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Who Is Your Master?

Who is your Master? Loving God, part XVIII

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God cares a lot about your work and how you approach it. Have you ever thought much about how to balance your loyalty to God with expectations at the workplace? Do you think first of your earthly master or your heavenly Master?

Let’s look at some great examples of servants in the Bible.

Here’s my favorite example, Joseph…

Genesis 39: 1 When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.

2 The LORD was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the LORD was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. 4 This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned.

The boss didn’t worry about a thing!

5 From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the LORD began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished. 6 So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing—except what kind of food to eat!

Joseph is a shining example of how God blesses us and blesses our masters in whatever situation we’re facing. From Potiphar’s house to prison, Joseph is stellar.

Joseph helped a cupbearer, Nehemiah was a cupbearer

For our second example, let’s look at another fine servant, Nehemiah…

Nehemiah 1: 1 Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was serving the king his wine. I had never before appeared sad in his presence. 2 So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.”

Then I was terrified, 3 but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
4 The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?”

With a prayer to the God of heaven, 5 I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”

6 The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will you be gone? When will you return?” After I told him how long I would be gone, the king agreed to my request.

How’s that for favor?

I appreciate that Nehemiah admitted that he was afraid to make this request of the king. This was a huge deal and the king could’ve killed him. I also enjoy knowing that Nehemiah prayed up until he made his request in verse 4 (Does this remind you of the last time you asked for a day off?). The best part, of course, is seeing how God caused the king and queen to favor Nehemiah by granting his request.

This clearly illustrates that when we seek to honor God and rely on His help, He will help us with whatever work we have before us. This also demonstrates that we are wherever we are because God put us there and if we are faithful to Him, He will help us succeed.

To summarize, I think the key is to approach all the work we do with the understanding that we are serving Jesus first, and everything else will fall into place.

Colossians 2: 23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Who are you serving?

“O God in heaven, you are my master. I live to serve you. Thank you for the privilege of working for you. Please use me in whatever I do and help me to look for ways to honor you and serve those you’ve placed in my life. I give you all the praise. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash



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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Lessons From Job (when life isn't fair)

Lessons From Job (when life isn’t fair), Loving God, part XVII

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I don’t know what it is, but the story of Job never gets old for me, have you read it lately?

Life is not fair. People can be nice, but they often disappoint us and leave us frustrated and sometimes cynical. Ever had a friend, that seemed like a good “friend” until money became an issue? Christian friends can be even worse, mostly because we expect more out of them. So when they let us down, it is a great disappointment.

Psalm 41: 9 Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely,
the one who shared my food, has turned against me.

Work can be enjoyable, but until the wrong boss is hired, or someone gets promoted ahead of you, or when the clients can’t pay up, work can get rather stressful and downright ugly.

Family can be the worst!

How about families? If your family is close, you are greatly blessed. I know people that don’t have close families and things can get really weird and difficult. The flip side with close families is that when parents, siblings or, God forbid, children die, it can be incredibly painful.

Life is just not fair. If you haven’t figured this out yet, you will. As my wife likes to say, the “fair” is in Pomona once a year. (That’s where the state fair is held in California.)

If you read the Bible regularly, it explains this. People are murdered, sold into slavery, raped, lied to, beaten, and even crucified unjustly.

Let’s consider what happened to Job:

In Job chapter 1: 13-17 Job lost all his donkeys, oxen, farmhands, sheep, shepherds, camels and servants. Then in verses 18-19 he lost all his children:

Job 1: 18 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. 19 Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does!

Job 2:7 So Satan left the Lord’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot.

And his wife wasn’t very supportive (to say the least):

Job 2: 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.”

Keep in mind that Job was blameless (Job 1:1), how did he feel after all this?

After 7 days and nights of silence, here is just a sample of his response:

Job 3: 11 “Why wasn’t I born dead?

Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb?
12 Why was I laid on my mother’s lap?
Why did she nurse me at her breasts?
13 Had I died at birth, I would now be at peace.
I would be asleep and at rest.

Have you ever wished that you were never born?

