David and Bathsheba

The past week and a half we have been following King David, great great great…. grandpa to Jesus. He was victorious in battle, courageous yet meek. He showed loyalty and mercy to King Saul when he had the opportunity and motive to kill him. He displayed a deep love and friendship with Jonathon. He seems to truly seek the Lord and have a heart to follow. He’s a master of poetry and song, able to put words to his swirling thoughts and emotions. 

As we come into 2 Samuel 11, we hit a major turning point. How does this “man after God’s own heart” fall into such sin? It appears to happen slowly over time and also all at once. Just. Like. Us. 

Before Bathsheba, David had married six different women over a period of time – and while this was becoming more acceptable of the time, God did not approve (Deut 17:17). This wasn’t God’s design – He always guides us in ways to help us. His laws are never to limit us, but to save us from separation from him, as well as the the pain and heartache the sin brings. In this case, the sin of polygamy and adultery.

As you read through the story of David and Bathsheba this morning, you can see the opportunities David had to avoid this temptation to sin:

  • He watched her bathing – STOP LOOKING (vs 2)
  • He asked his people to find out who she is – MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS (vs 3)
  • He sent for her to come to him – BACK OFF, YOU KNOW SHE IS MARRIED (vs. 4)
  • He has her in his house – DON’T DO IT! SHE’S NOT YOUR WIFE! (vs 4)

Lust. This self-focused sin is committed by the young and the old, the rich and the poor, male and female.

Once David and Bathsheba commit adultery, it goes downhill from there pretty quickly. Scheming, Lies, Betrayal, Murder. It started with a glance that lasted too long… and ends with how all of sin ends: Displeasing the Lord (verse 27) and consequences (I won’t spoil next week’s journal entries). 

Just like David, being a follow of God doesn’t make me sinless – but it should lead me to sin less. It’s hard to understand how we can walk so closely with the Lord, see fruit of the Spirit in our lives, and then also fall so quickly into sin with big consequences. 

David’s adultery had to break God’s heart – just like it breaks his heart when we sin. And as a parent, how we feel when our own kids struggle with sin. 

What sin patterns can you see in your life? Can you identify what leads up to your sin? For me, it almost always starts with my thoughts. In each season of life, from childhood to now, I can see patterns of sin and how I struggled with different areas. There were seasons of dishonesty, seasons of greed, seasons of lust, seasons of pride, seasons of control.

Sin is really yuck. My sin. David’s sin. Your sin. But we can be more than conquerors through Him that loves us! Whatever sins you are struggling with today, will you join me in:

  • Confessing them to God and ask for forgiveness
  • Seek out what the Word of God says about that sin
  • Write down your trouble/temptation spots and an action plan to avoid them
  • Talk to another believer and build accountability and check points
  • Leverage the power of the Holy Spirit and put on the armor of God through prayer
  • Share your testimony of working through sin! Don’t keep your struggles in darkness. 

As I look back on 38 years, it’s easy to feel like a professional sinner. I’m so thankful for the grace of the most perfect Forgiver.  

Samson

From the book of Joshua we go to Judges, and it’s a fascinating period of time with a lot happening. Joshua dies, the tribes are still trying to conquer/divide/settle into land, and going through cycles of sin and depravity. Between Joshua’s death and until Saul is named the Israelites’ first king, we have “judges”. These judges are different than modern day judges and I love how they’re described in chapter 2 verses 16-18:

16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. 

In our reading today, we focus specifically on Judges 16, which outlines Samson as a judge for the Hebrew people being oppressed by the Philistines (there are 11 other judges recorded in the book of Judges). If you’ve heard this one before, your high points might be similar to what stood out in my mind over the years:

  • God gave Samson supernatural physical strength, and if he cut his hair he would lose his strength – but no one knew that but him. 
  • Delilah tries to get the truth from him multiple times – in order to sell his secret to the Philistines. The first couple of times he tells her lies, but she tries to take away his strength with these lies… why does he keep trusting her and telling her?
  • Eventually (third time is a charm) he tells her the truth about his hair and she sells him out and Samson is captured. 

