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!

I Know That Voice

Little Samuel’s story in the Bible is one my favorites.

He heard a voice calling to him in the night and he thought is was the Prophet Eli since he was living with Eli.  So Samuel got out of bed and ran to Eli saying, “Here I am”.

But Eli said, “I did not call, go back and lie down.”

This happened again and then the third time, Eli realized that it was God who was calling the boy.  This time Eli told Samuel, when he heard the voice, to say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9.

When God spoke again, Samuel told him he was listening and God went on to tell Samuel what was soon going to happen.

I’ve got a challenge for you.  The next time you think you might be hearing something from God, say those same words, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”  And then listen.  Listen to what is going through your brain.  Think about what you have been reading in God’s Word and how it applies to your life.  Think about coincidences that have been happening in your life and how they relate to what you’ve been reading.  Remember things that Godly people in your life have said to you recently.

I believe God is regularly trying to break through the cacophony of our culture – especially the electronic bubble where we spend a lot of our time.  He is trying to talk to you and me – guiding us, encouraging us, and teaching us.

Have you had the experience where you are reading God’s Word and suddenly a sentence seems to stick out of the page? It almost looks like it’s in bold print? You reread a phrase a couple of times?  You start to wonder what this means in your life?  Has that phrase always been there?  I don’t remember ever reading that or even hearing anyone talk about that before?  That is God stopping us.  That is God drawing our attention to something specific in his Word so he can speak to us.

That’s what God did today with me.  He stopped me as I was reading to remind me how much I like young Samuel’s story.  Because I know God, I know he is encouraging me to continue to learn how to hear him more and more clearly as I read his Truth.  My knowledge of God is growing and the more I know him, the better I hear him.

How can I be confident that it’s God that’s talking to me and not just my own thinking?  What God says to me will always be consistent with what he says in the Bible.  He will not contradict himself.

I am also 100% sure it’s God talking when he says something I’ve never thought of before and it’s consistent with what I have read in the Bible.  God confirms his guidance to me through my circumstances as well.  When it’s God talking to me, things happening around me will line up with what God is saying.  Sometimes it will be something my husband, my pastor or a friend says.  As I pray about what God is telling me, God will often open up my eyes to how he is moving around me and I’m be able to connect the dots.

When I take time to consider all of these things, God’s directions to me become really clear.

When I work at staying aware of the fact that God is trying to talk to me, it’s not hard to hear him.

Thank you for your guidance, Abba Father

Show Me a Sign

Make it black and white.  Can I hear a voice?  I need to know.

There are so many decisions to make and I want to make the right choices.  What should I do?

A good Christian friend once told me to ‘throw out a fleece’ like Gideon did when I have decisions to make. I thought about it.   In God’s word, I read that God sent an angel to tell Gideon that “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior”,  ” Am I not sending you?”, and  ” I will be with you”. Joshua 6: 12-16.  But Gideon still wanted a sign to prove that it really was the LORD speaking to him.  So God proceeded to ‘pass’ Gideon’s tests.

When my friend suggested I throw out a fleece, it just didn’t feel right to me.  I’m pretty sure that I would be instantly convinced if an angel came and gave me a message from God.  You know the angels God sent were so big and impressive that usually the first thing they said was “Fear not”, right?  This is not a normal-sized average-looking person.  I think I’m tuned in to God well enough that I would automatically believe what this huge, supernatural creature said.

It doesn’t feel right to ask God to jump through a bunch of hoops before I obey him. It makes more sense that Gideon did this because he  lived under the Old Testament covenant – he was not ‘redeemed’, Christ had not come yet and he didn’t have God’s Spirit living inside of him.  But I do.

The Holy Spirit speaks to me and guides me into truth – if I’m listening.  God’s Word is alive and the Holy Spirit uses it to help me make decisions.  I have God’s Spirit inside of me every moment of every day – why do I need a sign?  I have found that I don’t need to throw out any fleeces if I’m regularly listening to God’s voice and spending time with him.

In my experience, God not only speaks directly to me, he also lines up circumstances around me to confirm what the Holy Spirit and God’s Word are saying to me.  I don’t have to ask for something more – I just need to keep my eyes and ears open.  His answer is there.

Every once in a while, I hit a deadline on making a decision and I haven’t discerned God’s answer yet.  I have found that when I totally submit whatever the situation is to God – meaning I don’t care what the answer is, I just need to know what he wants me to do – he helps me organize my thoughts and I realize he’s been trying to guide me in the right direction, trying to show me the way.  I’ve just been distracted and clueless.

No fleeces involved.

Black and white.

No more questions.

Thank you, Abba Father.

It’s Your Choice

Time is the great leveler – we all have 24 hours in a day.  You and I choose how we’re going to spend these 24 hours.  What are we going to do?  How are we spending the majority of our time?  Using a Biblical term, I would say that you and I are ‘serving’ whatever or whomever takes up the most of each of our 24 hours.

