Do Not Lose Heart

Good morning!

If you need some encouragement today, open right up to 2 Corinthians Chapter 4.
Paul opens and closes his letter with the message “Do not lose heart”, and I love the three message points he gives to support this message.
A third grade writing teacher would be proud of his intro, three supporting points, and a conclusion that restates his main message!
Paul gives us examples of how we may lose heart, specifically in ministry. Have you ever felt called to something and then when you are smack dab in the middle of it you start questioning the entire thing? How could this have been from God, it’s going terribly off track?  There are so many examples of this all around us.
  • Families fighting through government red tape to adopt a child.
  • Missionaries overseas who lose their funding unexpectedly.
  • A new college grad, eager and ready to serve but cannot find a job.
  • Parents everywhere who question their decisions and if they’re messing up their children!

Whatever ministry God has called you to, know that you are not alone in doubts, setbacks, feeling crushed from every side. (verse 9).  I love the encouragement Don’t Dig Up in Doubt What You Planted in Faith. 

The next point we are given is where our power comes from to overcome – the Holy Spirit! We are like jars of clay filled with an amazing power from God. The power is from Him, not from ourselves! If He calls you, He will equip you, even if in the moment you find yourself scratching your head and wondering how it will work out. You can’t do it alone – but He will do it through you!
Finally, Paul refocuses us on why we should not lose heart – because our glory is in eternity! All of the worries and afflictions of this life are nothing in comparison to eternity with Jesus! As our earthly bodies waste away, our hearts are being renewed and we are closer to eternity. If you’ve never seen this 4 minute video on eternity, click and watch Francis Chan as he shares this powerful visual.    https://youtu.be/86dsfBbZfWs
It’s so easy to focus on the small part of our lives that’s on earth, instead of the forever that will be with Jesus in heaven.

Casting Lots

It’s been really neat to follow along with Jon’s recent posts about hiring people. Took me back to my days in a corporate environment and some of the hiring adventures I experienced. I can remember walking away from interviews and being surprised (even shocked, at times) at what some people shared. And then wondering what I said or did in interviews that left people chuckling or puzzled? I mean, sometimes things just come out when you’re nervous or in a pressure cooker!

At one point in my career, I was building a new team of people that needed a skill set and knowledge base that we didn’t have a lot of in house. Hiring from the outside is a really cool opportunity to bring in fresh perspectives and unique talents, but it also comes with more risk. When you leverage existing talent within the organization, they usually have a reputation of work product, and you have a longer chance to observe them…but hiring externally, you’re relying on a resume, short interviews, and their former bosses’ opinions – people you don’t have a relationship with and have little motivation to help a different organization.

Sam, a young man in Michigan, had an interview that still leaves me smiling. His personality was as big as he was tall, and what he lacked in experience, he made up in knowledge. He worked hard and knew his stuff in the financial arena, coming up with great ideas and solutions to the different interview questions.

In that first interview, Sam spoke really fast and seemed to be sweating quite a bit. Halfway through he stopped me and confessed that he was nervous/ecstatic/distracted because the night before he asked his future father in law for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage! He received his blessing and so that morning Sam picked up the ring and planned to propose that evening! He was just so excited and thrilled for this next phase of life. I will never forget his zeal in that first interview.

There was a risk in hiring Sam – he didn’t have as many years of experience, but he had heart + determination. He knew his stuff and I believed his contagious personality was just what the other salespeople in Michigan needed to get them excited. Some leaders say they just have an instinct, or trust their gut… but when I boil it down, it’s actually the Holy Spirit. Like Jon, prayer was a critical part in making hiring decisions. Asking the Lord to show me what I’m missing, give me a peace in my heart about a certain candidate, protect me from bringing in the wrong person to our company. How amazing that we have a living God that goes before us and walks beside us!

In Acts 1, we see the last account in the Bible of casting lots, and specifically it was for a personnel change within the disciple group. Talk about a high pressure “hiring decision”!  If you aren’t familiar with casting lots, it was a tradition used by men of God to make decisions. We don’t know of all the methods specifically (sticks, stones, etc), but we do know the first example is back with Aaron and which animal to sacrifice (Lev. 16:8), and continued for hundreds of years with a range of circumstances. Dividing land, determining fault, settling disputes. This continued until this last time it’s recorded in Acts. Jesus had just ascended to heaven and they were to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came. While they’re waiting, Peter addresses the group of disciples and their need to replace Judas. They brought forward two candidates, Joseph of Barsabbas and Matthias. They prayed over the decision and asked God to show them who to select, and then they cast the lots. Maybe they had marked sticks or stones, we don’t know… but whatever they used, it came up that it was Mathias to replace Judas.

