What Does It Mean?

It all connects.

Choices I make today result in consequences I have to deal with tomorrow….

and 10 years from now….

and 20 years from now.

My decisions are important.  I have to figure out ahead of time if my choices are going to take me to a place I want to be.

I need wisdom, right?  Some of this stuff is hard to decide.  So I go to God.  In James 1, God has promised to give me generous amounts of wisdom whenever I ask.  I just have to believe I have received it.  I need to trust him and get rid of any doubts.

How can I be so sure that it’s God talking to me and guiding instead of myself or  – even worse – Satan?  I have studied God’s word for many years and, when I am listening, I recognize his voice.  I know what he would say.  I know his truth and that’s what he uses to guide me.

It’s so much different that the lies of this world.  It’s easy to discern.

I love the story in Daniel of the human hand that appeared and wrote a message to King Belshazzar on the wall in the middle of his big party.  It was a warning.  The bad consequences of his choices had piled up and the King was going to pay the price with his life.  He died that night.

I obviously want to make better choices that King Belshazzar did.  So I go to God early on in my decision-making.  And – sometimes – he writes a warning on the wall in my mind.  “Don’t go there, you won’t like what happens.”  “Don’t do that, you won’t like the consequences.”

I love these warnings because he is always right (of course).  I really don’t want to go there.  I definitely don’t want to do that.  I need to make a better decision now so that I don’t end up in a place I never wanted to be.

It all connects.

Please give us your wisdom, Abba Father.

Slaves

We all have things we are committed to – things we spend a lot of time and energy on along with a big chunk of our money.  Things like careers, houses, cars, sports, shopping, the latest gadgets, video games fill our hours, leaving little or no room for a relationship with God.

If we lived back in Biblical times, it would be said that we are a slave to these things.  We choose who we serve and when we put anything above God in our priorities, there are negative results.

King Rehoboam led his people in turning away from the One True God to serve idols – all kinds of idols.  Since the people were unfaithful to God, God let King Shishak of Egypt capture Judah.  The people then realized their sin and God saw.  As a good father, he let them pay the consequence of their sin which meant the King of Egypt became their king but God promised to give them deliverance soon.

In 2 Chronicles 12, God said, “They will, however, become subject to him (the King of Egypt), so they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.”

When we choose something other than God to be slaves to, we also pay consequences, such as – large debt, broken relationships and lack of purpose and meaning in our lives.  When we turn back to  God, he promises to deliver us from this misguided slavery.  It may take a while.  It will probably take some real effort and work and commitment on our part.

But God, our good Father, is faithful.  He will deliver us.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

The Writing On The Wall

The decisions we make.

What we choose to do.

How we live our lives.

All of these choices cause other things to happen to us.

Consequences.

The decisions we make set off a chain of events – good or bad.

It’s the ‘handwriting on the wall’.

God gave me a strategic – thinking brain which means that my brain connects everything.  I can connect events and decisions backwards to understand how I got where I’m at today.  And I can connect the dots forward to the future based on decisions that I’m making today.  It’s very clear to me where these choices are going to take me.

I can also do this as I watch others make decisions and choices.  It all connects in my brain.  Sometimes it almost feels like I can predict the future because each action leads to the next action and it’s moving in an obvious (to me) direction.

I can see the ‘writing on the wall.”

I enjoy reading again the historical account in Daniel when King Belshazzar  decided to hold a big party and he brought out the gold goblets that had been taken from the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem.  Not a smart move, Belshazzar!

A human hand appeared and wrote something on the wall while the king watched.  His knees were knocking and his legs became weak as he watched the hand move across the wall.

None of the king’s wise men could interpret what the hand had written so Daniel was called into the party.  Daniel had a reputation for being able to interpret dreams when no one else could.

Daniel told the king the words said that, because of the king’s actions and behavior, God had decided to end his reign and his kingdom would be split up.  Belshazzar lacked the humbleness and wisdom that his father had when God put him in his position of being king.  His sacrilegious use of the temple goblets while praising false gods was the last straw.

The king died that night.

It was the writing on the wall.

The king’s actions and behavior had led to this.

Just like our choices and decisions determine our direction.

It all connects.

Please give us wisdom to make decisions that help us go in the right direction, Abba Father.

 

This is the Way

We will not weep any longer.July 9 2015 this is the way

When we cry out to God for help, he answers us.  He has given us the freedom of making our own choices which means he has to stand back and watch when we make bad ones – choices that can have long-term negative consequences for us.

Other times, God creates adverse situations in our lives in order to discipline us and teach us.

Both of these situations cause problems and challenges in our lives.

When we’re knee-deep in trouble, the smart thing to do is to call out to God.  BEFORE we get neck-deep.

He will open our eyes to the truth and to the lesson he is trying to teach us.

Isaiah tells us in Chapter 30 that we will hear a voice behind us, saying. “This is the way, walk in it.”

If we choose to obey these directions, God will shower his blessing on us.  When it seems like there is only darkness around us, God’s light will break through to heal us and make us whole.  He will direct our next step and then our next one, until we get to the place that right for us – where he wants us to be.

Please help us obey, Abba Father.

 

Our Foolishness

Our bad choices.

Our rationalizations.

Our blind spots.

How do we react when we realize that we’ve been foolish?April 26 2015 our foolishness.

One of King David’s redeeming qualities was his ability to admit his foolishness and genuinely repent.  He sometimes had trouble seeing his sin because he was lost in his own head – focused on his own plans.  So we read that God brought people into David’s life to help him see his bad decisions.

When David finally realized his foolishness, he was always repentant.  And we see God forgiving David over and over….and over.

