Rejoicing at what the Lord Says - Nehemiah 8:12

Hearing, Believing, and Changing

And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. … And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” … And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. – Nehemiah 8:1, 9-10, 12 ESV

Nehemiah was a prophet who lived in the time that the Babylonian exile ended. At the time that the exiles were returning to Jerusalem, he had been in the court of the king in Babylon. But, when he heard that Jerusalem was destroyed and walls in ruins, he gave up his high position and went back to help rebuild the city. Part of what Nehemiah did for the people was to teach them about the Law of Moses. Over the seventy years of captivity and exile, the habits and traditions around keeping the law had fallen away.

In Nehemiah chapter 8, we see the effect that the renewing of the laws and traditions had on the people. Ezra the scribe was asked to read the Law of Moses to the people. As they heard it being read, clearly and so they could understand it, the people started weeping. Nehemiah and the Levites reminded them that this is a time of joy, not weeping. They said, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” (v. 9). In verse 12, it explains a little more what the people were going through, “And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions [to the poor] and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.”

I love this story! Everything is here that shows us what we need to do to make changes happen and stick in our lives is here. These parts are

  • Knowledge and Understanding
  • Connection
  • Supporting leadership
  • Willingness to obey

The first part has two elements to it: knowledge and understanding. The people weren’t being rebellious or defiant; they simply didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing. Nehemiah doesn’t try to correct behavior first thing. He knows that they have to know the truth of God and be taught it. It might seem like splitting hairs to say that knowledge and understanding are different, but the nuance of them is captured in the part that says, “They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.” (v.8 NIV). They didn’t just put the words out there and tell the people to start a Bible study if they didn’t understand it. They explained it in such a way that they understood what they heard. They now had the knowledge of the law and the understanding of it as well.

The second piece of this is connection. Religion is an abstract concept. It is an idea that we can’t always define quickly and easily. These abstract concepts include things like: there’s a powerful being who is intelligent and loving, but invisible and intangible, and ideas like love, mercy and justice. Even if the intangible is acknowledged, it can be difficult to apply this knowledge to our lives, or, said another way, to care about it. To take all these things and believe that they are real and important enough to be willing to change our lives for is a huge step of faith.

This step of faith can only happen when something connects us with the truth that’s in the knowledge we’ve gained. Knowledge alone isn’t enough, in most cases, to change a person or commit their steps to a path that will cost them personally with no earthly gain in site. That kind of belief is found only in the presence of the Lord. Only when we accept the words of understanding and allow them to connect us to His Spirit. This is why the people wept, because they were so overwhelmed with the Spirit that they felt the connection to Him deeply and personally.

The next piece of this story is the supportive leadership shown by Nehemiah and the Levites. All of Israel is gathered here and is crying. I imagine that some of the Levites were a bit overwhelmed by the people’s response. Thousands of people crying would be intimidating! Fortunately, Nehemiah knew what was happening and knew how to support the people as the Spirit was working in them.

He offered them a day to celebrate the goodness of God while they absorbed the love and knowledge they’d gained. He sent them home, telling them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (v. 10). The first time you feel the moving of the Spirt, you might not know how to handle it. Nehemiah is given them the opportunity to enjoy the moment and to have a good meal (eat the fat) and make sure the poor in the group can enjoy a good meal as well.

The final part of this is the willingness to obey. In the next section of chapter 8 and 9, Nehemiah and the other leaders and priests start implementing what they’ve been reading in the Law, right away, no wasted time! The people celebrate and rejoice in this and join in wholeheartedly.

When we’ve been brought into a new understanding of God’s truth, we need to be willing to step into obedience as well, without hesitation and with wholehearted devotion. This is the only way we can see the true change in us: hear it, understand it, celebrate it (leaders support it), and do it.


Unified in God - Psalm 133:1,3

Life Forevermore, Unified with God

A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. – Psalm 133:1-3 ESV

David reminds us in Psalm 133 of the joy of being unified with others around us. I love the imagery he uses of the flowing, dropping over our heads. It’s a gift that’s poured out over us abundantly enough to drop off us and envelop us. David reminds at the end of the Psalm that it’s the blessing of God, and it’s life forever more. With this kind of promise, it seems like it would be a good idea to understand more about the unity he’s telling us about.

Unity on any subject is pleasing. Whether it’s simply joining a club of people who are doing what you like to do, or convincing someone to agree with you, having the same ideas and focus and priorities as those around you feels good. However, the kind of unity that David is talking about here isn’t about discussing ideas or actions until we all get a consensus or agreement. The kind of agreement we need to have for the blessings of life are talked more about by Jesus and Paul.

