Gracious

 

 

Isaiah 30:18, Nehemiah 9:17

In this culture and time, people are doers, fixers, problem solvers. When we face an issue, we research, plan and figure out what needs to be done to fix the problem. We help each other by doing tasks that require more time, skill or brainpower than our loved one, friend, or coworker has for a given situation. Sometimes we just provide a different perspective which helps others view the issue from a different lens, and enlightens a better solution than was previously obvious. We solve problems by implementing our time and our talents. Many times our love and care are shown by doing.

…Until we face something we cannot solve. I feel like we can all concur that we are at just that point. We can’t do much to change the situation the world is in today. Yes we all have our personal parts to play by following directions from the CDC, but by in large, we are helpless to make a real difference in the midst of this pandemic. We cannot stop it or change it’s effects. We hate not being in control. We don’t like the unsettled feelings we face because it has become obvious that we are mostly helpless against this virus today, and if we honestly look back over our lives we have faced other sets of circumstances that have caused these same helpless feelings and loss of control. This is helplessness brings us to the place where we are forced to look outside of ourselves for help and hope. Isaiah 30:18 tells us, “So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.” Nehemiah 9:17 says, “You are a God of forgiveness, gracious, and merciful, slow to become angry and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon your people.”

God won’t insert Himself in our hearts and minds. That’s not how He operates. He loves us too much to choose for us. He waits for us to recognize Him. He waits for us to realize how much we need Him. He waits for us to come to Him so He can show us His love and compassion, His Grace, His mercy, and His unfailing love. If we come to Him, He will not abandon us. These promises and characteristics of His are like gifts of gold to us. They comfort us, bring peace to our lives and change our focus from our selves and our fears to His gifts of grace. He doesn’t promise us He will remove the pain or the causes of fear, but He does promise to never leave us, and to love us perfectly through whatever we have to walk through.

I have loved the past few months of looking into the scriptures that describe God’s many names. The circumstances of these last few months have made these posts more meaningful and more precious than previous times I have studied through God’s names. The Bible says that God’s word is “living and active” and I sense that His word is more applicable, healing and comforting for a lot of us now than maybe other times in our lives. Circumstances change our outlook and our thoughts. I am praying that soaking in the names of God, over these next few months overrides our human thoughts, fears and reality. I am so grateful that God nudged BJ to choose this topic of study for this portion of the year. I don’t think BJ had any idea what these months would hold for all of us when he chose this, but God did. God knew what we would be facing, and how our hearts would react to these circumstances. I am so grateful for the daily reminders of who God is. I need the reminders of His perfection, His grace, His faithfulness and His unfailing love. When I focus on Him, I see the world differently than when I sit with my own thoughts. He is waiting for us to come to Him for help, hope and whatever else you are carrying this morning.

Giver

James 1:17

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”

With our world changing so drastically recently, this verse is a soothing balm to my soul. When fear is all around us and we are tempted to be sucked in to its pull, we have Gods words and promises to steady us and bring perspective to every situation. He never changes even when it feels like everything else in our world is changing. He is not surprised by a virus, school closings, changes in travel plans, sickness or anything else we may be facing. He is still sovereign, All-knowing, with each of us every second of every day and the Giver of whatever is good and perfect.

As a reminder of who God is and some of what He has done for us, let’s look at a few of His gifts to us listed in the Bible. In Romans, Paul tells us that our salvation is given as a free gift, and also God is credited with giving us everything. In Corinthians, God tells us about the spiritual gifts He gives to all of us, and He is praised for giving us victory over the grave. Hebrews tells us that God gave us the Holy Spirit as a gift. Psalms talks about Gods word being a gift of light for us. Isaiah foretells Christ being given to all mankind. Matthew tells us that our Heavenly Father gives good gifts, and Luke tells us that Christ’s body was given for us. The book of John tells us that God’s peace is a gift to us. In Acts, God gave people power, and in 1 Timothy the Bible says God richly gives us all we need. James tells us that He is the giver of wisdom when we ask for it. I realize that we know all of these things, but sometimes when our circumstances feel upside-down, looking at a list of Gods gifts brings peace and comfort.

