Leadership Lessons From David

Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 30 and Psalm 31.

One of the things I love about writing for Bible Journal is it really makes me take a step back and ask myself what God is teaching us through Scriptures where I may have easily glanced over it during a quick read. Today, I was blown away by 2 great leadership examples through David in 1 Samuel 30.

First, we see in 1 Samuel 30:6 David “strengthened himself in the Lord His God.” How did David do this? He came to Lord in prayer, asking for wisdom as to what to do, and then he took action by following the Lord’s direction pursuing Amalekites. Let’s not glance over how terrible it looked for David. His town had been burned and his family was gone leaving him not knowing if they were dead or alive. David faced trouble with Saul, but I often think of the people always loving David due to his victory over Goliath amongst others, but apparently it was still a “what have you done for me lately world” back then because we also read in verse 6 the people talked of stoning him. Psalm 31 gives us a prayer by David which is likely very similar to what David prayed during this time. We know in Matthew 11:28 Jesus tells us, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest.” God doesn’t care if you haven’t turned to Him in the past and if it took things getting really bad before you turned to Him for the first time or again in some cases. He just wants your heart..now.  He wants you to believe fully that He will pull you through it trusting in Him. What challenge are you facing today you don’t think you can handle or rebound from? “Strengthen yourself in the Lord” by praying for wisdom and guidance…then trust in Him and act upon His direction.  This is what David did and his family was safely returned through he and his people’s victory over the Amalekites.

The second lesson we learn from David is when things are going great and the Lord gives us victory, we give the glory to God. For it is Him who does these things through us. How easy is it to be prideful in thinking…”look at what I did”….when things are going well. We are all guilty of this. Psalm 31:23 tells us that is not a good thing to do. Those who went into battle did not want to give their winnings to those who stayed back, but David says in 1 Samuel 30, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us and given into our hand the hand that came against us.” David immediately recognizes in the presence of others this victory came from God and gives him the credit.  I love the quote, “Being humble does not mean thinking less of yourself, it means thinking of yourself less.”  Why should we think less of our self and that we are not capable or that God doesn’t have big things planned for us? Psalm 139:13 tells us we were created by the Almighty God and he “knit” us together. Thinking less of our self essentially means thinking less of God then since He created us, doesn’t it? But, in being humble, we DO think of ourselves less, and we give to those around us just as David models in 1 Samuel 30:24. We must think to ourselves, “For it was not me who did this, but God through me.”  David realized not everyone is meant to be a mighty warrior and go into battle.  He shared with those for whom God had a different role.

Both leadership lessons of strengthening ourselves in the Lord by trusting in Him through prayer, believing He can pull us out of any situation no matter how impossible it looks because our confidence is in Him, not our self, and then giving the glory to God are summed up by Paul again in Ephesians 3:20-21.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Let us move forward today in confidence and give him the glory!

A Special Friendship

Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 18 and Psalm 19.

“…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…”

1 Samuel 18:1

Today we read about the wonderful friendship that Jonathan and David developed, despite Jonathan’s dad, Saul, disliking and being jealous of David. Jonathan being selfless, humble, and giving stripped himself of his own robe, armor, bow, sword, and belt and gave it to David. It says after this David was successful.

This past year, my Dad lost his Jonathan. His best friend, Doug McCumber, left this Earth to be with his Lord and Savior in Heaven unexpectedly. When my Dad and Mom moved to Tuscola, Illinois for a teaching job in the 1970s, knowing Doug, but not extremely well, Doug helped them get a house before they even arrived in town without them even seeing it! As a banker, he helped them get on their feet financially as well. From there, he continued to help my Dad get plugged into a community where he knew no one. They played tennis and basketball together with Doug taking him with his tickets to Illini basketball and football games which they both were passionate about. The only thing they never agreed on was Cubs and Cardinals. Even though my parents moved a few short years later from Tuscola, and this was way before cell phones, text messages, and emails, the 2 remained extremely close with Doug becoming my Godfather when I was born a few years later. Later in life, they enjoyed their morning walk and talks on Ft. Myers Beach each year with some of their most deep and memorable ones being this last summer which neither of them knew would be their last ones. Doug wasn’t just the average friend to my father. Like Jonathan giving up his most prized battle possessions, Doug never let you pay for a meal, and if you were lucky enough to steal the check from the waiter, he was genuinely mad. He didn’t want you to bring food to the tailgate. He’d supply that, along with the tickets to the game, too! That was just Doug. He was a true best friend, and I know my Dad will forever be grateful for all Doug did for him.