Just like God forgives us- over and over…..and over.

Dear Abba Father, Please help us to be quick to recognize our sin and foolishness and quickly repent from those choices.  We know that repenting means to turn away, to stop doing what we’re doing.  We need your strength for that, dear Father.  And perseverance.  We are looking for wisdom and insight like it as silver, dear God.  We are searching for understanding and knowledge like it was hidden treasure.  We know all wisdom and understanding comes from you and you generously give it to us when we ask.  We are asking now.  Thank you.  In the awesome name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Not Listening

Sometimes we’re just not listening.

We’re focused on ourselves,Feb 15 2015 listening

our plans,

what we want to make happen.

So we move forward,

in the direction we want to go.

Doing what we want to do,

when we want to do it.

With our ears closed to God.

Not listening.

Not really wanting to hear anything that could change the direction we want to go.

Because we know where we want to go.

We have big plans……this is going to be great!

So we march out to the hill country just like the Israelites did in Deuteronomy 1.

Without God’s direction.

Without God’s protection.

And we are chased back down the hill of failure – defeated by our own arrogance and rebellion.

How we wish we had listened!  The consequences of our own choices can be very severe – beating us down.

Unlike the Israelites, those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior have been redeemed and the Spirit of God lives within us.  He is always available – we just need to confess our rebellion and turn away from our sin.

Away from ourselves.

Our will.

We turn back to God.

And we recommit to listen….

very closely…..

everyday.

We’re listening, Abba Father.

When the Wicked are Winning

I don’t understand it.August 10 2014 Wicked are Winning

When bad things happen to good people.

When it looks like the wicked are winning.

We read about the Great Deportation in 2 Kings.  Nebuchadnezzar took all of the people of Jerusalem to Babylon.

Into captivity.

God’s chosen people.

Satan had to think he was winning at this point.

Nebuchadnezzar stripped the Temple of the Lord of all of its treasures and put all of it in the temple of Babylon.   The treasures Solomon had dedicated to God were now being used to honor and worship a wicked, pagan god.

Now Satan really had to think he was winning.

We know there were faithful believers in this crowd of Jews that went to Babylon – we just read about Daniel and his friends.  We can safely assume these believers were praying and repenting all of the way.

But God’s plan had been put in motion a long time before this actually happened.  We just read through many of the prophecies that predicted that this was going to happen.  It was the consequence for Israel’s habit of repenting and then rebelling again.  Over and over, generation after generation.

When it looks like the wicked are winning, the only thing I understand for sure is that God’s ways are not our ways.  His thoughts are not our thoughts.

And my faith stands firm  on God’s promises to us –

he loves us,

he wants the best for us,

and he is working it all out for our good.

God’s got this!

Hallelujah!  Amen!

 

The Two-By-Four

You wanted it, so I’m letting you have it.

This is what happened to the people of Judah when they stopped following God.  They chose false gods, they set up shrines with male prostitutes and they did the opposite of what they knew to be right.June 2 2014 consequences

So God let them go and experience the consequences of these choices.  “You have abandoned me; therefore I now abandon you to Shiskak.” who was the King of Egypt.

The people then repented and admitted to God that they were wrong so God relented and didn’t let the Egyptians destroy Judah.  But they did become subject to Shishek so that they could learn from their mistake.

God deals with us in much the same way today.  He lets us experience the consequences of our decisions so we can learn.

If we’re honest with ourselves, when things aren’t going well for us, we can often trace our current situation back to bad choices we have made.

Yes, God forgives us of our sins.  And, because he is a great father, he also teaches us lessons we need to learn.

One of my goals in life is to learn God’s lessons the first time so that he doesn’t have to keep teaching me the same lesson over and over.  Whenever we have the same type of issue consistently coming up in our lives, it’s a clear sign that we just aren’t learning.  We aren’t changing our behavior.  It’s been my observation that the issue will just keep growing and growing and growing until it becomes a two-by-four which hits us over the head and now we have to deal with it.  We have to quit avoiding it.  The issue becomes so large that we can no longer look the other way. That’s the two-by-four.  Most of the time, we had opportunities to deal with the issue when it was much smaller.  But we waited..we avoided…we ignored.

Dear Father, please help us learn BEFORE you have to hit us over the head with a two-by-four to get us our attention.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

The Explanation

They did what they wanted, not what God told them to do, and they paid the consequences.

The Israelites rebelled and refused to go into the Promised Land because of the negative report from 10 of the spies who had scouted it out.  They rejected the fact that God said he would give them success in the battle so they could live in this very fertile and beautiful land.  God wanted them to have it.

But they refused.  They were scared.  They disobeyed.

As a result, God tells them that they will wander in the wilderness for 40 years until the last person from this wicked generation has passed away.  The 10 spies who discouraged all of the people were struck with a plague as a result of their disobedience.

So, what do the Israelites do?  NOW they decided they were ready to go into the land.  NOW they disobey again by not listening to God when he says it will be 40 more years.  They think (dangerous words) that they have paid the price for their earlier disobedience and they want to go live in the Promised land.  They totally disregard God’s latest instruction and go fight the Amalekites.  Moses tells them not to go – “The Lord is not with you.”

But they go anyway…and they are defeated.  No surprise there.

Doesn’t this explain a lot of the pain and defeat we see in the world around us?  People doing what they want, ignoring God.  Rejecting God’s direction and going our own ways only to be defeated over and over again.

God has so much more planned for us!  He has a purpose for us.  He wants us to experience a life full of joy.  And he wants to be the leader of our life so he can make all of this happen.

We are more than conquerors with Christ!

Thank you, dear God!