We have a heavenly Father. He knows exactly what each and every one is us is facing every minute of every day and night. He is the same as he was last week, last year, a hundred years ago, during Bible times, and when He created the universe. He is faithful, trustworthy, loving, perfect, above all, mighty, the ultimate healer, our protector, our strong tower, peace, and generous! We are His prized possessions. When our minds drift or race to fear and the worst that our world has to offer, can we change our thoughts and set our minds on His words in this verse today?

Maybe our fear and worry are more deep-seeded than being scared of a virus and it’s repercussions. Maybe we are struggling to trust that God is who He says He is. Maybe we don’t yet know, or haven’t experienced His trustworthiness in a tough personal situation. I think that hard things in our lives force us to get real with what we truly believe. I think it is okay to have questions and seek His personal response to our individual circumstances. When we are seeking Him, we actually see His action, recognize His voice, and experience His care. I promise that if you are looking to find Him, He will not keep Himself hidden. So I’ll close with His words, “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”

Fear of Isaac

 

 

Gen 31:42

I’m going to be honest. As I read through this passage, I’m stumped. Nothing jumps right out as the obvious teaching I am supposed to grasp from the name of God in this verse. So I look farther back to get more context, I read the entire chapter. I now understand the story better but I am still not clear on the meaning of the “fear of Isaac”. I can’t find where this term is used again in the Bible accept for later in this chapter in vs 53 where it is used the same way as in vs 42.  I don’t find vs 53 to be  any more clarifying than vs 42. I think on the phrase literally for a few days and the life of Isaac, earlier in Genesis. I can string together some ideas about what Isaac experienced with God in his lifetime, but I am still unclear if I am on the right track or not. I decided to look into some writings of people much more studied than me to see what they discovered and interpreted about this name of God.

Jacob uses the phrase “fear of Isaac” as he is talking to his Uncle Laban. If you remember, Jacob went to Laban to seek a wife, and Laban cheated him at just about every turn. Laban had him work for seven years to earn Rachel and then tricked him at the wedding and actually gave Jacob Rachel’s sister Leah instead. Jacob worked for another seven years to earn Rachel, finally get her in marriage. Then Laban kept changing the rules on the “wages” of livestock that Jacob was managing for him. Laban changed the rules when he saw that Jacob was growing wealthy instead of himself. Every time Laban changed the rules, God changed the outcome to benefit Jacob. After Jacob’s time with Laban had been served and Laban’s wealth had grown under Jacob’s care, God told Jacob it was time to leave Laban and his land and go back to his home country with his wives, children and livestock. Jacob knew that Laban wouldn’t want him to leave because Jacob was making Laban wealthier every day, so he packed up his family secretly and headed for home when Laban was out of town. When Laban returned home and discovered Jacob had left, he gathered up a posse and pursued Jacob. The night before Laban reached Jacob, God came to Laban in a dream and told him, “I’m warning you, leave Jacob alone!” Laban tells Jacob that he shouldn’t have left without warning and that Jacob missed out on all of his goodbye parties and send offs, Jacob knows Laban is lying and they get into a fight. The argument culminates in vs 41 with Jacob saying, “For twenty years I slaved in your house! I worked for 14 years earning your two daughters and then six more years for your flock, and you changed my wages ten times! In fact, if the God of my father had not been on my side-the God of Abraham and the fearsome God of Isaac-you would have sent me away empty handed. But God has seen your abuse and my hard work. That is why He appeared to you last night and rebuked you.”

Laban had taken advantage of Jacob, but God overruled. Jacob using the phrase “fear of Isaac” was a reminder to Laban that Jacob was being divinely protected. Fear is also a feature of respect. Those who fear God have more regard for Him than for anyone else. To fear Him is to hold Him in such high regard that all other relationships pale in comparison. This fear is actually an expression of devotion to Him, the awe and reverence kind of fear. “The fear of Isaac is our Fear as well. Because Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead, He has eliminated the terror of punishment for sin so that we can love God above all. This is fear of the Lord.” Dr John Koessler

A Royal Diadem

 

 

Is. 28:5-“Then at last the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will himself be Israel’s glorious crown. He will be the pride and joy of the remnant of his people.”

Is. 62:3- “The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see-a splendid crown in the hand of God.”

