“You Gotta Have Faith”

(1 Kings 17: 10-15)  When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” 15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.


Choosing to obey when it’s difficult is putting your faith into action.  I’ve always wondered why the widow in this account chose to believe what Elijah was telling her… promises that must have seemed lofty and somewhat sketchy at best.  But she did it.  I wonder, did she give up the last of her food because of the strength of her faith, or was it more of a gamble at seeing if this God would be true to His promises?  Maybe she said to herself, “It’s our last meal anyway.  We are going to starve either way, so I may as well feed this fellow too.”  However, it is also possible that something within her organically and innately just believed.

In our own lives, our faith often mirrors this widow…on both ends of the spectrum.  Sometimes our faith is strong and we jump right off of the cliff, KNOWING that we’ll be cushioned and held.  Yet at other times, it really is just a gamble.  We want to believe, but circumstance has brought us to a place of insecurity and doubt…yet off we go, over the edge, because we have nothing left to lose. 

Whether you act out of excitement or because of desperation, it’s all faith.  The faith is there, because movement and action…obedience…they require faith.  So don’t worry that when you jumped you were desperate or afraid, questioning even.  YOU JUMPED.  That’s what matters.  Moving forward in obedience…that’s faith.  When you’re still just standing there on the edge, questioning…pondering…trying to figure it all out…deciding…that’s when you should be worried about the measure of your faith.  Big faith isn’t always believing for the miraculous.  Sometimes big faith is making the sacrifices that are necessary.  Big faith is active.  So even when it hurts, move.  Even when you’re afraid, just jump.  Step over the edge and revel in the freedom that comes when you just obey.


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I recognize that weakness comes from being sedentary.  Give me faith to continue on, no matter the sacrifice, regardless of how I feel.  My strength comes from You alone, and I am made stronger in my faith by moving forward at all times.  I trust You, Lord, in all things.  Amen.

“You Can Go Your Own Way”

(John 10:11-15) 11 I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. 12 Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. 13 Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. 15 Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep.

Why is it so difficult for us to fully trust the Lord?  We like to say that we do, and sing songs about how we do, but our actions speak otherwise.  In God’s word, we have an unparalleled reference for living — the only truth that exists — yet we continually disregard the guidance and wisdom therein.  Instead of trusting the Good Shepherd, we follow every hired hand that comes along.  We are like magpies…distracted by any and every shiny thing that catches the eye. 

When I was little, I remember seeing a cartoon about the Pied Piper.  As I watched all of the children follow the piper from the town, I was worried and distressed.  I had always been warned and trained by my parents never to trust just anyone…and certainly not a stranger!  I feared for the fictional children on the screen!  Why?  Because I had been taught to know and to trust only the voices of my parents and certain loved ones.  Not everyone has good intentions, and not everyone has wisdom.  People are, because of a natural inclination toward sin, flawed.  People tend to lie, be selfishly motivated, and at times are downright evil.  Not to say that no one is to be trusted in the least, but certainly never more than we trust in our Heavenly Father! 

When you are troubled, what or who do you turn to first?  Do you pray?  Do you open your Bible?  Do you call your parents, or a good friend?  Answer that honestly.  Yes, there are those who are placed over us, in the Lord, as leaders who help provide spiritual guidance, but what good can these people do in your life if you haven’t taken the first and most important steps in seeking out what God has to say? 

9 The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,

    a refuge in times of trouble.

10 Those who know your name trust in you,

    for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.

(Psalm 9: 9-10)

We have to do our part, stop wandering off so much, and stop placing so much confidence in what the world has to offer!  We must develop some discernment and train our ears to the sound of God’s voice…so that we hear His direction and are able to receive from Him all that is offered and promised to us in His word.  When we seek Him, we will find Him.  We will know His name and His voice.  In seeking Him, we come to trust Him…truly. 

As for me, I don’t want to go my own way.  My way has only proven to lead me into places of sorrow and regret.  My way is a path shrouded in the darkness that is my own ignorance.  Proverbs 3: 5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” 

You see, we are not simply a job for God to do…something with which to pass His time.  We aren’t borrowed or rented property.  We have been bought with a price…the price of God’s own son.  We matter to Him…more than anything.  Our Good Shepherd will never leave us to be devoured by the enemy.  We can trust Him…always.  We just have to put that faith and trust into action, and stop giving ourselves and others so much credit.    

