Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Unseen

The men of David said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’” Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly. 1 Samuel 24:4

The trick to living a godly life is to see the unseen. To remember that we don’t know all of the details. Just because something looks obvious doesn’t always mean it is. This is where David found himself. In his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s nudges, David realized that not all was as it seemed. It was not within his authority to take Saul’s life into his own hands. That was God’s business. So, instead of taking logical advantage of the moment, he submitted to the wisdom and direction of his God and persuaded his men to let Saul live.

Scripture is replete with stories of people who made logical decisions based on appearances without stopping to seek the Lord first. And typically they suffered negative consequences for their choices. I fall into that same trap so many times. I sacrifice wisdom on the altar of my assumptions. I jump to conclusions based on the obvious without seeking God’s face for direction and wisdom.

I am challenged to remember that, no matter how many logical facts I see before me, I do not have the whole picture! Only God does. If I am continually abiding in His presence, the Spirit will convict me as He did David. But, if I am not, I can so easily miss His plan in favor of my logical conclusions. No matter how obvious the next step is, may I always pause – even if for the briefest moment – to prayerfully seek the Lord’s wisdom.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself.  For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 1 Corinthians 3:3-4

I realized something as I read these verse this morning. I realized that I frequently examine myself when I am supposed to be coming before the Lord in confession. I evaluate my thoughts and actions based on my conscience. That is a great place to start, because my conscience can come up with quite a few things to confess on a daily basis. But, is that truly fulfilling the depths of confession and a right relationship with God?

Because of the imputed righteousness of Christ, I am clean. Of that there is no doubt. But, I still cling to the flesh and this world in so many ways, some of which I am not yet even aware! Only the deeper revelation of the Holy Spirit can make these things known to me.

I am challenged to go deeper. I am challenged to not come in confession without asking God to truly search me and reveal what I don’t see. That has always been an intimidating concept to me, and many times I have backed away from it because of that intimidation. So, I am now challenged to boldly stand before God regularly and daily rather than in the occasional manner that has been my habit. I can do this in full assurance, knowing that I am covered by the righteous blood of Jesus Christ, and assured that the resulting cleansing – painful though it may be – will only be for my good and will result in a deeper abiding.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Being a Jonathan

Today I was reading 1 Samuel 20, the beautiful and sad story of the friendship between David and Jonathan and all they both sacrificed in and for that friendship.

This morning my thoughts were on Jonathan. As I read, I began to ponder all of the things he surrendered in favor of this friendship. The list might not be long in words, but in the weight of sacrifice, it is enormous.

  • A smooth relationship with his father. Saul was insane, but Jonathan could have kept things as smooth as possible by not siding with David.
  • The throne. God intended that David have the throne. Period. There is nothing Jonathan could have done to stop that. But, he could have clung to it in his own heart and mind. Instead, he willingly surrendered it long before it was widely known that it would belong to David.
  • His life. This, to me, is the most heartbreaking part of the story. Jonathan died young and beside his deranged father. I sometimes wonder why he could not have lived and stood beside David, but God knew why. He knew Israel was to be united behind David, and it would not be had Jonathan lived. Jonathan seemed to know that, too, for he asked David to be kind to his family. He willingly surrendered his life.

Jonathan challenges so much in me. I see how selfish I am when I look at my heart, desires, and willingness (or lack thereof) to surrender and compare it all to Jonathan’s heart and actions. He clung to nothing, but actively surrendered himself to the will of God in what seemed to be a practically impossible situation.

Jonathan’s sacrifice worked for God’s glory in and through David. I am challenged to be a Jonathan. I am challenged to put aside what I see as right, fair, successful, and beneficial and surrender to God’s plan. It is perfect – even if it doesn’t always seem so for me.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weary and Heavy-Laden

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

This morning I awoke to the realization of four major things I was supposed to have done earlier this week but hadn’t. The weariness just pounded down over me before I even got out of bed. I was tired. Tired of getting up at 5:15 every morning, being diligent to exercise, trying to balance eating well and sticking to our grocery budget, keeping up with household chores, staying on top of reminding kids to do the things that should be second nature to them. Tired of resisting temptation. Tired of heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and the cats. Tired of all of the constant battles that come with being a people pleaser – being reminded that God is the only One I need to please while still struggling with the guilt, frustration, and pain of knowing that I have to trust God with any way people are displeased or hurt because of my obedience to Him. Or because of my failure to do so. Tired of a schedule. Tired of putting aside the things I’d like to do in favor of what I’m supposed to do. Tired of being diligent even when there are no visible results.

You get the picture. Probably a whole lot more than you wanted.

When I am tired, Matthew 11:28 naturally pops into my mind. But, to be honest, I’m still light-years away from learning to receive the rest my Lord offers. It seems so much easier to wallow in my weariness. Herein lies my challenge: to take a step toward improvement today!  Every time one of these things I’m tired of comes to mind today, I am challenged to take it to the Lord. Not to think about it, mull over it, and be further discouraged about it. No, instead I must pray about it. Surrender it to Him. I’m not to the point yet where I can just lay the whole bundle at His feet and move on. I have to do it thought by thought, moment by moment.

