1 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us...God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

1 CHRONICLES - Do It His Way

Sometimes God’s Word contains painful lessons.

Because sin has painful consequences.

Today’s "Bible Pick ‘Ems" is about one of those lessons:

"But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. Then the LORD’S anger was aroused against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark. So Uzzah died there in the presence of God." (1 Chronicles 13:9-10)

Let’s start our lesson with some background.

The Ark had been in Kiriath-jearim for many years. The Israelites took the Ark from the tabernacle at Shiloh to the battlefield when they were fighting with the Philistines (1 Samuel 4). The Ark was captured by the Philistines, and subsequently taken to Ashdod, then to Gath, and finally to Ekron before they decided to get rid of it. It was finally returned to Beth-shemesh (1 Samuel 4-6).

At some point, the men of Beth-shemesh sent messengers to the residents of Kiriath-jearim and asked them to take the Ark to their town. And there it remained until King David decided to return it to Jerusalem.

I’ve always kinda struggled with this passage. How it seems unfair and cruel.

Why did Uzzah have to die?

But, I am not God.

And God had directly given very specific instructions about how the Ark was to be carried and moved (Numbers 4:5-15).

It was to be carried by the Levites – and only them. It was to be carried on their shoulders. Transporting the Ark on a cart imitated the Philistines. And it was never to be touched.

These instructions had been ignored.


In his zeal, David had forgotten to consult God, and he had taken it upon himself to determine what God would want done.

He had the best intentions, and probably very good motives. But, he left out one very important particular – what did God want?

David’s enthusiasm was quickly dampened, and the Bible tells us that he had two rather dramatic reactions.

One, (verse 11) – "David was now angry…"

And, (verse 12) – "Now David was afraid of God…"

Has anything like this ever happened in your life?

Has there been something that you were so sure was God’s will? Some way of honoring Him or serving Him? Some job change, or location move, or relationship – a financial decision. It could be anything…

And you just KNEW that it was "from the Lord."

And then, it all blew up in your face…

Why, Lord?

Have you ever found yourself angry at Him, and afraid?

"I was trying to do the right thing, and this is what I get??"

I think it’s important to realize some very important facts – which David himself later learned.

Sometimes, we can do the right thing in the wrong way or at the wrong time.

Sometimes, we forget to really consult God in the matter.

Sometimes, we subtly imitate the ways of the world when trying to accomplish something. We are smudged with sin, but we don’t see it.

Sometimes, we need to be reminded that our obedience is more important than our enthusiasm.

God is not cruel or unfair. But He is God. And He is to be feared and worshiped.

So, how can we know what He wants? How can we determine His will?

First and foremost, consult His Word – God gives very clear instructions on certain matters. Often, our decisions are easier than we realize. If it goes against the Word of God, it’s never His will.

Second, pray about the matter. Ask for wisdom. The Bible promises that God will give us His wisdom if we seek it with single-minded purpose. Often that translates – He will tell you what to do, if you single-mindedly obey what He says.

Third, consult other believers – they are often a very good benchmark to weigh our decisions against. Sometimes God offers His counsel through the words the Holy Spirit speaks through others. And ask them to pray for you, too.

And last but not least, don’t give up.

God might not be saying "No" – He might just be saying, "Not now" or "Not in this way."

David tried again.

He had learned a mighty lesson when God gives His instructions, it is wise to follow them precisely (even if we don’t understand them!)

So, my friends – step out in faith, following after God in obedience…

…trusting that at the right time, in the right way, He will reveal His will.

(Linked today with Super Sunday, hosted by Peggy - Spiritual Sundays, hosted by Charlotte and Ginger - and Sharon Sharing God)

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

MATTHEW - Who's The Best?

Everyone loves a winner.

And we live in a competitive world, don’t we?

What is it about human nature that makes us want to finish on top, to beat out the next guy, to endlessly compare ourselves to others?

Unfortunately, winning can be a relative term.

