Monthly Archives: July 2014

3 Powerful Lessons Confirming God's Character

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As God’s anointed prophet, Samuel sets out on a journey to anoint the boy David as King over Israel (even while King Saul is still in office). And everyone is shocked at God’s choice for the role. All of David’s family (including his older, stronger brothers) watch in utter disbelief as the anointed oil of holies is poured onto David’s head. Their little brother would soon be their King.

What do you think God is teaching these men (including the prophet Samuel and David, the soon-to-be king) through this process? What can we learn through this story? Here are three powerful lessons that the Lord showed me in our time together this morning:

1. God makes His choice because He is Sovereign. First God chooses David, then David chooses to obey in response to God’s request. God doesn’t force David to follow Him. However, He does make it clear through His prophet Samuel that the throne (a very large responsibility) is His will for David’s life.

 In John 15:16, we find a powerful reminder that God’s powerful Sovereignty also reigns in our lives.  We can choose God because He has already chosen us. And God alone gives us our purpose.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16

2. God chooses the simple because He adores humility. Scripture after scripture demonstrates that God prefers the simple. Why is that? Because the simple recognize that they are just that – simple. For the simple, accomplishing anything great undoubtedly requires the intervention and aid of God Himself. Therefore, God receives the most glory in these very circumstances. He makes the impossible possible.

 On a more personal level, God knows that when He asks you to do something for which you’re clearly not qualified, you will need to run headfirst into the arms of God.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

As the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Ruler over all nations, and the owner of everything, Jesus makes the intentional choice to be born in a manger. He meanders through the streets healing the sick, He lacks a place to lay His holy head down to rest, and He dies a sinner’s death. Who does this…really? We can really learn a lot from this idea of being the simple. If Jesus does it, why wouldn’t we? Here are a few more biblical examples:

  • Moses is a nervous wreck when God calls him due to an embarrassing speaking impediment. Yet he still leads God’s people into the promised land (Exodus 4:10-11)
  • Peter is simply a fisherman. Though he is not a biblical scholar, he is chosen to intimately know Christ and to lead others to do the same (Matthew 4:18-19)
  • David is a shepherd boy, but he goes on to become the greatest King over Israel (1 Samuel 16:11-12)
  • Matthew is a tax collector and hated by others, but he is called to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 9:9-13)
  • And we cannot forget Paul. As Saul he is highly educated, arrogant, powerful, and boastful. Then God chooses him. After extreme suffering he becomes Paul – a humble, open-minded, Jesus-loving, longsuffering servant that leads God’s beloved into righteousness (Acts 9:1-6)

The list goes on and on. God delights in using those who are unqualified, who are willing to learn, who are willing to follow, who possess a bit of courage, and who esteem others higher than themselves.

3.  God sees the heart, not the appearance, because He alone is the Righteous Judge. Though we don’t intend to do so, we  usually compare ourselves to others continuously. We base our judgements on what we can see with our physical eyes. Samuel does the same thing, and he himself loves the Lord deeply. This shows you that anyone is capable of it. Here’s a though experiment:

Two women both love Jesus. One woman is heavily involved in anti-sex trafficking campaigns, teaches a Bible study, serves on her church’s prayer team, and faithfully attends church every Sunday. All of these are great things. The other woman may attend church most Sundays, but may also skip it at times to meet with God with her Bible in hand. She doesn’t lead any Bible studies, nor is she involved with any activities at church.

 To the casual attendee of this church, who appears to be the more mature Christian here? Who appears to love God more? If we judge with our eyes (especially as Christians), the majority of us are going to say the first woman. Yet from experience, I can tell you that this is not necessarily the truth.
 In fact, this is almost the exact same situation Jesus calls out in the story of Martha and Mary. I know that I would have have voted Martha as the better steward because she is trying to make sure that Jesus is comfortable and well-fed. That’s definitely what I would have thought was best. But Jesus would not agree with that judgement.