After spending more time in Judges and the life of Samson, a few new things came to light for me:

  • Samson was born to Manoah and his previously barren wife, after an angel appeared telling her she would bear a son that would be a deliverer for the Israelites. – Ch. 13
  • Samson was raised as a Nazarite and as he grew, the Lord blessed him. – Ch. 13
  • Samson desired/tried to marry women outside of his tribe (against God’s laws at that time) – Ch. 14 the woman from Timnah, Ch. 16 Delilah. 
  • Samson was betrayed by both women, both telling information he trusted them with. 
  • The situation with the woman from Timnah (his soon-to-be wife) is Lifetime Movie ready. He kills a lion on his way to ask for his bride.. then during the wedding feast creates a riddle for the Philistines to solve. His bride tells the secret answer, and it all ultimately ends in death. Samson was a great warrior and killed 1000 men without an army. Ch. 14-15
  • Samson has his “Hey there, Delilah” moments and we do not know how long she nagged him to reveal his secret, but in verse 16 it says she pressed and urged him daily until his soul was vexed to death. 
  • The Philistines gouged out Samson’s eyes upon capturing him. Samson, whose role was to help people keep their eyes on God, lost his way, and his own sight in the process. – Ch. 16
  • God gives Samson one last super strength moment during his captivity and he kills 3,000 Philistines before his own death. 
  • Samson is listed among the men and women of great faith in Hebrews 11! 

This deeper study of Samson has replaced my thoughts of “why did he spill the beans” with some areas of encouragement: 

After Samson is captured and realized he wrongly told the secret of his strength, he still had the courage to call upon the Lord for help. Wow!! When we mess up, we need God’s help to deal with the fall out. But sometimes we let our shame, pride, or doubt keep us from calling on God. What an awesome example Samson gave us to cry out with faith! 

Be wise about who you allow into the inner circle of your heart. Are they Christ Followers, encouraging you in your walk with the Lord? Is there anyone influencing you in ways that come between you and God? 

What strength did God entrust you with and how are you using it for His kingdom?   

Would You Rather

Four and a half years ago, my Moses (aka Nancy) sat on my couch and listened as I poured my heart out and shed all the tears about the crossroads I faced.  My marriage was in shambles and the options I was left with were equally awful. My life felt like a game of Would You Rather and I kept going back and forth in my mind with the decision to make. 
Nancy brought so much wisdom. She encouraged me to wait and see what God was doing in this situation. She opened the Bible and walked me through Exodus 14, our reading for today.

She connected me to the Israelites, standing at the Red Sea they could drown in, or the Egyptian army to be murdered by. When you read the text, you can feel their anguish and fear. They didn’t know what to do – and it feels like they were living their own real life game of Would You Rather. And like me, the Israelites were limiting their decision to the two options at that moment in front of them – drown in the Red Sea or be killed by the Egyptians. They cried out to Moses and in verses 13 and 14 you see his reply, which was exactly what I needed to hear that day from my Moses:

“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord… The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

The Israelites didn’t want to choose either of those two options, and didn’t see a third different option. We don’t know exactly how much time spanned between them being at the Red Sea and realizing that the Egyptian army was after them, until the point God gave them a third option – parting the Red Sea. Some bible scholars think it was days… can you imagine each day the army getting closer and closer to you? Feeling so trapped and afraid? The enemy closing in? 

In my marriage, I felt pressure to make a quick decision, and honestly, I myself wanted to make a decision quickly and start moving in some direction, as awful as both options felt. But my Moses encouraged me to wait. Wait and let the Lord work, and He will provide a third option, or transform one of my current options. Do you think the Israelites thought the very Red Sea that they saw as a drowning death barrier, would actually become their escape route? 

This real event that took place 3,500 years ago brings us hope today that God can make a way when we see no way.  Is your back against a wall today and you see no way out? My prayer is that you will be patient with yourself, and let God lead you, like He has the Israelites, and like He has led me. Don’t let the world rush and worry you to a hasty decision, let the Lord work. Let Him lead. Let Him heal. Let Him provide. 

As we study Moses and the Israelites journey to the Promised Land, it’s easy to scratch our heads and wonder why they continue to doubt the power and provision of the Lord. He shows up every time for them, always coming to their rescue. And yet, every time trouble comes their way, they anguish and have so much fear. It’s humbling to think that all these years later I do the exact same thing. When I’m in the middle of a trial, do I first trust that God is going to bring me an escape route? Do I always trust that He will provide? Or do I try to solve and control everything quickly on my own?  I can look back at my life and time and time again He was working when I didn’t know it. He was preparing me in ways I didn’t see at the time. He surprised me with provisions right when I needed them. I want to better leverage my testimony of faith, into the next battle, knowing God will show up with a better option than I could have dreamed!  I’m encouraged and challenged to respond more like Moses and less like the Israelites. 

Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending people like Nancy into my life, who have served me like Moses, to remind me of your goodness and faithfulness. Thank you for the escape route that you provide when we feel like our back is against the wall. You are the best Defender, Protector, and Provider. Amen. 

I Know A Guy…

Here we are, barely seven chapters into Genesis and the plot continues to thicken with more and more wickedness. From chapter four that Jon walked us through with Cain and Abel, to chapter seven that we will focus on today, the sin and evil multiplies to the point where God can not find anyone on earth that is still righteous, except… 

I love a good bible meme – you know I had to throw that in there! Yes, I’m a dork.

Joking aside, we reach the very real point where God tells Noah it’s time (finally). He and his family have only been working on this project for 50-75 years – depending on how you do the math. Can you imagine that much time or work on a project of this proportion? Not to mention the years they endured of questions, ridicule, and scoffing from the community?

Genesis 7

The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate,  and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.  Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

Isn’t Noah’s faith so inspiring? God told him what to do and how to plan and prep – for something that Noah would never have been able to fathom or understand. And how exactly did he catch all the animals to get them in the ark?! For those that have seen the movie Evan Almighty, do you think they just followed them onto the Ark?

A few months ago, our family made the trip to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. I really didn’t know what to expect and we were surprised with all that it had to offer. When you first arrive there is a ton of scientific research and how they came up with the conclusions they did. There is information about what is known as fact and what they speculate based on other findings, customs of the time, etc.  I didn’t realize the degree of “ark doubters” in the world – I’ve taken it for granted that all Christians believed that both the ark and flood truly existed and happened. Apparently, there’s a decent sized population that believe the ark was a metaphor and didn’t actually happen. Wow – that seems like a slippery slope…where would it begin and end if some things in the Bible are metaphors and some things actually occurred? How would you know what is what, especially when all sides can tout scientific proof? Of course I have curiosities about how it all worked, and how it happened… but I believe our God is so big and so powerful, He can create something out of nothing. He can get all those animals to fit on the ark, and keep them fed while they are there.  

All of Noah’s diligence and the details really came to life for me at the Ark Encounter. There are so many amazing exhibits at this life size replica – I could have spent way more time there learning (my 5 year old maxed out after 4 hours). The scientific research is fascinating! Here are some pics from our time there:

My appreciation for Noah’s faith grew, and my heart swelled from the love God has for us.

Despite our sin, God sees a heart that is righteous and desires to follow Him. He is patient with us and gives us time to work out our soul’s salvation. He makes a way for us, even when we don’t understand what it will look like on the other side. He is our provider and protector. He perfectly times His plans.

A Thrill of Hope

This time of year, between the Christmas parties and school programs, the traditions and time with family and friends, there’s also a lot of real life stuff. And it’s not always tinsel and twinkling lights. The most wonderful time of year can amplify the hurts of some and leave people feeling less than jolly, especially in comparison to others with all the cheer and mistletoe. 

To the momma that buried her son this year – God sees you. 

To the dad dividing holiday time with his kids after the divorce this year – God sees you. 

To the woman in the middle of cancer treatments – God sees you. 

To the man that lost his job and can’t pay the mortgage this month – God sees you. 

We are all surrounded by people with hurts – some much more visible than others. Or you may be someone with an extraordinary hurt this season, ready for the new year to come and to get back into a routine.  

This line from O Holy Night keeps coming to my mind, convicting me and challenging me.

Am I truly thrilled and celebrating the birth of Jesus?  Or do I allow the challenges of the day dim the Light of the world in my life? Do I look at my hurts, worries, stress, and allow them to be overcome with a thrill of hope? Am I rejoicing along with the weary world? Am I helping others rejoice amidst their weariness?  

1 Peter 3:15 tells us:

In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 

Is it evident to others that I have the hope of Christ in my life? Do I have my testimony ready to share when asked about the hope I have? 