One of the greatest gifts God gives us is relationships. Of course, our relationship with Jesus is the top priority, but He also gives us relationships with others in this world to help us. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, King Solomon says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

We need our friend to help us in times we are struggling. We need our friend to let us know when we may have a blind spot we are not aware of. They can help us when we are struggling with our marriage, with finances, career issues, our children, and numerous other things….even when we don’t know we need it or just don’t want to hear it.

What battle are you fighting alone right now? Don’t. Go to your Jonathan. They will give you their robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt to help you. God put them in your life for a reason.

On the flip side, who do you know that’s struggling? Who can you be Jonathan for? It’s not easy. We’re busy and have our own lives, and it could make things uncomfortable with your relationship depending on their reaction. But, God put you in their life for a reason. Maybe this is it. Maybe you can help them. I’d say it’s worth the risk.

If you’re reading this a little bit sad because you are not sure if you have a Jonathan and David relationship in your life, I bet you do. You just don’t know it yet. Maybe you need to give to someone like Jonathan did. If Jonathan would not have been so giving, when he didn’t need to, it’s likely this friendship would have never become what it was with David. If Doug wouldn’t have bent over backwards to help my Dad, asking nothing in return, their special friendship likely would have never developed.

Don’t fight battles alone. Go talk with your Jonathan, or go be a Jonathan!

His Plans Cannot Be Thwarted

Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 6 and Psalm 7.

We read yesterday about how God caused tumors to come upon the Philistines because they had taken the ark. They now realize they have done a terrible thing and want to know what to do. The priests tell them to make a sacrifice and put the ark on a cart with two cows. If the cows go to Bethshemesh, then they know what they have done was bad and the Lord has caused these tumors to come upon them. If the cows go somewhere else, it was a coincidence. Where do you think the cows went? Right to Bethsemesh. In fact, they went to the field of Joshua there.

Have you ever done something so bad you don’t think God can possibly forgive you or turn it into good? Has someone else ever done something so bad to you that you don’t think God can forgive them and you doubt how God can turn it into good? I’ve seen Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark enough times to know that taking the ark of the covenant is probably a bad idea. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Philistines repented like we should do when we sin, but they did look for direction on what to do and God gave instruction through the priests and led the cows to go to Bethshemesh so they knew it was not a coincidence. The ark is now on its way back to where God wants it, despite their actions. After Israel was defeated in battle and the ark was taken, if you were one of the Israelites would you have ever thought the Philistines would want to give it back on their own accord and that two cows with no one leading them but God would bring it back? I highly doubt it.

How often do we doubt God’s plans and His grace for us in our sin, as well as His plans and grace for other in their sin? His grace is greater than we can ever imagine and His plans cannot be thwarted in the midst of our personal sins and the missteps of others. God will work everything for the good. Romans 10:8 says, “but God shows His love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” How blessed are we that when we sin and make mistakes, all we have to do is turn to Him and trust Him! He will make it right. In fact, He already did nearly 2000 years ago on the cross.

Not of This World…

Have you ever done something to honor God’s direction and His Word, yet others didn’t see it that way?

