Jesus and Zacchaeus

Jesus and Zacchaeus, Luke 19

1He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

What is the Holy Spirit stirring in your heart after reading this living passage?  Here are some questions that came to my mind:

      • Am I allowing my shortcomings (perceived or real) to keep me at arms length from Christ?
      • Do I need to take a step of faith and climb up out of the crowds and get closer to the Lord?
      • Is Jesus calling me by name for salvation or greater sanctification?
      • Am I jealous and questioning Jesus’s focus on someone or something I’ve judged as less than worthy?

Most of all, I’m challenged to be postured to hear the voice of the Lord. I need to reserve more time for listening and yielding. I’ve been in a season of transition, with my younger kids both in school, praying for guidance.  What’s next, where can I best serve, and asking for direction. In between all of the prayers is continued busyness. Noise. Activity.  And while most of it may be deemed “good”, what’s been lacking is stillness to hear what God has for me.

Zacchaeus took a day away from his work to seek out the Lord. In return, Jesus called him by name, joined him in his home, and led him to salvation and sanctification.

Does anyone feel called to step away? If you want to join me, I love partnership and accountability. Get in touch! I’m choosing Tuesday, November 12th, as a day to yield, listen, and sabbath.

 

Photo: Wikipedia, Zacchaeus and the sycamore tree he climbed. 

Embracing God’s Ways: Habakkuk

Through his back and forth dialogue with the Lord, the prophet Habakkuk gives us so many lessons in just three chapters. As he tries to understand God’s ways, he learns to embrace them, which is the very definition of his name.

Here’s a breakdown of the three chapters:Chapter Dialogue Outline

I love that Habakkuk has boldness to ask the Lord what’s on his heart. He doesn’t shy away from the tough questions of why, when, how, (and then more ‘why’ questions).  He’s asking similar questions I find myself pondering today:

Why do you allow evil, God? Why do awful things happen to Christ-followers? The helpless? The unborn?

Why are you allowing the wicked to prosper?  When will they be judged? This world is a hot mess – hurry! 

As you read through this dialogue, do you notice how Habakkuk verbalizes to God his character in verse twelve? It seems as though he is reminding himself who God is, right as he is asking God his second round of ‘why’ questions.

He knows that God is holy, everlasting, eternal, a mighty rock, an establisher, and faithful. He even says We will not die. He knows that God will not let them die, and will continue to fulfill his promise to his people (Abrahamic covenant).

As Habakkuk continues with his questions – WHY use THEM? I have to admit I’ve had similar thoughts. And then I also can’t help but wonder WHY God uses ME. Or any of us. While the world wants to live in the comparison game, we know that only God’s judgement is righteous and fair. He isn’t looking at me compared to anyone else. On judgement day I will be standing solo. The Chaldeans may have made the people of Judah look less awful… but God saw wickedness across the board. And He uses it all as He sees fit. And judges it when and how He sees fit.

I can see where God has used sin committed against me, to sanctify me. Draw me closer to him. Cry out to him. And the sins I have committed against others, He also uses. It’s pretty humbling to think of how He can use even my biggest messes.

In the final chapter, we see Habakkuk embracing God’s plan. He praises God for who he is and what he has done and what we will do. Do you see the three Selah pauses in this chapter? I always think of those as a dramatic call to silence and meditation in that moment of the passage.

And then at the end of verse 16 we see him waiting. Waiting on the Lord’s timing. Waiting on the Lord’s plan. Quietly waiting, all the while he is trembling. What a beautiful picture of faith – it doesn’t mean that we are without worry or fear, but that with the trembling, we obey. We quietly wait for the Lord. Not only does he quietly wait – verse 18 shows us that he also rejoices! So he has gone from questioning, to embracing, to rejoicing!

Can you apply Habakkuk’s approach to any questions or problems you’re facing today?

I get lost in the confusion of our political climate and ask a lot of why, when and how questions about world issues. I’m going to try to process those in light of Habakkuk’s example. What do I know about God and how can I more fully trust in his eternal and perfect plan?

I have challenging relationships that need this wisdom, and the reminder to not get stuck in the comparison trap. God uses each of us in different ways, that are far beyond my understanding.

Can I rejoice and find true joy in the Lord, even when I  _______ his plan?

