it is not pleasing to the Lord.  Jesus said that if we truly love Him we will obey Him. 

      We know what the Lord wants us to do by faithfully spending time alone with Him in His Word and in prayer.  We approach Him with a desire to know what He wants us to do.  We don’t take lightly what He says and skim over it.  We take God’s Word to heart and apply it to our lives.  We don’t select what we want to do and expect it to be alright with God.  He holds us accountable for all of His Word spoken to us.
      The sobering truth is that if we, like Saul, reject God’s Word and do what we want to do, God will reject us.  What we do indicates the condition of our heart.  Those who love the Lord will obey Him.  Sure, there are things in the Word that we may find difficult to do or that we don’t want to do, but that does not give us license to not do them.

Monday, June 5, 2017

GOD'S WAY, NOT YOUR WAY



I Sam. 13:12  So I said, “The Philistines are ready to march against us, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!  So I felt obliged to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”

      Saul was king over Israel.  He was chosen by God.  Scripture tells us that at the time he became king, God had changed his heart.  But as we read about how he led his people, we begin to see real flaws in his character.  He evidently let his position and power alter his character.  Instead of relying solely on the Lord and obeying Him, he took it upon himself to do things he was not given to do.  Saul was not allowed to offer sacrificial offerings to the Lord.  It was a role that only the priests could do. 

      Samuel told Saul that he would arrive on a specific day and do it for him.  When Samuel was a little bit late, Saul got impatient and did it himself.  Instead of trusting the Lord and obeying Him, Saul took matters into his own hands.  We must understand that there is only one right way to do things, God’s way.  No matter who you are or your position in life, you do not have the right to ignore God’s Word and do what you think is right or what is convenient for you to do.

       Guard your heart!  Don’t neglect your need to keep your heart right before God.  Stay tuned into God so that you don’t get the idea that it’s okay to do what you think is right instead of what God says is right.  Like King Saul, it leads to a downward spiral of self-destruction.  It drives us farther and farther away from God.  Obey God in all things and it will go well with your soul.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

SEEING GOD AT WORK


I Sam. 12:16  “Now stand here and see the great thing the LORD is about to do.”

      We often miss what the Lord is doing because we are too busy running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off to even notice.  We miss out on so much of what the Lord is doing because we aren’t still long enough to pay attention. 

      The Lord is doing great things all around us and in the world.  Are you noticing?  He is changing people daily.  He is displaying His power wherever man is found and in various ways.  He is preparing the world for His coming.  He is revealing himself as Lord of life in fresh and exciting ways to all who will see.  And, the best is yet to come!

      Before you do anything else today, pause for a moment and see what great things the Lord is doing around you and even in you.  Stand still and know that He is not done.  His kingdom on earth is ever-growing and ever-changing.  Give Him praise today for all that He is doing.  Give Him praise for all that is yet to come.

      The world is full of bad news; don’t let it captivate you.  The Kingdom of God is full of good news; let it captivate you.  When we focus on God and what He is doing, our days look brighter.  He puts a spring in our steps.  Knowing that the Lord is in control and is working out all things for His glory and our good makes life worth the living.

      The Lord is about to do some great things, don’t miss them.  Wait on the Lord, keep your eyes fixed on Him.  Stand still and in awe look at what the Lord is doing.  No matter how bad things seem to be, the Lord is at work!  Praise Him for His faithfulness in working things out in your life for your good and His glory.  Wait on Him and you will see that it is true.  Thank Him for what is yet to come.  Rejoice!  The Lord is on His throne and is watching over you today.  Rejoice!  The best is yet to come.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE LORD



I Sam. 12:9 But the people soon forgot about the LORD their God, so he let them be conquered by Sisera, the general of Hazor’s army, and by the Philistines and the king of Moab.

        The children of God forgot about God. They ignored the Lord to the point where they no longer even thought about Him. They went about their merry way doing what they wanted to do as if God did not even exist. We need to think about this for a few moments today.

        It is a dangerous thing to dismiss God from our thoughts. When we begin to neglect our Bibles and stop praying except in times of great distress or want, we begin to travel down the slippery road of pushing God out of our lives. When we begin the process of shuffling the Lord down the list of our priorities in life, we begin shutting Him out. When we begin to tolerate sin in our lives and treat it as if it’s no big deal, we begin to push the Lord out.  When we get too busy to pray, we begin to push Him out.  When we find excuses to stay away from church, we begin to shut Him out.  When we start avoiding being with other believers, we begin shutting Him out.