I don’t have the answers or solutions to all of the real life situations right now – but I do know that we can put our hope in the Lord. Because of Jesus, we have eternal life. And that truly IS thrilling! Jesus’ arrival thrilled a weary Mary and Joseph, it thrilled the weary shepherds, and it thrills a weary world! This Christmas, let the thrill of Jesus and the hope He brings, allow us to rejoice through the weariness and hurts.  Not because those things aren’t real and don’t hurt – they are real and the pain is real… but we can rejoice because God sent us Jesus – and He has overcome the world!

Devoted to Prayer

Prayer is one of those spiritual mysteries I can’t wait to fully understand some day – but for now, I am blessed to reap the benefits of direct access to God. And while He doesn’t need me to fulfill His will, I believe He delights in our prayers, praise, and requests (Proverbs 15:8)

In fact, He tells us to be devoted to prayer – alert in prayer, continuing in prayer – Colossians 4:2-3

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ. 

What does devotion to prayer look like in your life? There have been seasons in my life where every hour I was praying – sometimes every minute. Talking to God and pouring out my heart to Him was the only way through the turmoil. And not because He swooped down and fixed it in an instant, but because He was present, with me, available.

I can think of other seasons where I wasn’t relying on my communication with God – and how quickly things can spiral. A good friend shared this challenge with me, and OH MAN, has it ever stuck.

Do you go to the phone or do you go to the throne?

ZING! So many times when something happens – from exciting news to tragic circumstances – do we pick up our phone to call and talk to someone, or do we first thank God, praise God, cry to God? I want to be someone who goes to the throne, FIRST. More consistently. The big stuff, the little stuff. I want to be a warrior in prayer and build a deeper relationship with the Lord through my prayer life.

Prayer has already brought so much richness to my faith journey. I know that investing more time and focus into my prayer life will draw me closer and keep my mind on things above. When I make time to praise God for who He is – it’s so affirming for me to say out loud all of His attributes. Sometimes when I’m running I will pray the ABCs of God:  “God, you are so Awesome, you are Almighty, you are my Advocate, you are the Beginning, you are the Bread of life, you are my Comforter…” and it is so powerful to meditate on each character of God and how we have seen Him work in our life.

Some of the goals in my prayer life are going to take practice. Sometimes I find my mind wandering. And sometimes I feel like I’m rambling on and on, and the conversation is so one-sided, barely coming up for air. I’m trying to spend more time yielding, listening, waiting, during my prayer time. These are some ways I want to be more devoted to prayer in the coming year.

In Daniel chapter 9, Daniel prays to God, and says “we don’t pray and make requests because of our righteousness, but because of Your great mercy. I love this! Our prayers aren’t because of anything we have or can do, but are completely because God gave us this channel to talk directly to Him, and He shows us so much love, comfort, and mercy, through prayer. He doesn’t care about our fancy words, He cares about our sincere hearts.

Another area I want to be more devoted in prayer, is in leading others in prayer, and I have a great opportunity with my own family.

Each morning on the way to school our kindergartener and third grader request “Mom, will you get the prayer sticks”. During the 6 minutes between our home and the school we try to refocus the morning frenzy of getting out the door, and prepare our hearts for the day. I know that prayer is the most important key to the success of my day, and I hope to lead my kids in strong prayer habits. This is one small practical thing we do and our kids love it!

At the beginning of the school year they write down all their classmates and teacher on individual popsicle sticks. Each morning they each pull one stick out of the cup and that’s the person they pray for that morning. It’s a small and simple way to start the day. And sometimes at the end of the day they share a praise report of something specific they prayed for that friend, and how God answered that prayer. I love that they get to see God working in their world!

While Jesus was on earth, He modeled prayer for us. We hear him in the garden of Gethsemane pouring his heart out to the Father. We see him retreating from the crowds to take time to pray. He tells his disciples to watch and pray. He even gives us a template of what to pray, in the Lord’s Prayer, recorded in Matthew and Luke.

Prayer seems like one of those marvelous mysteries – God tells us to come to Him, let our requests be known (Philippians 4:6), all the while He already knows what is in our hearts, knows what His perfect will is, and knows the outcome of all things. I’m so thankful that we can go directly to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and do not need a mediator (1 Tim 2:5). We have direct access to the Creator of the Universe, the King of all Kings wants us to talk to Him, and share our heart with Him!

Do you have any prayer goals for the coming year?

