Monthly Archives: May 2010

Do God’s work

1 Chronicles 28:20

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.”  NIV

God had given David all of the plans for the temple, but, David was not the one to build it, his son Solomon was.  Just before this verse, David has given Solomon all of the detailed plans, including weights and dimensions for the temple and everything that was to be in it.

In the next chapter, David explains to the people, that Solomon is “young and inexperienced.”  Perhaps that is the reason for David’s words here in this verse.

For some time now, I’ve been thinking that I would like to get an exhaustive commentary of the Bible.  This verse brings that issue up again for me.  I have questions about David’s words here that I cannot answer for myself.  When I look at this verse in the Message translation, it says, “Take charge!  Take heart!  Don’t be anxious or get discouraged.  God, my God, is with you in this; he won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch.  He’s at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God.” MSG  All of this sounds very much like a faithful father encouraging his son.

But, I keep stumbling over the part where it says that God will be with Solomon until the work is completed.  Won’t He always be with Solomon?  I can’t remember enough of Solomon’s story at the moment to figure that out.  I know that he completes the temple, and I know that he asks God for wisdom and is a wise and well-loved ruler, but, I don’t remember whether he went off the rails later in life.  At some point, when I have more time, I will look into this.  But, if I had an exhaustive commentary, I am thinking that the answer would be there … I will look into that, too.

For the moment, however, I will focus on the part of this verse that speaks to me.  Solomon was given a monumental task.  Solomon knew that this was God’s work, that God had ordained it, and that doing this work would be wholly in God’s will.

David tells Solomon not to worry, because God will be with him as he accomplishes the task.

Today, God still has lots of work to be done here on earth.  I used to have a pastor who said that one of the reasons God created us was for us to be His hands and His feet here on earth.  We need to be about doing God’s work — helping others in whatever ways they need it, and accomplishing the tasks that God has ordained for us.

If we are working to do that, we have nothing to fear or worry about.

I will think about that today … and I’ll also visit the bookstore.

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Filed under Fear, I Chronicles, Old Testament

Don’t expect the worst

2 Samuel 9:7

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan.  I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” NIV

Saul had been the king of Israel before David.  His son, Jonathan, was David’s best friend.  Now, both Saul and Jonathan are dead, and David has asked his people, “Is there anyone left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (v. 1)  One of David’s servants points out that Mephibosheth, one of Jonathan’s sons is still living and the servant adds, “he is crippled in both feet.”

I, like many people, know what it’s like to live in a less-than-perfect body.  But, in 2010, I am blessed with doctors and remedies that make my situation very livable.  In David’s time, it must have been extremely difficult to be crippled, and not just in one foot, but both.

When I think of Mephibosheth, I have always pictured him as downcast.  Perhaps, I am projecting what I would have felt in his situation, but, that’s how I see him.  The man has had a tough life, and now, his grandfather, who had once been very powerful, is dead, his father is dead, and the new king, whom his grandfather tried very hard to kill has summoned him.

I am betting that Mephibosheth was more than worried about this meeting.  He very well had no idea what David wanted, and, I’m betting, given his history, he did not have high expectations that the encounter would turn out well.

I often find myself thinking that way.  If things have not gone well, I have no reason to assume that they will get better, in fact, I often expect them to just get worse.

But, David tells Mephibosheth not to worry, and then, David restores him to all that the man had when his grandfather was king … and more!

The worst doesn’t always happen … sometimes God has wonderful blessings in store for us, just around the next corner.  But, since he did not equip us to see the future, we don’t know what will happen.

Today, I will think about that, and I will enjoy waiting for God’s next blessing.


Filed under Anxious, Fear, II Samuel, Old Testament

There are more on our side than on their side

2 Kings 6:15-17

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city.  “Oh my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.  “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered.  “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  And Elisha prayed,”O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.”  Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

I don’t know very much about Elisha.  I know that he was an Old Testament prophet and a man of God, and I know that he had the power to perform miracles.  Earlier in this chapter, it is explained that Elisha knew the  plans of the king of Aram to harm the king of Israel.  Elisha warned the king of Israel so that he could evade the trap.  This made the king of Aram very angry, and when he found out that Elisha was the source of the information supplied to the king of Israel, the king of Aram sent “an impressive fighting force” to Dothan, where Elijah was staying.  Verse 14 says, “they came by night and surrounded the city.”