Commit everything you do to the Lord.

    Trust him, and he will help you.

(Psalm 37:5)

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, that when I am a lost sheep you correct me and guide me back to pasture.  Help me to trust you in all things, not just some things, and to come to better know your voice as I endeavor to seek you more each day.  Amen.

When I don’t understand…

(John 9:1-3, NLT)   As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.

Too often, we want to blame sickness, trials, and hardships on sin.  We see these things as curses…as punishment for sin.  Maybe sometimes our hardships are the results of poor decisions.  We absolutely do bring about negative consequences in our lives because of sin, but we also need to learn to trust God in those times when we sincerely wonder why “bad” things happen to “good” people.

We’ve all wondered it.  We’ve all seen children suffering from different types of cancer.  Many of us have witnessed a loved one become stricken with dementia, and have had to watch the disease slowly dissipate that person whom we love so much.  It is hard to understand.  Yet I can’t help but go back to this account of Jesus and the blind man, because I think it perfectly explains why we sometimes have to endure things that seem unfair.  This man was born blind.  He hadn’t yet had the opportunity to make choices between right and wrong, so it wasn’t some sort of consequence.  He came into life stricken with disability, and I’m sure he often wondered why himself.  Yet in his wondering, God had a purpose that was mapped out from the very start.

You see, everything that happens to us has the possibility to become a victory in our lives and therefore an addition to the great testimony of God’s power and providence in all things.

And what happened to this man who had been without sight all of his life?

10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”

11 He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”  (John 9: 10-11, NLT)

Healing and miracles come with responsibility, because we then have to transfer that joy and victory to the rest of the world.  That’s the reason for great victories!  Sometimes we are afflicted because we are destined to share something miraculous with others…so that they will believe…so that God gets glorified not only with our words but with our lives!

So when you question “why” remember the blind man.  Remember that our pain has a purpose.  We may not know what it is right now, but we can trust that God is always working for the good of those who love and honor Him.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for every aspect of my life…both the good and the bad.  I love You, and I praise You in all circumstances.  When I don’t understand, I still choose to love and honor You.  I trust You.  Amen.

Sometimes We’re All Just Teenagers

(James 5: 16, NLT)

16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Righteousness and prayer go hand in hand.  It just makes the most sense, doesn’t it?  If you are a parent (especially parent to a teenager) then you probably already have a sense of this concept.  I have a teenager, and I have to tell you, when he is pleasant, when he is following our rules, when he is being respectful and loving toward us, it makes us much more likely to listen to what he has to say when he is ready to ask for something or express his feelings to us.  I’m just sayin’!

It works pretty much the same way with us and God.  John 9:31 tells us, “We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will.”   I am telling you now, when we come to God as petulant, disobedient children – when we should (and often DO) know better – He isn’t going to hear it!  I’ve been there with my own child.  When he is out of sorts, raising his voice and completely in the wrong, I shut him down immediately.  I tell him to come back when he is ready to apologize and do the right thing.  I love him so, my son, and because of that love, I know it is not in his best interest to allow that sort of exchange to take place between us.  He must learn respect and humility, and when he is able to come back to me from a loving place, I am waiting with open arms and ears, ready to work with him and be a blessing to him in any way that I can – if that is what is best for him.  There has to be a certain level of love, respect, and trust there.

Likewise, we must love God first – coming to Him with respect and honor, and humbling ourselves at His feet.  We have to be willing, before anything else, to ask God for His grace – getting our failures and sins out of the way so that there is room for God to work within and bless our lives.

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.

(Psalm 37: 3-5)

 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, there is nothing that I want and need more than to be heard by You.  Help me to keep myself humble and righteous so that You are able to listen to me.  Amen. 

“I Will Trust in You!”

(Psalm 105:39-41) 39 He spread out a cloud as a covering, and a fire to give light at night. 40 They asked, and he brought them quail; he fed them well with the bread of heaven. 41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed like a river in the desert.