Especially when the issue of popularity is thrown in there.

When I was in high school (ages and ages ago…), I decided to try out for the flag team. Back in my day, the flag team was a little group of girls who twirled flags (basically batons with flags attached) – as they marched in parades and performed at football games.

So, I practiced and practiced. I got pretty good at it.

Finally the day came for tryouts. Yikes! I was really nervous. We tried out in groups of four. My best friend was right next to me. I only made one minor mistake, but my friend performed flawlessly.

There was one girl in our group who flubbed several moves – she even dropped her flag two or three times (BIG no-no).

I remember feeling pretty good afterwards. I thought I had a chance – but for sure, my girlfriend was gonna get in – she did great.

A few days later, we went to see who had made the team. I remember feeling sorry for the girl in our group who performed so poorly.

We looked at the names…the girl who had messed up, and dropped her flag, made the team. I should have known…

She was popular.

Sometimes we can get caught up in the same sort of competition within the Body of Christ. Sometimes we can get preoccupied with who’s the "better" Christian. Sometimes we compare ourselves, and jockey around for position – assigning value to our serving, and rating our sins.

It’s not very attractive – but it’s all so human.

Today’s "Bible Pick ‘Ems" shows us that this is not a new phenomenon. A long time ago, a motley crew of twelve men did the same thing:

"About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?'" (Matthew 18:1)

I can almost hear the disciples kibitzing –

"I found the boy with the fish and loaves."

"Yeah, but I went up to the mountaintop with Him."

"I went, too, you know."

"Boys, boys – I walked on water."

Someone mutters in the background – "Yeah, for like two minutes."

Jesus must have rolled his eyes in frustration.

At this point in His ministry, His disciples were wasting time engaging in personal competition? They were concerned with whom He liked best? They were consumed with petty issues like performance and position?

The Kingdom of Heaven was a popularity contest?

Had they learned nothing?

"Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, 'I tell you the truth, unless you…become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.'" (Matthew 18:2-4)

The disciples had totally lost sight of what was truly important. They were caught up in winning. Instead of seeking a place of service, they sought positions of advantage.

Painful, but true – it is easy to lose our eternal perspective and compete for promotions or status in the church.

It’s easy to play the comparison game.

It’s tempting to want to "win" a faith popularity contest.

But Jesus doesn’t want winners – He wants servants.

He wants people who have childlike faith. Who are weak and dependent on Him. People who do not boast in their own abilities – but rely on only Him.

Jesus told us that we might be surprised in the end – for He turned the world’s values upside down. He promised that "many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then."

I think we can believe Him.

After all, He proved it Himself by dying a humble death on a criminal’s cross – and then was raised to the highest glory in His Father’s Kingdom.

You know, I don’t think I care so much about popularity anymore…

I just want to be His child – and seek His approval.

How about you?

(Linked with Super Sunday, hosted by Peggy - and Spiritual Sundays, hosted by Charlotte and Ginger)

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

EZRA - Promises, Promises

New Year’s Eve – December 31, 1999.

The world was sitting on the brink of a new year, a new century, a new millennium.

And they were waiting for technological disaster.



The dreaded computer glitch that would supposedly happen when two-digit dating in ascending order – 97, 98, 99 – suddenly reset at 00.

People were convinced that the world would come to its knees.

It never did.

Was that because people took precautions and circumvented the disaster? Or because in the end, it was a lot of hype? Hard to say.

But – bottom line – it was a prediction that didn’t come true.

Today I want to tell you about another prediction. A prediction given by the prophet Isaiah. A prediction given by God, through Isaiah.

And of course, it came true.

"When I say of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd,' he will certainly do as I say. He will command, 'Rebuild Jerusalem'; he will say, 'Restore the Temple.'"
(Isaiah 44:26)

It’s an amazing prediction – when you consider these facts:

It was predicted over 100 years before it happened
Cyrus had not been born yet
The Persian Empire had not yet come into power
The Israelites had not yet been taken away into exile
Jerusalem and its glorious Temple were still standing

Did the people scoff at Isaiah? Did they think him a fool?