When I think about the servant’s experience in the context of my daily life, it must have been like getting out of bed and finding an entire army between me and the coffee maker.  That would be worrisome.

But, the best part is what comes next.  I love the way the Message translates verse 16, “Don’t worry about it — there are more on our side than on their side.” MSG

Now, if I’m that servant, I’m thinking, “There’s just me — here in my pajamas — and all of these soldiers and horses are in the kitchen — counting you, there are two of us … why should I not be worried?”

But Elisha asks God to open the servant’s eyes, and the army of horses and chariots and fire that is protecting Elisha is revealed to him.


I wonder, could Elisha see this army all the time?  Was the army always there?  Or, did they just show up when Elisha really needed them?  I don’t know the answers to these questions.

But, I do know that as a Christian, I have a power within me that is much greater than that contained in my physical body.  I have been in-dwelt  with the Holy Spirit of God, I am a child of God, and He will never leave me or forsake me.

What if I had Elisha’s vision?  What if I could actually see the power of God going before me, or the hand of God supporting me in times of stress?  Would that make it easier to trust God?  I am thinking that it might.  But, I also think that trust earned in that way would not be as precious as the trust that comes with true faith.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Fear, II Kings, Trust

You can’t out-give God

I Kings 17:13-14

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid.  Go home and do as you have said.  But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.  For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.'” NIV

I’m now in the story of Elijah.  As this story of the widow at Zarephath unfolds, we learn that there has been drought so severe that the brook dried up.  God tells Elijah to go to Zaraphath, because He has “commanded a widow” in that place to supply Elijah with food.

When Elijah gets to the town gate, there is a woman there gathering sticks.  He asks her to bring him some water, and as she is going to get it, he calls after her, “And bring me please, a piece of bread.”

This is where she pours out her heart to him.  She doesn’t have any bread.  All she has is a little flour and a little oil.  She explains to Elijah that she is gathering sticks so that she can go home and bake a loaf of bread for her and her son, “so that we may eat it — and die.”

This woman has real problems.  She and her family are literally on the brink of starvation.  And yet, when Elijah asks her for water, she goes immediately to fetch it for him.

I am curious about the wording of verse 9, where God says, “I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.”  I am wondering if she had, in fact, heard the command, and had determined that she did not have the means to feed someone else.  I am wondering if her plan was to eat the last of the food, so that when the stranger showed up, she could truthfully tell him that she had nothing to offer.  I think that would be pretty tempting … self preservation is a pretty strong instinct.  I can easily see how this might have been the case.

But, Elijah tells her to go ahead and make a meal for herself, but first, to make a small cake for him.  And then, he drops the bombshell, “the jar of flour will not be used up and jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.”

If I had been that woman, I think I would have thought that Elijah was telling me that the drought would be over the next day.  But, that wasn’t what happened.  The woman and her child and Elijah continued to eat each day from that same supply of flour and oil for some time.

You can’t out-give God.

This woman was faithful.  She did as God commanded and as Elijah told her.  She fed Elijah first from what she had, and then herself.  And, God was faithful to allow the flour and the oil to sustain them.

In my own life, I’ve found that if I am faithful in following God’s commands, especially about tithing, I am somehow always taken care of.  Despite multiple instances where I have worried that I would run out of money before I ran out of month, God has somehow always provided — a rebate check will arrive, or someone will send me a gift, or some sort of something will happen — the money shows up.

God is faithful.  He is not bound by time, or by my circumstances.  He has an army of children at His disposal who are willing and able to do His will here on earth.  God works miracles.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Hope, I Kings, Old Testament, Trust, Worry

Trust God.

Numbers 20:12

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” NIV

At this point in the book of Numbers, the scouts already have entered the promised land and returned with reports of the very large, very powerful, very frightening people who live there.  The Israelites already have refused to enter the land.  And, when Moses and Aaron attempted to convince them to take advantage of the promise and provision of God, the people threatened to stone them to death.