Casting lots is never mentioned again, and maybe I’m making a leap here, but it seems to me that once the Holy Spirit arrives, living in us, guiding us, then we no longer need to cast lots. Romans 12:2 tells us:

Being transformed in the renewal of your mind that you may be able to prove what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect.

Discerning the will of God isn’t easy, but we have the power of the Holy Spirit and the Living Word to rely on. What an opportunity, strike that, OBLIGATION we have to transform + renew our minds! If we aren’t talking with Him or studying His words regularly, how will we know His will? Do you believe that God can and will press upon your heart, the path He has for you? We don’t have to flip a coin to make a tough decision – we have the Holy Spirit inside of us! I can’t wait for Acts 2 and what BJ has to share with us next week about the Holy Spirit, it’s going to be great!

Oh, and Sam? She said yes. And fifteen years later he is still doing great things with that organization, and he and his wife have three sweet kiddos.

Be On Guard

Last weekend, my husband and I discovered a beautiful trail outside of Nashville, at Percy Warner Park. The trail is called Mossy Ridge Trail, and it lives up to its name, with elevation changes, streams and mini waterfalls, and lots of moss covered limestone.

We followed the map of the 4.5 mile loop, the first day running it counter clockwise and having more of the steep climbs during the ascension. Temperatures were climbing up in the 80s and we were thankful for the forested shade during most of the trail. So much to see as we were running up and down, over and back, across the rocks, logs, and tree roots. It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts and prayers when you’re out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by such natural beauty. We had about 3/4 of a mile left when Tim warns “SNAKE”.

I freeze and see where he is pointing and back up a bit. Wow, he’s a big one! We guessed between 4-5 ft long, but it was hard to tell because he was so curled up. He looked mostly black and of course I asked Tim to dig his phone out and snap some pics of him (her?) so we could later identify him. There were some markings, but not as much as a bull snake usually has… so maybe he is a rat snake. He wasn’t in a hurry to move from the middle of the trail… so with a stick I was able to get him to slither off into the woods so I could pass.

The rest of the run, my eyes were much more wide open, my senses were more alert, and I was definitely looking for the next creature we may encounter. While I don’t have a huge snake phobia, I also don’t love their slithering sneaky creepy ways. Yuck! We live in the country and they are good for mice – I just prefer them to be out of sight in the woods 🙂

The next day we went back for another trail run, and it’s really cool how the opposite direction of the exact same trail can feel different. The climbs are from the opposite direction, the slick downhills are now easier to get up, and while it’s familiar from the day before, it has a newness to it when you experience it from a new vantage point. We are a mile in and I happen to be leading this section (we alternate) and it’s my turn to warn “SNAKE”. Same coloring, but not as big. Again, this guy came out of nowhere and was hard to see at first. He was half in the grassy edge and half on the trail – looking SO SIMILAR to the tree roots around him that were also sprawled across the trail. As soon as he heard me he darted off, and we went on our way.

The next couple of miles I thought about snakes. What makes them creepy, how camouflaged they can be to their surroundings, what they’re good for, why they freak us out, etc. I kept my eyes peeled the rest of the run looking out for more snakes. I was much more alert after seeing this second snake on the second day, than after the first snake on the first day. Every tree root sprawling across the path was the next snake 🙂

If snakes give you the heebie jeebies and freak you out, I am sorry!! I will get us to the scripture (stay with me).  In Mark 13, we find Jesus explaining to his disciples about end times and his return. One thing that really stands out to me is there are five different times that Jesus warns them to stay alert and be on guard (verses 5, 9, 26):

See that no one leads you astray, many will come in my name…And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, But be on guard.

After studying this chapter, I couldn’t help but think about our snake encounter, and how we almost ran right into him the first time, not expecting it. We ARE in the woods. We ARE in this snake’s home. Why was it a surprise? And Day Two? Don’t you think I would have been extra aware? But once again I’m running along, taking in the sights, and this snake looked so much like a dark tree root that I almost missed him. These snakes are no dummies… they know how to get a meal, and it’s not with a big flashing sign saying “SNAKE RIGHT HERE”… they’re trying to creep up on their lunch with the art of surprise. And while I know this about snakes, both times I was caught off guard.