       It doesn’t take too long and it doesn’t take much effort to get to the point where we soon forget about God and fall into sin. It takes a lot of work to keep the Lord fresh in our minds and no effort at all to soon forget Him. We are by nature prone to wander away from God. Only those who are determined and put forth the effort will keep their hearts pure before God.

      What about you? Are you living a life determined by God, or are you crowding Him out? Are you living with the Lord on your mind, or are you forgetting that He is even a part of you? We have no one to blame but ourselves when we wander away from God and come underneath His judgment.

Friday, June 2, 2017

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR



I Sam. 8:19-20  But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning.  “Even so, we still want a king,” they said.  “We want to be like the nations around us.  Our king will govern us and lead us into battle.”

       Up until this time Israel had no king.  God had provided judges to lead them and bring them back to Him.  Their history was very unsteady, but it was obvious that God was watching over them and taking care of them.  God had raised up Samuel to be their judge, but it was obvious that his life was drawing to a close and there was no one qualified to step into his shoes.

      The people of Israel needed someone to lead them.  They looked around them and noticed the way other nations were governed by kings.  They decided that that was what they wanted.  “We want to be like the nations around us.”  To want what others have or to be like others is a very dangerous place to be.

      God knows best what we need.  He alone knows what we need.  He alone is wise enough to determine what we can handle and what we can’t.  The Lord does not give us what others have because He knows that if we had it, it would not be in our best interest.  Having more than we have or something different than we have would become for us a snare.  We would let it interfere with our relationship with God.  It would take prominence in our lives that would not be good for us.

       Contentment with what God provides is what gives us peace and joy in living.  Living the life we are given makes life meaningful and worth the living.  God knows what He is doing.  Keep your eyes off of what you don’t have.  If the Lord wants you to have it, He will give it to you.  Enjoy what He has provided for you and let Him use you just the way you are. 

Discontentment leads the soul into sin and the consequences are never good.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW



I Sam. 8:19-20 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will govern us and lead us into battle.”

     The problem most people have with God is found in today’s verses. We want what we want. We want to fit into the crowd and be like those around us. We don’t like standing out and being different. We don’t want to be confronted with the opposition of those who oppose us. It is much easier to blend in than it is to take a stand and be different.

      What we must accept is that as believers, we are different. We live in a world that is ruled by the demonic forces of hell. It is a dark world encased in sin and is opposed to God and His kingdom. There is a spiritual war going on and it will not cease until Jesus comes to take the Church out of the world. Don’t kid yourself; you will face opposition if you are living in and through Christ. If your life is an easy road to heaven, you are not living in submission and obedience to Christ, and that is simply the way it is.

       Jesus said that the people in darkness don’t come to the light because they don’t want to have their deeds exposed. Misery loves company and those who aren’t living in the misery of sin will not be looked upon kindly by those who are. It is important that we understand this. Dear friend, the Lord does not call us into a life of comfort. He commands us to go into the world, knowing full well that we will face great opposition from the world. We are called to be faithful to Christ in spite of the difficulties we face. We are to be lights in the darkness instead of letting the darkness squelch or consume our lights.

       The world does not want us around. It does not want to listen to us. It often will treat us unkindly. But, let us never forget; greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Christ has overcome the world and as long as we are faithful in our walk with Him, so are we. Don’t let the world silence your witness for Him.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

WARNING OTHERS ABOUT SIN



I Sam. 3:13  “I have warned him continually that judgment is coming for his family, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them.”

     We have a responsibility to one another to reveal sin when we become aware of it.  A real friend, one who really loves us, will care enough about us to warn us when we fall into sin.  Such friends do not look down on us, but admonish us in a loving way.  God makes it very clear that all sin will be punished.  We must realize that at stake is eternity.  He who lives in sin will die in sin.  Do not ignore sin, whether it’s in your heart or in the heart of another.  Prayerfully address sin wherever it is found.