For the lonely, for the lost; when you struggle to believe; when you feel forgotten, discouraged and defeated; when your money’s run out and your hope is spent…

For the childless woman with a mother’s heart, for the widow, for the bereaved; when you wonder why; when sadness overwhelms your heart…

For the broken family, for the abused and neglected; when you’re numb and your faith is dead; when guilt and shame have crushed your spirit…

(Psalm 139: 1-5) 1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.

…the Lord knows.

Sometimes you have to take a look in the rearview mirror, to gain some retrospective.  I’m sure if you were to ask the Israelites in the midst of their journey through the wilderness how they felt about life, they probably wouldn’t have had much positive feedback.  They were, in fact, dealing with crisis after crisis, misery upon misery (or so it seemed to them).  When their exodus began, they were exhilarated by their deliverance and the miracles they had seen take place in order to set them free.  They set out toward the promised land much like a child sets out on a foot race…full speed ahead.  However, we all know what eventually happens to that eager runner.  Thirst, exhaustion, discouragement and frustration all seem to set in at once.  That’s when he is faced with the choice to either dread the long road ahead and quit, or to look back on what he has conquered thus far and finish what he started. 

For the Israelites, there were MANY stops and starts as they navigated their way toward something that, at times, I’m sure was hard to believe or trust.  Looking forward, it had to be unsettling to see no end to the struggles.  Thousands of years later, here we are, children of God, dealing with the same issue.  Because we are human, because our vision is limited and we cannot see the entire scope of what God is doing in our lives, we have to depend on our faith to keep us moving.  Looking back on the trials, the Israelites were able to recount what the Lord had done to sustain them. 

A good friend once told me to record my prayers (both great and small) in a journal and to go back after a year or so and allow myself to be encouraged and amazed at just how many of them were answered.  It doesn’t happen, rarely ever, the way that we would have imagined or hoped for it to…the answer, I mean…because you know what?  Sometimes the answer is a no, or the dreaded, “we’ll see.”  In our impatience and petulance, instead of forging on in faith, trusting the Creator of the world, we let our human”ness” bring us to a halt. 

In our loneliness we say, “I’m forgotten.” 

In our financial distress we declare, “This is hopeless.”

In our loss we cry out, “I can’t go on!”

In our shame we whisper, “I’m worthless.” 

But the word of the Lord says this:  16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18)


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when I look back on my life I see Your hand in all things, the joy and pain alike, and because of Your faithfulness I will continue to trust in You.  Amen. 

“Fear Not”

(Psalm 147: 1-5, NLT) 

Praise the Lord!

 

How good to sing praises to our God!
    How delightful and how fitting!
The Lord is rebuilding Jerusalem
    and bringing the exiles back to Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
    and bandages their wounds.
He counts the stars
    and calls them all by name.
How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
    His understanding is beyond comprehension!

 

I kept trying to write last night before bed, and I knew I wanted to use this passage, but I just couldn’t get any thoughts together, so I decided to get some sleep and revisit it all in the morning.  Then this morning I wake up to a newsfeed full of reports of yet another tragic, seemingly random, shooting of innocent people…this time on the streets of Las Vegas.  I don’t usually comment on current events, nor do I make it a habit of using the tragedies and horrors that are happening in our world right now as a writing prompt.  Normally I just keep my thoughts to myself and I pray.  I ask God for protection for my family, for peace in the midst of so much hatred and violence, and for His name to be glorified and magnified despite it all.

But today…

In the face of even more death and violence, I want to be of encouragement to you all…because we so quickly go into fear mode.  We begin to wonder, “Am I next?”  We rush out to get guns and permits to carry them (I’m talking to myself on that one), we worry about End Times, and we begin to see our brothers and sisters – our fellow Americans – as potential threats.  Essentially, we allow Satan to have a stronghold on our minds and hearts – we give him exactly what he wants…which is for us to be afraid.

So what I want to say this morning is:  remember who God is.  When we stare evil in the face, remember that our God – Creator, Redeemer, Healer, Deliverer, Soon and Coming King, Alpha, Omega, Lord of Everything – He is bringing back the exiles!  Sometimes it takes heartache and complete brokenness to catapult change and restoration…like a dilapidated, condemned building that has to be torn down completely before it can be rebuilt, or until something new can be constructed in its place.

Don’t ever forget, all of the hurting hearts will be healed, and all of the brokenness will be mended…because our God is making all things new!  It has been promised – a promise of victory!

