Friday, June 30, 2017

Misinformed Decisions

So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the Lord. Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them. (Joshua 9:14-15 NAS)

Wrong Decisions
Have you ever committed yourself to someone or something without seeking the blessing of God and then regret later, especially after finding out there is a catch to it? Regrettably, hidden agendas, deception and scams are common these days, and such are often accompanied by consequences you and I have to bear for the decisions we make, sometimes for the rest of our lives.

When the Gibeonites deceived Joshua and the men of Israel into making a covenant with them, it was without the counsel of the Lord before Joshua entered into agreement with them. The consequence of that agreement was a burden Israel had to carry for a very long time. Years later, when King Saul breached the agreement and had some of the Gibeonites killed, the consequence Israel had to suffer was a famine for three years before King David found out the cause from the Lord. An atonement was then made by David with the Gibeonites to hand over seven children of Saul to be hanged (Exodus 34:12; Joshua 9:14-20; 2 Samuel 21:1-14 NAS).

Despite the consequence for an unwise decision made without seeking the counsel of God, the Scriptures did not record in any place that God was displeased with Joshua or the leaders of Israel for the mistake. It was recorded, however, that Israel suffered when the covenant was breached.

As followers of the Lord, it is always good when making ‘big’ decisions, not to rush into it, even if we are hard-pressed for time. Where a contractual agreement is required, we need to be very careful to read and understand the terms, lest it becomes a snare. Right from the start of any planning to close a deal or to commence a project, let us have the Lord in mind to seek His counsel, leading and guidance. Even if we fail to make the right decision, rest assured God still loves us. He is not out to punish us. Be prepared, nevertheless, to fulfill our end of the agreement. Edmond Ng

Place in our heart, dear Lord, to always remember You in our planning and making decisions. Lead and guide us in all we do. Prompt us and give us a nudge way before we make any unwise decision so that Your child need not have to bear the scars and suffer the rippling effects of grave consequence.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Little Things in Life

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:2-4 NIV)

Little Things in Life
Reading the reports of the unusual weather in Iraq, I was reminded of a similar experience when I was growing up in Galveston, Texas. You may remember that it snowed in Iraq for the first time in most people's recent memory, going back even as far as eight decades! Without turning our attention to any possible prophetic analysis, I wanted to look at the “little things of life.”

When I was in elementary school, perhaps the third of fourth grade (way too much time has passed to be sure), while sitting in class and looking outside on a cold January day, it began to snow. For those of you who live in the colder climates, that wouldn't seem so unusual. However, for Galveston that was a jaw-dropper! Class was immediately dismissed so that we could go outside and experience the “snowstorm.” Of course it didn't last long, but it was quite an experience.

Today, living in a climate where it does snow a few times each year, I must admit I only think about how bad the roads will be and the difficulty of getting to and from work. In fact, I find that is true with many of the little things of life that are so easy to take for granted. A beautiful sunset. A child's smile. A delicious meal. A restful night's sleep. An encouraging word. All of these and more are such wonderful gifts. Our jobs, relationships, birth, sickness and death, these get our attention. That's not surprising. These are the things that affect us on a deep level. They can often be life threatening or life changing. However, it's how we handle the little things in life that help us deal with the big things.

You can find lots of inspiration and guidance from the "little things" that make up your life. And, they add up. Try to live life aware of your moments. Be involved in the little things and watch your life change. Don Emmitte

Friday, June 16, 2017

Singing Over Me

On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, ‘Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty savior. He will rejoice over you with great gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will exult over you by singing a happy song. (Zephaniah 3:16-17 NLT)

Singing Over Me
Just reread these two verses one more time. It is a wonderful picture from God’s word of His great love for us. There is also an incredible promise found in these words.

What is God saying to us? Cheer up, don’t be afraid! Why should we ‘cheer up ... don’t be afraid’; because our Lord has arrived and is living not only among us but with in us! When we really understand that God Himself lives within us we don’t need to be afraid or dismayed. All powerful, all knowing God, the Creator of everything has chosen to make His home with you; that is an awesome reality when we really consider it!

I love the promise in this section “with his love, he will calm all your fears.” I often amaze myself at how afraid I can allow myself to get; but when I ponder those nine words I am blown away. It’s really simple, yet somehow the fact that God’s love calms my fears seems to escape me at just the wrong time. Yet His love is perfect, complete, steady, and huge enough to relax me and take away all my anxieties and fears. There isn’t any reason for me to ever allow fear to consume me as long as I remember God’s love!

The next part of this section is mind boggling. I have such a low opinion of who I am; but here I am told that my Savior actually SINGS over me. I am certainly not a gifted singer, but I love singing; I especially enjoying singing when I feel happy. The fact that God sings about me, because of me, just leaves me amazed.

Oh to comprehend God’s great love for us. To get that revelation knowledge of His thoughts towards His children brings with it an incredible power and change in the heart of His people.

