Tag Archives: faith

You’re asking the wrong question

I Samuel 14: 6

Jonathan said to his young armor bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows.  Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf.  Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving whether by many or by few.” NIV

It’s February.

I began this journey last February, while I was in the midst of a Beth Moore study.  It is so fitting that I’ll finish this February, in the midst of another.  Last night, the women of my church began to study, “David – A Heart Like His.”  I am so looking forward to this study.  David is my very favorite person in the Bible.

But, we’ve begun by looking at the faith of others who would touch and shape David’s life.  We spent the first day of our homework with Jonathan.

In this verse, he is young, and has set off on an adventure, alone with only his armor bearer.

As he and his young companion creep up on the Philistine camp, he says, “Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf.  Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving whether by many or by few.”

Nothing can hinder the LORD!

Jonathan knows that God can accomplish anything … his only question is whether God will choose to do so.

It struck me last night as I was doing the homework that this has been a source of worry for me in the past … will God do what I want Him to do?

The joy, the freedom of the redeemed life comes in flipping the question.

Not, “Will God do what I want?”  but, “What does God want of me?”

Each day, I must ask, “How can I fall in and be helpful in God’s plan … whatever it is that He chooses to do?”

God can accomplish whatever He chooses.

That’s what I’ll think about today

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Filed under I Samuel, Old Testament, Worry

Faith is all that is required

Luke 2:46-48a

And Mary said:  “My soul glorifies the LORD and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” NIV

Mary has learned that she will be the mother of the son of God.  She has visited Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist, and the two of them have rejoiced together over the first coming of Christ.

These are the first verses of the song that Mary sings to God.

Mary is facing real uncertainty.  No one has ever done what she has been called to do.  She is engaged, but not married, and her pregnancy would surely put her earthly future in jeopardy … but, Mary isn’t worried about the future.

Instead, she focuses on the miracle of the moment, saying, “My soul glorifies the LORD and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”

Mary has true faith.  God blesses that.  He is mindful of her … he chooses her from all other women to be the mother of His son.

She’s not a rich person … she’s not a successful business woman … she is not moving or shaking anything when God chooses her … she is simply a young woman who believes.

Faith is all that is required to be used by God.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Faith, Luke, New Testament

Don’t quit!

Revelation 2:10

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.  I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you and you will suffer persecution for ten days.  Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.  NIV

Be faithful.

The Message paraphrases this part of the verse, “Don’t quit, even if it costs you your life.  Stay there believing.” MSG

Whatever comes, whatever trials you must endure, whatever or whomever tries to rob you of your joy … be faithful!

That’s what I’ll think about today.


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Filed under Faith, Fear, New Testament, Revelation, Worry

It’s a faith problem

Matthew 14:31

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” NIV

So, I’m back in the story of Peter walking on the water.

I don’t remember the first time I learned about the concept of surface tension.  I might have been in high school.  But, as soon as it was mentioned to me that molecules on the surface of a liquid cling more tightly to one another, my mind went racing.

I looked it up this morning on a site called “hyperphysics,” and I am no less amazed by the concept this morning than I was all those years ago:  “The cohesive forces between liquid molecules are responsible for the phenomenon known as surface tension. The molecules at the surface do not have other like molecules on all sides of them and consequently they cohere more strongly to those directly associated with them on the surface. This forms a surface “film” which makes it more difficult to move an object through the surface than to move it when it is completely submersed.”

Once I got it, my first thoughts were of the water droplets that form on the hood of your car if you’ve just waxed it.  Then, I thought about swimming pools and waves, and then, I thought about the story of Peter.

God created all things.  I don’t know if he enabled Jesus and Peter to walk on the surface of that lake by adjusting the surface tension of the water.  He could just as easily have done a million other things to achieve the miracle, but, the bottom line is … it was a miracle, and Peter experienced it personally.