Webster defines “royal diadem” as a crown that is worn especially by a king as a symbol of royalty. The difference between a royal diadem and a crown is that a crown is a reward of victory or a mark of honor while a diadem is an ornamental headband worn as a badge of royalty. So if we apply this meaning to Is 28:5 we see that God himself is our king, royalty for us, our pride and joy! While He has done everything to earn victory and honor, this phrase, royal diadem, means that He is royalty because of who He is, not because of what He has done. He is inherently royal. “King of kings” royalty is what defines Him. So who are we to be given the Creator of the universe, the Beginning and the End as our personal king? What have we done to deserve Perfection as our royalty? Why do we get to have the Almighty as our very own pride and joy? The answer is that He loves us so much that He wants us to have this. We don’t deserve any of it. We cannot earn our way into His kingdom, we are not good enough to be chosen by Him and we cannot buy our spot in His kingdom. We only have to accept His gift. We need to recognize that we cannot be in His presence because of our sin. Our sin separates us from Him because he is perfect and holy. We have to be washed clean to be in His kingdom. He was the only blameless option to pay the price for our sin. He willingly completed the only plan that would pay the price for us, removing our sin from our record so we could be with Him. This is amazing love that takes our place in death so we can have life with Him! Is this not extravagant enough?

Our Father’s love so greatly exceeds what is reasonable that He goes on in Is. 62:3 to say that He holds us in his hand for all to see. He has named us His splendid crown, His royal diadem. When He gifts us eternal life, He makes us His. His kingdom is given His name and heritage. We are so precious to Him that He gives us His royalty.

This morning, are we remembering Who’s we are? Before starting the day, can we think about Who’s hand we are held in because we are so precious to Him? Think about the “family” you have been adopted into. Are our fears valid based on our heritage in God? You are a splendid crown in the hand of God!

Commander of the Lord’s Army

 

 

Joshua 5:15

When I think about armies, all I am familiar with is the US Army. I am embarrassed to say that my knowledge of the US Army is very elementary. I’ve read books, seen movies and known a few people who have served so I have a basic understanding of some of the training a person must go through to become a part of the Army, but I can’t list the order of ranks properly without using Google. I do know that each rank requires individuals to know and accomplish a list of criteria before they can be considered for the next rank. Each rank brings more respect because more skill, training, discipline and experience are required to earn the next rank.

In our verse today, Joshua is the leader, the commander of Israel. The Israelites had been traveling in the desert for 40 years, being cared for and fed by God. As the time arrived for them to go into the new land that God had promised them 40 years earlier, God had them celebrate Passover together. The very next day, the Israelites began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain harvested from the promised land. No manna appeared on that first day and it was never seen again. Joshua was so filled with awe for God after these events that he fell face down to the ground in reverence and said to God, “ I am at your command, what do you want your servant to do?” Joshua 5:15 says, “The Commander of the Lord’s Army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told. (Removing one’s shoes was a cultural way of showing respect)

Joshua had a high earthly rank. He was the leader of an entire country. He had tough orders and was assigned a long tour of duty. He was supposed to keep God’s people faithful to God’s ways while they were wondering through a desert without homes or regular food, basically waiting for a generation of Israelites to die off. Joshua was faithful in leading God’s people for over 40 years in extremely hard conditions. He accomplished his mission. Even though Joshua was Israel’s leader, he was outranked by God. God was and is the absolute leader! Joshua recognized this and was so overcome with awe and respect for God that he fell on his face before God. Have you ever been there? Have you ever literally fallen on your face before God because of who He is?

The Commander of the Lord’s Army, the ultimate and absolute leader of every living thing deserves all of our respect, reverence and awe. In our attitudes and actions we should be recognizing God’s power, authority and His deep love for us. Our response to God should be like Joshua’s, “I am yours, what do You want me to do?”  I am wondering today if you can think back over your life and remember a time where God undeniably changed your personal circumstances. Can you name a time when He intervened and caused the outcome to change for you? See, I think we have to be looking for His work in our lives. If we aren’t paying attention, we can miss His handy-work. He loves us and wants His best for us. He is willing to enter our lives to protect and rescue us, and sometimes to change, shape and mold us to be more like Him. Some of His work doesn’t feel fun or even productive at the time, but as we walk through the teaching and get to the other side of His shaping we can see that He is building our character, growing us and making us look more like He does.  The best part is that His work is perfection! He will never aim us in the wrong direction or lead us to something that is not good for us. He is perfectly trustworthy and completely looking out for our good. We can find this nowhere else in life. Even those who love us best will miss direct or guide with ulterior motives every now and again. I am in awe of God’s love, perfection, trustworthiness, and willingness to work in my messy heart. I’m asking Him to help me stay willing to “be His and seek out what he wants me to do”.