Job is clearly an extreme example for us all to study. In a way, I have always felt that Job lived his life so that when things got really bad in our lives we could always say, “At least my life’s not as bad as Job’s.”

Job goes through this process of grieving and anger. He debates with his friends who try to convince him that he must have done something wrong.

After an unknown period of time and challenges from God Himself, it culminates here:

Job 42:  1 Then Job replied to the Lord:

2 “I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
4 You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.’
5 I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

Shall we remain ignorant of God when we have a choice?

It appears that Job learned that he was questioning God out of ignorance. He admits that he “had only heard about God before”, but after he had seen God, he took back everything he said and repented. Imagine, someone with complete integrity (Job 1:1), repenting. This tells me that the more I  know God, the more I realize how far off the mark I am and that repentance is an ongoing process. Of course, his circumstances change a few verses later, but you really should read the book.

Job is a great book. These verses are only the highlights, but there are many things to be learned from this book. I recommend reading it in the NLT version, I found it easier to understand than in other versions.

I don’t want you to assume that I know God very well, but What God is teaching me is that the more I know Him, the more I can trust Him. The more I learn about how awesome, incredible, indescribable, unfathomable He really is, the less I question Him.

He wants us to trust Him. I don’t think He minds being questioned, but the only reason we question Him is because we don’t know (trust) Him well enough. I do know that He is more upset if we don’t put in the effort to know Him, than when we question Him.

Psalm 9: 10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.

Are you getting to know Him?

“Dear Lord, you are sovereign and I am a mere human. How can I even begin to understand you? My ways are not your ways, and your ways are not my ways. Please reveal yourself to me and help me to get to know you better. I want more of you in my life. Thank you for all you’ve done for me and for the path you have me on. In Christ’s name, amen.”

 



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How Will You Finish?

How Will You Finish? Loving God, part XVI

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Have you ever thought about how your life will end? Not how you will die, but on what terms you will be with God when you finish the race. Do you assume that you’ll always walk closely with God?

I’m just being curious, not that I expect anyone to answer these questions, but I wonder about people and how they ponder their future. Why is it that people can be on fire for God today, but fall from the faith later?

I can relate to this, this has happened to me. I can look back and see times that I was committed to God, other times that I was far from God, and for much of my life, I was lukewarm. I’m just sort of fascinated by it I suppose.

What got me thinking about this subject is reading about the Judean kings and how the Bible sheds light on their relationship with God.

Have you read about King Asa?

What I find really fascinating is that if you were to use the book of 1 and 2 Kings to base your opinion on the spiritual lives of these kings alone, you would not have an accurate picture.

This week I’d just like to consider the life of King Asa.

This is what 1 Kings has to say:

1 Kings 15: 11 Asa did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done.

and

1 Kings 15: 14 Although the pagan shrines were not removed, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful to the Lord throughout his life.

Sounds great right? Makes you want to name your child after him, which some have done.

Now let’s read the account from 2 Chronicles:

The beginning of King Asa’s reign

2 Chronicles 14: 2  Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God.

The end of King Asa’s reign

2 Chronicles 16: 7 At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram.

10 Asa became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into prison and put him in stocks. At that time Asa also began to oppress some of his people.

12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a serious foot disease. Yet even with the severity of his disease, he did not seek the Lord’s help but turned only to his physicians.

What really happened?

What we have here is an apparent contradiction. I think the author of 1 Kings simply did not know about Asa’s relationship with God near the end of his life. The Chronicles’ author must have had more historical texts at his disposal (Or the Holy Spirit) in order to write his account.

Doesn’t this make you pause to think about what happened to King Asa? How did someone that had a great walk with God earlier in their life end up like he did? You should read the full accounts in 1 Kings 15 and in 2 Chronicles 14-16.

May it be said about our lives as Paul said about his:

2 Timothy 4: 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

“Dear Lord, You are the author of my life and my future is in your hands. Please help me know you more. I believe if I knew you better, you will teach me how I can trust in you more. Thank you in advance for what you will do in my life. I am excited about my future with you.  In Jesus Name, Amen”



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Do You Trust Him? part 2

Do You Trust Him? part 2, Loving God, part 2

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In my last post, “Do You Trust Him, part 1”, we discussed the relationship between love and trust: “God is teaching me that the greater my love is for Him, the more I will trust Him.