I love the passage just before this verse, “Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus.  But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink.” MSG

Peter is doing something that, to my knowledge, had never been done before or since.  He was allowed to defy the laws of physics for a few brief moments, and, as long as he keeps his eyes on Christ, all is fine.  When he stops to consider the improbable nature of his circumstance … he fails.

How often is it like that for us?

We are afforded a miracle beyond miracles … money shows up to pay a bill just when we need it, someone calls offering precisely the help we need.  We’ve prayed for these things, we’ve asked God to give them to us, just as Peter asked Jesus to allow him to walk on water — yet, when we get the things we’ve asked for, we start to worry — we begin to dissecting the blessings, instead of accepting them for the miracles that they surely are.

Why do we do this?  Jesus gives that answer … it’s a faith problem.

I want to have the faith that prompts me to accept, rather than to dissect.  It is that faith that will afford the peace that passes understanding, and it is borne of trust in the one, true God.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Fear, Matthew, New Testament, Trust, Worry

He’ll help you catch your breath

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. NIV

We get our hearts broken.

Mostly because, I think, we have dreams or plans that don’t work out the way we have envisioned them.

Yesterday, the pastor spoke on Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” NIV  He gave multiple examples of plans that he had made that did not work out as he had hoped.  He repeatedly said, “but the Lord” had different plans.

It strikes me that this condition is inevitable.  Human beings were created by God with the ability to dream, to plan, to envision the future … but, we have not been given the ability to control it.  Hence, our hearts get broken.  The boy asks another girl to the dance, the college acceptance letter doesn’t come, the fairy tale wedding doesn’t lead to happily ever after, someone dies too young.

Our hearts get broken.

God knows this is inevitable.  He created the heart with all its complexities.  And, He left this verse here for us to find: The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.  What a blessing that is!  When my heart is broken and my spirit is crushed and I feel I’ve been treated unfairly and when I’m worried sick about what will happen next … or won’t happen next, God is there.

The verse says more than that … He “saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  What an encouragement!

One of my dearest friends shared a quote with me recently from Charles Stanley.  I wrote it out on a piece of paper and placed it where I can see it easily each day … “Disappointment is inevitable, discouragement is a choice.”

Christ came to bind up the brokenhearted.  Having lived as a human, he knows the pain of betrayal, of losing a friend, of facing life-threatening circumstances.  Christ understands what it means to have a broken heart, and, through His loving example, He points the way home to our Holy Father.

The Message translates this verse, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;  if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.” MSG

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Old Testament, Peace, Psalms, Trust, Worry

Put things in the right order

Exodus 34:23-24

Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel.  I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the Lord your God. NIV

I’ve had an atypical morning.  I had a very early appointment, and, somehow, I didn’t factor that in when I set my alarm last night.

So, out the door I dashed this morning … no make up, no cell phone, no COFFEE, and, most importantly no quiet time.

It’s been quite some time since I have started a day without first opening the Bible.  It has become a habit … one that has benefitted me tremendously.  Someone told me, I can’t remember who, that it says somewhere in the Bible that God calls us to spend time with him in the early morning.  By nature, I’m a morning person, so that really works for me.

But, here it is lunchtime, and I’ve just finally made time in my day to get into the Word.  And, I believe, the verse I found there would not have meant as much to me at 6 a.m. as it does now.

God is good.  So obvious, but so true.

This verse is part of the broader story of Moses receiving the ten commandments.  Last night, a dear friend was speaking about Moses, and she said, “He broke every single one of the Ten Commandments.”  Of course, I began an inventory in my head … thou shalt not … and then she delivered the punch line … “right there on the ground,” she said, miming throwing down the tablets, “he broke them all at once!”  I laughed.  I had never heard that joke before.

So, at this point, Moses has broken the tablets and he’s gone back to the mountain for round two.

God tells Moses that the people should celebrate the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Ingathering, and then He begins this verse, “All your men are to appear before the Master, the God of Israel, three times a year.  You won’t have to worry about your land when you appear before your God three times each year, for I will drive out the nations before you and give you plenty of land.  Nobody’s going to be hanging around plotting ways to get it from you.” MSG

You won’t have to worry about your land … that’s really powerful.