The disciples were asking Jesus for a big sign of when these end days of tribulation will come. But Jesus tells them that no one knows the hour of when, but to stay alert and be on guard. He tells them how they will be persecuted and how to handle it. He tells them how there will be false prophets claiming to be coming in Jesus’ name and to not be fooled.

Who me? Fooled by a false prophet? After Jesus specifically warns me? Surely not!

Hello self, you just ran right into a snake, the day after encountering a snake in the same location. Ummm…

Leading up to this journal entry I’ve been praying for the Holy Spirit to show me false prophets in my life. Specifically, I’ve asked for a spirit of discernment of people, books, pastors, groups, studies, etc, all claiming to be in the name of Christ, but are deceiving and not aligned with the Lord. I need to be more aware, alert, on guard and ready! False prophets aren’t going to be easy to spot, they will be one tiny detail away from truth… or one shade off of white. False prophets will normalize sin, justify the unjust, and try to rationalize the irrational. If they were obvious to see and recognize, Jesus wouldn’t give such a strong warning.

Like I’ve said in many of my posts – I CAN’T WAIT for heaven!! Wonder if there will be snakes there?

Awestruck

Can you see the wonder across her face? The complete joy and splendor… about pancakes with sprinkles and candles? The flame flickering and twinkling in her eyes. Mesmerized by the beauty. Anticipating the deliciousness. Can you hear the squealing with delight? Absolutely awestruck.

Do you receive the kingdom of God like a child? Luke 18 commands this – and it’s left me pondering what exactly that would look like. What would it feel like if we approached our Creator and eternity, like a child?

Curiosity

        • Hey Mommy, how do birds fly?
        • Who teaches them to flap their wings?
        • Where do their parents take them?
        • Why do they fly south for the winter?
        • How do they know it’s warmer in the south?
        • What’s instinct mean?
        • But how do you just know?
        • Do you have any instincts, Mommy?

If you’ve spent any time with young children, you’ve probably found yourself in one of these never-ending question cycles of why, what, how, when, where, or who. A hunger for knowledge and understanding is part of childhood and maturing. It’s not just the hunger, but also the confidence to seek the answers. When I hear the term “child-like faith”, I don’t take it to mean blindly believing what you’ve been told, without asking questions.. I think it’s more of a willing and humble heart to explore who God is.

What questions do we have about God or salvation that we need to get to the bottom of? Are we ashamed to admit we don’t understand something? Are we so busy with our to-do lists that we haven’t allowed time for curiosity?

Reliance

From sun up to sun down children rely on their parents for so much. This chapter actually uses the word infants – and wow, babies require even more than children, to keep them alive. Feeding, bathing, clothing, diapers, transportation, safety, medical attention, etc. They cry to communicate and eventually we figure out what they are asking for. They learn that we will comfort them, feed them, help them, when they’re in distress.

God has never let me down, has never left me to figure it out alone. He has always comforted me, directed me, and loved me, through every distress. Yet each time I can see a storm coming, I begin to worry. And isn’t worrying a sign that I’m not trusting and willing to rely solely on the Lord? Complete surrender to God is so beautiful, and this level of trust comes from experiencing patterns of His faithfulness.

This weekend, let’s ask God to show us which qualities of children we need to embrace and emulate as we grow in our faith. I know I can approach the throne of God with an awestruck heart, more curiosity, or greater reliance and trust. What child-like qualities do you need more of in your life?

Jesus’s Ministry

Jesus’s life between age twelve and age thirty is a bit of a mystery. Nothing was recorded and it leaves me wondering, what was he like as a young man? He was fully God, yet fully man… sin free but still had the full range of human emotions. I remember back to specific points in my life in this span of time and I wonder – did he ever have the same experiences I did? Did his parents continue to worry about him? Did he surprise them again and again, like he did when they found him in the temple? Did he get scraped knees and what about math? Did math come easy to him? Did he have a good friend group that he confided in? Did he tell his parents about the future? It’s pretty amazing that Jesus walked this same earth and lived and breathed just like us.