Psalm 40: 4 Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols.

This makes me think about who I am trusting. Am I trusting my clients to pay me or call me for work? Or trusting friends to fulfill my needs?  Or maybe I’m trusting the economy or the government? God forbid I trust in myself to finish the work He’s given me.

Do you have a lot of work that needs to be done? Check this out:

1 Chronicles 28: 20 Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly.

Our God is faithful

Call me crazy, but I think we can apply this verse to our own lives, nearly 3,000 years later. Think of it this way, God gave King Solomon the job of building the temple. That was the work God gave him to do. If God is with us today and we serve Him in whatever capacity He gave us, from cleaning toilets to mending broken limbs, you better believe that it is important to Him. “He will see to it that all the work … is finished correctly.” After all, if He’s given you the work to do, won’t He be faithful in helping you complete it? Knowing this helps me to trust Him more, how about you?

This also reminds me of the work He’s doing in me:

Philippians 1: 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Trust takes time

Trust is learned over time; it’s something that is developed. I used to pray a lot for more faith as if I would wake up the next day and be able to part a lake. I am learning that it doesn’t work that way. God has been answering those prayers all along by teaching me more and more how I can trust Him.

Reading the Bible on a daily basis has been a tremendous help in this area of growth. Every time I turn the page it seems as though God is rescuing someone or delivering on a promise He made. Don’t take my word for it, this is my personal experience from my own journey. Find out for yourself how He works, join me by seeking Him.

Wise words from King David

I’ll leave you with these encouraging verses. These are David’s last recorded words to his son Solomon, passing the torch, so to speak:

1 Chronicles 28: 9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.”

Will you trust Him?

“Dear Lord, You are the author of my life and my future is in your hands. Please help me know you more. I believe that if I can get to know you better, you will teach me how I can trust you more and more. Thank you in advance for what you will do in my life. I am excited about my future with you.  In Jesus Name, Amen”



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Do You Trust Him? part 1

Do You Trust Him? part 1, Loving God, part XV

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I hope you enjoyed the last post, “Do You Know What To Say When You Pray?”. I just love reading the examples of prayers throughout the Old Testament, there’s a certain vulnerability about them. They allow us to see these “Biblical Giants” as ordinary people and that gives me comfort. Now let’s talk trust!

I also love the simplicity of the greatest commandments. Jesus makes it clear that they are foundational to everything else.

Matthew 22: 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Greatest = Most Important

I don’t think there is a more important topic. I truly believe that if we can learn how to love God and develop an intimate relationship with Him, we’ll only want more. Only His love in us can enable us to love others.

The problem I have is trusting Him. He has met my needs at every turn and has provided for me in ways that I can’t even begin to describe. Still, I find myself waking Jesus up at the back of the boat, crying for him to save me.

God is teaching me that the greater my love is for Him, the more I will trust Him. This makes complete sense. The greatest reason I have for not trusting Him is fear. In light of that, I think it is important to understand this:

1 John 4: 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first.

The key to trusting God is to experience His love.

Think back to when you were young. Were you afraid of the dark? I’ll admit that I was. When I called on Mom or Dad, they came to my room and delivered soothing words. I was no longer afraid. As a child, I did not understand the love I had for my parents, but it was their love for me that gave me comfort.

It’s the same with God. It’s hard for us to know how much we love God, but we know that He loves us infinitely more.

I think it is safe to say that the more I understand just how much He loves me, the less I will be afraid. What’s great about God is that He doesn’t go back down the hall to His room, He stays right there in the bedroom with me. I can call on His name when I get scared, anxious or experience disbelief.

So keep on seeking and loving God and I am convinced that you will trust Him more and more!

I’ll wrap this message up on my next post. Until then, may God richly bless you!



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Do You Know What To Say When You Pray?