 

 

What Could Be Better?

A few years ago, my daughter Gracie received a gift card for her birthday, and she knew EXACTLY what she planned to purchase. She had her sights set on a deluxe Lego set that would bring the Frozen castle to life. When we got to the toy store, they were completely sold out. And the sets they did have were half the size of the one she wanted, but not half the cost. I laid out her options: order the set she wanted online and wait 3-5 business days OR get one of the smaller sets that she could take home and play with that same day.

She really didn’t take much time deciding – she chose to wait. She wanted the bigger and better set and was willing to wait it out.

This choice, while small in the grand scheme of things, was huge in her world. This was one of those milestone moments that showed her maturity. And truth be told, I didn’t see it coming. I fully expected her to want the immediate, the now, the joy of a new toy in the moment. She really blew me away that day, and I can vividly remember my heart swelling – my five year old is practicing good decision making, good self-control. Good stewardship. She understood the pros and cons, and even with something small like Legos, she made a big decision.

As we approach John 16, Jesus didn’t give the disciples any choices. He laid out what’s coming for Him, and what that means for them. They don’t get it, and I don’t think they want to get it. Jesus proactively answers the questions they’re all thinking, but aren’t asking out loud – He is so good to us! If the disciples were given a choice, my guess is they would choose to have Jesus stay with them in the flesh. I am sure I would have too.

As Jesus continues with His farewell + next steps, He lets them know He will send someone EVEN BETTER for them! And if you’re anything like me, your eyebrows raise at verse 7 when Jesus outlines all of this – I mean, WHAT could be better than having Jesus with us, sitting next to us, right here, right now?!

My longing for Jesus to return leaves me with some questions:

  • Am I fully aware and tuned in to the Holy Spirit that is here, NOW, and LIVING inside of me?
  • Do I trust Jesus completely, and fully believe Him that it’s to my advantage that He goes for awhile, and the Holy Spirit is in His place?
  • How am I a witness to the Holy Spirit’s power in this world? Guiding, convicting the world of sin, and glorifying Jesus?
  • Is the fruit of the Spirit, that’s living in me, evident in my life?

Gracie was able to see that waiting for the deluxe Lego set that she wanted would be better.

Am I able to see that having the Holy Spirit live inside of me, is better right now than having Jesus walk beside me? And if so, am I relying on His power in my life – the same power that rose Jesus from the dead?

Jesus Knows Me, This I Love

I recently learned a silly (crazy) trick on my Iphone. If you open up Safari, and hold down those two little squares on the bottom right corner, it will tell you how many browser windows you have open. Apparently, I never close those browser windows – yikes – HUNDREDS open. As I was scrolling through them to close some out, I found quite the range of random searches, some I can’t even remember what I was searching for.

  • Laurel or yanny
  • How big is gas tank in 16 acadia
  • Pudgie pies also known as
  • The Eliot hotel
  • Marathon pace calculator
  • Why did Simeon & Levi disinherit the land
  • Common words that begin with e
  • Mollie tibbets
  • How to Block Calls on Your Iphone
  • Jesus witty responses in Bible
  • Loading personal Fonts in Klaviyo
  • Overpronating
  • Recipe for baked goat cheese dip
  • Jungle Book paw paw lyrics
  • Another word for abode
  • Duck boats
  • Chickpeas Nutrition Benefits

Truly, I’m sitting here scratching my head at all the things going on IN my head. Can anyone relate? And while I’m trying to make sense of it all – there is one who KNOWS it all.

The Creator of the entire universe knows what color socks I have on.

The Savior of the world knows what keeps me up at night.

The King of all Kings knows the thoughts I dare not say out loud.

Our God is bigger than we can imagine – so powerful that He can come to our level and intimately know each of us. And with that intimate knowledge of every thought, every word, every action, He loves us. Not just the random things, but the important things. The things that bring us joy, the things that make us afraid, the things that bring sorrow. From baked goat cheese recipes to deep pain points, He knows.

He knows what we did yesterday and the one before. He knows our present, and He knows what tomorrow will bring. He knows the joy we will have, and the internal eye rolls we will fight against. He knows the frustration we have for others. He knows when our motives are pure and we are judged otherwise. He knows when we judge with an unclean heart. He knows when we question His plan, He knows when we delight in Him. He knows it all – and with that knowledge He still loves us. Individually and perfectly. Unconditionally, He loves. We can’t trick him with fake remorse or a calendar full of acts of service but a heart void of cheer. He knows, oh HE KNOWS.