Today’s reading is Joshua 22 and Proverbs 22. We read here Joshua gives the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh their land and sends them off. Before doing so, in Joshua 22:5, He instructs them to follow God’s greatest commandment to love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind. Upon receiving their land, they built an altar as a replica of the altar the Israelites. The Israelites hear of this and prepare for war against them because they believe they did this to worship another God, believing there should only be one altar which they had, to honor the one true God. Thankfully, they sent Phinehas and ten chiefs, one from each tribe, to check it out before attacking. They learn that the reason for building the altar was to replicate the original altar of the Israelites because the Jordan River separated them from easily getting back and they wanted to not only continue to honor God as Joshua had instructed, but also to make sure their children continued to know God and love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind (Joshua 22:26-28). Not only were they concerned about their continued commitment to love God, but they were also following what Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way you should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” After learning of the real truth of the altar, they are very pleased and obviously do not attack them (Joshua 22:32-34).

Unfortunately, we may not always be so lucky when we honor God and His Word. We may or may not be attacked physically, but others may scorn us with words, gossip, and it may come between our relationship with them and others. This makes it very difficult to honor God and always follow His way because as sinful humans, we care what others think about us. However, if we follow God and His will, others will often realize this later, as the Israelites did, but if not, we must be at peace with this. We must remember that we are living for an audience of One. We are told many times in the Bible that to follow God is to not be of this world and the world will hate us (John 17:14-16, John 15:18). Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” In Mark 8:36, Jesus says, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Let us pray as we start our day today…Lord, please help us to love you with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. Let us be not of this world, as hard as it will be, but let us follow you and your will for our lives, not caring what anyone thinks but you. We know we are not perfect and know we will mess up. We will likely even misjudge others who we think are not following God’s will but are. We thank you for your saving grace through your Son Jesus. We love you. Amen.

He Will Fight For You

Today’s reading is Joshua 10 and Proverbs 10.

I will admit, growing up, like many I thought the Bible was boring. This must have been because I hadn’t read enough of it. In reading through Joshua in preparation for today’s post, I could not put it down. Joshua is filled with stories of redemption like Rahab, battle after battle, deception, and amazing miracle after miracle by God to assist the Israelites. I’m just wondering when Hollywood will do a movie on Joshua! Let’s just hope they stick to the Word and get it right.

One of the things that always struck me about the Old Testament is how many people were killed in battle against the Israelites because they were God’s chosen people and the other nations were not. How could God let all these people be killed? Our pastor, Mike Baker, said something to the effect that all these other nations and peoples could have been saved if they would have just surrendered to God by surrendering to Israel. We see this in Joshua 9, as the Gibeonites surrendered to the Israelites in fear and their lives were spared. However, we see throughout the book of Joshua, more times than we can count on one hand, every other nation who did not surrender to God and Israel were destroyed. Time and time again the leaders of these nations and the people stated they heard of the many miracles God had done for Israel, knew God had chosen Israel and they were fearful, but instead of surrendering to Israel and God, they fought back and were destroyed.

How many times do we try to fight our own battles in our everyday lives, instead of surrendering to God and trusting He will fight for us and has a perfect plan? This is very tough for me. I’m in a career where there is a direct correlation between effort and reward and there is even a science showing what activity leads to what results. However, I have to keep learning and trusting in my professional and personal life that yes, I have to put in effort and use the talents and abilities God has given me, but I have to trust and truly believe that He is in control and will fight for me.

In Joshua 10:14 and Joshua 10:42, we read that the Lord fought for Israel. Moses spoke similar words all the way back in Exodus 14:13-14. “And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation the Lord, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you and you only have to be silent.’” We read in Joshua 5:4 the generations who God brought out of Egypt passed away, yet God was still fighting for Israel to complete his plan and keep his covenant. Here in Joshua 10, we read how God made the sun stand still, and it remained daytime so the Israelites could win. He also rained down stones to kill the enemies of the Israelites. Really?! We’ve already read so far in Joshua alone He stopped the waters of the Jordan from flowing and made the mighty walls of Jericho fall with only a yell, just to name a few. Do you think the Israelites were fearful as they wandered in the desert for 40 years, and as they went into battle? Yes. Do you think with their human minds they could have thought of the miracles God would do to help them? No. Are we any different in our everyday lives? No. But, God fought for them, and He’s fighting for you when you’ve given your life to Him through Jesus, surrender to Him in prayer, and when you ask Him to do miracles in your life where you will use them for His kingdom and give the glory to Him. We are now all God’s chosen people like Israel through Jesus. Romans 8:34 says, “Who is to conderm? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised, – who is at the right hand of God who is indeed interceding for us.“ He will fight for you, even while you sleep, in ways you couldn’t even imagine. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God..”