As we open up to Mark 1, Jesus is 30 years old and this chapter is full of Jesus’s ministry kicking off. His cousin, John the Baptist, has been preaching repentance and baptism to the Jews and prepping the people for Jesus to come. Jesus is baptized and tempted in the wilderness by Satan. Jesus then calls his first disciples, Simon, Andrew, James and John. They were fisherman by trade, and Jesus instructs them to follow him and become fishers of men, and they immediately obey. I wonder what they thought they’d be doing?!

During this first period of time in Jesus’s ministry, he is teaching and instructing his disciples, performing miracles of healing and driving out evil spirits. He also takes time to step away from the crowds and pray.

One thing that is evident in this chapter is that God had the details planned out. He used John to prepare the people for Jesus the Messiah to come. He prepared the fisherman to become disciples. Jesus waited for the right time to announce “the time has come, the kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the Good News”! John the Baptist and the disciples believed this to be their calling and went forward in faith. Without knowing how Jesus’s ministry would unfold, or how their lives would be impacted, they believed and acted. God had a plan for their lives and used each of them to accomplish his will.

In my early twenties, I worked in Chicago as a project manager. My boss was an executive of a large corporation, with a lot of influence and a lot of responsibilities. it was evident (in no time) that he was a Christ follower and his most important work was to be the hands and feet of Jesus. It wasn’t the Bible on his desk that gave it away – it was how he cared for each person he interacted with, from the doorman to his own boss. He would ask about their family and how he could pray for them. He had real conversations about real stuff, not just pleasantries. He didn’t worry about oversharing or overstepping his boundaries with religion in the workplace – ‘God would take care of that’. Our offices were separated by a thin wall, and for three years I was able to witness his “work”. I learned so much from observation alone – not to mention all the ways he directly mentored and encouraged me. I could fill a book with the scriptures and wisdom he shared – one thing that reminds me of our passage today is a belief he has:

My desk is my alter, my work is an extension of his ministry.   

He believed this and he lived it. He saw his position as one given to him so he could have more opportunities to talk to people about Christ. To help people. To share with people. Yes, he had important business to do, but he had even more important kingdom work to focus on. He reminds me of the fisherman turned disciples… yes, they knew how to fish – but Jesus was teaching them how to REALLY FISH!

I love how God positions each of us to be a part of his kingdom. From John the Baptist, to the disciples, to you and me. It’s pretty humbling that each of us are not just called, but also equipped, to be an extension of his ministry.

 

Revival!

Nehemiah 8 

What an amazing revival! The Jewish people had been living in exile and returned to Jerusalem. They’ve not been following the ways of the Lord, let alone reading the scriptures. Isn’t this a beautiful picture? Ezra, a scribe, reads the scriptures (scrolls) and they are reminded of God’s ways, some maybe even hearing for the first time. Verse 7 tells us that Ezra had assistants or helpers that helped him teach and explain it to the large crowds of people.

I wonder what that looked like. Ezra was standing on the makeshift podium and were his helpers next to him…and after each section they would take turns expounding? Or did Ezra break the people into groups and they would have mini-small group discussions?

We know this is a revival because the people actively responded and turned their hearts toward the Lord. “And all the people answered Amen, Amen, and lifted up their hands” (verse 6), what a sight! They recognized how far they have fallen away from God and are weeping with remorse and sorrow for their sin.

What a picture of God’s grace… instead of them wallowing in their self destructive sin, God uses Ezra and calls them out of it. Go, be merry, celebrate your heart change, help others. Keep reading, keep celebrating! Nehemiah had just rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem, the people were reading the Word – what a time to celebrate! God doesn’t want us to be stuck in a pit of shame, self loathing, and guilt. He wants us to learn and use the joy of Him as our strength to move forward.

The very next morning they assembled again… and again, and again. Implementing and taking action on the things they heard and learned. They even began celebrating the Feast of Booths again – a practice that had been ignored for years and years – since the time of Joshua. They read and studied for hours, 8 consecutive days with joyful hearts – what a kickstart to renewing their spirits!

Don’t we need a revival like this?  What would a revival look like:

            • In our world?
            • In the United States?
            • In our community?
            • In our schools?
            • In our church?
            • In our family?
            • In our own heart?

Will you join me in praying for a revival? In Psalm 51, after David falls into sin, he repents and asks the Lord to create in him a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit in him. Whether you’re a new Christian, or have been following Jesus for quite some time, I’m guessing you have seasons that need renewing and reviving, I know I do! I’m going to pray for a desire to study God’s Word like Ezra’s group did…and for people to help me understand where I’m lacking. God is ready to revive our hearts and celebrate with us!