        • am worried about
        • don’t like
        • am confused by
        • am trembling about
        • don’t want to wait for

God, thanks for giving us this amazing true account of your relationship with your prophet, Habakkuk! It teaches us so much about who you are and to have faith in you. You are Holy, Eternal, Almighty, and Faithful!

Elisha

Today’s reading is 2 Kings 2, 4, and 6 as we focus on the prophet Elisha.

A famous movie line many know from the movie Top Gun is, “I’m not leaving my wingman.” Maverick, the movie’s main character, learned his lesson after leaving his wingman earlier in the movie for selfish ambition which led to a bad outcome. When he made the decision later to stay and protect his wingman, putting others’ needs above his, good things happened, and he ultimately became the hero. Elisha was the long-time servant of the prophet Elijah. As we read here in 2 Kings 2, Elijah tells Elisha to leave him 3 separate times because Elijah must travel further. However, Elisha stays true to his master, his mission, and purpose by staying with Elijah to the very end. And what happens, but he receives a double-portion of the same prophetic gifts Elijah had. As we read on, not only does God help Elisha perform many miracles in the Lord’s name, but we see God protect him with horses and chariots of fire, who we can assume to be angels, in 2 Kings 6:15-17 when the king of Syria sends his men to kill Elisha. A few weeks ago, we read about how God rewarded Ruth for her steadfast loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi which led her to not only receiving gifts at the end of her life, but also naming a book after her and becoming part of the genealogy of Jesus. We also know about the prostitute Rahab who showed courage to protect the prophets of Israel and as a result is referenced throughout the Bible and who also became part of the lineage of Jesus. The people we just mentioned showed an unfailing courage and trust in God for their lives. Over the past weeks we have also read in the Old Testament about many kings and rulers who abandoned God and things didn’t go so well for them.

Here is my question…what is God asking you to do in your life to serve Him, your family, and others in His name that is not an easy decision and choice to make requiring great faith and trust in Him? It could be helping a friend or stranger in need, a financial change or commitment, dedication of more of your time to person or a cause or even your own family, or could be a change in career direction. Whatever it is, I can assume it’s not easy. It may put your time or money at risk which are two things I know I hold far too tightly far to often because wrongly I see them as 2 of my most valuable resources which in my mind are also scarce. However, God sees our spiritual gifts to serve others in His name as being way more valuable and has no limitations on what He can do if He sees fit financially…and His timeline is also eternity. I have seen it time after time, and we can also see in the Bible, where it may not come for a very long time, but God rewards this faithfulness to Him and his purpose in ways we could never imagine. Yet, it is still very hard to completely trust and follow Him and His will for our lives. No, these choices will not get us to Heaven, only belief in Jesus’ loving sacrifice on the cross will (Ephesians 2:8-9), but scripture does tell us we will be rewarded when we get there (Revelation 22:12, Revelation 2:23). In what way, I’m not sure…but isn’t hearing Him say to you, “Well done my good and faithful servant” enough?

See His Vision.

Work His Mission.

Live His Values.

 

 

 

 

Gideon

Judges 6-8

Do you know a lot about Gideon? I have to admit, I couldn’t put my finger on the right biography for this man of God. Different scenarios and stories were coming to my mind but I wasn’t quite sure which one went with Gideon. What did cross my mind were the bibles found in hotels, “placed by the Gideons”.

Curious, I did some digging on why they are called Gideon bibles and where they come from.

Two traveling salesman, one paper and one aluminum, happen to stop at the same hotel for overnight accommodations in Boscobel, Wisconsin in 1898. It was a crowded night and the hotel manager bunked them up in the same room, commenting that they were the only two sober minded men around.

As the story goes, John Nicholson asked Samuel Hill if he minded if he kept the light on so he could read his devotion. A simple question that went on to have a profound impact. Samuel Hill asked him to read aloud for both of them. And they had a discussion about salesman needing a Christian network and support while traveling. The two cross paths again the following spring in a different town in a different hotel. It was at this second encounter that they felt God‘s leading for them to start some sort of Christian organization to support traveling salesman in their faith. They didn’t know how, when, where, or even what, but they knew they were supposed to join together and start something. The original group was called the Gideon’s Commercial Travelers Association of America, in recognition of the faith of Gideon. One hundred and twenty years later, this group has evolved into Gideon’s International, with the mission of supporting both believers and non-believers by making the gospel available. The first bible was placed in a hotel in 1908, and since then, they have distributed over two billion bibles worldwide! It’s crazy to think about and wonder how many lives have been impacted by the scriptures made readily available to people across the globe.