He LOVES you! His love isn’t because of who you are, who you know, how rich you are; His love isn’t based on how good you have been. He loves you because He created you, because Jesus died for you, He loves you because He is love.  Tracy Finney

Friday, June 9, 2017

Light the Fire

Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. (1 Kings 18:38 KJV)

Light the Fire
I have heard the CEO of a media consulting company use the example of Mohammed Bouazizi as an example in allegory of what it takes to get noticed on social media. Not that this sad and tragic death of a young man in the small north African country of Tunisia was done for the sake of social media publicity, but that it is events like this that spark hugely massive interest and attention. Other famous tweets include hard fought reelection results, celebrity deaths, and challenges from pop stars. It is amazing the things that we are either willing to set on fire or describe as recently ignited in order to garner mass attention.

This greatly interests me as this speaks volumes of rich understanding in the heart of Elijah when you pause and consider exactly what was involved in the challenge that he openly offered to the priests of Baal. It is the miracle that I personally like to refer to as not the day that God turned water into wine, but when He turned water into kerosene. Granted, this is probably not strictly accurate nor is it relevant in the sense that even kerosene still needs a spark to ignite. The real miracle here is that no matter how urgent the need to visibly demonstrate the specific presence of a hearing, seeing, and living God; Elijah lays everything at God’s feet and waits for His answer. We know this not only by the fact that Elijah did not light the sacrifice, but made it the sole condition of the entire demonstration. Furthermore, he did everything he could to illustrate that his sacrifice was not worth being lit.

Similar to the peace that Noah had in knowing that it was God’s hand that closed the door on the ark and not his (see Genesis 7:16). A knowledge that whoever was left out and whatever last minute animal may be missing, that God was able to make that judgment call. So, Elijah thoroughly understood that although he had a great task to work through in getting the scene set, it would be God who has to reach down and take the actions that He wills. There was no attempt to take credit for what God did, and there was no attempt to generate a man made demonstration that had an appearance of God’s power. Elijah did the work required of him in gathering a situation together that would allow God’s name to be glorified, allow people the opportunity to make a very necessary individual choice, and show himself to be the least worthy of any possible ensuing glory.

As Elijah’s knee bowed to ask God to make Himself known, he effectively illustrated the most powerful tweet that can ever be sent in God’s kingdom. He let God light the fire and never even managed to construct something flammable in the process. The greatest fire that we can ever light is to say in complete surrender within our own hearts, Lord let thy will be done in such a way that others may know you! Jeff Beneze

Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. (1 Kings 18:37 KJV)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane
It was 8:05 p.m. Memorial Day evening. I was on the freeway with two of my five kids – the oldest and the youngest. The oldest was listening to his iPod. The youngest was indignantly watching cars go by her window, announcing with much emotion, “Speeder. Speeeeder. Definitely a speeder! Mom, do motorcycles have to go the speed limit too, or do they get a free pass?”

I laughed. “No free passes. Motorcycles have to obey the speed limit too.”

“Double speeder!? Pause. “Mom?”

“Yeah, Honey?”

“Why is everyone in such a hurry? Can’t they just slow down? Where are they all going in such a rush? And where are the police?”

Good questions. Where are we all going in such a hurry? Why do we feel the need to rush from one thing to the next without regard for the speed limit, our health, our safety, or our lives? Living at such a frantic pace, we fail to live in the moment. We miss the laughter, beauty and joy in our midst, trading them for stress and frustration, anxiety and anger. We forge ahead consumed with the destination, completely missing the journey. In a sense, we’re taking God’s precious gift of time and life and telling Him it isn’t what we want, that we don’t have the time. Ouch.

A few weeks ago, I was on the back of a Harley riding through Alaska. The mountains rose 50 feet from one side of the road, and the ocean inlet fell away 100 feet from the other. An eagle soared overhead. Snow capped the peaks and descended into valleys. Glacial ice fields chilled the air. Ice bergs floated in the bay. As we rode through this wild, untamed country, I felt closer to God than I had in months, and Megan’s questions resurfaced in my mind. Why are we in such a hurry? Where are we going in such a rush, and why do we think it’s OK to break the law to get there faster? Why do we wait and hope and plan for tomorrow or next week or next year to slow down and enjoy our lives? Life isn’t awaiting us at a destination, it’s happening right here, right now, and we’re missing it.

“Lord,” I prayed, “I’m in Alaska, on the back of a Harley, behind the man I love most in this world, and I don’t want to miss a single minute. Teach me to slow down and experience the immensity of who You are. Teach me to be fully present in every moment; to savor this precious, priceless gift of time and life you’ve given me. Teach me to laugh easily, love abundantly, and to be content no matter where I am, for I’m beginning to understand that the only way to taste and see just how good You are is to slow down and experience life as You created it to be: Life lived abundantly, richly, deeply in the slow lane, where we find purpose and meaning and joy in every moment along the way.” Cindee Snider Re

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