In Ephesians 4, Apostle Paul has just wrapped up talking about the beauty and the mystery of the revealed good news of life through Christ. After reminding them of that gift, he goes on to talk about living and walking the unity of the good news. He reminds them to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” going on to say, “there is one body and one Spirit …one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

From this we learn that the unity we’re going for is not a unity of humans, but a unity with the divine. We are seeking unity through an awareness and knowledge of the Spirit. It’s not about seeing whose idea gains the most agreement with other people. It’s about learning to become one with the Divine Presence that is in all who believe in the name of Christ.

This is confirmed by Jesus himself. In the last days of his life, Jesus prayed a prayer for all who would believe in His name (that’s us!), set down in John 17:20-26. He asked for one thing for us. It wasn’t a prayer for blessing or protection or anything like we’d probably ask for. Instead, he asks for this, “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”

As he’s about to leave his disciples to trouble, persecution, and murder, that’s what’s important to Jesus. He wants each of them to become one with God as he himself was one. That’s a big important thing to remember.

As I go back to the imagery of unity being poured over our heads and I combine that with the belief that unity comes from our relationship with Holy Spirit, I can see that our life evermore that David celebrated in Psalm 133 is the life that comes from a deep personal relationship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Don’t spend one more day seeking unity with another human; seek God! Then, as we all are unified in the one and only God, we will end up being brought together in a much deeper, more lasting unity than simply agreement can bring.


Grateful in all Things - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Tainted Gratitude

And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. Then Haman said, “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king. Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” – Esther 5:11-13 ESV

In the story of Esther, the villain is a man named Haman. His selfishness and ambition have him fighting against anyone he doesn’t like; his ultimate nemesis being Queen Esther’s uncle, Mordecai. After Mordecai doesn’t bow or defer to him in anyway, Haman goes home to pout to his friends and his wife.

Haman starts listing all the great things in his life: money, large family, and promotions in the royal court. If the story stopped there, it would almost sound like Haman is doing a wonderful job of practicing gratitude. Isn’t that what we’re told to do when we’re struggling with a problem or perspective issue? We’re supposed to stop and count our blessings and keep things in perspective. Haman, however, is a very evil man. All this focus on his blessings only leads him to hate Mordecai more and agree to his wife’s awful plan to kill him. Why does him listing blessing foreshadow murder when we’re told it’s helpful for us?

Gratitude isn’t about focusing on what you have, purely for the sake of recognizing how awesome you have it. It’s not about listing what you’ve accomplished or how the world sees you. All those things still keep you at the center of your own attention. It is easy to use our view of our blessings, even the ones we fully give God credit for, and then to use that to be about us. We make it about what we’ve accomplished, or how hard we worked, or what we did for those people, or how much we’ve earned what we have.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

Gratitude is supposed to be about a perspective shift to focusing less on yourself and more on God. It should be about seeing God in all our circumstances and blessing him for who He is. 1 Chronicles 16:34 says, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” Give thanks why? Because God is good. Not because I accomplished good things, and not because I’m comfortable and not because I have more blessings that most of the world.

Haman’s listing of his accomplishments was to add fuel to the fire that he deserved the homage he wanted from Mordecai. He wasn’t being grateful, he was puffing up his own ego. His own sense of self had poisoned his perspective to the point that he didn’t even have a shred of real gratitude left in him.

Most of us, of course, aren’t that depraved or selfish. We don’t use our blessings to bloat our sense of self-worth. However, just because we aren’t as extreme as Haman doesn’t mean that we always have pure motivations in pondering our blessings.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy that I live in a wonderful home with hot, running water and live only minutes from several well-stocked groceries stores. I’m thankful for His abundance, but I don’t want my comfort to be the ultimate source of my gratitude. I want my knowledge of God to prompt awe and love and gratefulness because I know Him and who He is brings me to my knees with heart overflowing with gratitude. Then all the blessings in the world will become more and more beautiful and my heart will become more and more aligned with Him.

 


God Approves Your Work - Ecclesiastes 9:7

Work with What You Have

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ – Matthew 25:21 ESV

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? … For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ – Matthew 25:24-26, 29-30 ESV

In this crazy world of people telling you what you should do and how you should live and manipulating you out of your money, we sometimes want to throw in the towel and say that nothing matters. We can lose track of what’s important in our work when we think that how other people treat us or react to us impacts what we should be doing. Your work matters and you should be doing it to the best of your abilities, no matter what.

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus gives us an example of three people who were given things to be responsible for, as they had ability to do. The first two were faithful and worked hard, took risks, and, as a result, they had more to give back than what they started with. They are the good and faithful servants. The final servant protected what he had and gave back only what he’d been given. He was cast out as a disobedient servant.

There are four things we can pull from this parable. First, what we have has been given to us based on our ability. God isn’t going to ask you to be a brain surgeon and then not give you the intelligence to handle the job. We’re also not given everything equally. God gave out as He saw fit, not as would make sense to us. We need to accept what we have as a gift and a responsibility.

Second, we have to take risks and work hard. The first two servants invested the money and made more. Any type of investment, whether it be simply interested based loaning or market trading or business investing, all of these things take risk. There might be ups and downs, but we have to keep believing in the gifts and abilities we have and we have to keep working hard.