      Parents have a responsibility to their children.  We don’t like to confront our children about sin.  We love them and do not want to create a rift between us and them.  Most parents will not talk about sin they see in their children, especially as they get older. When we know about sin and ignore it there is a price to pay.  For Eli, it cost him the life of his sons.  God held Eli responsible for not telling them about their sins. 

      Think about it.  How would you feel if you knew that someone you loved dearly would die in their sins because you failed to do something about it, especially in your own family?  At the very least, we should be talking about sin and our responsibility for it.  How will others know they are living in sin if no one tells them?  It would be quite a burden to carry to your grave if you kept your mouth shut and never spoke out about sin and knew that they will be in hell because of it.

      God is patient and constantly warns about sin.  When it is dismissed as being not important enough to talk about or do anything about it, judgment comes.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

CAN YOU HEAR GOD?


I Sam. 3:9  So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, “Yes, LORD, your servant is listening.”  So Samuel went back to bed.

        Samuel was living with the prophet Eli.  One night the Lord had called out to Samuel, but he did not know it was the Lord calling him.  Samuel thought it was Eli and had gone to him to find out what he wanted.  After the third time, Eli knew that it was the Lord calling Samuel.  It was then that he gave Samuel the instructions in today’s verse.

       Can you hear the Lord calling you?  Are you so connected to the Lord that you recognize His voice when He is calling you?  If you can’t recognize His voice, how do you know when He is calling you?  I wonder, how many calls have you missed?

     The Lord calls us to himself for instruction and guidance in life.  He calls us to certain tasks in life.  He calls those who are listening to hear His voice.  There are so many voices out there calling us and vying for our attention.  In order to be sure it is the Lord we are listening to, there are certain things we must do.

       We must be willing to get away from the many activities of life and spend time alone with Him.  We must find a time and place where we can be all alone with the Lord and focus on Him.  You must be deliberate about this.  Daily we must make a commitment to spend time in our meeting place with God.  If you have to readjust your schedule so that you can do it, then do it.  You will never know the voice of God unless you spend quality time alone with Him.  If you are too busy to spend quality time with the Lord, your priorities are all messed up.

       You must open your Bible, read it and meditate on it.  You must be open to what the Lord says to you in it.  You must ask the Lord to give you fresh truths to chew on.  You must read the Word with the intent of applying it to your life.

      You must spend time in prayer talking and listening to God.  There is no subject that is off limits when talking to the Lord.  The Lord wants you to talk about everything on your heart.  He already knows about it, but it’s important for our sake for us to express it.  Carrying on a conversation with God requires time and we can’t rush through it.

      God does not confuse us.  When we put ourselves into a position where we can hear the voice of God, we will hear and know that it is Him who is speaking to us.

Monday, May 29, 2017

SINNING AGAINST GOD


I Sam. 2:25  “If someone sins against another person, God can mediate for the guilty party.  But if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede?  But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the LORD was already planning to put them to death.

        Our sins not only hurt us, but they cause damage to others.  We may be guilty of leading others into sin or we may hinder other people from worshiping the Lord.  We must weigh carefully how our sins will impact others.  It is a very serious matter when we lead others astray because of our sin.  It is a very serious matter when we damage the faith of others because of our sin.

        It’s bad enough when we sin against each other, but Eli’s sons sinned against God and there was nothing Eli or anyone else could do about it.  They had treated with contempt the things of God.  They had used God for their own advantage.  They had brashly treated in an unholy manner that which was holy before God.  They had continued in their sin to the point that there was no turning back God’s anger.  Their time was up.  They had to now face God and account for their sin.

      The Lord is not going to let us go on forever with our sin.  Once we understand that we have sinned, we are held accountable by God for it.  We may think we are getting away with it, but we’re not.  God is just and all sin will be dealt with in His time.  No one can stand in your place when you sin against God.  No one can help you when you stir up God’s wrath against you.

       The only way we can stave off God’s wrath when we sin against Him is to let Jesus intercede for us.  He alone is qualified to stand between us and God.  He alone has the right and authority to forgive sin.  He alone can take away our sins so that God will not condemn us to spiritual death.  He who refuses to acknowledge, confess and repent of their sins before Christ will surely die.  Do you have sins you need to take to Jesus today? 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

BEWARE OF PRETENDERS



I Sam. 2:12-15  Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord or for their duties as priests.  Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork.  While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons.  All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way.  Sometimes the servants would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar.  He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting.