Reading Proverbs has reminded me we must pray for God’s wisdom, and then we will live righteous lives due to His direction (Proverbs 10:24, 10:30). We must also ask God for wisdom to remember past miracles in our life to remind us He can and He will do it again in ways we can’t imagine. He knows we are prone to forgetting and need reminded. How cool is It in Joshua 4 that He instructed them to bring 12 stones from the Jordan so they could remember God helped them by stoppping the rivers of the Jordan flowing and so they remember to tell their children even. In the Israelites journey, we see they are similar to us and are prone to forgetting God’s miracles, questioning Him and His presence, and falling back into sin. However, we don’t see as much of this in the first ten chapters Joshua. Could their continuing trust in God during this stretch be due to them having stones as a reminder? They didn’t know what exact miracle God would do to help them. They could have never imagined how, but they knew He would.

Reflect. What past miracles has God done in ways you could not have imagined? Remember them. Pray for Him to give you wisdom and do miracles again in your life and you will give Him to glory. Let Go. He will fight for you.

Check out “Do It again” by Elevation Worship. I pray it can impact you, as it has for me, going into 2018 and beyond.




Get Comfortable Getting Uncomfortable

Today’s reading is Psalm 149.

I remember the first time I ever attended a church service with contemporary/rock music. I was in college and visiting my brother and sister-in-law’s church in Houston, TX. It sounds funny saying this now, but growing up in a traditional church where pretty much only an organ and piano were played, I felt like it was a sin or something to be hearing this kind of music and clapping in church. Little did I know that just under 10 years later we would move to Bloomington, IL and begin attending Eastview Christian Church. As we started going there, I began to think and reflect on this type of music being played there, too. I realized that I go to rock concerts and sing along and clap with excitement. Why shouldn’t I have the same type of energy and fun at church praising my Lord and Savior? I find it cool that Psalm 149:2-3 says, “Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise his name with dancing making melody with tambourine and lyre.” I’ve written on this before, but the moments I typically feel closest to God now are in the church when certain songs are played. I think to myself, if this is what Heaven is like, it will be awesome and I can’t wait to get there and spend eternity. In fact, if you’re a regular Bible Journal reader, you have probably noticed I often post songs I feel connect well after my writings. I now almost exclusively listen to Christian contemporary music, and I would probably say it’s my main form of “worship.”

Am I saying this type of contemporary service is the only way church should be done? Absolutely not. As long as your church focuses on the Word as the one and only true source about God and follows its direction unequivocally, then it doesn’t matter how you worship. It doesn’t matter if it’s traditional hymns and organs or drums with clapping and arms raised, three-piece suits and dresses or jeans, shorts, and t-shirts. God only wants your praise and adoration in whichever way brings you to oneness with Him.