So what was it about Gideon’s faith that was so inspiring to them? He’s even called out in Hebrews 11 in the Faith Hall of Fame.

Review these three chapters and what stands out to you? Here are some things that stuck in my mind:

  • The Israelites turned away (again) from God and had been under oppression for seven years from the Midianites. Then they pray and cry out to God for deliverance. Wonder what their strategy was the first seven years? Maybe one from my own play book… “I got this”…anyone else use that play too often and for too long?
  • God answers their prayer through the youngest son of an idol worshipper, appearing to Gideon and instructing him and encouraging him each step of the way. God sought him when he was at his lowest, beating wheat while in hiding from the Midianites. He didn’t feel equipped or worthy for the work God planned for him. We may not always know (or believe) how God wants to use us!
  • God gave Gideon multiple signs to show him he was the true God, he could be trusted to conquer the Midianites. Even in the midst of these miracles and signs, Gideon had doubts and asked for more signs. God didn’t respond to Gideon in anger, but met him where he was at and provided the comfort Gideon needed. Step by step he continued to trust and obey the Lord, even when Gideon didn’t know the plan or how the Israelites could ever defeat the Midianites. We can take our doubts, fears, and questions to God!
  • God wanted the victory to be very clear – it’s wasn’t a victory due to the army size – so he stacked the deck in favor of the Midianites. Instead of Israelites 32,000 vs. Midianites 135,000, he reduced Gideon’s Israelite army to 300. God wanted his people to return to him, and he wanted this landslide victory to humble their hearts toward him.  How do I get in the way of God’s power, victory, or glory shining to draw people back to him?
  • Gideon and his men return to a hero’s hometown welcome and have to ward off all the royal treatment, glory, fame, and requests for Gideon to lead them as king. The gold collected from the slain Midianites he used to make a golden ephod (a garment worn under the high priest’s breast plate) which he put on display. We don’t know Gideon’s motives for the ephod, but I’d like to think he did that as a symbol of God’s victory and for the people to remember that they are a nation of priests led directly by God (as opposed to placing Gideon as king). Like many traditions and symbols that start with good intentions, this one falters over time. The Israelites eventually go back to idol worship, beginning with this ephod, and eventually turn back to worshipped Baal (40 years later after Gideon dies). What God-focused traditions are getting elevated above God today?

I love this real hero of faith that we can learn from and be inspired by. Just like God mapped out Gideon’s path, he also planned Nicholson and Price to be roommates. Can you look back at steps you felt led to take, when they didn’t make sense at the time, and now you can see how God was using it for a future plan? What a neat testimony that we can take with us into the next step of faith we need to take.

Six years ago, our small group wanted to spend a few months as a group going through a specific biblical financial study (hint: white envelopes). I was dragging my feet… coming up with every reason why we should do something else. There’s more important topics right now. We’re already pretty frugal. The couples in our group are all in really different financial places. And many other great “points” (excuses?). I lost the vote and so the small group went forward. During the study, my husband and I came away with a renewed passion for giving, oh, and one other little nugget that later proved to be miraculous for us. The majority of our emergency type savings was tied up in retirement accounts and places that weren’t easily available (penalties, time constraints, etc). We took the program’s advice and made a lot of changes to where & how much we keep separate for emergencies (never truly believing we would have that big of an emergency, but hey, follow the program). No big surprise, six months later, we hit a very unexpected season and had it not been for these changes, we would have been under a much larger amount of financial strain and stress. God went before us and led us to these changes, knowing exactly what was coming.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

Rahab

Today we get the opportunity to read about another person who put their faith into action.  That in this faith they trusted God to fulfill His promise. These men and women of Hebrews 11 tell how by our faith, God is pleased.  Hebrews 11:6.

Hebrews 11:1-2 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.

Today’s Readings is from Joshua 2 and Joshua 6.  The story of Rahab is shared. As I have reflected on the story of Rahab and her faith I’m reminded of a few points we can apply to our lives today.

