Sinking Ships

King Jehosaphat was a good king gone bad.  He chose to make an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel who was very wicked and this was a very bad choice. 

As a consequence, we read in 2 Chronicles 20 that God decided to destroy their work.  So the fleet of ships they had bought met with disaster and never even got out to sea.

Do we ever have sinking ships?  Do we ever have big plans that don’t work out?

Maybe it didn’t work out because we were partnering up with people we shouldn’t be.  Or maybe it failed because we made a different bad choice along the way.  I think the secret is to learn from our mistakes.  We made the bad choice once – lets just not do it again.  Makes sense, right?

Then I have to ask the question – why do we often do it again?  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

One sunken ship is even, don’t you think?

Dear Father, please help us learn from our sunken ships.

Where God Lives

What do you pray toward? 

In 2 Chronicles Solomon spends years building a temple for God so that God can have a place to ‘live’ – the Holy of Holies.  When it’s all built, Solomon prays that God will hear their prayers when they pray toward the temple. He was now very happy to have a place where God ‘lived’ so his people could go there to worship him and pray toward that place.

When Jesus came, he changed all that.  Remember when he was talking to the woman at well who made the excuse that she couldn’t worship God because she couldn’t go to the temple?  Jesus replied that we can worship God everywhere because God is a spirit.

And his spirit lives inside of us as believers.  The power of God lives within us.  The truth of God lives within us.  The peace of God lives within us.

God lives within us.  So this got me asking myself  – what do I pray towards?  I’ve always loved the verse in Revelation where the prayers of the believers float up to heaven like incense.  I often talk to God on my commute to work and I’ve talked with a number of Christ-followers who do this since it’s one of the few times of relative ‘alone-ness’ in our lives.  So I regularly imagine the freeways with incense floating up out of the cars on its way to heaven.

But now I think I’m going to try ‘praying towards’ God as he lives inside of me.  Maybe that will help to remind me that I he is here – his power, his truth, his wisdom, his strength and his love live in me. 

I have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and I want to live like it!

Please renew your spirit within us, dear God!

It’s All Yours

David is standing in the middle of more than 300 tons of gold and 638 tons of silver along with 675 tons of bronze and he praises the Lord saying ‘It all yours’!  This is one of my favorite passages as it relates to our money and our ‘stuff’.

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.

David goes on to say how we can’t really give God anything because it’s all his.  Everything we have comes from him.   We give back to him in gratitude for what he has already given us.

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 join David today as we praise you and thank you, dear God!

Problems Anyone?

God tells us several times throughout the Bible that we should rejoice when we have problems and trials.

That’s a real tough one.  We don’t want problems and trials.  They’re hard, it’s no fun. 

Those of us that have a little more ‘experience’ under our belts can look back and find this a little easier to understand.  Because it’s true.  Romans 5 tells us that problems help us develop endurance.  Endurance develops strength of character and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

Endurance is a basic part of doing anything well for a long time.  Do we want to have a long marraige?  Do we want to have great kids who grow up to be great young adults?  Do we want to run our race of faith well all the way to the end?  It all takes endurance so it’s good to learn this early.

And we learn endurance by practicing it during problems and trials.  No one has to ‘endure’ through the good times.  When the going gets tough, we learn to endure by the things we do correctly and by our failures.  If we learn from our mistakes we get to call it a ‘life lesson’ and move on.  And hopefully we become more wise as we depend more and more on God,….as we endure.

Thank you, dear Father, for loving us enough to teach us endurance which strengthens our character and draws us closer to you.

Satan Rose Up

Interesting – 1 Chronicles 21 tells us that Satan rose up and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel.

How could a census be the work of Satan?

Joab pleads with David to stop – he know that David was leading the Israelites into sin.

But David doesn’t listen, the census is taken and 70,000 people die as punishment for it.  David now is repentant and he builds an altar to God on the threshing floor of Araunah.  This is the site where David’s son, Solomon, will build the temple for God.

What was Satan doing?  Romans 2 points out to us that a person with a heart that is changed by God seeks praise from God, not by people.  When David wanted a census taken, God could see his heart and he could tell David was not doing this to glorify God.  David was doing this to glorify himself  – he wanted to know exactly how big his kingdom had become.  He lost focus on who had given him everything he had and it started to be all about ‘me’.

This is the work of Satan.  He’s happy anytime he can get us to change our focus away from God to anything else – especially ourselves.   Because we’re easy prey for that one, aren’t we?

Thank you, dear Father, for all  you are and all you have given us.  Please help us keep our focus on you.

The Secret Spiral

Romans 1 is very ‘in your face’ about the spiral of sin.