Now, they are wandering in the desert, and, they have run out of water.  God tells Moses to take his staff and speak to a rock, and He will provide water for the people and their animals.  Moses strikes the rock, water pours forth and everyone drinks.

Then this verse.  God has just done the impossible.  He has brought water out of a stone in the middle of the desert.  In the midst of this miracle, He says to Moses and Aaron, “Because you didn’t trust me, didn’t treat me with holy reverence in front of the People of Israel, you two aren’t going to lead this company into the land that I am giving them.” MSG

Trust is serious business.

When I read this verse, especially the part that says, “you did not honor me as holy,” I was curious.  I didn’t remember Moses not honoring God.  So, I went back to the scene that I described above, and I found the part about Moses and Aaron being threatened by the people.

While I didn’t find reference to God not being honored as holy there, it does make sense to me that He was not.  The Bible talks a lot about being faithful.  Many times, those references are to God himself, who is always faithful.  But, other times, we are called to be faithful. Revelation 2:10 says, “Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” NIV

It occurs to me that when the people threatened to stone Moses, he must have felt hopeless.  He must have thought, “There is no way that I can get these stubborn people to cross into Canaan.”  But, he didn’t say, in the face of those threats, “I don’t care if you try to stone me.  This is what God said to do, and I’m stepping out on trust … I’m leaving now, so, make your decision — try to kill me or follow me to the blessings God has for you.”  I wonder what would have happened if he had said that?  Would God then not have spoken these words in Numbers 20:12?

God created us with free will.  We can choose not to trust Him.  We can choose not to step into His plan for our life, and we will surely miss the blessing that He has for us if we make that decision.

I think that the lesson that the lives of Moses and Aaron teach is this: Trust God.  Honor Him as holy.  Do not be overcome by worry or by fear.  You don’t have the whole picture — God does.  Trust Him.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Numbers, Old Testament, Trust

Help others to find encouragement in God

1 Samuel 23: 16-17

And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.  “Don’t be afraid,” he said.  “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you.  You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.”  NIV

So, at this point in the story, Saul is king over Israel.  He has done something, I can’t remember what it is at the moment, but, he somehow disobeyed God, and for that, he is being replaced.  God has ordained David to be the next king, and Saul knows it.  He’s very, very angry (likely at himself if he were to be honest about it) and is hunting David down to kill him.

How often do we do that?  We take matters into our own hands to correct a situation that would not be in existence if we had just been obedient in the first place.

Saul’s actions, however, have a devastating effect on David, and lots of other people, too.  Yesterday, I found where he had killed an entire village, for goodness sake.

David is hiding out … although, he can’t be very well hidden if his best friend and brother-in-law is able to find him.  But, I love this first verse, Jonathan went to help his friend find strength in God.  I love that.  All of my strength comes from God.  I know that.  David knew that.  Saul knew that, in his heart of hearts.

But Jonathan takes it upon himself to go and find his friend and encourage him.  David is wholly in God’s will.  David has a magnificent future ahead of him.  David has allowed himself to be distracted and frightened out of his wits by his current circumstances.  But Jonathan keeps the big picture in mind and reminds David of God’s promise and God’s provision.

It is easy when things are going very poorly to allow ourselves to believe that they will never go well again.  It is at those times that we need Godly friends to help us to find encouragement in God.  And, when we see others who are struggling, it is incumbent upon us to point the way … the one true way … through Christ Jesus.

I am so thankful for the Jonathans in my life.  And, I, too, want to follow Jonathan’s example.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Fear, I Samuel, Old Testament

Turn yourself outward

1 Samuel 23:

“Stay with me; don’t be afraid; the man who is seeking your life is seeking mine, also.  You will be safe with me.” NIV

Finally, we have come to the story of David as I work my way through the “fear nots” in my King James concordance.  David is my absolute favorite character in the Bible.  When I list the things that I am thankful for, the life and the writings of David are definitely on that list.

David was a man after God’s own heart.  He was ordained by God to be the king of Israel, and yet, he endured trials and was persecuted and feared for his life.  In this story, David is hiding out because he is being pursued by his father-in-law, Saul, who has turned against him.  Earlier in the chapter, Saul orders that an entire village of priests and their families be massacred because they prayed with David and helped him on his way and did not alert Saul to his whereabouts.