  1. God loves us, He uses the most unlikely people to build His kingdom.  Rahab was a prostitute who lived in part of the city wall. Joshua 2:1.  What sin has held you back? Do you know anyone who thinks that God couldn’t love them because of choice they made? Let today be the day that you tell them for the first time or remind them that Jesus was sent to Earth to die for their sins and ours. Yes, just like Romans 3:23 says, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  still God takes us wherever we are at. Whatever sins we have made, and washes us clean.  Hebrews 10:22 says let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 
  2. Rahab risked her life for the Lord. The king of Jericho could of easily had her killed if he knew she was lying or would of got caught.  Still she had faith.  Maybe, our lives may not be in danger in America but there are many places where that is still real.  Today, we are blessed with the opportunity to show our faith freely, will you take that opportunity.  You may not need to hide people in your attic, but could you share your faith with someone? After all, you never know if the courageous conversation will plant a seed to change the eternal destination for them. 1 John 5: 11-13 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
  3. Rahab feared the Lord, that their hearts melted in fear.  She says that the Lord our God is God in heaven and on the earth below. Joshua 2:11.  God wants us to fear Him.  A fear that reminds us through the day that He is in control.  A fear that provides us with the trust and faith that He does reign in heaven and here on earth. In Ecclesiastes 5 and 12  I’m reminded that there are so many meaningless things that we pursue and make part of our lives.  Solomon says, Fear God and keep his commandments. 
  4. Rahab was given a new life. Her faith and fear of the Lord saved her and allowed her and her family to live.  We have been given an new life.  Our faith in God takes our past, washes us clean, and leaves us with the opportunity to share this new life with others until the day comes where He comes to bring us home.  Will you have the opportunity to share this new life with someone?  1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 

Dear Almighty Father,

Thank you for sharing this story of truth with people of faith like Rahab.  Knowing that our sinful past is washed clean through our faith, love, and the relationship we have with you. Thank you for this new life.  We pray that we can be a testimony and witness to others today.  We love you. Amen 

Let It Go

Today’s reading is Exodus 1:1-2:10 with the focus being on Moses’ parents.

We don’t know much about Moses father other than that he was from the tribe of Levi from the 12 tribes of Israel (Jacob), so we will focus on his Israelite mother which we will call his birth mother and his Egyptian mother which we will call his adopted mother.

To set the context for our discussion we want to quickly review that Joseph has passed and the current Egyptian Pharaoh was fearful of the Israelites due to the number of them and thought they may side with another enemy of Egypt in the future, so out of fear he enslaved them. He also ordered that any male babies be killed at birth. Moses’ mom hid him for three months until she could hide him no more, then she let him go on the Nile in a basket. Although we don’t know Moses’ mom’s name, we know how highly God thought of the bravery of her actions and her trust in God to protect him because her actions are referenced in what some call the chapter of faith all-stars in Hebrews 11 which mentions some of the Bible’s biggest heroes who exhibited great trust in God through their actions.

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.”  

Hebrews 11:23

Moses’ sister followed her baby brother Moses down the Nile and saw that he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter. She took a very brave step as well to follow him and then approach Pharoah’s daughter and ask her if she wanted her to find an Israelite mother to nurse the baby to which she agreed. Unbeknownst to the Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses’ sister directed her to Moses’ birthmother who nursed him and stayed with him for a period of time. Although she could have maybe tried to escape with him wanting to keep him, and who could blame her being his true mother, she likely realized his opportunity to have the best life possible was to give him back to Pharaoh’s daughter to become his adopted mom. She put her son’s needs in front of her own, and most importantly, trusted that if she gave him away God would take care of and provide for him. She was willing to let go of that which she loved so greatly, her son, and give Him to God, not so different than the way Abraham was willing to let go of and sacrifice Isaac.

How often do we hold too tight to the people, circumstances, and things in our life, instead of giving them to God with faith, fully trusting Him?

Hebrews 11, which we referenced earlier, starts with the following….

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

We must ask and trust in God without doubting…

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

James 1:6-8

This also defines faith has having no doubt whatsoever.

By the outcome of Moses’ life being protected, and with God doing amazing things with him similar to God doing big things with Isaac after Abraham let go, I would have to be lead to believe that his mom asked God with big faith and full trust to protect him and to do big things with him for God’s glory. That is exactly what God did.