The first step is darkness and confusion in our minds.  When we don’t do a good job of filtering the things we expose ourselves to, our minds become dark even though we’re claiming to be wise.

The next step is that we put these dark and confused thoughts into action.  We begin to live like this, trading the truth about God for a lie.

The final step is that we are living like this and we are encouraging others to do these things as well.

It’s a spiral that starts with our minds.  So its secret and private at first.  Until it grabs ahold of us and our thoughts turn into attitudes which become our behaviors.  And gradually we drift farther and farther away from God until we’re living a lie.

I recently had a great conversation with some friends about the 50 Shades of Gray book series.  I was unaware of the real content of the first book when I downloaded it on my kindle.  I read the first 3 chapters and then deleted it off of my kindle.  My opinion – its soft porn.  If it had pictures, you could put a Playboy or Playgirl cover on it.

Forget the plot – it’s all the other stuff that is also going into our minds along with it that Paul is talking about in Romans.  The first step – it’s private……but it’s in there.  It’s the first step….. or have we moved onto the 2nd step of saying that it’s ok for us?  Or are we already on the 3rd step where we’ve decided it’s ok for us AND we’re telling other people they should do it, too?

We all have this problem in a variety of areas of our lives – it’s called sin.  Paul goes on to tell us that God’s kindness is intended to turn us from our sin.  God is wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient with us.  We don’t deserve it, we can’t earn it – it’s call grace.

Thank you, dear Father, for your abundant grace and love.  Please help us turn our minds towards you as we struggle with sin.

Prove it!

When we look up into the sky, what do we see?
Proof that there is a Creator God.
His design is so intricate……
and so magnificent!

He set the moon and the stars in place.
He created the sun and the planets.
This universe and everything else out there is his.

We are his. We each reflect a different piece of who he is. Our different colors, shapes, sizes, personalities, gifts and talents all come from Him. We are made in His image.
We’re living proof that there is a God. Our Father. Our Creator. Our Savior.

Thank you, dear Father!

They said it would happen

Paul does an incredible job of sharing the Good News with everyone throughout the book of Acts. In Acts 26 he is talking with King Agrippa who is an expert on all Jewish customs and controversies.

Imagine, the Bible tells us that they are in an auditorium filled with military officers and prominent men of the city when King Agrippa asks Paul to tell his story.
And tell it he does – all of it, starting with his persecution of Christians, including his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and explaining that now he was just being obedient to the visions that had been given to him from heaven.

Paul took this opportunity to share his testimony with everyone there that day. He ended it by saying that all he was teaching was what Moses said would happen. Moses told them that the Messiah would suffer and would be raised again announcing God’s light to everyone. Other prophets like Isaiah also described the Messiah’s life and death in detail.  Paul was testifying to his personal knowledge that what they said would happen had just happened.
Festus said that Paul was insane but King Agrippa, who knew what the prophets had foretold, said that Paul was not guilty of anything.
The truth was that Jesus had fulfilled all of the prophecies.
They just needed to believe.

Dear Father, we pray for all of those who still need to believe in you. Please open their eyes and hearts to your truth.

When Up is the Only Way Out

A huge Assyrian army is camped by Jerusalem’s water source.   Their king is telling everyone the Lord has told him to attack Jerusalem and destroy it.

King Hezekiah consults with the prophet Isaiah to get the truth about what the Lord was doing.  The Lord told Isaiah that King Hezekiah should not be disturbed by what the Assyrians were saying –  God was going to move against them himself.

Next, the Assyrians send a message warning King Hezekiah that he should not be deceived by God’s promises to protect him.  Hezekiah knows that the Assyrians have always completely destroyed everyone in their path and that’s exactly what was going to happen to Jerusalem.

The fact is that King Hezekiah did know how the Assyrians were completing destroying everyone – their army was enormous and no one could stop them.

So he took the Assyrian’s letter to the temple and spread it out before the Lord.  He laid out his concerns before the Lord and asked him to rescue them so that all the nations of the world would know that he was God.

I visualize Hezekiah on his knees spreading out this scroll full of confusing and deadly threats.  Then he totally lays himself down on the floor in front of the scroll as he asks God to save his people.

How interesting – he doesn’t summon the commander of his army.  He doesn’t consult with anyone.  He and his people are facing annihilation and he prostrates himself before God.

I’ve been there.  Faced with enormous threats that were extremely beyond my control, I laid it all out before God and asked him to take care of it.  I didn’t know how he would do it and I told him I didn’t care – I was just placing it all in his hands and trusting in his promise that his purpose is not to harm me but to prosper me.

It worked for me just like it worked for Hezekiah thousands of years ago.  God heard both of our prayers and took care of the situation for both of us.

Thank you, dear Father, for loving us and rescuing us in times of trouble.