I think that God is saying to put Him in His rightful place, first among all things here, and then everything else, all our possessions, all our earthly obligations, will fall into place.

God wants our best.  He wants the first fruits of our labor, and, I believe, He wants the first minutes of my day.

If I will be faithful, He will provide for me.  I won’t have to worry about the rest of it.

That’s worth thinking about … I’ll do that as I finish up this topsy turvy day.

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Filed under Exodus, Old Testament, Worry

Study how he did it

Hebrews 12:2

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. NIV

This is the second of three powerful verse that open Chapter 12 of the book of Hebrews.

My NIV Bible gives some background on this book.  According to that synopsis, this letter was written during the time of the first century church, which was undergoing a good deal of persecution.  It goes on to say that the recipients of the letter were likely “Christians who were thinking of abandoning their faith.”  Throughout the book, the author, who is unknown, but thought to be Barnabas or Apollos, “exhorts them to hold fast to their confession of Christ as savior and Lord.”

Our church is studying Max Lucado’s book, Fearless.  Last week,we discussed chapter 13, titled, “What if things get worse?”  The chapter addresses the fear of global calamity.

There’s a lot of global calamity going on at the moment.  There are earthquakes, the oil debacle, longstanding wars, devastating hunger, financial collapse.  There is also some persecution of the Christian faith.  Like those Christians who are the recipients of the letter of Hebrews, the persecution that we face in the U.S. has not yet resulted in martyrdom, but, for the first century Christians, my Bible says, the persecution was severe.  Lucado points to verses (Matthew 24:4-14) that indicate it will get worse.

It is through that lens … pressure that the church was struggling to bear up under … that this book is written.  And, if we use that lens today, these verses still inspire.

Worry can exert internal pressure as powerful as any external force.  When that happens, we must heed the instruction of the writer of this letter, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed — that exhilarating finish in and with God — he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever.  And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.” MSG

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Faith, Fear, Hebrews, New Testament, Worry

Don’t allow yourself to be entangled

Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  NIV

This morning, I went back to the word “lose” in my concordance, in search of references to “lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3 is the third verse from the bottom of the lose listing.  When I got to Hebrews 12 and began reading, I realized that several of the verses there are reminders not to worry.  They stand easily on their own, and, when combined, they are a powerful missive.

This first verse is beautifully written.  I love the imagery that it contains.  The words, “cloud of witnesses,” are compelling.  The Message says, “all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on.”  When I think about the group of “all these witnesses,” that the writer references nearly 2000 years ago, I am struck by how much larger the cloud of witnesses has grown in the intervening time between then and now.  As I trace my faith in my own family, we are the religion that we are because of a home missionary who helped a widow and her children many years ago.  That widow and her household converted to the missionary’s faith.  My grandmother was one of her children.  That missionary is in that cloud, and so are countless others.

The next phrase is the reminder here … “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”  That’s worry.  Worry is a hindrance and a sin that will entangle your time, your energy, your determination, everything … worry is an effective tool to render the believer ineffective.

And then, “let us run with perseverance.”  I don’t like to run.  It’s really hard work and, I find, I never really had the stamina to keep up with my friends when we would go jogging.  However, I do love to watch people run.  One of my childhood friends was a champion runner and hurdler.  She went to college on a track scholarship.  When she ran it was pure joy for her.  And, there is a picture in our yearbook of her clearing a hurdle.  The look of complete determination on her face is inspiring.  That’s the kind of running that we are called to do as Christians.  We are to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

While I don’t know what God has planned for me — the race marked out for me — I do know that there is a plan, and that I will not achieve it if I’m not up running the race.  It is not a sprint around a track.  “We are to run with perseverance,” that means cross country running, or a marathon.  A long-distance runner can walk or bike or even run the track of an upcoming race prior to the real thing, but he or she cannot possibly know all of the things that will be encountered when the race is actually happening.  I can’t know everything that will be in my path either, or all the things that I will be called to do … even though I’d really like to know those things.