       Pretenders are everywhere.  Often they are disguised very cleverly.  They may stand out in the crowd as leaders.  They may have all the appearances of people who have it all together, but in reality they don’t.  They may have winsome personalities and are smooth talkers.  They may have great influence and are successes at what they do.

       Jesus called people like that wolves in sheep clothing.  Just because someone may have a title, position, or has authority does not meant they are speaking the truth.  There are many church leaders who are scoundrels.  They may have a lot of good things to say and may even do a lot of good things, but they are self-serving and not Christ-serving.  Be aware of those who have no respect for their role of leadership and take advantage of others.  Do not cater to their whims.  Do not follow them.

       Be wise and discerning.  Have some guts and reject those who have no respect for the Lord or their position of leadership in the church.  Speak out against them.  Silence is not acceptable; it just gives them a license to continue to do what they are doing.  There will always be those who will take advantage of others, even in the church.  We have no one to blame but ourselves if we don’t hold our leaders accountable for the lives they live.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

YOUR LIFE'S LEGACY



I Sam. 2:12-13a Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the LORD or for their duties as priests.

      How would you like history to record your life? Eli was a priest, a respected leader in the Temple. He served the Lord faithfully all his life, and yet, there were his sons. They too were serving the Lord, but not like their father was. Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they were taking advantage of people and committing all kinds of sin while in office. These men had no respect for the Lord or his house. They used both for their own advantage. They unlawfully took of the offerings people brought into the Temple for their own purposes. The Scriptures also tell us that they often took advantage of women as they came into the Temple and abused them.

        Scripture doesn’t tell us all the reasons why Eli’s sons turned out the way they did. We can only guess. They should have known better; their father was a priest who taught and lived the Word. Yet, they chose to ignore the Law and live for themselves and their pleasures. Given opportunity to serve the Lord, they abused their opportunity and rejected Him.  Living under the constant presence and influence of God does not guarantee one will live for God.

     We cannot control how our children ultimately will respond to the Lord. They have to decide for themselves whether or not they will live in Him and let Him guide their lives. But, we can influence their decision in a profound way by the way we live.

       The issue before us today is: are you doing all you can to live a godly life so that those who watch you will be drawn to the Lord? How we live out what we teach has a huge impact on whether or not others will want to live the life we live. How about it? Are you doing all you can do to live a godly life, a life that is well-pleasing to the Lord? Your living will not guarantee that others will embrace your faith, but one thing is for sure, if you are not living what you profess and teach, it will give others an excuse to reject your faith. Live faithfully to the Lord and strive to obey His Word and you will be long remembered as an example worthy to be followed.

Friday, May 26, 2017

FUTILE RESISTANCE



I Sam. 2:10 Those who fight against the LORD will be broken. He thunders against them from heaven; the LORD judges throughout the earth. He gives mighty strength to his king; he increases the might of his anointed one.

        Fighting against the Lord is futile, but we do it all the time. There is a price to pay for resisting what God wants to do in your life. Those who refuse to humble themselves before Him for salvation, lose their soul to sin and its consequences. Those who refuse to obey Him and serve Him, live in misery. Those who refuse to follow Him into a deeper walk with Him, miss out on the abundant life He came to give us. Those who refuse to hear His warnings and follow after their own desires, plunge into sin. Those who refuse to sit down and wait on the Lord for renewed strength suffer the effects of burnout.

      It is futile to think that you can fight against the Lord and win. He won’t stop you from trying, but neither will He let you win. Jesus came to make us whole, to right the wrong in our lives. He came to heal and forgive, to lead us into the life God intended us to live when he first created Adam and Eve. Jesus opened up to us life at its best. Most of us don’t ever get to experience the best of the Christian life because we never give up the fight against His will for us.

      If you want to enjoy the abundant life that is ours in Christ, you must submit to His authority over you with your whole heart. Are you willing to stop fighting against the Lord and get on with living in Him? Why waste your energy on a battle you cannot win? It’s your choice, wholeness or brokenness.  You will never find peace in resisting the work that God wants to do in you.  You will never know peace while contending with the Lord. 