One of the sons of one of the priests, Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David.  David takes full responsibility for what happened to the boy’s family, and then tells him, “you will be safe with me.”

I love that.  David is scared to death, and yet, he takes the time to comfort and reassure one who is in need.

How often do we do that?  Are we not more likely to say, “Look, I know you have problems, but look how much bigger mine are!”

Now, in this case, Abiathar’s problems were truly huge.  Everyone in his village has just been brutally murdered, so, it might have been easier for David to reach out to him, but, I prefer to think of this an example of how we are to treat others who come to us for help or solace.  We must get outside ourselves and our own issues, and focus on the other person.

When I was a kid, I was prone to introspection … come to think of it, I still am.  When I would get down about an issue or problem and would begin worrying about it, my mother used to say, “Turn yourself outward!  There are people in  your world with real problems.  Go think about how  you can help them.”  And she would always end with this phrase, “things that turn inward on themselves collapse.”  And she was right.

To stand effectively, a building must have a firm foundation, and it must be engineered appropriately to support its weight.  Canted too much to the center, the building will not stand.

In the same way, we as Christians, must build our lives on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and align our trust completely with Him.  We can then reach out to others to help.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Fear, I Samuel, Old Testament

1 Samuel 12:20

“Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied.  “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.  Do not turn after useless idols.  They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.  For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people because the Lord was  pleased to make you his own.” NIV

Samuel says all of this in response to the Israelites, who had asked Samuel to pray to God for them, “for we have added to all our other sins, the evil of asking for a king.” (v. 19)

There is a lot of wisdom in this verse.  Sometimes, I think we just feel worn out with falling short.  It is at those times that it is easiest to give in to the worries of this world and to just say, “I give up, I can’t do this.”

But, if we take that attitude, we are allowing the enemy, and for me that is worry, to win.  We are, in fact, turning after useless idols by taking that approach, and Samuel eloquently reminds of us God’s perspective.

God knows that we will fall short, but, he still expects us to serve Him with all of our hearts.  He will not forsake us, no matter how poorly we execute the plan, because He was pleased to make us His own.

There is a powerful amount of encouragement in these verses.  I will think about that today.

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Filed under Fear, I Samuel, Old Testament

Ruth 3:11

And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid.  I will do for you all you ask.  All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character.  NIV

This verse is from the story of Ruth.  Ruth has just asked that Boaz become her kinsman redeemer, and he tells her, according to the Message, “don’t worry about a thing.”

The story of Ruth is a wonderful example of obedience.  Ruth is obedient to her mother-in-law, even though she is not completely certain of all of the whys and wherefores of what she is asked to do.  She doesn’t ask questions, she does as she is instructed, and is richly rewarded for it.

She is a loyal and loving daughter-in-law, and, ultimately finds herself in the lineage of Christ Jesus.

Such a beautiful story for a beautiful Sunday morning.

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Filed under Fear, Old Testament, Ruth

Judges 6:23

But the Lord said to him, “Peace!  Do not be afraid.  You are not going to die.” NIV

I’m still in the story of Gideon, which is in the Old Testament, before the coming of Christ.

Gideon has just been visited by the Angel of the Lord, and, when he realizes that he has seen the Angel of the Lord face-to-face, he panics.

In the limited study that I’ve done in the Old Testament, it is clear that God does not want people to get too close to Him.  There is a story where some approved folks are carrying the Arc of the Covenant and they almost drop it, and this man reaches out to help steady it, and he dies immediately.

When Gideon realizes how close he is to God, he must have immediately feared for his life.  Hence this verse.

I find it so amazing — the shift that took place when Christ came to earth.  His focus was on drawing people to Him in close personal ways.  Children, poor people, sick people, anyone with needs — and isn’t that everyone?

When Christ was crucified, the Bible says that the curtain covering the Holy of Holies in the temple was split from top to bottom … not bottom to top by a human, but top to bottom, by God — so that there would no longer be a barrier between God and us.

What a privilege to have the ability to call upon the Living God in times of trouble and frustration.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Fear, Judges, Old Testament