I am not advocating for any type of church service. What I am advocating for is getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things that may help you grow in your excitement, knowledge, and relationship with Christ. Ten years ago, I couldn’t imagine being in a contemporary church or a Bible study talking openly with others about the Word. Five years ago, I couldn’t have imagined having the confidence to do street ministry on a mission trip or reflecting and journaling on God…let alone writing about God where others would actually read it! As I write my last post for 2017, I can say that I was nervous and not confident in being a writer for Bible Journal. But, as other Bible Journal writers would attest to I’m sure, God is the writer, and we just hold the pen. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing in 2017 and have grown in ways I couldn’t imagine. I don’t have things figured out. I fail and am trying to get better every day. It’s always difficult, but I have to remind myself constantly that in order to be all God’s called us to be and to become closer to Him, we have to get out of our comfort zone to grow. No growth happens within our comfort zone. By getting out of your comfort zone, not only will you grow closer to God, but you might actually find you enjoy things you didn’t think you would or even find God has given you talents, gifts, and abilities you never knew you had! Who knows..as you read this you may even feel a tug on your heart to write for Bible Journal in 2018. If you do, let us know, and I’m sure we can find a spot for you! My prayer is that God helps each one of us grow closer to Him in 2018 in a way only He knows how.

Faith to Move a Mountain

Today’s reading is Mark 11 and Psalm 135.

Mark 11:24 reads, “Therefore I tell you whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” If this is true, then why don’t I have the Lamborghini I’ve been praying for?! In all seriousness, I think this is a verse that many Christians struggle with quite frankly and one that many non-believers use as evidence that God does not exist.” If there is a God, why doesn’t he answer my prayers? It says here He does, but He hasn’t answered mine.”

I can remember my Mom saying at a young age that God does answer all prayers, but just not directly in the way you ask and think is best. Why? We are sinful humans. We don’t know what is best. He does. If we did, then we would be God, and we are clearly not. Most of our prayers have some sort of a selfish nature wanting us to receive the glory and not Him. Isaiah 55:8-9,“ ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ “Reading this in Isaiah makes me thankful He doesn’t answer my prayers in the way I ask. He knows what is truly best. I don’t. I just think I do.

Mark 11:23 also says we can ask a mountain to move and it will. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t even seen a pencil move when I asked it to! Does this mean there is no God or these verses in Mark are not true? James 1:6-7 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” I’m embarrassed to say that even though I know God made the Earth and Heavens and everything in them, not only do I doubt He will do certain things, but if I really get deep and reflect I even question if He can do certain things. Do we really believe God can and will heal our loved one from the illness he or she has? Do we really believe He can and will heal our marriage like we’ve been asking? Do we truly believe He can and will move that mountain if we asked Him to? Maybe if we truly believed He would and could,  He would actually in fact do it. God knows the true condition of our heart and maybe Mark 11:23 is not just a metaphor, but He truly would move a mountain if we asked and truly believed He would.

As we move forward in this next week let us pray this together….

Lord, please create in me a pure, clean heart. Please help my prayers not be for selfish ambition and for my glory but for yours. Help me to know and believe you can and will answer my prayers. When I truly believe you can and will move that mountain I’m facing in my life, I know you will.

Suit Up

Today’s reading is John 19 and Psalm 121.

John 19:7-8 reads, “The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law and according to that law he out to die because he has made himself the Son of God.’ When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid.” Prior to this in John 19:6, Pilate said he found no guilt in Him, yet we know in John 19:16 he delivered Him to be crucified. Why was Pilate afraid, and why did He deliver him to be crucified, even though he found no guilt in Him? He could have been fearful of Jesus being who He said He was, but most likely he was afraid of a riot, and he did not want the word to get back to Caesar that he could not effectively govern his region. A riot during Passover would be even worse and the word surely would get back to him and may cost him his position.

How many times in our lives do we cave to the demands and temptations of this world because we are trying to please others for our own good and don’t want to stir the pot and start a riot? We either commit a sin of commission ourselves or don’t speak out about something that’s not in line with the Word and commit a sin of omission. We fear not fitting in or being ostracized by friends or co-workers, or maybe even fear of losing our job. Sometimes though, it’s just apathy. Every day we see things the world tells us is ok and normal that we know the Word tells us is not. Yet, how often do we stand up God and His truth from His Word? I know I often cave just like Pilot. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Thankfully, we know we are not condemned by these sins. Romans 8:1 tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We know from reading later in John that His death, burial, and resurrection make us right, whole, and one again with God. As Psalm 121:1-2 reads, “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and Earth.”