The Beginning

 

 

Today’s reading is Rev 21:6 “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.”

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created…

John 1:1 In the beginning the Word already existed…

1John 1:1 The One who existed from the beginning…

Rev 22:13 The beginning and the end…

In the beginning God already existed. This statement is equally comforting and mind blowing to me. Before the oceans and the land, before the sun and the stars, before people, He already existed. Any and every marker of time you choose, He was there before. I cannot understand and I can drive myself crazy trying to, so I move to sitting with the comfort that comes from knowing He was there for everything I can think of. He created, He witnessed, He knows, He designed, and He had a plan that included you and me. Our world is not spinning randomly. There is purpose, a plan. We are known intimately by our maker and His greatest joy comes when we want to know Him. “To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of life.” He wants to share Himself with us. He wants us to desire relationship with Him.

I am sitting on a beach writing this post. There is a family with three little girls playing near me. The parents are sitting in chairs seeking some rest and relaxation while keeping eyes on their children. The oldest girl (5 or 6) is a swimmer. She is out in the water jumping waves and testing her skills and bravery in this new environment. She wants desperately for someone she loves to experience this new world with her. She knows instinctively that she will have more fun if she is not alone. Her sisters are too little. They don’t have the maturity to handle what she can in those waves. Her parents are tired and wishing the kids would entertain themselves. So “little girl” is alone in her “fun”. She is so desperate for camaraderie, she is swimming over to another family whose grandparents are playing with the kids. “Little girl” is trying to weasel her way into another family so she can fully enjoy this new ocean experience. God built us this way. He knows how much richer and fuller life is when shared in relationship with Him and others. He is this way. (Remember we are made in His image) He wants us to share our lives with Him. He wants to be included in our joys and accomplishments. He wants to be with us in the boring and mundane and He wants to walk beside us through the hurts, pain and frustration of life. He wants to share all of life with us. For Him, what else is there? He can create anything He wants. He has the power to make every being adore and praise Him. If everyone and everything is created and commanded to worship and praise Him, what fulfillment does that bring Him? This is why our choosing Him brings Him so much joy. We are relating to Him because we WANT relationship with Him. One of His created beings, with a free will choosing to relate to Him is meaningful. It brings Him joy to be noticed, understood, known, and chosen. Does he need us for anything? Not at all…He is able to do anything, but He delights in our choices to include Him and grow in relationship with Him. He created us for this purpose. He is hoping we will all choose Him. From the beginning this has been His plan. The Beginning…

 

By the way, before I finished writing these words, “little girl” talked her tall, strong, daddy out of his restful chair and into her ocean adventure with her. Her laughter and excitement feel like a gift to me after pondering this topic today!

Amen

 

 

Today’s reading is Rev 3:14

Maybe the world has always been this way, but it seems to me that “truth” is becoming more and more subjective the longer I live. More opinions, more cultural norms, and more tolerance all seem to be broadening what we accept as truth. In a relational situation, two people can live through the exact same circumstance and later describe it in opposite terms. People have different opinions and different past experiences that cause them to view situations differently. Where is truth? How does truth fit in these opposing scenarios?

I am not looking to tackle what is right and what is wrong in our society today in this post. I am thinking more about relational dynamics as I sit with this verse, relationships between friends, coworkers, fellow church-goers, spouses, parents and kids.  Conflicts and differences of opinion meet us daily. These conflicts can so easily cause frustration, anger, and division in relationships, when we won’t consider any thoughts but our own. When we are faced with a conflict and there isn’t a clear path forward in the Bible, or both parties can make a Biblical case for why their approach should be taken, relationships get messy and people can get hurt.  We are given help in looking at the name of God, Amen.

Rev 3:14 “Write this letter to the angel of the church of Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen-the faithful and true witness, the beginning and source of God’s new creation.” In Hebrew, God’s name of Amen is translated as “God of truth”, “certainty”, or just “truth”. In Is 65:16 the Bible says, “All who invoke a blessing or take an oath will do so by the God of truth.” So my question is, how do we get the God of truth into a sticky situation or a conflict with another person?

