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!

An Audience of One

John 12

The church I grew up in celebrates Holy Week with a Palm Sunday celebration and then a Maundy Thursday and Good Friday combined evening service and of course, Easter service on Sunday morning. I can remember walking into the church in the choir as a child carrying palm branches and singing about Jesus being king as we read about today in John 12 when he enters Jerusalem. This section in my Bible is appropriately called “The Triumphant Entry,” as the people shouted “Hosanna” and called Jesus” the King of Israel.”  Later in the week, in our combined Maundy Thursday/Good Friday service, we would turn off the lights at the end. There was a spotlight on a large, wooden cross in the front and sitting in dead silence, someone came the microphone yelling “Crucify him..Crucify him!”  Then, there was a wooden block being hit with a hammer 3 times loudly to represent the nails being driven into Jesus’ feet and both hands. I cringed with each strike of the block. We then sat in the dark with no one saying a word or moving for a few minutes which felt like an hour! Whoa! The lights came on and that was everyone’s cue to file out in silence. People would talk in the lobby, but the buzz, cheerfulness, and mood was a little different than the normal Sunday service.

On Easter Sunday, it was a time for celebration and the buzz and cheerfulness was back again. The palms were back, lilies were all around the church, a white sash hung on the cross to represent us being washed clean of our sins, and the sun seemed to always be shining on Easter morning. He is risen!

It was perplexing to me growing up, and still is  today, that Jesus was adorned as a king by a crowd and then just a few days later another crowd, with maybe some of the same people, shouted for him to be crucified.

Often in our life, we can feel like we are on top of the world. Maybe we get a big promotion, secure a big client, have someone praise us for a job well done, family relationships are great, and everything seems to be going our way. And then out of nowhere a job is lost, a client leaves you, a falling out with a family member occurs, you are criticized by a boss, you have an unexpected financial hardship, or even a divorce. Where does your identity come from in these low moments? I don’t know about you, but I feel it is hard not to lose confidence in myself during these challenging times because I can mistakenly get puffed up when others are telling me good job, and I put my self-worth and happiness based on what others are saying when things are going well. It is then equally as bad as it was good and my self-worth and confidence can decrease when others are critical of me or when nothing seems to be going right.

We don’t know Jesus’ thoughts on Palm Sunday as he was being praised like a king, but something tells me based off his humbleness and servant leadership throughout his lifetime that he was not puffed up and proud. During his toughest times on the cross, his focus was not on himself, but on others as he said in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus did not put his identity and worth in what others thought about him. He knew who he truly was, and most importantly, whose he was.

When things are going well, let’s remember to give glory and praise to him and not be prideful and think it’s by our own doing. James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above..” When things aren’t going so well, let’s not be discouraged by what others think, and let’s remind ourselves that we are living for an audience of one. Let’s remember who we are and whose we are. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” If we look in the mirror and we’ve made mistakes we are not proud of (and we all have), let’s be thankful instead of sad. This is why Jesus came and died on the cross. Our identity is in him and in his unconditional love for us. Let’s hold fast, for we know what is coming, the sunshine and celebration of Easter morning! He is risen…he is risen indeed!


The Rest of the Story…

Matthew 27

Think of a time when someone you thought highly of or ‘put on a pedestal’ let you down by doing something you never expected from them. For some of you this person may have been a celebrity, professional athlete, or politician who you thought was ‘really a great guy/lady.’ This person may have even been someone very close to like a boss, mentor, parent, sibling, spouse, or even a pastor where the wounds from this experience are still deep today, even years later.

Have you ever thought about how the disciples and followers of Jesus must have felt when He was arrested, scourged, crucified, and died? They believed Jesus would be their Messiah (Savior) by sitting on an earthly throne and restoring Israel through freeing them from the oppression of the Roman government. This was their mistaken understanding of the Old Testament prophecies of what the Messiah would do (see John 12:16). They must have been certain He would be king because He could do anything…heal the sick, cast out demons, feed large crowds on next to no food, walk on water, and even raise Lazarus from the dead after four days! Think of the ‘pedestal’ He must have been on in their minds!  Imagine how they must have felt when they woke up Saturday morning with the realization that their Messiah who they saw do many miracles and believed was on a mission from God on their behalf was crucified, dead, buried, and would not save them from the tyranny of the Roman government. Talk about a letdown!

As Paul Harvey (ask your parents if you don’t know who that is) would say, we now know “the rest of the story.” We know the great news of the Resurrection that occurred on Easter Sunday! We know that Jesus saved them, and us today, in a way no one else could through freedom from the bondage and condemnation of sin.

What can we learn from this?

  1. The only person we should ever ‘put on a pedestal’ is Jesus. He is the ONLY one that will NEVER let us down. He is the only one without sin.
  2.  If God can take the worst injustice and event in the history of the world, the wrongful execution of the only person to ever live without sin, and turn it into the greatest event in the history of the world, then God can take the challenges and problems you are facing in your life today and will in the future and turn them into something good. The Bible specifically tells us this in Romans 8:31-32.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Need more assurance? We are told this again in Ephesians 3:20 NIV.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according His power this is at work within us,”

It says that we can’t even imagine what good He can do! Also, did you catch that? It is not our power, but ‘His power’ at work within us….and he made the world and everything in it.

