A Deadly Snare

King David’s son, Absalom, had beautiful hair.  It was thick and long and gorgeous.  He cut it once a year, then weighed it so everyone would know awesome it was. Pretty extreme, right?

I wonder how often Absalom stopped to look in the mirror to admire his hair?  (Did they have mirrors back then?  Maybe shiny pieces of metal that reflected back their image?  Or maybe the guys looked into their swords?)

If he made this big deal about his yearly hair cutting, I would image that he was extremely proud of his hair, don’t you?  I’m sure it was a constant source of compliments for him.

And then we read in 2 Samuel 18 that Absalom was riding his donkey under a tree in the midst of battle when his hair got caught in the tree.  He was pulled from his donkey and was left hanging in midair by his hair while his donkey just kept on going.  While Absalom was dangling there, unable to defend himself, Joab plunged his sword into Absalom’s heart and killed him.

Only really thick hair would be able to do that, right?  If Absalom had thin hair or even regular hair, this wouldn’t have happened to him.

The thing he was so very proud of became a snare that caused his death.

So the question to you and I today is – what is the thing in our lives that we are most proud of?  Do we need an attitude adjustment before we find ourselves in a snare?

Are we already caught in a snare?

Dear Father, we are so blessed to have you in our lives lavishing us with your mercy and your love.  We confess any personal pridefulness.  Please help us be most proud of you and what you have done for us.

Psalm 51, 2021

I ask for a pure heart, O God! I want my life to be focused on you.

Keep me close by your side and grow your spirit within me. Bring back the joy I felt when I first asked you to save me. Give me a faithful heart so I stay near you. Then I will tell others about your saving grace and I will share the truth you have revealed to me.

Please lift the burden of my guilt from me, O God, and I will sing of your goodness forever. When I open my mouth, Lord, let it be to praise you.

I know you don’t want me to just ‘show up’ at church because it’s the right thing to do. I know you don’t want me to give money to the church just because it’s the right thing to do. I know you don’t want me to read the Bible just so I can check it off of my reading plan for the year.

You want my heart to be broken open,

repentant,

humbled,

willing to be filled with your truth.

Amen. Let it be so, Abba Father.

A Direct Line

Have you noticed?

It appears that some people have a direct line to God.  When they call (pray), God always responds.   Stuff happens.

I believe it’s true – some people have a direct line to God.

Why?

Because they pray in line with God’s will.  When I pray for what God wants to give me, I always get it.  He has promised me.

God tells me in James 1, when I pray for wisdom, I always get it – in generous amounts.  When I pray for more of the Fruit of the Spirit, the Spirit that lives inside of me helps grow and nurture those things.  When it’s God’s will for me, he says yes every time.

The key is praying God’s will.  What does God want?  What is best for his purposes?

To do this, I need to know God well.  I need to have his word etched on my heart and mind so that it’s how I think.  And – this can be a tough one – I need to put what he wants ahead of what I want.  There are times when God reveals to me through his Word what he wants done in a certain situation.  Other times, I simply pray Jesus’ prayer, “Thy will be done.”

I can’t give God a list of things I want and expect him to say yes to everything.  But when I pray for what God wants – knowing and trusting that what he wants is always best –  it happens.

This doesn’t mean I don’t ask God for things I want.  He tells us to pray to him all the time on every occasion about everything.  It does mean that the answer will not be ‘yes’ if I’m praying out of line with his will.

In 1 Chronicles, King David was trying to bring the Ark of God back to Jerusalem but he was running into big problems.  One of his men died because he touched the Ark to steady it.  That scared David so he left the Ark with a local family and went on to Jerusalem.  There, he realized the issue with the Ark  was “we did not inquire of him (God) about how to do it in the prescribed way.” 1 Chronicles 15:13b.

So David consulted God and, when they did it God’s way, they were successful.  David danced with joy in front of the Ark as it entered Jerusalem, the City of David.

When I ask God to do things his way, my direct line to God is wide open.

And the answer is always ‘yes’.

Thank you, Abba Father.

The Journey

9 years.

