Get Off the Teeter-Totter

I’m feeling good…

walking closely with God.

Hearing him.

Seeing him move.

Got a new Christian song rolling around in my head all day.

It’s all good.

And then something happens.

Big or little – it doesn’t have to be a major thing.

And life is suddenly a struggle again.  The things rolling through my head are not the most positive things.  I start wondering – where is God?  What is he doing?  It’s like a dimmer switch has turned down the light in my life and everything becomes darker…colder…..sad.

I know this happens to you too.  This is how it is here on our broken planet.

As we read Elijah’s story in 1 Kings, we find that it’s been like this for thousands of years.

First, Elijah is up on Mount Carmel, trusting God who shows up in such a powerful display of omnipotence that all of the Baal followers fall on their faces to worship the One True God.  Wow!

And then we read that Elijah went away to crawl into a cave to hide because he didn’t trust God to save him from his enemies.

Up!

Down.

Up!

Down.

It’s not easy to have a long-term, consistent relationship with God.

Life gets complicated.  Emotions start rolling.  Stuff happens.  And we find ourselves going up!

Then down.

OK, going up again!

Then down.

I have found a key that helps me avoid some of this ‘I’m not having fun’ time on the teeter-totter.  And that key is to follow God’s direction to me to trust and obey him – all the time.

Trust and obey – it works on the mountaintops when everything is great!

And it works in the valleys when I want to crawl in a cave.

It doesn’t take all the emotion out of the ride up and down but it helps limit the bad choices I could be making if I was reacting to all of these fluctuating feelings.  When I remember how faithful God has always been in the past, I can stand firm knowing that he will also be faithful today and in the future.

It’s not easy, but it works.

Thank you for your faithfulness, Abba Father.

 

Our Next Step

We can spend a lot of time thinking about and worrying about our next step.

The next step for our career.April 6 2015 our next step

The next step for our marriage.

The next step for our children.

The next step as we grow older.

Our next steps can often seem like they are in a fog – unclear, hard to see.

I’m one of those people who like challenges.  I like trying new things.  So thinking about my next steps excites me, motivates me.  But that doesn’t make them any clearer.

David shows us in 2 Samuel what to do at times like these.  David inquired of the Lord.  He asked God if the next step he was planning to take – going to a town in Judah- was the right one.  And God said, “Go.”

Then David asked for more details – which town was he supposed to go to?  And God said, “Hebron.”

So David went.

At this point, David could be 100% sure he was where God wanted him to be.  With that assurance came the knowledge that God would be protecting him and blessing him in Hebron.

We can have this assurance as well – that we’re right where God wants us, covered by his love and protection.  We just need to ask.  God will answer.

James 1 teaches us to believe that God will answer.  We need to have no doubts about this.   God promises that he will give us generous amounts of wisdom in every situation…..if we ask him and believe.

The answers may not be what we want to hear.  David might not have wanted to go to Hebron.  But he went.  He obeyed.  A wise choice.

David believed that God would guide his steps.  And God did.

God promised he will do the same for us.  One of my favorite verses about this is Proverbs 3: 5&6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

We claim that promise, dear Father.  Thank you.

Sword Fighting Class- The Choice is Ours

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without fault and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”James 1 1 -9

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.  But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position because he will pass away like the wildflower.  For the sun rises with  scorching heat and withers the plant; it’s blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed.  In the same way, the rich man  will fade away even as he goes about his business.  Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because, when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”James 1= 13-18

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me’.  For God can not tempted by evil nor does he tempt anyone, but each one is tempted when, by his own sinful desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 

Awesome!  We are memorizing James 1!  Definitely a God thing – writing this on my heart would not be possible if God was blessing this and making it happen.  Here’s the next verse –

‘Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.’

When we take the bait like  James 1:14 mentions, we make the evil desire our own and this leads to sinful attitudes and actions.  As a result, we move farther and farther away from God.

God uses this whole passage of James to speak to us about the benefits when we persevere with wisdom and faith through trials.  When we stand the test, God is pleased, he knows we love him and he gives us the crown of life.

Or we can choose to be drawn away by our own wants and desires.  This choice leads to separation and death.

Our choice.  The consequences are clear.

It All Connects

The wisest man who ever lived made a bad decision which led to another bad decision which caused him to make another bad decision.  These choices took him far from where God wanted him to be.May 27 2014

Marriages to foreign women were forbidden by God because these wives often had great influence with their husbands and would encourage them to worship foreign, false gods.  The culture at that time was filled with false gods of every kind.  The Israelites were the only ones worshipping the True God.  God wanted them to stay separate so that they stayed true to him.

Solomon made a  series of very unwise decisions by marrying a foreign wife and then a another and then another.  And it happened to him – his wives lured him away from the True God.  He started following the detestable gods of his wives.  He even built temples for these various false gods.  The wisest man in the world made some very unwise choices that caused him to become a fool.

It all connects.  The first decision led to the next which caused the next.  Solomon needed to avoid that first bad choice…..but he didn’t.  As a result, God ended David’s kingdom with Solomon.May 27 2014

Proverbs 20:26 reads, “A wise king winnows out the wicked; he drives the threshing wheel over them.”  Solomon didn’t winnow out the wicked, he married it.

Proverbs 4 tells us to avoid the path of the wicked, turn from it.  Wise words.  Words Solomon – and us – should follow.  If Solomon had done what he told others to do, his legacy would not be marred by his foolishness at the end of his life.

Solomon’s choices led to his own self-destruction.  His story challenges us to stand firm and strong on the truth of God all the way to the end….which is really only the beginning.

 

 

 

Choices

The choices we make determine the direction we take.  We may ‘intend’ to go a certain direction but we won’t go there if our choices take us in a different direction.

We watch Lot’s future unfold in Genesis 13 as he chooses to live in the garden-like land near Sodom.Jan 5 2014

Yes, he chose to live by Sodom which already had the reputation of being filled with wicked people who were rebelling against the Lord.

What do you think of his choice?  If Lot wanted to live a life of faithfulness and obedience to God, why would he literally pitch his tent next to a place dedicated to the opposite values?  We’ll see later that this proved to be a very bad choice for Lot and he will experience some very hard consequences from it.

Do we ever do this?  We intend to do something good but end up making choices that take us in a very different direction and it all ends badly.  Our choices each day determine the path we are on.

And God as given us a new day today to make different choices if we need to change our direction.  His grace covers our old bad choices.  When we ask, he gives us wisdom and strength to make changes….

Starting today…..

Starting right now.

Thank you, dear God!