How do you react?

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Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 10.26.57 AMI prayed for you all this morning. One of the things I prayed about was that we would find Aaron’s wallet. I found it in the car, when I got back from dropping you all off to school. That was a wonderful, quick answer to prayer.

In Chronicles today, I read about Solomon praying. After completing the temple, He prayed that God would be faithful to the Israelites, and when they made mistakes, to forgive them. When I ended my prayer this morning… I started typing this devotion. When Solomon ended his prayer we are told “fire came down from heaven”. I tell you what-if when I finished praying, if fire had come down and burned up my computer or something else-I am not sure what I would have done! But today’s verse in Scripture tells us what the Israelites did when this happened: They worshiped and gave thanks.They thanked God for his goodness and love.

I can at least say my response to my answered prayer this morning was also giving thanks. I thanked God for helping me find the wallet-and I firmly believe He did. This should always be our response to God’s activity in our lives. We would never take a gift from someone without at least thanking them, would we?

Let’s let today’s Scripture be a checkpoint and reminder to be thanking God daily, as often as possible for all the good things He has given us. Just for starters-at this moment, none of you are sick, it is a beautiful day, you have a 4 day weekend coming up, God has sustained Dad’s and my marriage so you are able to live with both of your parents (don’t take that for granted-we all know friends who would love to have that more than anything else). This is just the tip of the iceberg of reasons we have to thank Him. Stop right now, and thank God for something you haven’t yet. There is a common post on FB that I think may help put this in better focus: “What if tomorrow you only got to keep the things you thanked God for today?” It is certainly something to consider!

What would you do?

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Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 10.52.03 AMSolomon had a ton of money, all the wisdom anyone could want and he was able to do pretty much anything he wanted to do. Given those same things, what would you do?
Today, we are told in Chronicles that he made all the things that were in the house of God-the temple that his dad had described to him to build. It was a lot of work and cost millions. Back in chapter 2, verse 17 we are told 153,600 men were assigned to the tasks of laborers, stonecutters and overseers alone… And those certainly weren’t the only jobs needed.

Here is the thing: Solomon chose to build this temple for God. He could have said “nah, I don’t feel like doing that.” He could have used all his resources to build himself a glorious home (he did build himself a home-but he did this first), to go on a luxurious extended vacation, to buy his own personal zoo…anything. He could have done absolutely anything-but he didn’t. He sacrificed at least some of his personal desires for God. He followed God instead of following “himself.”

Uncle Greg sent an article this weekend that also discusses what it means to “follow Jesus”. In a quote from this article discussing what it means to follow Jesus example, the author writes this:
“Many have ignored the Scriptural accounts of what is described as “living for Jesus” or following Jesus and decided that this is not only ok but have come up with a family friendly relatively cost free, pain free and risk free alternative. Here is the alternative: Jesus died to Himself so that He and I could live for me and the ones I love the most.”

I can tell you this made me think-about my priorities, my life, my goals. What about you? Did Jesus die to make your life easier or did He die to become your Lord?

Solomon had to make sacrifices in his life to follow God. He was not ACCEPTED because of what he did, but what he did was proof of who ruled his life-himself or God. This will also always be the case for us. Following Jesus will cost us something at some point. For me, it may be not acting out of anger or frustration. At your ages, it may  be choosing to miss out on something “fun” for some reason. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. In the end, He is Lord, and He is the best person to have seated on the throne as Lord of our life!

 

The right question…

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 1.01.19 PMPrintableScreen Shot 2014-08-22 at 1.02.52 PMDo you know any “know-it-all” type people. The ones who seem to always have an answer? Those who always think they are “right” and that they know it all?

Today in Scripture we are reading about the one who really did pretty much “know it all”: Solomon. He was not born knowing it all, of course, but God granted him wisdom that exceeded all others. Have you ever thought about why he asked for that instead of for a million dollars? I think part of that answer is because he may have felt “stressed” about his upcoming responsibilities.

In today’s Scripture, we see Solomon end his request with the question: “…for who can rule this great people of yours?” He knew this was a huge job and he knew he was not fully equipped to do it well. It would require great wisdom and God’s assistance. It was the right question. The answer to his question “Who can rule…?” was “someone with great wisdom”.