I’m in my 9th consecutive year of reading the entire Bible. A couple years after I started, I changed to the Daily Chronological Bible and it has helped fuel the fire God has placed inside of me to read his Word. Every day. Every year. Several of you have been on this journey with me for quite a while – thank you!

I have a passion for knowing what God has to say about everything. I have learned that its very important to know what God says about a certain topic throughout the Bible – one or two verses just don’t give me the message that God intended. When I read the entire revelation of God, the dots start to connect and I begin to understand the bigger picture.

After my 4th or 5th year of reading the entire Bible, I realized that I could start to point out when someone said something they thought was in the Bible but its not. When I hear something like that, I usually ask the person where that is in the Bible in case I missed it. More often than not, they can’t find it in God’s Word. Exposing the truth like this continues to fuel the fire inside of me.

I appreciate the entire journey through the Bible. The Old Testament used to be a little hard to get through but the Chronological Bible helps a lot by condensing several repetitive sections into one so I only read all the laws once, I only read all the details about building the temple once, etc. It’s significant to me that it takes 9 months to read the Old Testament in the Chronological Bible and only 3 months to read the entire New Testament. This shows the importance to God of the Old Testament. And it tells me I should be reading and studying the Old Testament just as much if not more than the New Testament. Since I’ve started doing this, God speaks just as clearly to me from the Old Testament as he does the New Testament.

Because it is condensed, the Chronological Bible is a great reading Bible, but not a good Bible to study. When I’m studying God’s Word, I get out my study Bible.

I have some favorite parts in the Chronological Bible. I’m in one of them right now so I thought I’d take a break in the journey to share some of the things I really love about how this Bible is organized.

I’m reading David’s story right now and the Chronological Bible places the Psalms David wrote into his story at the time he wrote them. David tells me in Psalm 56 all about his thoughts and fears right after I read about him being captured by the Philistines in Gath. I read in Psalm 34 of David’s gratitude to God for taking care of him after reading how David pretended to be insane and King Achish let him go. I hear David’s prayer in Psalm 142 as I read about him hiding in the cave to avoid being killed by King Saul.

Later in the Chronological Bible, it is organized so that some of the minor prophet’s writings are placed next to the story of the king they talked to. It all makes more sense.

In the New Testament of the Chronological Bible, I find myself reading about Jesus’ sacrifice for me on the cross right around Thanksgiving time. It’s so appropriate and helps me focus my gratitude on the most important thing that has ever happened to me and to our world.

Then right after Thanksgiving comes Christmas and I will be reading Revelations. Wow! When Christ comes again, it’s going to be better than the first Christmas for those of us who have put our faith in him.

And then, on January 1, I start again. In the Beginning….

And the Journey Towards the Truth continues.

Thank you for your Word, Abba Father.

Psalm 142, 2021

David wrote this psalm as he hid in a cave from King Saul who wanted to kill him.  If he wrote it today, it might sound a lot like this.  Do you need to say this to God right now?  

I cry out to the Lord today!

I need your know you care about me, dear Father.

Here are my complaints and troubles –

I am tired….very tired.

I feel lost….very lost.  You know the way – please show me.

I can’t trust the people around me.  They are my problem.

Look!  There is no one here to help me.  There is no one I can count on.

No one who cares.  But I know you care, Lord.  I can count on you – you are always on my side.

I desperately need you to hear me….

and rescue me!

I’m stuck in my problems and issues – they are too big for me.

Set me free, Lord!  Get me unstuck!

And I will give you all the credit.

Everything good in my life comes from you.  You are so good to me!

Thank you, Abba Father!

Psalm 40, 2020

When I became faithful in seeking you, God, you lifted me out of the slimy pit of my rebellion and sin.  You rescued me from the deep mud of my bad choices.  You pulled me out of the mire I created by trying to do things ‘my way’.

I am now solidly planted on you, my Rock.  I have a new song of  love and praise to sing to you.

I pray that many others will also decided to put their trust in you, God.

Father, you bless those who trust in you.  We are wise when we put you first in our lives and don’t follow the example of others who are only focused on themselves.