And with this knowledge, He calls us by name. He covers us with His banner of love, grace, and forgiveness, and He calls us HIS. He calls us KNOWN. He calls us CHOSEN. Romans 5:8 tells us that while we were yet sinners, God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us. Despite our today – He provides for our eternity.

“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did”.  John 4:29

This is all we know about what the Samaritan woman at the well went back and told the town. Can you imagine the moment when she put it together that the Messiah is in front of her, telling her about eternal life, all the while knowing her completely? She had to be so blown away, OVERWHELMED by His love, to be given this knowledge by the Messiah, despite being a Samaritan, a woman, and a sinner. The impact of Jesus sharing eternity with her and then staying with the Samaritans for two more days had to be huge for the disciples and the early church… making salvation available for all – not just the Jews. Our passage today, John 4, shows us several different examples of Jesus’ actions reflecting His perfect knowledge of the people’s hearts.

And God’s complete knowledge of each of us provides the perfect comfort, peace, and guidance that we need. The world cannot fulfill us because the world does not know us. What can be greater than being fully known and fully loved by the King of all Kings?

I love the mix up of the words in “Jesus Loves Me”  – He KNOWS me. Individual me. Imperfect me. And like the Samaritan woman at the well, I just LOVE IT that He knows me. No pretending, no faking anything – just being real and being known, and being loved through it all.

God Won’t Contradict Himself

Have you ever prayed and asked God to give you a specific direction or sign?

Or maybe deep down you knew what the right decision was, but you were hoping and praying God would show you a different (easier) way? I mean, maybe God will just give you a “feeling” to go off script for a bit. Or maybe we just want Him to tell us (again) what He’s already told us.

I find myself praying for wisdom and direction A LOT. And then I find myself praying for wisdom on when I need to pray more, or when I need to move forward with what I know from the Word or what the Holy Spirit is pressing upon me.

Here’s something cool about God: He doesn’t contradict Himself. He’s not trying to confuse us, or make His will a mystery. Salvation isn’t some puzzle or choose-your-own-adventure book. God desires us to know Him – all of Him. The more we know Him, the more we will understand His ways and the best path.

Knowing Him includes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all acting as one. And John 1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was God. So the Word (the Scriptures in the Bible) is in lockstep with God.

My third grader has been studying math properties the past few weeks. You know, commutative, distributive, associative, etc. 2×3=3×2, (2×3)x4 = 2x(3×4), and 2x(3+4)=(2×3)+(2×4).

I don’t know what this property would be called, but here goes:

God = Word (from John 1)

God = Jesus = Holy Spirit (from the trinity, 1 John 5:8)

Holy Spirit = Word

So what does this mean? This means that God doesn’t contradict Himself. And the Holy Spirit will not direct us in a way that is contrary to what the Bible says. He doesn’t go “off script”.

The Holy Spirit won’t give you a peace to continue in sin. The world tries to manufacture peace in all sorts of ways – but true peace only comes from God.

As we pray for direction, approval, wisdom for an area of our life, let’s also simultaneously seek the Word. Let’s pray for God to direct us to scripture to help us find the answer. Let’s pray for understanding of the Word. Let’s pray for boldness and obedience to follow the Word, without looking for an excuse or contrary direction.

In the second half of Luke 16, Jesus shares the story of The Rich Man & Lazarus with his disciples and the Pharisees. There are so many fascinating pieces to this story, and the very end is what challenged me to leverage the Living Word for direction in a bigger way. Don’t wait for some sign or God to send someone to me from Heaven… but use the Living Word today.

Take a moment and read through this chapter – the Rich Man finds himself miserable in hell (his Jewish lineage didn’t save him) and begs for Lazarus (in heaven) to raise from the dead and be sent to go warn his family that hell is real and to repent of their sin.  Jesus tells them that the answer is no – his family has Moses + the Prophets (representing the Word of God) and that should be more convincing than a dead man telling them or giving them a sign. They’re either going to read the true Word and follow God, or they’re not.