In order to get good answers, we need to ask good questions. When you are in your math class, I don’t recommend you ask a question about science. In life, you are going to ask God lots of questions. Consider if they are the right ones. For instance, let’s say you are attracted to someone and have a desire to date them but they are not a believer. The question to ask God is not “Lord, should I date this person?” God has made clear in Scripture that we are not to be unequally “yoked” or paired together (btw, this goes for many relationships-not just marriage. I would say this extends to “best friends”, business partners, and more.) A better question might be “Lord, how can I resist this desire and what are some steps I should take to make sure I hold to your truth regarding this?”

Solomon asked for wisdom because he needed to wisely rule the people. It was the right question. Let’s follow in his footsteps and make sure we ask the right questions. Asking for wisdom might be a good place to start!

 

 

 

Completely sovereign…

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Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 11.55.05 AMSchedules are out now. After reviewing them, I think we would all agree for the most part they look great. Aaron has Mr. Jackson for science. Miriam has math first period. All the little details look good.

Sometimes, when schedules have not been so “good” or there are things I wish had been changed, I have often thought , “Well, God will help them (you guys) through this”-almost like this happened just by “coincidence” or “bad luck”, but we should trust God to walk you through it. Mrs. K. recently reminded me that last part of that thinking is true, but not really the first part. It is not “bad luck” or “coincidence”. God allowed it by choice.  Today’s Scripture just reinforced this to me in these little words: “…you rule over all”.

He does. God rules over all. Every single solitary thing in our lives-from the teacher you got for a certain class, to who you meet is filtered through God’s hand. I do not fully understand how our choices work in conjunction with God ruling over all-but I am fine with that. I believe and accept it.

David points out to us today that riches and honor come from God. God rules over all. That was true then-and is just as true today. In God’s hand is ALL power and might. It is in His power to give strength to all…and He can and will give you strength when you need it.
When we see things in our lives that are “good” or blessings, we need to look at God’s sovereignty and thank Him for it. When we experience very difficult times-whether it was the past years’ issues at Red Lion or something else, that too, was CHOSEN by God to occur. He wasn’t “surprised” it happened. In His sovereignty, He consciously decided that this was the best possible thing for you and I specifically (not necessarily the easiest!) to sanctify us and make us more like Christ. I know that knowing this doesn’t always make it easier-but sometimes if you can get through those times by reminding yourself that God is sovereign and good ALL THE TIME, as the movie “God’s not Dead” reminded us, it can help. It can change our perspective..and sometimes, perspective is everything!

 

Be strong AND act…

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Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 10.25.52 AMAaron was discussing with dad and I recently some thoughts on a workout schedule. How often he should lift, high reps/low weights, etc. He is trying to get in shape and be well prepared for football. He will be well prepared if he actually DOES what we talked about, but what if he only talked about it? How much good would that do? He needs to act on what he said.

 

David tells Solomon today to be strong (and that’s not in the sense of weight lifting!) and of good courage and act. I never really noticed that little word “act”. David had gotten everything set for Solomon to build the new temple. It was a HUGE project. It would be beyond stressful to worry about doing it right. David was encouraging Solomon to have courage but he did also have to DO something. Act. Then, David told him that God would not fail or forsake him in regards to the outcome of all of the work for the house of the Lord.

In this, I see God showing us two things; As we seek to follow God’s lead and do whatever He is calling us to do-which in your cases right now mostly includes playing sports and school-be strong and of good courage AND act. Do your part as you have been. Do those things that are God-honoring in these areas, in this “work” He has set before you.

 

Secondly, grasp the concept that He will not fail or forsake you in the work that you are doing for and with Him. I mention this, because if we are pursuing things that are not of God and/or are not pleasing to Him, then that promise does not hold true. God will not help us succeed at ungodly or worldly goals that do not align with His will. Something to keep in mind if we find an area that just seems to continually “fail”.

 

Juggling life?…

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Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 12.47.23 PMMiriam will be juggling a lot this year. She has school, student government responsibilities, her academics, work and sports. Dad and I are trying to help her in all this. It will require extremely good time-management, study skills and rest.

I would love to say after this year, she won’t have to “juggle” so much, but life is not like that. You are all doing it and we are as well.  Life requires wisdom. David is passing this same info on to his son, Solomon, in today’s Scripture. David has lived his life, is older now, and trying to give his best advice to Solomon.

