Often life is hard, but God is always good

Archive for June, 2013

Is it Worth the Risk? Part One

“So on the day of battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.

Now a detachment of Philistines had gone out to the pass at Micmash.  One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man bearing his armor, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.

On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff;…. Jonathan said to his young armor bearer, “Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”

“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” (I Samuel 13:23-14:7)

“Outgunned” and outmanned, the Israelite army waits for a plan of attack.  Meanwhile, the king’s son, Jonathan, comes up with a daring idea and sneaks off to implement it.  He has a sword and a loyal sidekick.  The two young men scale cliffs, goad the enemy into attacking and kill twenty men.  What results is a rout – the enemy panics and “melts away in all directions” (verse 16).

This amazing story possesses all the elements of a great action movie and has within it all we need to empower us to take risks in our own lives.

What is the risky idea that God has stirred up in your heart?  Often, we clearly see something, but hold back for fear of failure or others’ negative reactions.

We need God’s reassurance that our particular risky idea lines up with God’s heart and purpose.   Todd Beamer asked the 911 responder to recite the Lord’s Prayer with him before he and the other passengers on Flight 93 tried to take back control of the airplane from the terrorists: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

New strength comes from realizing that often God’s design is for us to take the risk with others.  We are not alone because God provides those faithful ones who say like Jonathan’s armor-bearer: “Do all that you have in mind. I am with you heart and soul.”(verse 7)

Photo Credit: linus_art

Photo Credit: linus_art

The most important element in taking any risk is the unshakeable trust that God will act in our behalf.  Jonathan declares this truth before he starts climbing the cliff: “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” (verse 6)

It is not all about us – our abilities, our efforts.  The stupid move on the part of the Philistine lookouts to come over to Jonathan, the panic that routed the larger army – all were sent from God who was fighting for Israel.

So what do we have to lose? Let’s go scale some cliffs!

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Does God Still Speak?

Photo Credit: Jo Naylor

Photo Credit: Jo Naylor

In my quest to read through the Bible, I found a key that is helping me achieve this goal: read twelve minutes a day, every day.  Until now, my efforts eventually bogged down with detailed lists of Bible chapters to read on certain dates.  My start date habitually was January 1 – a New Year’s resolution – which petered out as I gradually fell behind.

This time I bought a One Year Chronological Bible and just started at the beginning on the date the inspiration kicked in (this past September).  A visiting preacher to our church said the average reader can finish the Bible cover to cover in one year if he or she reads daily for twelve minutes.  So unfettered by complexity, I am reading through the Bible and giving myself plenty of grace when I miss a day or so along the way.  I just grab the Book and find the bookmark and off I go!

Unexpected joy rebounds in this dutiful spiritual discipline.  God is speaking to me and to my specific circumstances through the planned readings.  I don’t have to close my eyes and let the Bible fall open to a certain page to receive revealed truths for my heart and soul.  I don’t have to search the topic for which I need answers in the index.

At the halfway point – actually in Proverbs, I bogged down because my little brain couldn’t absorb more than a chapter at a sitting.  Freedom means I can slow down and soak in, too.  No hurry! I just get a big kick out of seeing the bookmark move slowly and surely to the end of the Book of Books!

On the morning before I was slated to speak to one of the largest gatherings I have ever faced, “Don’t be afraid” popped up in a very unlikely place. It’s embedded in the story of King David passing on the work of royal leadership to his son, Solomon.  I Chronicles 22: 13:  “… Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or discouraged.”

I think the Lord is saying: “You read and I will reveal!”

http://www.tyndale.com/The-One-Year-Chronological-Bible-NIV/9781414359922#.UfqCgxbntUQ

Where Does My Comfort Come From?

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” Second Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 1, Verses 3 and 4 – New International Version

My soul has been harassed with circumstances outside my control, primarily the loss of a family home very dear to me, and misunderstandings with people involved in the sale.  I realize I have lost things, not people. Yet even so, I needed comfort and God provided it.

God comforts.   I feel the verb form these days.  In prayer, I sense the pressure of his arms around my shoulders.  I see the compassion in His eyes when I close my eyes and picture His face.

Surprising comforters have popped up in my path.  Of course, my faithful loved ones hug me and listen, but most unexpectedly, a stranger, with no relationship ties to me, cried for me and acted on my behalf to claim some mementos from the house.   Why was she so kind and so involved in helping me?  God sent her from his storehouse to provide the comfort that He promises.

We also are members of this comfort reservoir. My friend confided to me recently that my offer of help in the midst of her distress gave her a sense of uplifting support.  The domino effect of comforting:  those who receive it become givers of it.

Am I Listening?

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously without finding fault, and it will be given to him” James 1: 5 – New International Version

Photo Credit: born1945 flickr.com

Photo Credit: born1945 flickr.com

My march down the stairs to the coffee maker was dutiful, my seat-taking on the living room couch with bible was intentional, but I felt no joy, no purpose. “So much to do today – broken lawn mower, dirty bathrooms, undone paperwork”,  my sluggish thoughts oozed onto the pages of my prayer journal.

Then I looked out at the spring rain and saw a robin on the lawn. I noticed his brilliant plumage; a monarch-robe red belly, velvety black back, and cheerful yellow legs.  He ran straight toward my window, skipping quickly along until I could see the white ring around his eye.

Suddenly he stopped and then cocked his head down to the ground, paused for a fraction of a second,  “Pow!” he thrust his strong beak down into the lawn and came back up with a resisting earthworm. He repeated this procedure all along the stretch of lawn close by my window seat – first turning down his “ear” to the ground, then making the attack. “Oh!” I realized, “That robin is listening for worms!”

And then God spoke to my heart:  “Listen to my voice this morning about what to do out of that impossible list.”

It is true – God loves to be asked “What shall I do next?”

When I asked Him where to start, He answered, “the laundry”.  That seemed so simple, yet listening to God’s voice before I jumped into the day brought me a measure of order and  productivity.

“Robin in the rainSuch a saucy fellow. Robin in the rain. Mind your socks of yellowRunning in the garden on your nimble feet, Digging for your dinner with your long strong beak. Robin in the rain,You don’t mind the weather. Showers always make you gay. Bet the worms are wishing you would stay at home, Robin on a rainy day — don’t get your feet wet, Robin on a rainy day! ” (Raffi –“Robin on a Rainy Day” from Singable Songs for the Very Young)

Our Heavenly Father is generous with His wisdom.

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