There is a “rest of your story” that He has planned for your life…just like there was for Him and us through His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

So let us move forward today calm, confident, and courageous because of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Comforting Confidence

Happy Tuesday and Post 4th of July!

July 5, 2016

Let’s jump right into His Word.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

God is talking to Jeremiah in 1:5. God speaks with Jeremiah many times over many years.  Actually, He doesn’t only speak with people from the Bible, He speaks to us. How is He speaking to you today? Are you hearing what He is saying?

Is knowing God speaking to us reassuring and comforting in our everyday lives of controlled chaos? It should be. This is true when our human mind tends to make us feel like we are lacking purpose, adequacy, or direction.  But, God has a purpose through it all for you and me. Yet, there will be our tribulations and breathtaking events of awesomeness!  But similar to Jeremiah, Deuteronomy 31.8 says, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  He is always there for you. God should be glorified. He is there for us in the middle of those important decisions  or when you think you are losing a little control of a situation God steps in and let’s you know He controls it all.

As I reflect on life before a relationship with God, I may have a response like Jeremiah did in verse 6 where he says,  “I do not know how to speak for I am only a youth.” To me, this youth represents not knowing God.  I focused only on myself and was hurtful to others in the process. This would include lacking in confidence or being boastful and only being about myself.  In our lives it also can mean being fearful and lacking courage to take that next step.  God doesn’t say, “Go; you are ready” he says, “Go; I’ll go with you”. Today, in all choices He is walking alongside you waiting for your call.

In my “youth” I was unhappy with many decisions I was making in my life. Most of the time trying to answer, prove, and do everything on my own making one mistake after another. This was the point where I was ready to “lose my life” like in John 12:25.

whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

I was about myself and stayed there for a long time until God purposefully put me around events in my life that allowed a life-changing attitude to surrender it all to Him. My excuses I would make started to change. “I don’t have enough money. ~ What am I doing with what I have? “; I’m not smart enough. ~How am I using God’s gifts?; I don’t have two parents. ~ Am I being an example for God? I don’t go to church. ~ What am I doing with my time?  The list can go on and on about excuses I could make to allow myself to have a “stay-theist” attitude or I can do it myself! I could just stay in my own dysfunctional world and not let anyone in or do what I had to in order to superficially make connections with others.  Yet all along God has known me and had a plan. He has this plan for you too. Each of us have a purpose, maybe you don’t know it yet? The details of our plan we don’t know and often can change in our lives but we know the root of what we need to do as a Christian. We are to love, obey, and serve God. In doing this our mission will become more clear.

Do not say I’m only a youth; for to all whom I send you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:8

Struggling with confidence, failures, and insecurity keeps you from doing many things and often making poor choices to compensate. Lacking in my faith because of my inadequate abilities outside of surviving skills, lack of experiences outside of an addiction dependent divorced household, and the tendency to make bad choices for the benefit of myself and no one else around me. This faith that God is with you allows your choices of serving to be about Jesus-Others-Yourself (JOY).

So what changed? Letting God into my life and surrendering to the relationship He planned for me. Not only as a last resort thing anymore. Dedicating waking hours with more consistent communication throughout my day. Being thankful and grateful for giving me one more day to impact His kingdom. I believe now that God is with us all the time and knowing this gives me the confidence to obey His call even if I’m unsure about the results.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

When God gives you a job to do, He will provide all that we need. By no means have we figured out what job He has planned for us, but the doors God opens will lead us to a place he has already prepared.  I pray for our desire to seek His guidance. Turn to Him prayerfully and ask am I doing this for me or for You Lord?

No, we don’t have it all figured out, we are human. We are tempted by sins that sometimes we follow through on and in turn ask for forgiveness. We divinely and prayerfully follow God’s plans other times. Either way, God transforms us by changing our hearts. Whether lacking in confidence or full of confidence or in-between does our decisions, actions, and whole heart trust and serve God?

“Behold I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pick up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

God gives you all you need in order to fulfill His plan for you. In reading, “The Places You’ll Go” by Ortberg I’m reminded of this glory. He goes before us and is with you throughout ALL you do. God doesn’t promise a trouble free or temptation free life but that He will be with us and we need to call on Him. He will walk with us through the storm and calm the seas.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” Matthew 19:26

Dear God,  You alone are the Creator of everything.  You have a perfect plan for all of us. You are the perfecter of my faith, and I thank you for the Grace when I didn’t believe or trust in the seemingly impossible dreams you had planned. Help me to have courage to place my faith in You in all things. To trust your strength when mine fails.  Thank you for allowing me to be part of your master plan. Stir in my heart a passion and gratefulness for all that you do in my life. Thank you for the comfort we have knowing you are always with us. Amen

Today’s ReadingJoshua 7; Psalms 137–138; Jeremiah 1; Matthew 15