Good Trouble – 2 Samuel 19:1-8

“‘Now get up! Go out and encourage your soldiers, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will remain with you tonight. This will be worse for you than all the trouble that has come to you from your youth until now!’ So the king got up and sat in the gate, and all the people were told: ‘Look, the king is sitting in the gate.’ Then they all came into the king’s presence” (2 Samuel 19:7-8, HCSB).

Sometimes we let our own personal problems and feelings overshadow what God is doing all around us. Such is the case with King David upon hearing of the death of his son and heir apparent, Absalom.

David’s army of Judah had just defeated an army of the other tribes of Israel in a civil war that Absalom led against David. David’s army prevailed and Absalom was killed in the fighting. When David heard the news of the victory and of Absalom’s death, he immediately went into mourning for his son: “So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, ‘The king is grieving for his son.’” (vs. 2).

David let his own grief overcome not just his kingly responsibilities but even his gratitude to God for saving the nation.

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Prime Directive – 1 Samuel 14:12-37

“‘Follow me,’ Jonathan told his armor-bearer, ‘for the Lord has handed them over to Israel.’ Jonathan climbed up using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer behind him. Jonathan cut them down, and his armor-bearer followed and finished them off. In that first assault Jonathan and his armor-bearer struck down about 20 men in a half-acre field… Saul said, ‘Let’s go down after the Philistines tonight and plunder them until morning. Don’t let even one remain!’ …. But the priest said, ‘We must consult God here.’ So Saul inquired of God, ‘Should I go after the Philistines? Will You hand them over to Israel?’ But God did not answer him that day” (1 Samuel 14:12-14; 36-37, HCSB).

At the beginning of 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan, King Saul’s son, and his attendant attacked a Philistine garrison. Meanwhile, Saul remained encamped on the other side of the pass with about 600 Israelite troops. In that assault Jonathan and his attendant killed about twenty Philistine soldiers.

Then panic erupted in the Philistine camp. Saul and his troops noticed the commotion among the Philistine troops.

Saul started to inquire of the Lord about what was happening in the Philistine camp by conferring with the priests who carried the ark of God. Deciding he might lose the opportunity to rout the Philistines, Saul gathered his troops and attacked and “struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash all the way to Aijalon” (vs. 31), a distance of about 15 miles.

Saul decided to renew the battle the next day and he again inquired of God whether he should go after the Philistines or not. “But God did not answer him that day” (vs 37). From Saul’s distorted theological perspective he was convinced that sin was present in the camp that was preventing the divine assistance.

It turns out the supposed sin was Jonathan’s disobedience to a direct order by King Saul that Jonathan had, in fact, not even heard Saul issue because he was single-handedly attacking the Philistine garrison.

Saul determined that Jonathan must be executed for disobeying his orders, but the Israelite troops interceded in Jonathan’s behalf and Saul relented from executing his son (vs. 44-45).

So why does God seem to favor Jonathan’s impulsive decision to attack the Philistines and not favor Saul’s contemplative actions when he stops to inquire of the Lord before attacking the Philistines?

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What Is God Like? Rugged Determination – Ezekiel 1

“As I looked at the creatures, suddenly there was a wheel on the earth corresponding to all four faces of the creatures. The appearance and composition of the wheels were like sparkling topaz. There was one shape for all four of them, as if one wheel were inside another. When they moved in any of the four directions, they moved without swerving. Their rims were tall and terrifying, because all four of them were filled with eyes all around. When the creatures moved, the wheels moved next to them. Whenever the creatures rose above the earth, the wheels also rose up. Wherever the wind would appear to go, the wind would make them go there too. The wheels rose up beside them, because the spirit of the creatures was in the wheels. When they moved, the wheels moved; when they stood still, the wheels stood still; and when they rose above the earth, the wheels rose up along with them, because the spirit of the creatures was in the wheels” (Ezekiel 1:15-21, CEB).