As we move forward and think about future tests, battles and temptations to heed to the demands of this world let us look to Ephesians 6:13 and pray we do as it instructs us to. “Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

“The Impossibly Impossible is Possible with God”

Today’s reading is John 5 and Psalm 107.

John 5 begins with Jesus healing a man who could not walk. He, and many other who were sick or crippled, hung out around a pool in Jerusalem with a spring under it causing the water to bubble up very briefly. They believed if you went into the water while it was bubbling you would be healed. This sounds simple, but we can tell here that the water did not bubble long and many wanted in making it very competitive to make it in time before it stopped.

Jesus could have just healed this man, but I find it very interesting that instead He asks the man in John 5:6, “Do you want to be healed?” It seems like an obvious answer right…”well..duh..yeah!” However, the text tells us that the man had not been able to walk over 38 years, and it’s likely that life expectancy was in the 40s-50s which basically his entire life. Instead of saying yes, he gives an excuse in John 5:7, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up and while I’m going another steps down before me.”

How many times in our lives does Jesus ask us like the man, “Do you want to be healed?” We don’t hear him though, nor do we hear the people He puts in our lives or see the signs. I think of the movie Bruce Almighty with Jim Carrey. Bruce’s life is falling apart, and he finally calls out to God asking for help and a sign while he’s driving. He doesn’t even see the “Caution Ahead” blinking construction sign, and then proceeds to get mad and pass a truck loaded with stop, caution, and yield signs. He keeps going not seeing any of this and next thing you know he wrecks his car into a light pole. How many times do we miss the signs and people Jesus puts in our life saying in some way, “Do you want to be healed?” I may have mentioned this in the past, but when going on my street ministry mission trip this summer, it was very apparent that strong believers saw proof of God in the beauty of His creation and good in people, as where non-believers saw bad things going on in the world around as proof that God does not exist. When you are going to church, praying, reading the Word, and in a small group (close community) with other believers you are more likely to see God’s signs and hear his voice calling to you and tugging on your heart. As our Pastor Mike Baker once said, “Seeing is not believing. Believing is seeing.” I had to think about this one, but when you are looking for God and listening to His voice you will see and hear Him. If you’re not looking for Him, you’ll miss Him and His awesome wonders. Psalms 107:41-43 says, “but he raises the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks. The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its moth. Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.”

Often times, I know I see God’s signs and hear Him calling and tugging at my heart, but like the man, I give an excuse. As my personal coach Jason Selk says, we all fall prey to the trap of the viable excuse. He says the viable excuse comes as truth, fact, and reason. He says we are tricked by it because there is always an element of truth in it. The man’s excuse is totally viable and has truth in it…he can’t walk to make it into the pool, and he also has no one to take him. Our excuses are viable too when God comes calling. “I’m too busy, That will take too much work. I don’t have time for that.” Or my personal favorite, “ I can’t do it (not capable).” Why is that my favorite? Because it’s the most viable excuse…you’re right, you can’t do it. But, He can! This man couldn’t walk for 38 years and so he couldn’t walk to the pool, but Jesus could heal him and whatever you are going through…He can heal you, too. Chad Parker, CEO of Cybernautic and founder and executive director of GOYA ministries said this week at GOYA’s annual banquet, “The impossibly impossible is possible with God!” So cool, and so true.

If you don’t follow Christian musical artist Toby Mac on social media, I highly recommend it. He posts some very inspirational messages. One he posted a few months ago hit me in such a way that I now have it posted on my bathroom mirror. You can see it as the picture for today’s writing. It is a beautiful night sky with the stars and a person staring up with the quote, “I made all of this out of nothing. Trust me, I can take care of you.” Signed God. Wow! How true is that?! We hold on too tight and think we are in control (but we realize we have no control really so we stress) and forget He is in control. Our finite minds can’t figure out how a situation will work out for the good…but He can. Actually, He already has. We just have to let go and realize He’s the Creator. He’s in control. He’s got this. Most importantly, He’s got you. Just listen for his voice asking you if you want to be healed. Then, no excuses. Trust him and just…”Get up, take up your bed and walk.” John 5:8

Good, Good Father

Today’s reading is Matthew 20 and Psalm 93.

