Trusting God to help me!

“Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” (Psalm 54:4)
The background to this Psalm is 1 Samuel 26.
David is on the run, and his own neighbours are telling Saul where he is.
At one point, David has a chance to kill Saul, but he refuses.
He chooses to trust God to make him king, rather than commit regicide.
“The Lord rewards us for doing what is right and being faithful.” (1 Samuel 26:23).
As Jesus followers, we have God’s promise to be loved, blessed and used by God.
But like Jesus, and David, we often experience resistance, hardship and rejection.
The Enemy uses people – even those close to us – to hinder, hurt and defeat us.
We may be tempted to fight back, teach them a lesson, or force our way on them.
But this is not God’s way, this is not the way of Jesus, Whom we follow.
God is our help, He will sustain us and enable us to overcome the Enemy.
We must strive to be like Jesus – loving, gracious, merciful – even to our enemies.
Where am I facing challenges in my life in Christ, where is the enemy hindering me?
Can I find a way to overcome evil with good, and can I trust God to defend me?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, when facing hardship trusting You is easier to blog about than it is to do it. Help me to see that THIS is where the rubber of faith hits the road. Help me to trust You especially when the Enemy comes on strong.

Tested by temptation!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 1 Chronicles 20-22
“Satan incited David to take a census of Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:1)
By taking the census, David was putting more confidence in his troops than in God.
But who incited David to take the census, God or Satan?
“The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.” (2 Samuel 24:1)
According to James, God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13-14).
But God does test us, and the Greek word for tempt and test is the same.
The difference is the intent: God wants to help us, Satan wants to hurt us.
God uses Satan and David’s sinful heart to teach the result of rejecting God.
As in the parable of the prodigal son, the Father lets the son choose his folly.
But He also is ready and eager to take us back, when we come to our senses.
God allows us the freedom to choose, and He uses our choices to teach us.
Using Satan God tests us, but He always has a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Today’s reading shows us the serious danger of Satan, sin and temptation.
It is also a call to repent, and to reach out to Jesus for mercy and help.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I am tested/tempted everyday… and You allow it. Help me to see Your heart in this, Your intent to help me choose the path of LIFE with You!

The kingdom is established!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 1 Chronicles 17-19
“His throne will be established forever.” (1 Chronicles 17:13)
When God sees all humans, He sees His much-loved, wayward children.
God sees their sin, their shame, their misery and the their folly… and He loves them.
God’s plan is to restore His children, but He has to work WITH them.
Because God put us in charge, He must also use us to restore His kingdom.
God uses sinful humans (Abraham, Moses, David) to restore His kingdom.
He chooses the little people, invisible in the world’s eyes, to set things right.
God is not rejecting the rest of the world, but uses His chosen to win back the rest.
Ultimately God uses Jesus – the perfect human – to fully restore His kingdom.
Satan is defeated, ‘Adam’ is back in charge, God’s kingdom is established!
Through Jesus – the ultimate son of David – God establishes His kingdom forever!
But there is still work to do, and God still uses humans to finish His work.
As servants of the Son of David, Son of Adam, we join in His kingdom work.
By living ‘like God’ and ‘like Jesus’, we take back our world for God!
By showing and sharing God’s love and mercy, we extend God’s kingdom authority.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, thank You for taking back our kingdom from Satan, and for restoring us as children of God. May I live according to this reality, and show the world Your kingdom goodness!

Who does Jesus celebrate?

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 9:33-37
“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
Among chickens, there is a pecking order… among humans too.
We want to establish ourselves in a good place, to rise up in the ranks.
There is something normal and healthy in this… God created us to valued.
But the curse of sin has twisted this into a game of ‘king of the hill’.
The disciples of Jesus were playing this game too… is that different today?
Does the church focus on the stars, the celebrities, those who perform well?
Jesus was not a performer, nor did He celebrate the performers.
Jesus did His best to downplay public acclaim, to stay humble and invisible.
And His focus was on the little and invisible people as well.
Children, women, outcasts, ‘sinners’… Jesus celebrated these ones!
These are the ones that Jesus celebrates, that He seeks autographs from…
As Jesus followers, have we set up our own pecking order?
Do we value those with visible gifts and positions more than the invisible ones?
Do we celebrate everyday people in our church, and value their presence?
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, how easy it is to slip into the world’s pecking order, and even to build it into the life of Your church. Help me to see the true heroes and stars among us, and help me to be like them, like You!

Honest, humble faith

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 9:30-32
“They did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him.” (Mark 9:32)
It would have been intimidating to talk with Jesus.
He was so wise, so good, so perceptive… and yet sometimes so confusing.
What Jesus says about God’s messiah goes against what the Jews believed.
Peter had recently rebuked Jesus for saying this (Mark 8:32-33).
Now the disciples are afraid to question Him, but they still don’t get it.
Today’s reading reminds us how it is possible to misunderstand Jesus.
Sometimes we act so confident in what we know (or think we know).
We think our version of God, of Jesus, of the Gospel, is the ONLY true way.
But we need to be cautious about this, and not become too self-confident.
As Jesus followers, our confidence is in Jesus, not in our ideas about Jesus.
We are more than likely wrong about many things – yet GRACE is still our hope.
It is because of Jesus that we are saved, not because we’re right.
Its one thing to be ignorant (to not know), but its worse to be arrogant in it.
Like Job we must say, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand!” (Job 42:3)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, its not just that I MAY be wrong in my beliefs, I’m sure I am. Thank You for the reminder that it is not my theology or beliefs that saves me, but Your grace and mercy… despite my flawed beliefs.