And yet…everything happened just as he foretold - just as GOD foretold.

Today’s "Bible Pick ‘Ems" comes from the book of Ezra – and it tells of the fulfillment of this prediction.

Drum roll, please…

"In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the LORD fulfilled the prophecy…He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom…Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to build the Temple of the LORD." (Ezra 1:1, 5)

You know what I love about these verses?

God fulfilled His prophecy.

God stirred Cyrus to proclaim His plan.

God moved the hearts of His people to accomplish His purpose.

I am inspired by these three principles –

1. Every single one of God’s predictions and promises come true.
He can be counted on to be faithful to His Word.

2. Every single one of God’s plans will be accomplished.
He can be counted on to be faithful to His Will.

3. Every single one of God’s people will be empowered to do what He has called them to do. He can be counted on to be faithful to His Work.

When you face difficult situations and feel discouraged, it’s important to remember who God is.

He keeps His promises.

He accomplishes His plans.

He empowers His people to fulfill His purposes.

He knows what will happen – and He is in total control of the future.

What promises are you still looking forward to?

Believe it – they’re going to come true!!

The Bible tells us so…

(Today I am linked with Super Sunday, hosted by Peggy, and Spiritual Sundays, hosted by Charlotte and Ginger)

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, March 6, 2011

2 CHRONICLES - All Access Pass

All Access Pass.

Ever had one of those?

It lets you go everywhere, see everything, do anything – it lets you go where only the VIP’s go. It gets you access to the stars…

I can remember a time when I had an "All Access Pass." It was at my dad’s job.

My dad owned his own business. It was a wholesale plumbing and heating supply company. It was the coolest place ever. There were aisles and aisles of little bins full of every sort of pipe you can imagine. There was a hidden loft where all the faucets were kept. There was an open warehouse in the back yard where boxes and boxes of water heaters, and toilets, and sinks were kept.

My dad’s place was a child’s wonderland!

My brother and I would visit all the time. We’d play "hide and seek" among the boxes. We’d go exploring into all the nooks and crannies of the aisles. We’d sit on the loading dock and watch the trucks come and go.

In the back, there was a "Will Call" counter with a gate that said "Employees Only."

Well, I made sure that I always went through that gate when I went to visit my dad. I didn’t do it in a prideful way – I did it because it made me feel really special, really lucky.

I did it because I could…

That was the best part of all. I could – because the boss was my dad.

And I loved that privilege!

Today’s "Bible Pick ‘Ems" reminded me of this story.

"He made the Most Holy Place…Across the entrance of the Most Holy Place he hung a curtain made of fine linen…" (2 Chronicles 3:8a, 14a)

Solomon was in the midst of building the most beautiful Temple. It was a glorious spectacle. An amazing architectural achievement. It was a monument of worship to the one true God.

And in the middle of the Temple was the Most Holy Place. A small room that contained the Ark of the Covenant. A small room that was filled with the glory of the LORD’s presence.

It was the most sacred spot on earth for the Jews. Only the high priest could enter it – and that was only on one day of each year to atone for the sins of the people. Their only access to God was through the high priest.

Until…one day…when something – Someone – changed all that.


That’s the sound of that same curtain, the one that closed off the Most Holy Place from view, being torn down the middle.

At the death of Jesus, the barrier between God and humanity was split in two. Now all people were given the privilege of approaching God directly through Christ.

We were given an "All Access Pass."

We have the awesome privilege of going in the "Employees Only" gate – because our Father is the boss!

He knows us by name – we’re His kids!

I don’t know about you – but that makes me feel really special, really lucky.

"And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place."
(Hebrews 10:19-20)

(Today I am linked with Spiritual Sundays, hosted by Charlotte and Ginger, and Super Sunday, hosted by Peggy)

"When in doubt, search God out!"