Do You Know What To Say When You Pray? Loving God, part XIV

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I confess that this is my weakest discipline. “Lord, help me pray”

The Bible is great for giving us examples of prayer. I’d like to review some prayers where the petitioners actually complain to the Lord.

Abram:

Genesis 15: 2 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”

Remember this, when Abram was still waiting on a son that God promised him? He struggled with disbelief and spoke openly and honest to God.

A weak moment for Moses

Did you ever get frustrated and ask God “why” questions? Check this out:

Moses:

Exodus 5:  22 Then Moses went back to the Lord and protested, “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? 23 Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!”

He sounds pretty frustrated at this point, doesn’t he! Have you ever protested to God?

Have you ever asked these questions? I know I have.

Gideon:

Judges 6: 13 “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

I just wanted to share these moments of doubt and frustration from a few of the greatest figures in the Bible. Their faith was tested and they endured challenging moments. They didn’t know what was going on, but what mattered most is that they took their issues to God, the One that delivered each of them from their pain.

Let’s be honest with God and open up to Him

Here’s an honest prayer from a man after God’s heart, King David…

Psalm 142: I cry out to the Lord;
    I plead for the Lord’s mercy.
I pour out my complaints before him
    and tell him all my troubles.
When I am overwhelmed,
    you alone know the way I should turn.

Despite all these examples, sometimes I come before God and I have no idea what to say. Sometimes I’m not even sure what I’m feeling. But I know that it is OK to just sit quietly before God. You really don’t have to say anything, just sit in silence. If you sit long enough words will start to come out and the conversation will start, just give it a chance.

“Oh Heavenly Father, you are the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. You are the Creator of heaven and earth, things seen and unseen. I long for a closer relationship with you. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to approach you, I don’t always have the words to say, but I know you hear my prayers and you do listen to me. Thank you for loving me in such a way that I can run to you in my times of need, for you are my Rock and my place of refuge. I know that you are there for me. Please help me rely on you more so that I will pray more often. As your Son said, ‘For apart from Me you can do nothing’.  In Jesus Name, Amen”



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Where Is Your Focus?

Where Is Your Focus? Loving God, part XIII

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What you focus on will determine your destination. The trick is maintaining it!

This is a challenge common to everyone, keeping our focus on the Lord. We all have busy lives and need to keep up with a number of diverse activities. These activities include work, family, church, bills, sickness, sports, hobbies, etc. and they all compete for our attention. But we all need to stay connected with the Source of Life in order to stay grounded and Spirit-filled.

John 15: Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

This is one of my favorite episodes because the message is so clear:

Matthew 14: 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Can you imagine this?

What happened? He lost his focus when he took his eyes off Jesus. Peter started focusing on the worldly circumstances rather than the One keeping him afloat. He was walking on water and being like Christ, yet He took his eyes off the One that gave him the ability to do the impossible.

Are your bills causing you to sink? Are you out of work? Is someone close to you dying? Is your marriage on the rocks?

I am not without my own troubles, this message is just as much for me as it is for anyone else.

But these verses give me hope:

Romans 5:  3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 8: 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Here’s a passage to remember for staying focused…

Colossians 3 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Understand this… unless we regularly consume the Word of God, how on earth can we stay focused on Jesus and His love for us?

Visit TheBibleTeam.com today and create your own reading plan, it’s free.

Keep reading, stay focused!

“Dear Lord, you are my hope and my comfort. I take refuge in you. Please forgive me for worrying and focusing on the problems in my life. Please give me peace and thank you in advance for helping me through this difficult time. In Jesus Name, Amen”



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Are You In The Will Of God?

Are You In The Will Of God? Loving God, part XII

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I hope you enjoyed the last two posts on the Old Testament and why it is relevant to the 21st century believer. I think it is quite incredible, and an obvious sign that the Text is Divinely inspired. When events written several millennia in the past can teach us how to live our lives today. Today let’s talk about the will of God for you.

Do you think about what God’s called you to do? Do you ever think about a ministry you’d like to pursue if you got compensated? Maybe if the circumstances were different? What about what you’re doing right now?