When Satan’s lies are too strong!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 9:25-29
“This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:29)
When I think of spirits, I think of the negative voices in my head.
Some are weak, some are strong, some are impossible to resist.
Everyday these deceiving voices try to disrupt, distract or discourage us.
Usually I am able to dismiss them, they’re so obviously wrong.
But some voices become so strong, they take over my mind.
Some people become so possessed by lies, they become unmanageable.
Just telling the truth to someone who is deceived won’t help them.
Only God can break into their hearts and minds to set them free.
When we face these powerful, destructive lies, God is our only help and hope.
Is there someone you love who is trapped in deceptive thinking?
You can try to talk them into the truth, and they might listen.
But often they won’t – they can’t – they need God’s help.
This is where prayer comes in, praying for God to speak into their mind.
Pray that God will set their minds and lives free from Satan’s lies.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, someone I know and love is caught in a lie. Speak Your command into their heart and mind, and set them free!

Depends what you believe!

THE STORY OF JESUS: Mark 9:14-24
“Everything is possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:23)
Is this ACTUALLY true, can believing make the impossible possible?
It depends in part on who or what we believe in.
If I believe in something weak, I cannot expect strong results.
If I believe in something evil, I cannot expect good results.
But if we put our hope in a good, all powerful God, there are new possibilities.
It is not ‘belief’ that makes things possible, but ‘belief in God!’
Evil spirits have power in our lives because we believe the thoughts they produce.
Negative, doubtful, hopeless, selfish, jealous, angry thoughts or feelings…
We give more credit to negativity or despair, than to the God of hope.
Every situation, crisis, or challenge has good possibility, when God is involved.
Jesus is not urging this man to believe in belief, but to believe in Him, and God.
Stop letting your fears convince you that they are bigger, better than God.
Trust God, and tell your fears how big your God is.
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, no matter how big or scary or hopeless my situation may be, You are always bigger. I choose to trust You, help me do this more and more.

Christian Atheists or Atheist Christians?

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 53:1)
David is overwhelmed by how many people deny and defy God.
Personally I do agree that it is foolish to deny and/or defy God.
But I do not think that every atheist or agnostic is a morally depraved person.
In fact I know atheists/agnostics whose goodness puts Christians to shame.
Some may argue there is no such thing as secular or God-less goodness.
I believe such ‘goodness’ still reflects God’s goodness, and is rooted in God not evil.
This Psalm is not David’s commentary on atheists, but on people who are evil.
(See Psalm 10:2-13 for a description of these kinds of people).
They have no concern for God; they do evil and figure God will not punish them.
To some extent we all exhibit some of this folly.
Don’t think that you are better than others – we all have our sins and imperfections.
But there are wicked sinners and humble sinners, and God can tell the difference.
I’ve met atheists who act like Christians, and Christians who act like atheists.
Only God can sort out in the end who are open to Him, and who are closed.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, I know atheists who act like Christians, and Christians who act like atheists. My own heart is divided at times. Help me to be a humble sinner, who knows my need for Your mercy and help.

God blesses His anointed!

THE STORY OF JESUS: 1 Chronicles 11-16
“Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” (1 Chronicles 16:22)
The story of Israel shows how God favours the underdog.
He makes this slave nation His appointed prophets for the world.
To show the world that there is only one God, and He stands for the little people.
God chooses David, the youngest son, a shepherd boy, to be the greatest king!
The church similarly is made up of little people doing great things.
Jesus followers are mighty warriors of grace, mercy and love.
The kingdom of God comes with power, as we serve our anointed king.
And God protects his anointed prophets, guaranteeing their ultimate victory.
As Christians, we are ‘anointed ones’ (‘Christ’ means anointed).
God is with us, God is for us, we are living under His gracious blessing.
As we put our hand to His kingdom work, He will grant us success.
But this assurance is ONLY for those who live as His prophets, for His purpose.
Jesus promises “I am with You always” (Matthew 28:18-20) to those who go for Him.
May today’s reading inspire me to be a mighty warrior for my king, for His kingdom!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, forgive me for using Your blessings for my comfort and ease. Help me to see – and use – Your blessings for the purpose of blessing others, that the whole world will know Your love!

The moral of the story…

THE STORY OF JESUS: 1 Chronicles 1-10
“Taken captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness.” (1 Chronicles 9:1)
The books of Chronicles were written by a priest(s), possibly Ezra.
It was written after Israel returned from their captivity in Babylon.
It is not just a record of the facts, it is a sermon, a story with a life lesson.
The comfort in this reading, including the list of names, is seeing God’s faithfulness.
The author is tracing out God’s hand in Israel’s story through the generations.
God has always been there for Israel, staying true to His promises.
The challenge in this reading is seeing Israel’s unfaithfulness.
Human sin is inevitably the reason behind all the world’s troubles.
God wants to bless us and keep us from pain (1 Chronicles 4:10).
But hardship is normally because (1) we made unwise or sinful choices or…
(2) Someone else did, and we are paying for their unfaithfulness.
God reminds us of the consequences of our choices (1 Corinthians 10:6).
God uses this author – and ultimately Jesus – to stress the moral of our story…
Repent (change your direction), believe (in God’s faithfulness) and follow Him!
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, You are still challenging me to rethink how I am living, to trust Your grace and goodness, and to live with, like and for You in this messed up world. Help me to hear the moral of this story!