       The Lord will drive everyone to their knees before Him.  He breaks the spirit of all.  Either we will bow before Him willingly or we will bow by force.  Make it easy on yourself and humble yourself before Him now while you can.  Let Him have His way with you.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

PRAYING WITHOUT WORDS



I Sam. 1:15-16  “Oh no, sir!”  she replied.  “I’m not drunk!  But I am very sad, and I was pouring out my heart to the LORD.  Please don’t think I am a wicked woman!  For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”

      Hannah was childless.  She and her husband, Elkanah had gone to the Tabernacle to present themselves to the Lord, as was their custom.  Hannah was deep in prayer and her lips were moving but no words came out.  Eli, the priest, had noticed Hannah praying and assumed that she was drunk.

       There are times in which words just don’t cut it.  Our hearts become so heavy that we can’t even express the emotions that we are feeling inside.  During these times of life, no one can really help us, because no one really can understand how our circumstances are affecting our souls.  The load is so heavy that all we can do is pray.  Praying from the deep anguish of the soul is something that only God can hear and understand.

      Praying without words may seem to be not right, but it is so right.  The Lord listens to the heart.  The words we utter do not always tell the true story of what is going on in us.  The Lord reads the heart and is not swayed by what we say.  This is both good and bad news.

       The good news is that the Lord hears the prayers we can’t even pray.  He knows what we need whether we can express it or not.  The bad news is that we can’t fool God with our words.  No matter how eloquent our prayers may be, God is not impressed.  He listens to the heart.  If what we say matches up with what is in our hearts, great things happen.  If they don’t match, then our prayers don’t mean much.

        Pray much, and if it works, use words.  Words spoken are good if they come from the heart.  If words just aren’t adequate, pray without words.  Let your heart cry out to the Lord without words.  He hears and answers the prayers of the anguished heart.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

AGONY OF THE SOUL



I Sam. 1:10  Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the LORD.

      Maybe you understand what Hannah went through.  Either you have, or are now going through, something that defies words.  No words of comfort helps.  No well-meaning words can make it better.  The pain and anguish is so great that you feel like there is no hope, no help.  If so, I would encourage you to do whatever you need to do in order to see the Lord.  Zero in on Him. 

      Consider His love that moved Him to die on a cruel cross for our sins.  Consider how though He was rejected by the world and deserted by His closest friends, He refused to not die for our sins.  Think about our Savior who had to endure utter loneliness as He fought the battle for our souls.  He had never in all eternity past known suffering or what it was like to be all alone, unable to reach out and touch our Father.  The pain and anguish of His soul was so great that He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

      Thinking about our Lord won’t make your pain go away or change your circumstances, but it does help change our perspective.  When we know that the Lord loves us more than life itself, that He willingly endured the physical and spiritual agony of the cross, it gets our minds off of ourselves and onto Him.  No matter what may be agonizing your soul today, Jesus understands what you are going through and can help you.

      He wants you to share your concerns, your burdens with Him.  He wants you to put them on Him so that He can lighten your load.  He wants you to see Him instead of focusing on your circumstances.  He wants you to know today, that things are not as bad as they may seem.  He is faithful to His children and will see you through the worst of what life may bring you.  Your momentary struggles are not eternal.  They will pass.  The provisions and promises of God are sufficient for whatever you may be dealing with.  Trust in the Lord.  He will give you the strength you need and He will show you the way through your trials if you will let Him.

       Tell Him how you are feeling.  Tell Him about all you are going through.  Tell Him everything that agonizes your soul today.  He hears the heart cry of all who cry out to Him and gives peace and comfort.  Jesus will help you if you will let Him.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A LOVE STORY



Ruth 4:13  So Boaz married Ruth and took her home to live with him.  When he slept with her, the LORD enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son.

       The book of Ruth is a love story.  It portrays the account of Ruth’s life as she learned to first love God and then Boaz.  We discover how Ruth showed love and respect for her mother-in-law, Naomi.  We learn how a godly woman acts in a strange land.  We learn how God showed His love for Ruth by protecting her from unwelcome advances and blessed her for her strong work ethic. 

        Ruth reminds us of God’s sovereignty as He brought Ruth and Boaz together in the most unlikely of circumstances.  We see God at work in both of their lives and because God was in control of their lives, great and unexpected things happened.  Boaz and Ruth were married and had a son.  Their son became the grandfather of King David.  God had a plan and worked it out behind the scenes in the lives of two humble, submissive, godly people.