Take some time to reflect today, what do you need to let loose of and fully give to God with faith and without doubting? My guess is that when you do let go, your desires will come true. But even if not, one thing is certain…you will have a peace that passes understanding by trusting in Him and His perfect plan for your life and circumstances….whatever the outcome is.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for the good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28

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?

In the Boat

Today’s reading is Mark 4.

Mark 4 is jammed full of great messages and contains four parables, as well as Jesus calming a storm. We will specifically focus on the parable of a seed growing in Mark 4:26-29 and the storm in Mark 4:35-41.

Let’s begin with Mark 4:26-29.

26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

The Easter time of year has caused me to not only have a heightened focus on the forgiveness of my sins through the cross and the promise of eternal life through His resurrection, but also the spread of the Gospel not through kings and queens or dignitaries…but 12 ordinary men. Most were fisherman and Matthew was a tax collector, known to be the worst of sinners. God, through these men, spread the Good News not by force or the sword, but through their faith and the boldness to share it.

This past weekend I went to visit my 99-year-old great Uncle Roy in the hospital. He is the last in our family from the Greatest Generation. He grew up during the Great Depression and fought in Europe in World War II. He faced more challenges and saw more bad things before age 30 than I hope I have to see in my entire lifetime. As I drove a little over an hour to Springfield, I didn’t know if I might find him sleeping and even unaware of my presence. To my surprise, I found him up in his chair wide awake. Although he may be in his final months on this Earth, his mind and memory is as sharp as ever. He shared some really special family stories I had never heard before and will treasure forever. Uncle Roy is related through marriage, so it was very cool when he told me my great grandfather Frank “Tubby” Wilson, his father-in-law, who was deceased before my father was even born, was “the finest man” he ever knew. He said he greatly was respected by many in his hometown, although he was a railroader during the Great Depression and not a prominent leader or businessman, because he cared for and raised his younger siblings when his father passed away young. Most importantly, he told me that Frank and my great grandmother Mayme Wilson were Christians and raised my grandmother and great aunt (Uncle Roy’s wife Almeda) in the church. This relationship with Christ in our family trickled all the way down to my brother and me with our children today.

Just think about this for a second, God used 12 ordinary men who were fearful for their lives when they thought hope was lost because the man they dedicated their life to follow who they thought he would become king died, to just a few days later become fearless to share the Gospel. This ultimately lead to my family knowing Jesus nearly 2,000 years later on a continent which wouldn’t be discovered until nearly 1,500 years later in a country which wouldn’t be founded until nearly 1,800 years later in a city 6,300 miles away (in case you are wondering…yes…I did do a map search from Israel to Beardstown, IL!).

Romans 8:26-27 says..

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

These are powerful verses when it says, “the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” The fact that He cared about helping my family know Him that far away nearly 2,000 years later blows my mind. Think of all the things that had to occur between then and now for that to happen! As hard is it is for me to do daily, how can I then not believe He has a plan for and cares about every little detail and perceived “bad thing” that happens in my life? Like these verses from Mark 4, we ”know not how.” But, He connects all the pieces and makes amazing things come from bad things years and years later. His will is always perfect. And..”the will of God” cannot be stopped.

In Mark 4:35:41, the disciples woke Him from sleep in fear for their lives when the boat they were traveling in began to take on water during a terrible a storm. Specifically, Mark 4:40 it states…

40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

What He’s really saying is…don’t you remember…”I’m in the boat. I am God.” Or as Psalm 46:10 states… 10 “Be still, and know that I am God…”

As our boats begin to take on water or we fear it might due to the storm which hasn’t even occurred yet from to the weather forecast in our minds (which is usually wrong often like the weather forecast on the news), we must remember to “Be still” and know that He is God. Let our hearts and minds be aware that He always has been..and always will be…in the boat.

Grateful

Our reading is Numbers 11.

Today, we learn about how God was not pleased with some of the Israelites striking them with a plague when they complained about only having manna to eat and no meat. We know from Romans 8:1 that now, “There is no condemnation for those are in Christ Jesus.” However, we see here He does not like ungrateful words and an ungrateful heart and prior to Jesus paying the price for our sins, and He took action against some of them for this.