You have great things planned for us, the faithful.  You have done many awesome things – there is nothing and no one to compare you to.

You don’t want me to just read the Bible and go to church.  You want my eyes to be open to your truth.  You want my obedience.

You don’t want me to just give my money to the church – you want me to passionately care about the things you care about.

You don’t want me to just close my eyes to pray and start down my list of requests.  You want a relationship with me.  You want a conversation.  Most of all, you desire listening ears and a softened heart.

Here I am , Lord.

I desire to do your will.

Write your words upon my heart.

I love you, Abba Father.

Psalm 86, 2020

Let’s join with King David in his prayer:

Hear me, LORD, and answer me, I need you.  I am a faithful servant who trusts you – save me.

You are my God, have mercy on me as I call out to you all day long.  I trust you, God.  Please give me joy.

You are so good.  When I walk close with you, your love and forgiveness overwhelm me.  There is no other god like you.  Everything you have created joins together to worship you.  You are great and marvelous.  You alone are God.

I want to learn all about you, LORD, so I can build my life on your truth.  Give me an undivided heart which is focused on loving and honoring you.

I will praise you, God, with all my heart forever.

Each day I feel your great love for me.  Keep me safe.

I am surrounded by arrogant and confused people who don’t believe in you, God.  But I know you are a compassionate and gracious God, overflowing with love and faithfulness.

Open my eyes to what you doing, God.  Have mercy on me and save me.just like you have done for those who have gone before me.  Show me your goodness, LORD, so that others around me will see what a great God you are.

Thank you for your help and comfort, LORD.

Amen.  

Psalm 23, 2020

The LORD takes care of me each day.  He provides everything I need.

My Father guides me on the right path – he knows what is best for me.  He gives me exactly what my soul longs for as I walk closely beside him.

I can always trust my Father’s guidance.

Even when I’m going through the darkest, most painful times of my life, Father, I have no fear.  You are with me.  You comfort me.

You pour out blessings on my life.  Even those around me who don’t want the best for me see how well you take care of me.

You fill my mind with your truth as I continue to study your Word and grow my knowledge of you.

I am overwhelmed by your love for me.  Your goodness and grace fill all the days of my life here on earth.   And I am 100% certain of what happens when my time here is done.  I will go to live with my Abba Father forever.

Amen.  Hallelujah!

No Revenge

No payback.

As a believer, I know I can totally turn over to God any need I feel for revenge or payback to people who have done things that hurt me.  He is the perfect judge, I am not.

God tells us in Psalms 10 that he knows all about wicked people.  He sees them and he assures us that justice will be served.

Meanwhile, God never forgets the helpless..

the victims…

the afflicted….

the fatherless….

the oppressed.

Those that hurt others and do wrong cannot hide from God.  He sees it all and calls “the evildoer to account for their wickedness that would not otherwise be found out.”

No need to worry – they don’t get away with it.

We don’t have to take revenge for ourselves.  Jesus clearly told us in the New Testament that we should not pay back evil with evil.  We need to love our enemies.

God’s got this.  We may never know how it happens, but God promises they will get what they have earned.

It’s all taken care of.

Thank you, Abba Father.

It’s All Yours!

I love the picture I get in my mind when I read 1 Chronicles 29.  King David is standing in the middle of more than 300 tons of gold and 638 tons of silver along with 675 tons of bronze with his arms stretched out, praising God saying “It’s all yours”.  I think about this passage whenever I find myself focusing on my money and my stuff.

Do you see that ‘my’ word crop up?  The truth is – it’s not mine.  Everything I have has been given to me by my Father God.  He owns everything.  I am just taking care of what he has given me while I’m here on earth.  And I give some back to him because I’m grateful for all that he has given me.

So I join with King David in praise of my Father today –

It’s all yours, dear Father.  Yours is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory and the majesty.  Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours.

Wealth and honor come from you alone for you rule over everything.

Power and might are in your hand and you decide who is made great and given strength.

Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone soon without a trace.  But you, dear God, give us significance.  You call us your sons and daughters and you delight in us.

We love you, Abba Father!