Have you ever considered that God has you right where He wants you? One of the most frustrating things for me is that I don’t know what God has planned for me. I know that’s what faith is all about. If I only knew what He had in store for me then I wouldn’t need faith. And we cannot please God without faith, right? (Hebrews 11:6) I have to reflect at times and say “OK Lord, I don’t know what’s happening or where you are taking me. I’ll just be still while you continue to work on me.”

Consider the prophet Elijah

 1 Kings 17:  1 Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!”

2 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 3 “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. 4 Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.”

5 So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land.

8 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 9 “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”

Elijah was quite bold when speaking to one of the most evil kings (Ahab, vs 1). I think God’s way of protecting His servant was by leading him to Kerith Brook to get “out of Dodge” for awhile. Or maybe in addition to that, it was to teach Elijah how to wait.

Are kidding me, fed by Ravens?

While by the brook Elijah was fed by ravens until the brook dried up. We don’t know exactly how long this took, a few weeks, months? That’s wild, isn’t it? Hanging out by a brook, being fed bread and meat by ravens morning and evening? Do you think he might’ve been wondering what he was doing there or what would happen if the ravens forgot about him? I don’t know. I’d like to believe that Elijah was perfectly content and didn’t have those questions. I look forward to asking him someday. 🙂

The widow does what God said she’d do

We read further in verse 9 that he was told to see a widow in Zarephath. Let’s read on:

 1 Kings 17: 10 So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”

12 But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.

13 But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

Can you imagine?

Her reality was that this was going to be her last meal, but God had other plans. God sent Elijah to minister to the widow in her time of need, just in time, God’s time.

Taking a step back and looking at the big picture, we know that Elijah was a much-revered prophet, in fact, other prophets bowed before him (1 Kings 18:7). We also know that he had the respect of kings and performed many great miracles.

So what is a great man of God doing in such a remote place with a widow?

A great prophet who is accustomed to being in the presence of kings is now living with a widow? This is his ministry for this season of his life. He is in the will of God for certain.

Only if you are familiar with the Old Testament or familiar with this next verse you might understand exactly why this new ministry for Elijah is near and dear to God’s heart…

James 1: 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

He was exactly where God wanted him.

The widow in this story could represent an aging parent, a sickly child, or maybe a person that needs special attention. I love how this story demonstrates that it doesn’t matter what you think you should be doing or what you are qualified to do, but as long as you are doing what God asks of you, whatever that is, it is exactly where God wants you. The time spent by the brook tested his faith and prepared him for his time with the widow. I think if I experienced ravens feeding me for a period of time, it would certainly build my faith, how about you?

If I can only keep focused on Jesus

Do you ever think, “What about that other guy, the one that has a flourishing ministry?” Be careful not to compare yourself with others. I am guilty of this, but I’m always reminded of this exchange:

John 21: 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”

This verse is like the Shepherd’s staff pulling me back from the treacherous ditch I’m heading for. If I can just keep focusing on Jesus and following Him. I know I’m on the right path and that will be more than sufficient for me.

Will you continue to follow Jesus?

“Dear Lord, thank you for continuing to teach me your ways. Your ways are not my ways. I know that you have a perfect plan for my life and that you know what’s best for me. You are the Creator of heaven and earth and I will continue to put my trust in you. Thank you for leading me.”



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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Do You Know About Amos? part 2

Do You Know About Amos? part 2, Loving God, part XI

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We discussed Amos in the last post and I tried to get the point across about the importance of reading the Old Testament (OT). I am convinced that it is just as important to read the OT as it is the New Testament (NT). You can’t have the NT without the OT, they are a package deal and the writers of the NT understood this.

It doesn’t get any more entertaining than the Old Testament

Before I continue, I know that there are endless genealogies, boring census records and repetitive offerings that will make you snore, but the exciting stories and lessons far outweigh the dry parts.

The Old Testament is filled with drama, intrigue, mystery, action, sex, humor and fantastic stories. Some stories make me laugh, and some make me cry. To get the most out of it is to put yourself there, on the scene. When the Shunemite woman is running towards Elisha because of the death of her child, I imagine it taking place. You can’t help but be moved by it. I have come to tears reading it although I’ve read it before! Read 2 Kings 4.