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”  (Revelation 21: 3-5, NLT)

There is no denying that every day things are getting worse.  We may not know the minute or the hour that He is coming back for us, but we should have enough wisdom to realize that such a time is drawing very near…but we don’t have to worry or fret when things like this happen.  No!  Though we experience heartache, we can’t allow that to take us to a negative place.  Instead, we have to buckle down and prepare to work harder – reaching out, in love, to a world that truly is lost and dying.

 33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NLT)

So, as for me, I’m going to continue to say, “Praise the Lord!”  All of my days, I’m going to praise Him.  I’ll hand Him my sorrows, because I know He can (and will) turn them into great victories that bring joy unspeakable to my heart.  I’ll trust Him – no matter what – because I’d rather have hope than fear!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I lift up the victims of all of the violence in our country and in our world today.  Specifically, I pray for those hurt and killed today in Las Vegas.  I ask that You send armies of Your people – people who are full of Your love – to reach out and encourage these families as they deal with the trauma and grief in the aftermath of this tragedy.  I pray that Your healing hand would be upon each of them today and in the weeks to come, and may it all be for Your glory and for Your Kingdom.  May we not fear.  May we not give up.  Rather, I pray that Your children are encouraged, strengthened, and upheld in Your hands.  Amen. 

Let Us Go Also

Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”

[Jesus replied] “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” — John 11:7-16

Loyalty is a word that has fallen out of favor and is not respected as highly as it once was. In fact, the most common place the word is used now is with Customer Loyalty Programs that might knock a couple bucks of your grocery bill, but are abandoned as soon as another store offers a lower price. In a society that looks at all forms of authority with suspicion, someone who is loyal is gullible—blindly believing what they are told, a “sheep”— or a fool denying themselves the benefits of hopping onto the next best thing. Even marriage vows, the most sacred, life-long commitment people should make, is viewed as something that is only honored as long as it is convenient.

For many, it is far more important to keep your options open, to be able to jump ship and position yourself to take advantage of whatever circumstance presents itself. Deep down we know that this is not right. It’s one of the reasons that we look down on “bandwagon fans,” who switch their loyalty all the time to make sure they are cheering for the winning team. We recognize the value of being a person of integrity, someone who stands by their words and follows through on their commitments, but we struggle when it comes to actually living that out.

In today’s Scripture, we see a great example of loyalty in action. Thomas had made a commitment to follow Jesus. He would go where Jesus led them, and do what Jesus told them to do. That meant he was even willing to follow him even unto death and encouraged the other disciples to do the same. He didn’t have to do that. In fact, many of Jesus’ other followers had abandoned him along the way, but not Thomas.

“Doubting” Thomas is most often remembered for his skepticism in the aftermath of Jesus’ death and resurrection. However, I think Thomas’ skepticism was just a natural consequence of his pessimistic/realist way of viewing things. It didn’t mean that he wasn’t committed. He was all in, but he just needed a little assurance along the way, which is something I can easily relate to. Because he was loyal, Thomas was able to witness one of the greatest miracles in recorded history, the resurrection of Lazarus!

Like most commitments, being a disciple of Christ requires a daily decision to follow through. Each day presents another opportunity to leave the path. It is full of exit ramps and road-side attractions to distract you. However, we must stay focused on the destination and committed to the journey. When we are faithful to our commitment, God is sure to reward that loyalty!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for always being faithful to us. We can always count on You. Help us to display that same level of faithfulness and loyalty, to You and to the people around us. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Where Are You Taking Me?

Mark 8:22-25-  And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to Him a blind man and begged Him to touch him. And He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when He had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees walking.” Then Jesus laid His hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

 
When I was a child, one of my favorite places to play was our attic. It was fairly large, very well-organized, and the perfect little hideaway for a gal that liked to dream and imagine. I had a few lamps plugged in up there, a recliner we no longer used, and all my favorite books and journals. It was my favorite place…

Until that night.