First, the Israelites complained back in Exodus 16:3 that they had no food to eat and would starve in the desert and would rather be back in slavery after wanting to be freed for years. Now, after God provided them with manna from the sky to eat daily (Exodus 16:4), they have the audacity to complain that they had meat when they were in Egypt and would rather be back in slavery (Numbers 11:4-6 and Numbers 11:18). Really?!

It is easy to be quick to judge the Israelites lack of gratitude, until we take a closer look at our own heart and thoughts. How quickly do we forget about an answered prayer and go on to the next thing or even worse get a prayer answered and say things were better before like the Israelites. We want a change in career..now we’re not happy with our boss and want a new career..or even back to the old one. We pray to have a house to call our own and to stop renting…now we want a bigger house. We are lonely and pray for a relationship or marriage…now we are contemplating a divorce thinking our current marriage can’t be fixed. We pray to have children of our own…now life is just crazy and we never have time for ourselves. We pray for healing from a medical issue…now we complain about the medical bills. I can easily hang my head in guilt over many similar items in my own life.

God makes it very clear that it is absolutely alright to ask God for what you want as Jesus clearly tells us this in Matthew 7:7-11. In fact, He wants us to pour out our hearts to Him and trust and come to Him for what we seek. However, we have to search our heart to find our motivation…is it for His glory or our own? Paul states in 1 Corinthians 6:20, “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Jesus also teaches and models for us in Luke 22:42 that it is fine to ask God for what you want as He asks for the burden of the cross to be removed from Him, but He also teaches and models how we should ultimately want God the Father’s will to be done and not our own.

So, how do we improve and soften our heart to have an attitude of gratitude? One thing I’ve found very helpful is to start a journal or notebook to write down each morning 3 things you are thankful for that day. No matter how bad things are we can ultimately find things to be grateful for. I’ve heard it said that it’s impossible to be stressed and be thankful at the same time. Maybe there is also a song or something else which puts your heart and mind in a gracious state? At the end of this post is one that does this for me, Grateful by Elevation Worship.

Ultimately, we go to the living Word in Bible for the best way to do this which we are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” No matter our situation, we all can be thankful that He gave His life on the cross for us and conquered the grave and through admission of our sins and belief in Him we can do the same and spend eternity in Heaven with no pain and problems regardless of what hardships we face today in this short life on Earth.

Behind the Scenes – Genesis 41

Today’s Reading Genesis 41

Good Morning Bible Journal Readers. Happy Tuesday!

Today, as we read through Genesis 41,  it is truly amazing about all the events that take place in this chapter with Joseph.  There are so many moving pieces and ways God is able to show us His presence through it all. Without a faith you may find parts of it hard to believe. As believers though,  In reading this part of Josephs story I can be reassured knowing that God is always at work. Even in my shortcomings, or times that I think I have things in control.  I truly don’t, and need to remind myself, He does. God is  Behind the Scenes…always.  Thankfully, God is always working and directing us closer to Him. Think of Joseph, just in this chapter as he goes from sitting in a jail cell, to interpreting dreams,  to being in charge of Egypt. God always working behind the scenes to make His work move forward.

Genesis 41:16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

How has God done this for you? Let’s take a minute to reflect.  For me, I think about my walk to and into faith. This included God orchestrating a move from one neighborhood to another. At this point I’m approached by a neighbor (Chet & Shannon Bandy)  to attend a service with them and consider joining their small group.  For a second we thoughts to ourselves, with a brand new mortgage, a struggling marriage, and a toddler. and two new jobs. Our ways were not working so well.  Faithfully, God was working behind the scenes. God orchestrated a life long friendship, a small group that I’m humbled to co-lead, an amazing transformation in both of us. God changed a “me first” marriage to a loving “one another”  marriage that now is formed around God and not ourselves.  I couldn’t of planned any of it.  But God can!  God is at work behind the scenes right now in you.  Marriage, friends, jobs, kids, medical situations… you name it.  It may not seem like He is to us at times because we are wanting things according to our plans and our timing.  But when we have faith, and trust in Him, his plans will work out way better than we can ever imagine.  God’s timing is always perfect. 

Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart,  and do not lean on your own understanding.   6  In all your ways acknowledge him,  and he will make straight your paths.

What is God orchestrating today? Trust His will! Remember Behind the scenes isn’t usually where we can see it or put our hands on it. Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.