Each of us as Christians is on a path.  We might stumble or wander from it from time to time, but, this verse reminds us to keep the goal in mind, and to run with perseverance.  We must avoid the obstacles that our worries pose and  listen for the cheering on of those who have gone before … they’ll be there at the end of the race to welcome us home.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Fear, II Corinthians, New Testament, Worry

You’ll sleep better

Proverbs 3:21-24

My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight, they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.  Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble, when you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  NIV

This morning, I woke up with Proverbs 3:5-6 rolling around in my head.  “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.” NIV

That verse has long been one of my favorites, and it is one that I looked at in the first two weeks of this project.   This morning, I went back to Proverbs 3, and read it through start to finish.  I had already found two reminders in that chapter, and this morning, here is a third.

“Dear Friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them.” MSG  That’s really quite true.  When we’re thinking clearly and employing common sense, we are much less likely to worry.  And, apparently, we sleep better, “You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep.” MSG  That verse makes me smile … it seems just like an advertisement from an informercial.

Even though I’m amused by the wording of that verse, I can see that this is also absolutely true.  The lack of worry does make for a much better night’s sleep.

If I am trusting God with all my heart, if I am acknowledging him in everything that I do, if I am thinking clearly and employing common sense, I can’t be worrying.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Old Testament, Proverbs

Our Rock cannot be rolled

Isaiah 44:8

“Do not tremble, do not be afraid.  Did I not foretell it long ago?  You are my witnesses.  Is there any God besides me?  No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” NIV

For the last few days, I’ve been skipping around the Bible a bit.  I left the “fear not” list and went back to Psalm 119, and then hopped over into the New Testament.  Now, I’m back to the list of “fear nots” in my King James concordance, and back in Isaiah.  This verse comes later in the chapter that I began several days ago.

God is speaking here.  The Message translates this verse, “Don’t be afraid and don’t worry:  Haven’t I always kept you informed, told you what was going on?  You are my eyewitnesses:  Have you ever come across a God, a real God, other than me?  There’s no Rock like me that I know of.” MSG

The capitalization of the word “Rock” drew my eye.  When I looked it up in the Hebrew to English dictionary, it is defined, “a title of God, with a focus of stability, and possibly as a place of security and safety.”

In Matthew 16:18, Christ tells Peter, “and on this rock, I will build my church.”  No capitalization here, and it is a different word.  Here, “rock” means “a bedrock, rocky crack, or other large rock formation, in contrast to individual stones; with a focus that is a suitable, solid foundation.”

I have some friends who built a house on a rock.  For years, he had sketched and dreamed of building an octagonal house with multiple levels.  He and his wife searched and searched for the perfect spot, and, when they told me the story of buying their property, he said that he knew when he saw the rock, that this was the plot of land for them.

There are pictures of the house under construction.  They built most of it themselves, and, to begin, he drove a large stake in the ground.  He then measured everything from that stake as a reference point.

The house is a thing of wonder.  I can’t count how many levels there are … each room is pie shaped, some are comprised of multiple pie pieces, and some have pie pieces on more than one level.  Once, she sent me to fetch something in a storage room.  When I opened the door, there was the unfinished rock under the house, the way some people have a dirt crawl space.  I was amazed.

It strikes me that that their house is the perfect metaphor for my life with Christ, and this verse points that out for me.

God is the rock on which my life is built … He is my place of safety and security.  When I made the decision to accept Christ as my savior, a stake was driven in that rock, and everything in my life radiates from that point.  Christ must be evident in my life, in the same way that the rock still shows as the foundation of my friends’ house.

The rock their house is built on has been there for a very long time … I suspect that it had been scraped smooth by a glacier at some point.

My Rock has always been, and always, always will be.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Isaiah, Old Testament, Trust, Worry