I was making my way to the back of the attic… during a storm. I wanted to get all cozy up there and read a little while listening to the rain hit our roof. I was even allowing my little brother and sister to join me. Just as I reached the back, BANG! Lightning hit somewhere not too far away and all the power went off in the house… including my little plugged-in lamps. With no windows and the darkness that loomed about outside, everything went black. I blindly reached for my siblings and led them as best I could out of the attic. We made it out after what seemed like forever, and the fear that had been hot on my trail finally grabbed me. The thought of being alone in that attic in the pitch black sent shivers down my spine. Never again. I decided to try out the front porch from that day forward…

I’m now 28 years old… but I’m not afraid to say that I still don’t like walking around in the dark. I’m still frightened at the possibility of someone… something lurking around a corner that I can’t see. (Talk about a legit case of the heebee-jeebees.) Unless something extremely important demands I do it, I just don’t. Simple. There’s not an overabundance of scenarios that are more unsettling to me.

I can only begin to imagine how this blind man felt in Mark 8. Scripture says some people brought him to Jesus, but I’m sure it was people he knew; people he was comfortable with. How was he feeling, though, when this Man he’d never met takes him by the hand and leads him away from the people, sounds, and streets that were familiar? Living with no vision offered little sense of security, and that all lied within the walls he had always known. Where was he headed now?

Do you ever feel like that blind man? You know Jesus; Who He is and what He’s capable of… but does He ever lead you on these journeys that take you far away from your comfort zone? Of course He does! While I can guarantee that it is never His intention to scare us, I can just as accurately promise that He doesn’t want us to stay in the same place for the rest of our lives. He longs to take us by the hand and lead us out away from the voices that echo all around us; from the walls that have long surrounded and held us captive; from the place that over time convinced us it was okay to live with whatever ailed us.

Jesus, however, knows much better! He longs to give us our vision back completely! That blind man was used to seeing nothing but utter darkness. The first time Jesus touched him provided a better way of living, no doubt. He could make out shapes and sizes and movement. (“I see people, but they look like trees walking.”)  But that wasn’t enough. He spent just a little more time with Jesus and his sight was fully restored! (Then Jesus laid His hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.)

The more time we spend with Jesus the more we’ll learn to trust Him. The more we trust Him, the clearer our “vision” will become. When He grabs our hand and starts directing us down some unknown path, we won’t hesitate to move our feet. We’ll see over and over again how He can offer us restoration like nothing else ever could.

Don’t live with your “blindness.” Don’t settle for groping around in the darkness, relying on the walls you’ve gotten used to. Make your way to the Savior and follow Him wherever He leads you. There’s always a blessing waiting!

 

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for opening my eyes to Your truth. But, God, I know there’s still so much more for me to learn. I long to grow in You, and I understand that in order to know You better, I must follow wherever You lead. Help me trust You more and more. In Your precious name, I pray. Amen.

 

May I Put You on Hold?

1 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.” 2 So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. 3 And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land….. 6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”

I must confess that being put on hold frustrates me. Sometimes it feels like I’m being put in a closet while the person on the other line goes on a break to get a fresh cup of coffee! I know that’s not true, (at least, I hope it’s not!) but it’s frustrating none the less. Sometimes being put on hold is necessary so that the right individual can be located, or until they can complete a call they are already on. To me, the very worst is being put on hold without any background music. Even though I may not particularly care for the music selection, at least I know that I’m still connected; when there is no music, I begin to wonder if I was disconnected. Still, when asked, “May I put you on hold?” I generally agree.

I was thinking about the woman in our scripture text today and wondered what it might have been like to be told by the prophet that she would be put “on hold” for 7 years. She had been the recipient of a life-giving miracle when her son had died. God raised him back to life and they were living in the moment of divine blessing. But, then…

The prophet instructed her to do the following:

  • Depart from this land. (God had called for a famine)
  • Take your entire household with you.
  • Go wherever you want to go. (The destination was not important.)

I looked, and then I looked again to see if the prophet included a promise of restoration. There is none. Only a call for obedience. I guess the word “sojourn” might be the closest thing to a promise because it would indicate a continual journey that might ultimately lead them back home. But that is a stretch… Instead, the prophet’s words are a simple explanation of God’s intention to put famine upon the nation for a period of 7 years.

So, what does one do when God calls for obedience without a corresponding promise of blessing? Scripture clearly records her response in verse 2. “So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.” I don’t see any questions. No discussion. No attitude. No rebellion. Just simple obedience. Her whole life was being put on hold, primarily because of the sins of others, and she basically responds with a shrug of the shoulders and a resounding, “Let’s roll!”