OUCH – that was a zinger for me and really made me look back and wonder how often I ask God for a sign or direction on something He has already told me in His Living Word. Or maybe a time I was hoping for a looser interpretation or a loophole to something in the Bible. God’s just got to be up there laughing at me! “Ummm… Holly-Rae, quit asking me for directions when they’re sitting on that shelf five feet from you!”

What a waste when I:

  • Pray for direction that isn’t aligned with the Word
  • Look for a sign when I have the red letters in front of my face

Jesus tells us very clearly in this text that no sign (dead man – back to life – warning) will be given. We have the Living Word! Let’s use it, learn it, and allow it to guide us. The Holy Spirit is here to help us and aligns with the Word – let’s not confuse His voice for any other voices in the world!

Up next – Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally – KIDDING

Jesus is Tempted

In today’s scripture covering the words of Jesus, we look at Luke 4. This is a continuation from yesterday’s message in Luke 3, where John the Baptist taught about repentance, turning from sin, and being baptized. Luke 4 picks up after Jesus’ baptism and goes right into Jesus being tempted by Satan in the dessert. I love this picture of the human side of Jesus, and I’m going to look across the other gospels to show this full picture, because I love everything about this passage!

Matthew, Mark, and Luke each record different aspects of the temptation. Most bible scholars agree that Jesus was fasting in the wilderness for 40 days, during which time Satan was tempting him. At the end of the 40 days, Satan tempted him with three specific things that are recorded in detail (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-18).

The situation is intriguing from the very beginning. The Holy Spirit directs Jesus to go to the wilderness to be tempted. Jesus was sent there for a purpose! A lot of times I think we create and walk right into our own messes – we made choices that lead to the storm we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of… But there are other situations that truly pop up out of the blue, and we are left scratching our heads with questions like… Why am I here? How did this happen? What am I supposed to make of all of this? Just maybe we are led there for a reason. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into this temptation for a purpose. And we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us to places that have tempting situations. Why? Why would He do that? God uses victory over temptation as an example for others. What example is God using in your life for others? Is there an area you need to take a more black and white stand, as an example for others? Are you tempted to stay silent when you need to speak truth into a situation?

Next, we look at how Jesus was tempted. Sounds pretty familiar to the same types of things we are tempted by… physical needs and desires (bread), power (the world), and lastly, He was tempted to test God (throw Himself off the mountain).  Jesus was tempted in the same ways that Satan tries to tempt us today. It’s pretty cool that Jesus walked before us and showed us exactly what to watch for!  When you think of these three areas of temptation, is there one you need to take hold of today and claim victory?

How? How can we overcome? BAM – Jesus shows us! He responds to each temptation by reciting scripture (we find it in Deuteronomy) back to Satan. What an awesome example for us to keep the Word of God in our hearts and overcome Satan. Do you have some go-to scriptures that you can use when you’re feeling tempted? Here are a few of mine:

Keep thy tongue from evil. Psalm 34:13

Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord. Romans 12:19

Whatsoever things are good, whatsoever things are lovely, think on THOSE things. Phil 4:8

Fear not, I am with thee. Isaiah 41:10

Depart from evil and do good. Psalm 34:14

My God will supply all your needs. Phil 4:19

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you. Luke 6:27

As cheesy as it sounds, I like to say them out loud. There’s power in verbally declaring victory over the enemy!

The last piece of Jesus’ temptation is His Father’s care and compassion. After Jesus endured the temptation, God sent help (His angels) to comfort and minister to Jesus. I really don’t know exactly what this means (not much is explained), but I’ve always envisioned some sort of angel cheerleading situation. V-I-C-T-O-R-Y, GOOOOOO JESUS! Oh, and I also picture them carrying lots of bread. All the bread. As a grain-a-holic myself, my version of this story is with a satchel full of naan, baguettes, bagels, all of it. I mean, Jesus was fasting for awhile!!  In all seriousness, when we are in the middle of a temptation, we can look forward to being replenished by our Father. God will restore our weary souls. Can you look back and see this provision in your life?

God is so gracious to give us this fully-man Jesus to walk before us and show us how to do life on earth. It’s no coincidence that this temptation by Satan occurred right after Jesus’ baptism.  The enemy doesn’t want us to gain any ground in our faith walk. When we declare our commitment and belief in God, the enemy will work to shake us. Let’s follow Jesus’ example and be ready, armed with the Word of God!