        We don’t know what God is up to in our lives.  We don’t know what difference our lives will make for all of eternity in someone else’s life.  Live humbly and submissively before God and strive to be holy in all you do, and God will bless you and many others because you do.  Great is the reward in heaven for those who let Jesus be lord of their lives.

Monday, May 22, 2017

BLESS, DON'T JUDGE OTHERS



Ruth 2:12  “May the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully.”

       Ruth had made a life choice.  She chose to put her trust in the Lord.  It was a deliberate act of leaving her childhood roots behind her and align herself up with God and His children.  It was not a decision that she took lightly and it was noticed by all who came to know her.

        Boaz was a godly man and he noticed.  He knew that Ruth had counted the cost carefully before she took the Lord as her own and he respected her greatly for her decision.

       We too should respect and honor those who turn away from sin and the life they knew and put their faith in God.  We should encourage them in their walk of faith and come alongside of them to help them in any way we can.  We should lovingly support them with our friendship and prayers.  We should ask the Lord to bless them with a full and abundant walk with Him.

       Instead of quickly finding fault with those who give their lives to the Lord, we should take the high road and strive to spur them on to greater faith.  We should lovingly teach them how to live a godly life and be patient with them when they mess up.  And mess up they will, just like you and I do as we live by faith.

       Be quick to bless and slow to judge those of the household of faith.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A GOOD STANDING



Ruth 2:4  While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters.  “The LORD be with you!” he said.  “The LORD bless you!” the harvesters replied. 

       Boaz was a landowner in Israel who was highly respected amongst the locals.  He was a man of integrity and treated people well.  He was known for his trustworthiness and integrity of heart.  Daily when he went out to meet the harvesters in his fields, he would greet them with the Lord’s blessings on their day.

       It causes me to wonder how others think of me.  Am I known and respected for my devotion to the Lord and the way I treat others?  As children of God, we should be recognized by those who know us as people who can be trusted to be fair and respectful to all.  Others should know us by our integrity and devotion to the Lord.  In order for us to have a good standing in our churches and communities, we must first of all be totally committed to the Lord.  We must seek Him daily in our lives and spend time alone in fellowship with Him as often as we can. 

     We must make our relationship with the Lord our first priority and then we will naturally be the kind of people who reflect His righteousness and goodness in all we do.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A BITTER LIFE



Ruth 1:20  “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them.  “Instead call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.  I went away full, but the LORD has brought me home empty.  Why should you call me Naomi when the LORD has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy?”

       Naomi went through some rough years of her life.  She had left her home in Israel with her family to go to Moab because of a severe famine in the land, she lived in Moab several years amongst a people who did not know or serve God, and she had to bury her husband and two sons.  She knew what it was to suffer greatly.  She had come to a point where seemingly all hope of enjoying the rest of her life was gone.  Her life was indeed bleak.

       Perhaps you can identify with how Naomi felt.  She could only see how bad things were at the moment, not how good things might get in the future.  She had lost all joy of living and her hope was nearly gone.  She had no one who could hold her hand and help her through her sufferings.  The only thing she knew to do was to go back to her home in Israel and try to live out the rest of her days.

       Like so many whose lives are characterized by suffering, she blamed God for what was wrong with her life.  It’s so easy to do, isn’t it?  We don’t like suffering and when we do, we blame God.  After all, He is supposed to love us and spare us from sufferings, isn’t He?

       We must never forget that our sufferings serve a very important role in life.  James tells us they help to mold and shape our faith.  Jesus often spoke of the difficulty of living the life of faith.  He never once promised us a life of comfort and ease.  Paul reminds us that God is in control and everything He does is for our good, that He is working things out for us if we will but trust Him and let Him be in control.

      God never promised us an easy road to heaven in this life.  But, He does promise to walk with us each step we take.  He promises us all we need to endure our sufferings.  He promises us that it will be worth it all when we leave this life and see Jesus face-to-face. 

       Don’t let your circumstances determine your faith or confidence in God.  Don’t let your heart become bitter because of how your life is.  Fix your eyes upon Jesus, trust Him to walk with you and you will be able to live above your circumstances instead of underneath them.