I love the fourth verse of this old hymn from William Mackay:

Revive Us Again

1 We praise thee, O God, for the Son of thy love,
For Jesus who died and is now gone above.

2 We praise thee, O God, for thy Spirit of light,
Who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night. [Refrain]

3 All glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain,
Who has borne all our sins and has cleansed ev’ry stain. [Refrain]

4 Revive us again – fill each heart with thy love;
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.

Refrain:
Hallelujah, thine the glory!
Hallelujah, Amen!
Hallelujah, thine the glory!
Revive us again.

Show me Your Glory

A few years ago I was part of a women’s bible study called Seamless. This study guides you through the entire Bible, start to finish, showing the connections of God’s plan for us, from Creation to Jesus, to the Early Church, and everything in between. It showed the seamlessness of the Bible, and how it all fits together when you look at the bigger plan of salvation. I absolutely LOVED this study! For so many years I felt like the Old Testament was a bunch of separate Sunday School stories that were anything but seamless. I didn’t understand the timelines or eras, and while I knew some of the main characters and plots, I didn’t have it “mapped out” and how it all points to Jesus.

In the last month of Bible Journal entries we have moved from Kings to Prophets. Thanks for following along with us as we uncover these early leaders in the Old Testament. If you take a step back, you can see that God’s people have been led by Priests, Judges, Kings, and Prophets, each role spanning different time periods and for different reasons. God used the prophets to guide His people back to him. Stick with us – it really does all come together and point to Jesus!

Today I get to introduce you to Ezekiel. He (and other Israelites) have been living in exile for five years in Babylon, at the hand of King Jehoiachin. The next few days we will cover more scripture from Ezekiel – and heads up, it gets pretty interesting.

Chapter 1 he leads right off with a vision that God gave him, of the glory of God. Take a few minutes and read it. Do you need a pen and paper to draw out what he is describing, to keep it all straight? All the features, and body parts and animals? I’m not a bible scholar or dream interpreter…and it’s hard to know what to make of all of this! I read this several times and I thought and prayed… Okay Lord, what do you want me to learn from this?

I’d truly be guessing if I tried to share some big theological explanation of what his vision could symbolize and mean. When I was studying and digging deeper into this chapter, I found a lot of smart opinions and guesses out there. If you’re into that kind of stuff, your bible may have a lot of cool footnotes, or google and dig around the web. When I did an image search for ‘Ezekiel 1 Vision Picture of God’s Glory’ it was crazy to see all of the different ways artists interpreted Ezekiel’s description – the picture in my mind was completely different! I also found it fascinating how one source compared verse ten’s four faces (man, lion, ox, eagle) to Jesus. Jesus is fully man, he is king and victorious like a lion, he is a servant and sacrifice like an ox, and he transcends and is spiritually sovereign like the eagle. Chapters like this leave me curious and hungry to understand more – heaven, come quick!

There were also two things I learned about Ezekiel that really encouraged me:

First, Ezekiel is BOLD. And like I said – STAY TUNED – there’s more coming. He’s clearly being directed by the Lord, and has no qualms about telling the Israelites every detail of what he just saw. They’re living in exile, and God is using Ezekiel to share His message with His people. What message does God have for you to share? Maybe it’s not an indescribable being from a vision, maybe it’s your own life experiences. Maybe it’s not a message for a people group living in exile.. maybe it’s something God has for you to share with your family, a group of teens at your church, or some co-workers. I’m encouraged to be BOLD, even at the risk of sounding a little loony.

Second, Ezekiel is reverent. Verse 28 tells us that when he sees all of this he falls on his face. He didn’t run and hide in fear. He didn’t look the creature in the eye or give him a high five. He went to the ground, face down, to show his humility, awe, worship, and adoration. Have you had those fall to your knees or go face down moments in your faith journey? Those deeply spiritual moments you can always go back to, that can draw your heart to worship and praise? Whether the circumstances were tragic or triumphant – your only response was one of complete surrender?