How did she have the courage to leave her comfort zone to journey into the unknown? Simple. She trusted that the word of the prophet reflected the love of God for her. After all, she had already received her son back to life because of the goodness of God. She could not see, and had not been told what the end result would be. She trusted God.

Sometimes the story ends right there. Just obedience. The writer of Hebrews tells us,

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy— wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:32-40)

At other times the story ends with greater blessing than we previously possessed. After 7 years, the woman returned home and requested her land be returned. The King appointed her own representative to see that her holdings were returned, AND that she was given ALL the fruit that was yielded from her land during the 7 years.

Are you on hold? If so, simply trust the Lord and know that your future is in His hands!

PRAYER: Father, my past experience with you allows me to trust during seasons of uncertainty. When I’m traveling a winding road, I’m able, by faith, to trust that you are directing my steps. Thank you for that confidence!

Do You Have The Shield at Your Side?

2 Samuel 22- And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies… He said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior… I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I called. From his temple, he heard my voice… … … He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me… but the Lord was my support… You are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God- his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”

 

Just a couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with my mom regarding those seasons of life that keep surprising you with left hooks, if you know what I mean. I found myself feeling weak and weary, and honestly, I started questioning God’s faithfulness to me. I was feeling overwhelmed with unexpected bills, health issues, and family crises that all showed up on my doorstep just days apart. But, as I was listening to a song, this phrase stood out to me, “You walk on the water. You speak to the sea. You stand in the fire beside me.” I pondered on that line for a moment and my thoughts went to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (Daniel 3) I felt so ashamed for believing God abandoned me even for a split second, just because things weren’t flowing as I thought they should. I mean, if God always did things in a way that we could think up, the three Hebrew boys would have never entered that furnace. Nebuchadnezzar would have changed his mind, the fire would have gone out… something! But… they DID have to enter that fire… still, they weren’t in there alone and they came out without even the smell of smoke on their clothes!

Reading over the life of David, you quickly realize that he didn’t get much of break from “life” either. Still, he knew where his help came from, and he had learned that God would always equip him with the strength and resources to make it through any trial… through any trial.

Our Christian walk is referenced as a battle or war on several occasions. We’re being fought on every side by the enemy. Satan comes at us hard to make us weary. Principalities and powers use all their energy on us in the hopes that we’ll give in. War is not easy. Battles require some kind of fight. But, when we carry Him with us… He is our shield.

Shield- “used as protection against blows or missiles…”

A shield protects you from fatal blows, right? But, you still feel a kick or a jolt when the object aimed in your direction hits that shield. You will feel exhausted at times. Weariness and pain may even affect you. But, you are not defeated!

David never said that God kept him from having to wade through deep waters. But, he drew me out of many waters… Not everyone agreed with David or wanted the best for him, but because he relied on God, he could say, I am saved from my enemies.  He didn’t deny that he would face obstacles standing in his way. Still, by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. David knew that the world in which he lived would get dark at times, but You are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. 

David looked death in the face on many occasions, but even then, he knew that God was with him. No matter what David encountered, he understood that God would be there. Just as He is with us. Being His child does not mean we won’t ever face hardships. They’re going to come… and they might come in multitudes. But don’t lose faith or heart. Remember Who shields you. Because of sin, everyone will face things they don’t necessarily want to. It’s inevitable. But, as a child of God, we have THE SHIELD. He’s given us the material we need to overcome, we just have to utilize it! You might start to feel weak, but He is your strength, your deliverer, your refuge.

did i miss one

I may be the only one that gets in this selfish zone thinking He owes me an “easier” life, but I’m probably not. He reminded me over the last couple of weeks that He owes me nothing. I owe Him my life, my trust, and my praise. Still, He chooses to walk with me and keep me safe… When we allow the flesh to overrule our spirit, we notice everything that hits us… but we have no idea about everything He protects us from on a daily basis. We don’t have to know… We just have to trust. Hold Him close and let Him be our shield.

 

Prayer: Lord, increase my trust in You. Forgive me for my doubt. Remind me daily of Your faithfulness. You are my shield and my refuge and I thank You for Your protection. Amen.