What if God threw open the gates of heaven and let you see what He was doing. How would you describe it? The words or analogies you would use to describe it would be limited by your own personal experiences and understanding. Maybe you would use unusual descriptions of what you’re familiar with to describe what you’re not familiar with.

And, could you take it all in at once? Perhaps you would focus on a few aspects of the scene that stand out to you the most.

That’s what happened to the prophet Ezekiel when he got a glimpse of what God was doing. His description is rather perplexing. It almost seems like he’s describing a UFO sighting or a scene from a Star Wars movie with ancient terminology!

Ezekiel saw something that looked like a tornado or whirlwind moving closer to him. As the storm moved closer he was able to observe more precise details and features of what he saw.

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Why? – John 12:27

“Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!” (John 12:27, NLT).

Recently, I’ve been reading Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. The premise of the book is that successful leaders influence loyalty to a product, movement or idea because they communicate why their organizations exist. According to Sinek, knowing your why is more important than  knowing what you do or how you do it. And, knowing your why will help you know what to do and how to do it.

So, apply this on a personal level. What’s your why? Why do you exist? Why do you do what you do?

In a conversation in John 12 that Jesus had with some of His disciples concerning His impending death, He seemed to be very aware of His Why. He knew exactly why He existed and why He did what He did.

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It’s Providential – Genesis 30

Simply stated, providence is God’s intervention in His creation. The theological concept of providence incorporates the foreseeing care and guidance of God. In fact, the Latin root of the English word has the sense of  knowledge of the future.

So, because God knows the future, He controls the present.

Providence is probably the main point in which a biblical worldview comes into conflict with contemporary worldviews. Certainly, the Old Testament worldview was more respective of God’s providence than is the modern, scientific view that asks “Why” and “How” about every occurrence in life and nature.

The Old Testament writers seem to have a rich understanding of God’s providence. To the Old Testament writer, it’s all providential!

The two major events from the life of Jacob described in Genesis 30 illustrate the Old Testament perspective of providence.

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Folding – Romans 12:1-2

sheet_of_paper“So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.” (Romans 12:1-2, CEB).

This meditation is a hands-on lesson in how God works in our lives. Give it a try.

  1. Take a blank sheet of paper and in the middle of the sheet of paper write in large letters:

MY WILL

  1. Then in the top left-hand corner write in smaller letters:

GOD’S
PERFECT
WILL

  1. Fold the paper in half folding the bottom half behind and to the top so that the words are still showing.
  2. Then fold the paper in half folding the right half behind and to the left so that the words are still showing.
  3. Again, fold the paper in half folding the bottom half behind and to the top so that the words are still showing.
  4. And, again fold the paper in half folding the right half behind and to the left so that the words are still showing.
  5. You should  now have a small square of paper in your hands that is 1/16th of the original paper size with the words printed on it: GOD’S PLAN FOR MY LIFE. These words probably fill or almost fill the small square of paper in your hand.

Here’s the point of this exercise:

We like to think of God’s will as something that is being revealed a little at a time. It’s like something we discover as if it is unfolding before us.

Actually, finding God’s will is more like folding than unfolding. It’s more like the displacement of our own will in favor of God’s will. It’s a place God leads us, not a place we discover.

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God Is With You. No, God Is In You. – Haggai 1-2

indwelling-holy-spirit“Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave the Lord’s message to the people: I am with you, says the Lord… be strong, all you people of the land, says the Lord… Work, for I am with you, says the Lord” (Haggai 1:13, 2:4, CEB).

The Lord told Haggai to encourage the people to get to work to rebuild the Temple. God encouraged them to get started and reminded them that they were able to do it because He was with them.  God reminded them in both chapters of this two-chapter Old Testament book.

Now, God is with us by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. And He has an assignment for each of us that accomplishes His purposes.  So, we should be bold and get to work doing His will because “I am with you, says the Lord!”

Here’s the problem: Instead of being bold, we are reticent about doing God’s will. We hesitate because we don’t know what His assignment is for us.

Or we think we don’t know. Or we think we can’t accomplish His assignment for us because it’s so overwhelming.

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