“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13, NASB).
Recently I told a friend about an important life decision that I had made, yet I hadn’t received specific guidance from the Lord that this was what I should do. In my heart it just seemed to be the right decision and one that pointed in the same direction as God has been leading me.
My friend then quoted Psalm 37:23 (ESV): “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”
At first I thought that doesn’t seem very spiritual. How can the everyday decisions I make be established by the Lord? After all, I make a lot of bad decisions, too!
“The man said to Eli, ‘I am the one who came from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.’ And he said, How did things go, my son?” Then the one who brought the news replied, ‘Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken'” (1 Samuel 4:16-19, NASB).
When the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant from the Israelites, it was the direct result of the presumption of the Israelites that God was on their side no matter what they did or didn’t do.
The ark of the covenant was the visible sign of the presence and power of God. Until this time the ark had been housed in the tabernacle (tent sanctuary) at Shiloh, where it resided since the Israelites entered the promised land (Joshua 18:1). Now, Israel was disastrously defeated by the Philistines and the elders of Israel realized that the defeat was the work of the Lord.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, NASB).
Whatever you do in life, do it with gusto, do it with enthusiasm, do it with passion! Do the best job you can do, no matter what you are doing! Abraham Lincoln said it like this: “Whatever you are, be a good one!”
And then, do whatever you are doing as if you are doing it for God.
When you become passionate for doing God’s will, for achieving success for God’s kingdom and God’s glory and not just your own, then what you do in life takes on eternal significance and it becomes your God-appointed assignment, God’s will for you. “For I have taken all this to my heart and explain it that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God” (vs. 1).
“See, I have placed the land before you, go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them…See, the Lord your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 1:8,21, NASB).
Most of the book of Deuteronomy consists of speeches made by Moses to the Israelites during the final months of his life and just prior to entering the land of Canaan. This particular admonition to go and possess the promised land, contained notably in the first chapter of Deuteronomy, was repeated twice in the first twenty-one verses.
But, I think it’s also significant because it was not only God’s injunction to the Israelites, but He’s still directing His people in the same way and with the same provocation today. God implores us to possess the promises He has made to us, to accomplish His plans and purposes for our lives, to achieve our destiny in Him.
“Then Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are here, this is the man whose death is demanded by all the Jews, both here and in Jerusalem. But in my opinion he has done nothing deserving death. However, since he appealed his case to the emperor, I have decided to send him to Rome” (Acts 25:24-25, NLT).
When the Apostle Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, he had a hearing before the Jewish High Council. During his testimony before the Council, they began to argue among themselves and Paul was remanded back to prison in Jerusalem.
While in prison, God spoke to Paul in a vision and told him he must preach the good news of Jesus in Rome: “That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well” (vs. 23:11).
“Insert the Urim and Thummim into the sacred chestpiece so they will be carried over Aaron’s heart when he goes into the Lord’s presence. In this way, Aaron will always carry over his heart the objects used to determine the Lord’s will for his people whenever he goes in before the Lord.” (Exodus 28:30, NLT).
One of the primary priestly functions was to determine God’s will for His people. The priest’s chestpiece provided a container for the Urim and Thummim.The Hebrew words descibing the chestpiece literally meant “chestpiece for decision.”
“I am God, the God of your father, the voice said. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again” (Genesis 46:3-4, NLT).
Due to a great famine in the land and at the behest of Pharoah and the prime minister of Egypt, Jacob’s son, Joseph, Jacob (Israel) and all his family, which included his eleven sons and their wives and children, moved from Canaan to Egypt.
Their first stop on their journey was at Beersheba, so named 200 years earlier by Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, who lived in the area for a long time (vs. 21:34). In a night vision God reaffirmed His covenant with Jacob, but in a peculiar way. God promised He would make Israel a great nation in Egypt and then bring them out of Egypt to live once again in the land of Canaan. So, they went to Egypt as a tribe of seventy people (vs. 27) and left Egypt as a nation of quite possibly more than two million people (see Exodus 12:37, 38:26, six hundred thousand men, not counting women and children)!
“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, ESV).
The story of Esther is set in Susa, the Persian capital, during the reign of King Xerxes (486–464 BC) after Persia had replaced Babylon as the ruling power.
Some Jews had returned to Jerusalem where they enjoyed a reasonable amount of control over their own affairs as described in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Others, like those in the story of Esther, lived in various parts of the empire where they were often treated with suspicion and recriminations.
“Now, the Lord of hosts says this: ‘Think carefully about your ways'” (Haggai 1:5, HCSB).
The work of rebuilding the Temple had ceased for about ten years by order of King Artaxerxes of Persia (Ezra 4:24). Near the end of this ten-year cessation period, Haggai the prophet received a message from God to incite the repatriated Jews to complete the rebuilding of the Temple.
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:17, ESV).
Human beings are creatures of eternity. God created people for eternity and eternity is ever present in the life you now live.