Some ideas:

1-God doesn’t very often instantly hand out answers and resolution in the middle of conflict. It seems to take time. If we don’t have to discuss the situation with Him, then our relationship with Him doesn’t grow. We don’t get to know Him better. We don’t experience His trustworthiness and we don’t get to see Him change us, or the other person, or maybe even the circumstances.

2-It is better to wrestle with the God of truth, than another person. Do we want to find the truth or do we want to be right? If we bring our issue to God, we will get to truth. If we continue to argue with the other person we will get or cause more hurt and usually no real resolution takes place.

3-When we go to God, it humbles us. We have to admit that we are stuck and need help to get to true resolution. A humbled heart hears that it needs to change better than an angry one, you can trust me on this.

4-God’s opinion matters to me more than any person’s does. He is perfect, faithful, and a true witness to everything. I want my measuring stick to be His thoughts not mine or someone else’s. I have to go to Him to know His thoughts. I can’t trust my feelings or my mind. To know what He desires in each individual situation, I need to bring it to Him. Honestly, I don’t always finish praying with my answer in hand. Sometimes He lets me know later or even back in conversation with my problem person what He wants from me. The answers come at different times, but if I don’t go to Him with my questions, His answers are not usually known.

In the last few years, I have been more grateful for God’s ultimate truth than at any other time in my life. A less loving God might not be willing to enter into our lives and our messes to help us change. Praise God that He is unconditional, perfect, generous, rich and compassionate Love. Praise Him for being the God of truth and certainty.

Christmas

 

 

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”

It is here…the day we have all been planning for, for weeks. It’s Christmas. I have noticed that the last few years, I have awoken on Christmas morning and thought, “I hope I’m ready. I hope I’ve accomplished everything I needed to, to make this day special, beautiful, and worshipful for our family” Part of me is frustrated that my first thought on Christmas day is “Am I ready?” instead of “This is the day that Jesus gave up heaven to be born on earth.” What went through your mind as you opened your eyes today?

I have a Christmas play list on my phone that I have running in my car as I do errands and I stream it through the house as I do chores during the month of December. This year a little phrase in one of the songs stood out to me each time I heard the song. Two words, that’s all the bigger the phrase is. “Heaven’s generosity” This phrase is so rich and full of promise. It encompasses the entire list from Isaiah 9 printed out in the opening paragraph. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…all of that gifted to us if we accept. “Heaven’s generosity” simply states the ultimate gift given to us, Jesus becoming human, walking in “our shoes”, and dying a human death to pay the price for buying us back from our deserved consequences. This is the wonder of Christmas. Heaven’s generosity is what brings joy no matter our circumstances today. It’s what brings hope every day of our lives. It is the passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we have a way to be washed clean so we can be in His presence while we are on earth and for eternity.

I am so humbled today by Heaven’s generosity. I don’t have the words to express my gratitude for someone trading their life for mine. I am less than He is in every way, yet He still chose to give me this gift. I don’t deserve this crazy compassionate love, the grace He showers me with over and over again. “Thank You” is too mild, too weak, too trite to convey the gratefulness in my heart, mind and soul. I hope that this morning we are all overcome by gratefulness for Heaven’s generosity.

James, Obedience=A Changed Life

Todays reading is James 1& 2

Years ago we were in a small group and someone in the group decided that we should study the book of James for our next study. At the time I knew enough about the book of James to know it was going to be hard hitting and direct. I didn’t want to pick it because I knew it would hold a mirror up to my heart and I would have to face the truth about sin and wrong attitudes in my life. I didn’t want to see my true reflection right then. As I read through these chapters this morning, I was just as overwhelmed by James’s message today as I was all those years ago. James doesn’t mince words. He addresses topics that are relevant to each society and every time period. It honestly took me a big chunk of time to read through these chapters today because every verse speaks clearly to my life, and every verse requires thought, evaluation, and change in my day to day living.

The James that wrote this book is not the “James” that was Jesus disciple. This James grew up with Jesus. He saw every perfect choice that Jesus made in life. He watched Jesus prioritize His relationship with God, and saw first hand, Jesus’s mission lived out for His years on earth. He saw and felt how Jesus handled His relationships with family, friends and strangers. This James was Jesus’s brother. He saw what Jesus did! (I can’t help but think of those plastic WWJD bracelets that were popular a while back.) This fact alone makes me more interested in what James has to say. I’m a practical person and I like the idea of hearing from someone who lived with Jesus. I know that all scripture is from God, but this brotherly perspective peaks my interest. Was James so direct in his writings because he had a blunt, straightforward nature, or was James so affected by what he lived with and saw in Jesus that he was driven to spell out every detail he could to help others (us) be clear in what God desires?