May we continue to remember that His ways are truly higher than our own. May we continue to lean on His understanding, not ours.

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When God Does the Unthinkable

While Keith and I were watching a television program last night about the life of King David, thoughts began to race in my mind.  Once I woke up this morning (with hot tea in hand), I immediately opened my Bible to the book of 1 Samuel.

For me (and Keith too), the personal histories of David and Solomon are definitely among our favorites. They are raw and real, and their experiences relate incredibly well to anyone  – after all, we’re all sinners in need of grace. We’re all hungry to reach great goals in life while walking closely with God. David himself was referred to as a “man after God’s own heart”, and I’d certainly like to be known as that. Wouldn’t you?

“Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin’?” Proverbs 20:9

As I dove into the early chapters of David’s life story, two specific Scriptures popped off the pages and gave me a richer insight into the character and nature of God, our Creator and Everlasting Father.

Here’s how the story begins: Samuel is an anointed prophet of God who speaks to the high priests, King Saul, and the people of Israel.  He has set out (in obedience to God) on a journey to find and anoint the new king of Israel.

Though ordained by God, this journey is heartbreaking for Samuel because he has deeply loved Saul, the current king (just as God has). Yet Samuel’s very mouth is used by God to prophetically renounce Saul’s throne because of Saul’s flagrant disobedience towards God. Samuel is mourning the loss of potential that has occurred, compared to what Saul would have experienced had he only obeyed God.

 Samuel reflects a glimpse of the sadness found in the Father’s heart. As you know, sin can impact a multitude. It is almost never contained to the person committing the sin. There is a ripple effect that can devastate others. When the king sins, the consequences are serious.

“Whoever leads the upright along an evil path will fall into their own trap, but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.” Proverbs 28:10 

“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. How blessed is the man who fears always, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” Proverbs 28:13-14 

Samuel makes a journey to Bethlehem to see a man named Jesse. When Samuel arrives, he asks to see all his sons; he’s ready to anoint the new king of Israel. And after careful examination of Jesse’s many sons, Samuel stops at Eliab. He thinks, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord” (1Samuel 16:6).

What exactly is Samuel looking at? A tall, strong, and handsome man – that’s what. He looks like a King, the kind of man that others would feel confident following. Even Samuel, the anointed prophet (who knew God’s voice), seems to think so. Eliab must be the one.

But suddenly, God speaks to Samuel: “Do not consider his outside appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Often, this point is an easy one to forget. Even when we have reached a point were we walk closely with God and feel confident that we know God, we can still make foolish assumptions based on our very limited knowledge. This scripture clearly demonstrates the frailty of man and our judgement. This is why we are in NO position to judge each other – we cannot see the heart.

 At the same time, this passage also brilliantly captures the Sovereignty of God. No matter how close we are to God (and how much we think we know Him), our perceptions are nothing to the God of the universe. His ways and thoughts are always higher.

“Are there not any other sons?”, Samuel proceeds to ask Jesse. Here I imagine an awkward silence: the prophet is requesting to meet little David after all of Jesse’s other stronger sons have just been disqualified for the role. To me, it is no coincidence that David is the smallest and youngest, and he’s just the shepherd boy.

Can you see what is happening here? God chooses the humble. He chooses the weak. He chooses the one that is young in faith and open to be taught. God chooses someone that worships him daily with a ten stringed lyre.

David may have been small on the outside, but his heart was bigger and stronger than any of his brothers combined.

Everyone (including David) was shocked when God spoke to Samuel and said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one. (1 Samuel16:12)”

In that moment, everyone (including Samuel and David) must be so moved with humility to watch the anointed oil dripping from the top of his young, dirty head down past his face and onto his feet. What do you think is going through their minds? And what do you think they are learning about God in that moment?

Join me tomorrow as I share three powerful truths that the Lord revealed to me in His word through the study of this small passage. You won’t want to miss it. To God be the glory!