Today I need to go to Him. In that and that alone, I will find rest.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Who I am, Where I am

Then one of the young men said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him.” So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David who is with the flock.” 1 Samuel 16:18-19

These verses just blow my mind. It is recommended to Saul that a skillful musician be found for him to calm him during his times of torment because of the evil spirit (1 Samuel 16:14-16). So, one of his servants recommends David. See how he describes David to Saul: not just as a skillful musician (which fits the bill of what Saul was seeking), but also as a mighty man of valor, a warrior, prudent in speech, and handsome.

Now, the more we learn about David, the more we see all of these character traits revealed in him. But, at this point we’ve barely been introduced to him. And, that’s the real kicker here. David is in the fields! He’s not getting to live out the life of a valiant warrior. He’s not given the chance to wow people with his speaking abilities. He’s not even in a place where his good looks do him much good. He’s out herding sheep.

There are times I chafe against the limitations of where I am. I have dreams. I have desires. I have talents. I feel like I am stuck in a field herding sheep rather than finding fulfillment in what I really think I was made to do. But that doesn’t change who I am. Just because David wasn’t yet on the battlefield or on a throne did not change who he was. He already was all of these things this servant described him to be. And, because he was walking with God, other people saw these things in him, even without the battlefields and throne.

I already am who God intends for me to be. And, if I’m walking in obedience to Him, it shows. I might not be fulfilling every aspect of who I am yet. Some of that might not come for years – decades even. I might be on my deathbed before I fulfill the final detail of who I am here on earth. But, that doesn’t change who I am. My challenge is to stop mourning the fact that I don’t have some of my “battlefields” yet and to live in obedience like David did. Right here. Right now. In these circumstances. God will handle the rest.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

When I read through the Old Testament and see the Israelites’ addiction to idols, I am filled with disgust. It seems so horrible. Appalling. Disgusting. Illogical. Insane. Downright stupid!

And yet, this morning I came face to face with all of my own idols. As I was praying and reading, God brought to my attention how insanely I cling to some of them. Ouch!

As I pondered through each one, I realized that these idols are not inherently bad. They are good things that God has given me to enjoy. Things through which I can easily glorify Him. But, I have taken them beyond that point. I have elevated them. I have given them a place they were not meant to hold. I have insisted that they fill me with pleasure and satisfy my desires. In truth, they have left me empty and longing, but I still try to wring that delight from them.

God desires that these gifts He gives me be the fulfillment of my delight in Him, not the source of my delight.

So, here I am today in a place where I must surrender my idols. I must lay them on His altar. It might mean He takes them away permanently. In my selfishness, I don’t want to surrender! But, in my desperation for fulfillment, I know I must.

Today my challenge is to offer the sacrifice. To know the cleansing that only God can bring to my heart. And to be renewed in His sight, seeking all of my pleasure and fulfillment in Him. I can already feel the tinges of delightful freedom as His cleansing begins to work in me!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Today’s challenge is more of a general thought from reading Romans again. So many individual verses in Romans are very familiar. And that’s a good thing, sometimes. The problem lies in the word “individual.” Oftentimes I pick up on a verse here and there – or am taught a verse here and there – and explore it individually. But, as I read through Romans again, I am reminded of the contextual significance of some of these verses and the fact that their meaning might not be quite what I’ve always claimed looking at them individually.

This challenges me not simply in Romans, but throughout Scripture. It is critical for me to memorize Scripture. And sometimes that means memorizing one verse here and another there. But, it does not limit my ability to study and learn the context around those individual verses.

This is not a new thought – the critical nature of context has been hammered into my head for years. But, somehow I still miss it in the familiar. Whether the familiar be my own interpretation of familiar verses or the way they’ve been taught to me all my life. The challenge before me is to remember to challenge my familiarity. To not just look at a familiar verse or passage and assume there is nothing more I can learn from it. Sometimes it might simply be that I’ve not explored the full depths of the passage. But, other times I might just find I’ve looked at it wrongly the whole time. Truly growing in Scriptural study means challenging my preconceptions. Without that, growth cannot happen.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Delay

Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with the whole message with which the LORD your God will send you to us. Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the LORD our God to whom we are sending you, so that it may go well with us when we listen to the voice of the LORD our God.” Now at the end of ten days the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. Jeremiah 42:5-7

The people were scared. Jerusalem had been sacked, and they had been left. Then their newly appointed governor had been assassinated and multiple murders and assassinations followed. Terrified, they wanted to run. But, just to make sure their plan was blessed, they asked Jeremiah to seek the Lord.

And, if they weren’t scared enough, God waited ten days to respond. In those ten days, their hearts were revealed – they were going to Egypt no matter what God said.