James covers so many relevant topics in these two chapters I couldn’t possibly begin to comment on them. He is crystal clear in his instructions so there isn’t anything I can add. So what do I do with these chapters and the rest of the book of James? I have several options.

1-I can do nothing. I can finish reading this post and not even look at James 1&2.

 

2-I can read James 1&2, feel overwhelmed, close my Bible and go about my day.

 

3-I can ask God what he wants me to do with this information so that my life will actually change.

 

The choice is mine.

 

In the five chapters of James, he lays out almost a “how to be a Christ follower’’ textbook for us to consider. He challenges us to not just hear God’s truth, but to actually do it. He wants to help us understand what it takes to be different people than we are today. He challenges us to think differently, he confronts us with our selfish and prideful ways and calls us to commit to obeying God’s word so our lives will change. Personally, this is passage is too much for me to process in one sitting. I need more time to digest, evaluate and talk with God about the changes He wants to work on with me. I need to revisit this book over and over to hear God’s words and allow them to change me. If you have read some of my other posts you know I am slow to change, and that I ask God to work on me as gently as He can and still accomplish His plan. I need to read this “textbook” often so God can speak to my personhood and specific circumstances I face throughout any given year. I think I am going to commit to reading James at least once a month in the next year.

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.” James

 

What will you do with James’s textbook?

Ananias

 

Todays reading is Acts 9 1:18

If you feel like you read this passage recently, you are right. We read these exact same verses in October while looking at Paul’s life. This story is an awesome account of God’s calling on Saul’s life and also includes some amazing circumstances for a man named Ananias.

Have you ever wished you could hear directly from God? Do you feel like it would be so much easier to follow His plan if He would give you step-by-step instructions on how to proceed in a certain situation? I’ve got to be honest, I have wished for a vision or instructions from God many times in my life. I have reasoned with myself that I would be willing to do anything for God if I could be positive I was doing exactly what He asked of me. I’ve told myself that I could be braver than ever before, willing to put my life on the line if I was assured that I was working His plan. Ananias’s willing and obedient response to God’s instruction is God’s desire for our response to the promptings and instructions He gives to all of us.

Hopefully we remember from October that Saul was a zealous and well-known Christian killer. He was feared for his persecution of anyone professing Christ instead of Judaism. He made it his job to try to extinguish anyone who followed Jesus. He had a reputation that struck fear into the hearts of Christ-followers because they knew he had the power to take action against them. We learn in these verses that God personally met with Saul on his trip to Damascus and Saul had a change of heart after his encounter with God. God left Saul on that road blind and helpless, dependent on others for everything. Saul’s friends took him into the town of Damascus and he remained there blind for three days.

“Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision.” Ananias replied, “Yes Lord”. Ananias recognized his Lord’s voice and had a willing heart, immediately. The Lord said, “ Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” “But Lord” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by leading priests to arrest everyone who calls on Your name.” But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Ananias trusted God and obeyed God. No matter how scary or dangerous his circumstances seemed, he trusted God’s words and did what God asked him to. Verse 17, “So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he regained his sight.”

I know that this is one day in Ananias’s life. We don’t know how he managed the rest of his life, but I think it is safe to say that he had practice in trusting in and obeying God. He probably wouldn’t have been asked by God to do his part in this day if he hadn’t proved himself faithful earlier in life. I want to be characterized by answering, “yes Lord” when God calls me. I want my normal response to be obedience to Him when He gives instruction or makes me aware of something I need to do. I want to be usable to God no matter how much fear I’m tempted to fill with when I understand His plan. I want my first response to be “trust in Him” rather than thinking through how I am going to manage a situation. These responses seem so simple and natural while I’m in God’s presence. When I am communicating with Him, I am crystal clear on who He is; Power, Perfection, Unconditional Love, Above all, He knows everything, and He is mine. In this place, nothing seems hard because I know Who is with me. The problem is that I get distracted by my agenda. When my focus moves to me and my stuff, I start relying on my power and my ability instead of His.