Ultimately, what does David want for Solomon? He wants him to walk with God-and prosper or succeed, but in the sense of succeeding by God’s standards.
We desire the same for you. We desire that you all prosper-including doing in well in what you are working at, living a life filled with joyous times, a life that includes great friends and a walk with the Lord that is never shaken.

How can dad and I guarantee this will happen? We can’t. But we do know one thing-if you stick close beside God, seeking His understanding of things and living with discretion, keeping to His guidelines-then you will prosper. I am not saying you will be a millionaire, or that life will be perfect, but you will prosper. If you face exam weeks when you are feeling overwhelmed or inadequate, reminding yourself that God says He will “never fail your forsake you”-you will be able to walk through that time. If you play your sport in a God-honoring way, not dirty-you will be able to walk off the field every game, with confidence that you played your best, and represented Christ well in the process. These are just a few examples.

Again, I want to say-we will always be “juggling” many balls in life. Today it may be school, work, and sports-but they will only be replaced with new responsibilities, jobs, and relationships in the future. We can go through life, trying to juggle them all on our own or take David’s advice; “Keep the law of the Lord” with discretion and understanding…and then you will prosper.

 

Don’t fall for the “candy trick”!

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Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 8.25.00 AMNot all sins fall into the “10 commandments breaker” category. Have you ever noticed that? At least, at first glance they don’t. For instance, going to bed at 11:00pm is not a sin. But, if I is told you to go to bed at 10:00, then going at 11:00 “turns into” sin-it is the sin of disobedience.

David ran into the same problem today. An action, in and of itself, was not really an obvious sin to us-unless we know the background. David asked for a census, or wanted to count the people “on his side”. You can read more details of this in Chronicles, but the reality was, God had specifically stated this was NOT to be done, unless He ordered it. David was disobeying God’s direct command.

What intrigues me in today’s Scripture Satan’s role in this. We are told he ‘incited’ David.  It reminds me of the character in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang who bribes the kids with candy. David was still wholly responsible for his sin, but he was apparently “incited” by Satan. I don’t know how Satan influenced David-we are not told. I would guess though, that Satan still uses those tactics. He is still looking for people to “incite” to sin. Which means, that includes you and I.

How can we avoid this? How do you or I intend to not be egged on by Satan to sin? Let’s look again at David. After David had this brilliant idea, one of his best friends,  Joab, specifically said NOT to do this, and not to bring this guilt on Israel. He pointed out it was sin. David did not listen. He defied God, and then he defied solid advice from a trusted counselor. It was a foolish decision and many paid with their lives (70,000 to be exact!) for David’s decision. He was a fool not to listen.

I recommend we learn from this. Have good friends and counselors around us who WILL tell us when we are making a bad decision and possibly stepping into sin. We may not see it at first, they may-and can help save us. Secondly, take their advice when it aligns with Scripture. Be on guard for being too prideful or thinking you are always right-which causes you NOT to listen to sound advice.

Nobody likes to be told they are wrong or making a bad decision. It is the wise man or woman who can swallow their pride, consider solid advice given, and give up the attitude of “being right” in order to avoid sin and truly be “right” in the eyes of God. Your friend may be the very one who sees Satan’s “enticement” of you much clearer than you or I can!

 

Sharpen your sword!

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Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 9.27.29 AMSunday we talked a little about the “spirit” world. We discussed demons, angels, the Nephilim-children created from angels marrying women (Gen. 6:1-7) and giants, who may be the Nephilim. Interestingly enough, in today’s Scripture, Sippai, a descendant “of the giants” is mentioned.

There is not a lot of information about these things in the Bible, so we don’t want to concentrate too much on it, but it sure is interesting to think about. One thing we do know though, is that there is a spirit world, and there is a war going on. We don’t see it, we may not feel it, but that does not mean it does not exist.

How should any or all of this affect us? First, we need not fear. As believers, the Holy Spirit dwells in us and God is stronger than any other created being. He has already won the battle, and the Holy Spirit would never allow another spirit to reside “in us”.
Secondly, I would like to reference the article I forwarded to you all regarding Scripture memory. Scripture is our weapon against any battle we may have to fight. To quote from the article 5 Great Reasons to Memorize Scripture Today”; “When Scripture is stored in your mind, it is available for the Holy Spirit to bring to your attention when you need it most..A pertinent scriptural truth, brought to your awareness by the Holy Spirit at just the right moment, can be the weapon that makes the difference in a spiritual battle.”