Looking back over my own life, I see so very many times when God has delayed. Sometimes he has delayed an answer – a granting of wisdom. Other times His action has been delayed. Whatever the case, when God delays, the true condition of my heart is revealed. I might be gung-ho in my faith and determination to do everything His way on day one. But, then my mind kicks into high gear. I process. I plan. I make determinations. I come to conclusions. And, ultimately, I seem to always end up deciding just how I know God is going to work or answer.

Often what I know is flat wrong.

God’s delays reveal my heart. My preferences. My lack of faith. My determination to maintain control.

I am challenged to be faithful in the delays. I am challenged to be the child who proves as devoted to her Father on day ten as on day one. I hunger to take thoughts captive and let planning, scheming, and processing rest. I hunger to crave His will, even when I don’t know what it is. Oh, may I be found faithful in the delay.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

God is My Witness

For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you Romans 1:9 

For God…is my witness…

As I read this today I had to stop and wonder: Do I really live as if God is my witness? I think the honest answer is no. There is so much that I choose to do based on whether or not people are watching or expecting something of me. Whether it be my family or others, people seem to be my primary motivation.

When God is truly my witness, everything I say, do, think, or feel comes back to how He would receive it. Does it line up with obedience to Him? Does it glorify Him? Does it do these things whether I have a human audience or not?

It is so natural to be motivated by a human audience. In fact, it’s even natural to be conditioned to believe that God cannot be glorified without that human audience. But, God was glorified long before humans were created. He was glorified when Adam was the only human being on the planet. I think He can handle being glorified through me regardless of who is or is not watching.

So, my challenge is to retrain my mind. Starting today, I will begin choosing to make decisions based on God being my witness.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Be Encouraged

And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. Ruth 2:2-3

I love the way Scripture records several things as having just “happened.” Here, Ruth just happens to pick Boaz’s field out of all of the fields around Bethlehem.

Often I am challenged from Scripture to step forward in a new strength, obeying more readily or acting more boldly. But, today I am challenged to simply be encouraged.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to receive encouragement. That seems crazy, but sometimes it is easier to remain in my discouragement or uncertainty than to reach out, receive encouragement, and walk in it confidently.

But then I read passages in Scripture where God’s people just happen into the perfect circumstance. Ruth didn’t happen to do anything. She was guided there by the hand of the amazing God who already knew His Son would directly descend from this woman. Every step was guided by Him, even that of Boaz so strongly noticing this young widow.

Nothing – absolutely nothing – just happens. God is in every detail. And today I will choose not only to remember that, but also to allow myself to be perfectly encouraged by it. His plan is perfect, and its unfolding is as beautiful as a love story between a farmer and a widow.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blessings of God

Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, seeing I have a Levite as priest.” Judges 17:13

This story in Judges launches one of my least favorite segments of Scripture. It is one tragic example of life in rebellion against God after another. It makes me sick to read it all.

Each time I read this story of Micah and his Levite, I am highly inclined to be critical of both Micah and the young Levite. And, I want to rail against this boast in verse 13. How could he possibly think that God would prosper him simply because a Levite was serving as priest for his idols?

But am I any better?

Sometimes I catch myself thinking that if I pray just right or act just right or volunteer for just the right things, God will surely bless me. He will be unable to keep from drawing near to me.


  1. I belong to God whether I do everything right or not. He has called me, drawn my heart to Him, and granted me the blessing of salvation. Period. Nothing I do, for good or for ill, will change that.
  2. He is already near to me. Having the right prayer formula doesn’t draw me closer to Him. Having a heart that hungers for Him awakens me to the fact that He is right there. Ready. Waiting. Present.
  3. God’s blessings are not for my benefit. They are for His glory. I do benefit from them, but only as my heart is surrendered to Him and hungry for His glory. If I ever do things out of a desire to be blessed because of them, I miss the point…and the blessing.

I am challenged in two ways. First, I am challenged to let go of my pride in ever thinking I’m better than anyone else, living or not. I’m not. I usually battle with the very thing I criticize in others. Second, I am challenged to do all that I do for God’s glory, not for my own blessing. Then and only then will I walk in the beauty of His glory and never lack for anything. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:34-35

It doesn’t take much for me to be reminded just how absolutely self-centered I am. This morning’s reading was no exception.

As I pondered Paul’s words, it occurred to me how little of a giver I am. I give little of my time, energy, and resources. It isn’t that I don’t want to give – I just don’t always think about it. I am so frequently caught up in my own little world.

The thing that struck me so greatly this morning, though, was that the reason I give so little to other people is because I give so little to God. Instead, I ask. I want, want, want. And there are times when the wanting consumers me.

Paul gave every ounce of Himself to God, and it was that surrender that allowed him to give everything to the people to whom he ministered. It was that surrender that kept him from expecting anything in return.

I am challenged to grow more as a giver, and I am challenged to start with giving to God the things that I still tend to hold back. Only then can He give to others through me just as He did through Paul.