It never gets old

God, our creative Designer, knows how to keep us enthused and interested. He designed the OT to be filled with romance, sex, action, violence, and drama to beat the band. It never gets old.

Now let’s learn from this…

2 Chronicles 36: 22 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom:

23 “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are the Lord’s people may go there for this task. And may the Lord your God be with you!”

This is incredible for two reasons

    1. This was prophesied 150 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 44:

28 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.’”

    2. King Cyrus was a Gentile (non-Israeli) and he was happy to oblige!

This demonstrates the  God’s sovereignty and how He uses kings for His purposes.

If you are reading the NT there is clear instruction for us to be reading the OT. So if I cannot convince you, maybe the apostle Paul can…

1 Corinthians 10: I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. …

6 These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, 7 or worship idols as some of them did. …

9 Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. 10 And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. 11 These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.

This is just scratching the surface of what there is to learn from the Old Testament and many brothers and sisters are missing out by not reading it.

Will you read the Old Testament with me?

“Dear Lord, as I read through the Old Testament, please reveal yourself to me. Help me know you in a way that I might have a greater reverence for you.”

I suggest that you read 2 Kings 1-4 if you’d like to sample some great stories.



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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Do You Know About Amos Of The Old Testament?

Do You Know Amos Of The Old Testament? Loving God, part XI

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In the last two posts, “Are You Eating His Word? parts 1 & 2”, I wrote about the merits of reading the Bible on a daily basis, which I believe is essential to knowing God.

When it comes to the Old Testament (OT), What impression comes to mind when you first think about it? Is it the miraculous stories of Moses parting the Red Sea, David and Goliath,  and Jonah and the whale? Or do the words God’s wrath, jealous God, and God’s anger come to mind? Do you believe it’s relevant?

Until I read through the Bible for the first time, my view of the OT was very narrow. What I mean by that is I knew about the highlights, you know, the stories like I mentioned. I knew the popular Psalms and enjoyed Proverbs. Most importantly is that I thought the God of the OT worked and acted differently than the God of the New Testament (NT). I thought that in the OT God was in a particularly bad mood, cranky, irritated and did not have the patience that we read about in the NT with Jesus. I also wasn’t convinced that the OT was relevant.

Same God, different perspectives

You know how you meet someone at the office or in a professional setting, but never meet them outside of that? Then one day you see them at a party or informal gathering and you see a completely different side of them. Same person, just two different perspectives.

That’s how I now see the OT and NT. In the OT I see a formal God. A God that is majestic, mysterious, unapproachable, awesome, and sovereign. He is all that! In the NT I see God as very personable, human-like and compassionate. He is all that as well! Most importantly is that I see the same God throughout the entire Bible. There is no longer a disconnect, just different perspectives of the same wonderful, magnificent and beautiful God. I am convinced that a believer cannot understand, appreciate, and love God unless they have a complete perspective of Him. Not that we could fully understand God, but I hope you get my meaning.

 Now let’s meet Amos…

Allow me to introduce to you to a lesser-known person in the Old Testament. His name is Amos and he has his own book!

Amos 7: 12 Then Amaziah sent orders to Amos: “Get out of here, you prophet! Go on back to the land of Judah, and earn your living by prophesying there! 13 Don’t bother us with your prophecies here in Bethel. This is the king’s sanctuary and the national place of worship!”

14 But Amos replied, “I’m not a professional prophet, and I was never trained to be one. I’m just a shepherd, and I take care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the Lord called me away from my flock and told me, ‘Go and prophesy to my people in Israel.’ 16 Now then, listen to this message from the Lord:

Don’t you love it? The man is a farmer/shepherd and God gives him the task of prophesying to the king! The Old Testament is filled with fun stories like this. What’s exciting about this story is learning that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We see this all throughout Scripture and the more we read it, the more our faith increases.

The more Scripture you digest, the more His essence will pour out. The Old Testament gives you the complete Message of God that will help you be the ambassador He needs you to be.

Next time we’ll discuss King Cyrus and the prophecy long before his birth!



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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.