School will be starting for Jordan next week, and for you all shortly thereafter. You will be back to memorizing Scripture for Bible class. I know it is difficult and added work, but remember, it may the most valuable thing you learn in school above all else. The Word of God is a alive and active. It is sharper than any double-edged sword. It can fight any battle-whether it is a spiritual battle against forces unseen, or your own battle against temptation. Learn it, value it and memorize it as much as you possibly can!

 

The Hand of God…

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081114Last week I saw an article on FB titled “Hand of God sent missile into sea”. A missile that was sent to destroy Israel, but “something” caused it to go into the sea. The article attributed that something to the “hand of God.” Not everyone attributed it that way though. Many others said it was just wind, a miscalculation of the technology. As a matter of fact, I had one friend who very strongly voiced the opinion that it could not possibly be the hand of God. So, who is right?

The same question could be asked of today’s verse in Chronicles. We read that Abishai, a military leader under David, had victory over the Edomites. The next verse says God gave the victory to David. So, was it Abishai or God?

I am sure this is not a new question or thought to you-but you will face it throughout your life. Will you attributes victories to yourself or to God? Let’s put it in more current terms. When Miriam scores the winning goal in a hockey game this year, when Aaron gets the highest grade on a Math test or Jordan continues to maintain a GPA that keeps his scholarship-is it your effort, or God giving you the victory and/or skill? It certainly took your effort, didn’t it? You worked hard…to some degree you earn the credit.

The reality is, yes, you and I do work hard, but if it were not for God, we would not be taking another breath today. The temptation will always be to credit ourselves, me included. The reality we need to constantly realize though, is that without God’s hand in our lives, we would not even be able to play hockey, calculate one math problem, or even read well enough to take a test! His fingerprint is all over every part of our lives.

The key to all of this is, as God blesses you and I with these amazing gifts and successes, be excited, rejoice, enjoy it… and let ALL OF THAT reflect back to God, giving Him thanks for the amazing things He is able to do through us. Give HIM the glory. By doing so, we will not become prideful, and it will cause you and I to enjoy Him all the more the rest of our lives. Oh, and by the way-have no doubt that the hand of God is protecting Israel today and we should be praying for them during this incredibly difficult time of war.

 

You’ve got mail!

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Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 8.46.03 AMWhat was the last email or text you got from someone? Was it an answer to a question you asked or new info or comments? When you text or email someone with a question, like dad asked Mrs. Brantley about Miriam’s GPA for her college info, Mrs. Brantley sent us an answer.

How many times have you wished you could do that to God-send Him a text or email and have him write back? I know I have. Perhaps you might ask what college you should go to? You might ask when you get older, who you should  marry or if you will ever get married? (That was my question!) What would you write? What would you ask?
In today’s Scripture, we see Nathan, a prophet, given a message directly from God to give to David. David wanted to build the temple for God, and the Lord told Nathan to tell him not to. He also told him a few more things!

My first thought was, “I sure wish the Lord would speak to me like that.” I would love to hear Him audibly say something, give direction, tell me what to do. As I thought about this, I think the Holy Spirit did tell me something. He has. God has written us a letter-just like an email or text. We can read it any time, but I am not sure we really realize this. The Bible is God’s letter to us. In fact, He didn’t just write a letter-he wrote an entire book-just to make sure everything was covered.

Realistically, no, it doesn’t tell you exactly what college to go to or who to marry-but it does tell you to not be “unequally yoked.” It tells you and I to seek counsel from godly friends when making decisions, like where to go to college. It tells us what to do if we are trying to decide whether to go to a sketchy party or not-we are told “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ “ We have the letter and we have God’s response.

The next time you or I read the Bible-I suggest we stop before reading and pray. Pray that we would read the Bible as a letter from God-directly from God to us. Pray that we would hear His voice and direction as we read. Pray it would be as clear to you and I as Nathan’s words from God were specific to David at that moment. God has told us He has given us ALL that we need…there is no more information necessary. The question is, do we believe Him?