I can go back to some of those moments in time in my life, like when I first made a commitment to follow Christ, or when my daughter came out of spinal cord surgery at five and a half months old. Remembering and reliving those moments of complete praise and surrender draw my heart closer to the Lord.  Third Day has a song called Show Me Your Glory, and I love this part of the chorus:

Show me your glory
Send down your presence
I wanna see your face
Show me your glory
Majesty shines about you
I can’t go on with you Lord

We don’t have to wait for heaven to experience the glory of God – what a gift! Let’s ask God to help us see His glory today!

Heaven: The Best Part

Seven weeks ago, my best friend’s baby Briar went to be with Jesus, at 22 weeks old, before she ever took her first breath, cooed with her first smile, or wobbled to her first step. The sole comfort in this tragedy has been having absolute peace and comfort of where she now is.

In the days and weeks following, my kids (ages 8 and 5) have asked some hard, thought provoking, and inspiring questions.

Why did Briar die? Did she believe in Jesus? How come she gets to go to heaven right away?

That last question brought all the tears back. What a sweet perspective – Briar GETS TO go to heaven first! She skips right past all of the things of this world and is right in the arms of Jesus, made perfectly whole in Him.

Our passage today, Isaiah 25, is a glimpse of Heaven. I love how the Lord is described:

        • God is faithful.
        • God is our protector.
        • God is our refuge and strength.
        • God will celebrate with us and bless us.
        • God will end death and sorrow.
        • God will perfectly judge.

What I notice most of all is His presence. Take another read through this chapter – can you feel how close He is to His people? Hosting a feast… wiping our tears. The people are celebrating and singing  “THIS is our God, that we have waited for.. let’s rejoice!”  What a beautiful picture of God with His people. This isn’t a distant God, but a God that is near, hands on.. comforting us, rescuing us, eating with us.

The best part of Heaven, really  will be God’s presence! Yes, Heaven will be the end of suffering, sin, health problems, anxiety, wars, famine, bills, jobs, death, fear, violence, discord, pride… ALL of it! But what’s even greater than our lives being made whole, is WHO we will be dwelling with.

Sometimes my view of heaven becomes the absence of all the struggles of this earth along with big family and friends reunion of people that have gone on before. This passage really repositions my heart to focus on the BEST part of Heaven. Being in the presence of our perfect Father.

When my kids talk about heaven, they get so excited and first talk doing stuff with Jesus… it’s a humbling reminder for me to keep my child-like faith and my eyes on Jesus.

What comes to your mind when you think about Heaven?

End the Limping

Yesterday Jon shared some awesome testimonies of Elijah’s faith, and as we move into chapter 18, his faith continues to grow.

Ahab, the king, and his wife Jezebel, have quit following God and have taken up idol worship in the form of Baal. There is a drought and famine in the land and God continues to protect and use Elijah amidst the chaos.

Read through this chapter a few times and see if you can get a picture of this entire situation: 1 Kings 18.  There are so many messages that stand out, from God telling Elijah he would send the rain…to Obadiah’s brave message delivery in the face of his own fear… to the showdown on Mount Carmel. The events that take place are so victorious and faith affirming!

One scripture that caught my attention was Elijah’s question in verse 21:

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”

Limping. What a perfect description of my life as a sinner, hobbling from one poor choice to another, despite having moments of faith or even knowing the truth. But we hobble around and end up miserable in our own junk. This was my life in a big way before I made a commitment to follow Jesus. My limping back and forth wasn’t out of disbelief in God…but because I couldn’t figure out grace, and didn’t have the Holy Spirit living in me.  I was bouncing around like a pinball game! And guess what? Even as a Christ follower, there is still junk! And while my limping and hobbling isn’t between God and Baal, it is between the spirit and the flesh. I love how Jesus warns us that our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. Amen! My flesh is weak when I want to give a snarky remark to someone. My flesh is weak when I go into a defense mode. My flesh is weak when I break the law because I lie to myself that it doesn’t apply to me, or that law is for other people. My flesh is weak when I stay up worrying all night about things that are far beyond my control.

Are you limping today? How long will you go back and forth? I’m praying for healing from my limping, will you join me?

Matthew 6:24 tells us that No man can serve two masters. Not God and Baal. Not God and Greed. Not God and Fear. Not God and ______. Whatever is in your blank, let’s answer Elijah’s question together today and end the limping back and forth. Victory is ours!

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 follower 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 from him
  • 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
  • Make restitution or seek forgiveness from others impacted by your sin
  • 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.