As we read Matthew 20:1-16 about the laborers who worked in the vineyard and were paid the same wage regardless whether they started working at the beginning or the end of the day, I have a feeling of great gratitude. I’m thankful were serve a great God who doesn’t care what we’ve done and when we give our life to him, but only that we give our life to Him.

As I ponder this in amazement, I can’t help but wonder why he is so loving and gracious? For all parents reading this, think of a time when your young children had a really bad day and you were at your wit’s end. As bedtime nears you are not sure if you can take any more of it and if they are like our kids there must be caffeine in the bathwater because they become even more rambunctious and listening goes out the window during and after bath. You then tuck them into bed to say good night, and they say in the sweetest little voice, “Daddy/Mommy…I love you.” Your heart then instantly melts. You forget the recent scolding and headaches they just caused you, and you realize deep down your love for them is unconditional. Why? Well, I believe it is because they are yours and you created them. Check out Matthew 20:15. The vineyard owner says, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?” God is telling us we belong to Him. He is our Heavenly Father and our one and true Creator. When you or others can’t imagine how God can forgive many past sins and potentially nearly a lifetime of separation from Him in some cases, we need reminded that we are His and He created us so His love is unconditional forgetting past mistakes. He only wants us to come back like the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. As a side note, this why the role of an earthly father is so important, God created us to model His love so that our kids can see it through us.

This week in our church we studied Joshua 2 where Rahab, a prostitute, helped the Israelite spies entering Jericho, even though she was a pagan and lived a life even pagans would believe to be wrong. We learn in Matthew 1:5 that she later became part of the lineage of Jesus! Talk about a redemption story! The Bible is truly full of them with this being just one example. Our Pastor Mike Baker said, “You can never get so far from Jesus that He can’t save you.” I would also add that you can never get so far from Jesus that He can’t use you for something positive and big. Outsiders become insiders through Jesus, and we are all outsiders to God through our sin …even Christians(Romans 3:23). Pastor Mike said, “Jesus came for outsiders like Rahab and all of us.”

I can’t help but think of the lyrics to the song, “Good, Good Father.” The lyrics not only say, “You’re a good, good Father, it’s who you are.” The lyrics also say, “I’m loved by you, it’s who I am.” Isn’t that awesome? You may feel like a failure. Maybe you have a failed marriage or relationship, troubled kids who make you feel like a poor parent, professional shortcomings, financial challenges or even a fallout in relationship with your siblings or earthly parents whose love and approval you deeply yearn for. There is no question these situations are hard and painful. Thankfully, these lyrics are so true though as the Scriptures remind us countless times. He created us and not only is He good, but only Him and His love matters. This is who we are. His love, and His love only, defines us. His love is unconditional. Praise God!

As we read Matthew 20, we can also likely think of a family member or friend who is a non-believer, and we are reminded it’s not too late, no matter how old they are, and no matter how many times we have witnessed to them and feel like we’ve been unsuccessful. If they are still on this Earth, they can still be saved. Through these Scriptures today, God laid on my heart an elderly man with failing health who both my Dad and I have witnessed to. This man has done so much good in his life and is a wonderful person, but know John 14:6 to be the truth. These scriptures gave me hope for him and reminded me it’s not too late. He can still be saved! I must not give up. I must continue to pray for him and speak with him again.

I pray this has touched you in some way. Maybe you can relate to Rahab and this reminded you that you can be used for God’s purpose still and only His love defines you, or maybe it re-invigorated you to pray for and witness to a non-believer you know who can still be saved. Either way, we can all be very thankful we have a “Good, Good Father.”