A lot of us serve ourselves.  Looking out for #1.  Do I like it?  Does it benefit me?  Do I wanna do it?  Do I feel like doing it?  What’s in for me?  Oh, yeah.  These questions come pretty easy because we use them a lot.  We may not say them out loud but we use them in our decision-making.

Many of serve our debts.  We have to work extra hours or extra jobs to pay for all of the stuff we already have.  We’re upside down on cars and houses.  When we’re not working, we’re worrying about paying the bills.  The best line about our money I’ve ever heard is – “The secret in managing your money correctly is not in how much you make.  The secret is in how much you spend.”  Truth.

Some of us serve our hobbies –  like sports or exercising or shopping.  While we’re shopping today we’re planning about the next time we can go shopping.  Or we’re not happy unless we’re biking or walking or running or working out.  Or before the game we’re watching on TV is over, we’re flipping to the next channel for the next game and then the next game and then the next.

We all choose who or what we will serve.

Joshua makes this very clear to the Israelites as he throws down a challenge.  “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15.

You and I need to make a conscious choice, not just roll through our lives spending our precious time on things or people who will never give us joy, peace and a guaranteed future.  We don’t want to get to the end of our lives with hearts full of regrets and emptiness, realizing we never made a choice – we just let the world push us to a place we never wanted to be.

I have made my choice.  I have laid down any ‘idols’ I was serving at the feet of the One, True, Living God and now it’s all about him.

What’s your choice?  There’s no better time than right now to start a new chapter in your life labelled, “My love relationship with my Father God”.  You won’t regret it.

I choose you, Abba Father.

Not One Has Failed

Can I say this about anything in my life – that not one has failed?

I’ve had many plans fail.  Several relationships failed.   Things people said they would do with me and for me failed.  When my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty almost 5 years ago, I had a mountain of hopes and dreams that blew up.  Epic fail.

I could go on.

So Joshua’s words jump out of the pages of my Bible when he says, “You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God have you has failed.  Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”  Joshua 23:14b.

As I look back, I can honestly say this is true for my relationship with God – not one of his promises have failed.  You might wonder how I can say that God has kept all his promises to me when my son was murdered.  I understand that God never promised me a life full of sunshine and roses.  Look at his son, Jesus.  His life here on earth was full of problems and temptations and lies and struggles.

What God promises me is he will walk with me through the pain and the grief and the loss.  He has kept this promise.  He has been my comforter and encourager – my Rock.  In many ways, God was the only thing in my world that didn’t fail me when my son was killed and my heart crumbled.

God promises that he will work all things out for my good and I know he’s been busy doing that for me – especially these last 5 years.  God promises that he is good all the time and I know that is true.  God has promised that my faith in Jesus has given me an forever home with my Father when my struggles on earth are over.  I know this is true.  My eternal relationship with God has already started and will continue when I take my last breath here on earth and walk with Jesus into heaven.

None of God’s promises have failed and I know they never will.

It’s impossible for God to fail.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Moving Forward Together

Going in the same direction.  Moving forward together.  Shared goals.

Unity.

And it feels good when we’ve got it, doesn’t it?  But unity isn’t an easy thing to achieve.

There needs to be compromise – it doesn’t have to be all my way.  I have to take a look from other people’s perspective – there are other valid opinions.

Prioritizing – is it worth creating an issue?  Wisdom = losing a lot of battles in order to win the war.

And – if this is a battle that needs to happen – I’ve learned that much planning and selflessness needs to be included in figuring out how to bring up the issue.  Emotions need stay out of it because they cause me to over-react and say things that aren’t helpful.  Just because something is true doesn’t mean that I can say it anytime I want to.  The timing of discussions on difficult issues can determine success or failure.

I can get lost in the weeds.  Details that don’t really matter can derail me when I’m trying to discuss difficult issues, causing any forward movement to stop.  Sometimes I get so lost that I actually move backwards.  Very disappointing!  I know you’ve been there, too.

This is nothing new.  Unity has always been difficult to achieve but it’s very much worth the effort.  We read about the joy the Israelites experienced in Joshua when they avoided some serious conflict between groups merely by talking with each other.  One group thought the other group was rebelling while the 2nd group thought the first group was going to try to make an issue of where they were living in the future.  During their discussion, they realized that they worshipped the same God and they were on the same page.  “Today we know that the LORD is with us, because you have not been unfaithful to the LORD in this matter.  Now you have rescued the Israelites from the LORD’s hand.”  Joshua 22:31.

Unity.

We could use more of it, right?  Where can we get more unity?

From my experience, only God can bring real unity.

As my relationship with God grows, he is able to give me the wisdom and perspective I need to bring more unity into my life – more unity with my husband and family and more unity with my church family.

When we are all looking to God for direction and insight, God provides unity.  It’s his desire for us to live peacefully together and live a life full of joy.

In him, we are ‘like-minded’.

And we find joy.

Thank you, Abba Father.