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The Gateway to a Successful Life

Among the many colorful episodes in the life of King Solomon, one that always stands out to me is his unusual (yet clever) response when the Lord of all creation poses this request: “Ask for whatever you want Me to give you.”

God is impressed when Solomon responds: “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” In fact, the king’s response evokes deep satisfaction within the heart of his Maker.

I want this. I desire to impress the heart of my Maker.

One afternoon, I was sitting with a hot mug of coffee balanced perfectly between my knees. My journal and Bible were resting in my two hands. Then the God of the Universe burst into my ordinary room and asked me, “What do you want My child? Tell Me and I will be faithful to grant it.”

To which I audibly responded, “Am I hearing You correctly, Lord? Did You seriously just tell me to ask You for anything, and You will grant it?” My head was absolutely spinning. If I asked for the money to pay off the debt I had, then I could be hilariously generous to others! Or I could ask for a new job, since I was so tired of mine. Like a kid in a candy shop, I was in absolute disbelief. The King of kings and Lord of lords just asked me to tell Him what I want AND he was going to grant it.

For no other reason than His amazing grace, I quickly realized the magnitude of this question. With the understanding that this moment was too rare and holy to be wasted, I quickly had to formulate a response. Then I remembered Solomon’s request, and an earlier time when I had whispered to God that I too wanted to move His heart. Here was my opportunity to emulate King Solomon’s response, and I certainly wanted to impress the Lord.

“Lord, I know what I want. I want wisdom. Will you grant me a supernatural measure of wisdom? Wisdom that is beyond my years? A wisdom that will guide me in making decisions that will glorify You? Teach me to be like You.”

His wisdom led me to years of Christian counseling and the Biblical finance courses that (after years of diligent downsizing) helped pay off thousands of dollars in debt. His wisdom led me to leave a life of mediocrity (or “responsible” and “safe” in the world’s eyes) behind. Instead, King Jesus led me overseas in faith to partner in life-changing missions work that continues to bear fruit today.

Wisdom has kept me from making several poor decisions and investing in unhealthy friendships. Together with obedience to God’s Word, wisdom led me to refuse any unexceptional relationships and prompted me to reevaluate what God (and I) would want in a future mate. Keith then met my (very high) God-given standards and possessed the qualities that I desired in a husband. Through the wise advice given to us in pre-marital counseling, we also learned to never put ministry before our marriage. That’s right: ministry NEVER goes before marriage, which has greatly protected our union. 

“For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.” Ecclesiastes 7:12

Wisdom is what leads us to success, beloved. Wisdom grants us long life by guiding us to make the best decisions.

In the quiet of the morning, with my knees pressed down on a fluffy mat as a buffer from the cold concrete floor of our loft, I petitioned God to grant us more and more wisdom.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

Beloved, His wisdom IS the answer to all your questions, problems, and struggles. Wisdom will make you prosper. Wisdom will give you success. Wisdom will keep you from danger. Wisdom will help you resolve conflict and establish strong boundaries.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.” Proverbs 9:10-11

Let me challenge you in this, beloved. If you really want to be Christ-like, to think like Him, behave like Him, and experience life like He wants you to, then wisdom is the best way to start. Wisdom will guide you to love when you want to hate, because wisdom is the beginning of fearing the Lord (in a reverential manner). If you fear Him, you obey Him. And to obey Him is to love Him. And when we love Him, we love others. It’s crazy to think how much all of that points back to wisdom.

“Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.Blessed are those who listen to me,  watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.” Proverbs 8:33-36

May you be encouraged by this post today beloved. See that God has already provided you with an incredible tool to grow in stature and mature in His ways. That tool is the book of Proverbs. Read it, chew it, ponder it, digest it, re-read it, and ask Him to grant you wisdom to honor Him with your life. It’s the absolute best thing you could ever ask the Living God for during the years of your earthly life!

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