Third, staying as you are is an act of disobedience. Money is what is used in the parable as an example, but money isn’t the only things that we’ve been given to take care of and grow. We have many talents and responsibilities that we have to take care of and learn to improve at. It can be anything from taking care of our families to leadership abilities or business growth. Whatever it is that we have, we must use and improve or we are being bad stewards of our gifts.

Finally, the fourth thing we can learn is that God won’t always spell out in a step by step direction what we’re supposed to be doing. In the parable, the landowner gives these talents to the stewards because he is going away for a while. God never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5), of course, that’s not what the parable is saying. It’s saying that we are able to do what we need to do without constant guidance. Part of accepting the work that God has called us to do requires us to believe that we have everything we need to accomplish it, including the abilities to complete our work.

Ecclesiastes 9 talks about the toil that each one of us has before us to do. In verse 9 it says about this, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.” God wants us to work hard and what He’s given us. Don’t spend time worrying about your lot in life or the things that you wish you had or didn’t have to deal with. Pray about finding you “merry heart” in regard to what you’re doing and learn to enjoy the moment in your life as you work every day to be who He made you to be.


God's Words both build us up and destory us - Jeremiah 1:9-10

To Destroy and To Build

Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” – Jeremiah 1:9-10 ESV

The book of the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament opens with Jeremiah talking about his call to be a prophet to the people. In this passage, as God is telling Jeremiah about the work he is to do, God tells him about the power of His words. God says that the words He put into Jeremiah’s mouth were, “to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” This dichotomy of purpose in the words Jeremiah will speak can be applied to our lives as well.

The first thing is to notice that the opposites here are referring to removing and giving. In other words, God will bring into our life, through us listening to Him, a flow of things. Sometimes things will come in, and sometimes things will go out. Ecclesiastes confirms this as well with the passage, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We need to acknowledge that there is time for being built up and receiving and there is a time for allowing ourselves to be destroyed.

Wait, that doesn’t sound right, does it? Why would God want to destroy something in our life? The obvious answer is that sin is in us and needs to be taken out. Seems simple enough, but yet it is often this work of tearing down that we fight.

When we think about who we are, we often have an image that God will keep adding or giving or teaching us where we are at. We become more and more like Him and this is how we go for the rest of our lives. Have you ever opened a cupboard or closet door and had things fall out on you? The storage space was too full to hold in all the things that were supposed to be in there. This is what happens to us if we keep wanting God to add and build, but we aren’t willing to let go of anything.

What falls out of the cupboard when it’s opened? The dusty things in the back that are covered in other dusty things? No, the thing that we’ve just put in, because that’s what we don’t have room for. If we want God to be giving us new words and new understandings, we must be willing to admit there are things that have to go.

When we first become a Christian, this isn’t all that hard. There are many things we can pull out and get rid of. In fact, we feel lighter and lighter as we hand off burdens and cares. He begins to heal us and to grow us.

After we’ve walked with the Lord for a while, we start having trouble finding the dusty things that can be cleared out. The trouble is that now the things the Lord is destroying in us are deeper and more personal. Pride stands in the way and says, “That’s not a sin, that’s just my personality!” There are behaviors we do that are driven by fear or selfishness that we’ve done so long, we can barely recognize them as problems.

We find that instead of simply removing problem behaviors, God wants to start changing our view of our very identity. He wants us to stop defining ourselves by our past and our troubles and our reactions and instead start defining ourselves in Him. We cling to our identity very tightly. The idea of letting go of who we think we are, even if we know it’s to experience who we could be, is terrifying.

But it must happen.  He has to have access to destroy anything in the dusty, dark recesses of our spiritual cupboard that He knows is keeping us from being built up. Only then can we be ready to accept the new truth He’s teaching us so we can begin to grow and be built up. He will build us up; He promises. We have to trust Him enough to give up anything and everything He’s asking to destroy from out of ourselves.


Feed me with what I need - Proverbs 30:8

Enough Is Enough

Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. – Proverbs 30:7-9 ESV

Proverbs 30:7-9 shows us the troubles of both not having our needs meet and having too much stuff in our lives. On the one side, not having enough tempts us to get what we need in whatever way we can. The flip of that is that we tend to trust in ourselves and our stuff when we have more than what we need.

The desire of the author is to be content with what he has, saying, “Feed me with the food that is needful for me.” In order to be satisfied with what we have, we have to know and believe one thing, what we have is what we need. Or, perhaps, we will have what we need.

So many things in our lives distract us from what is truly needed in our life. I’m not saying that, since we can live on bread and water, we should never have more than that. I personally don’t call that living. But I also know that I cling to things that I think are valuable or important but that in the end, have no lasting value.

In addition, I base my decisions and sense of comfort and stability on some underlying idea of what happened yesterday will happen today and will continue on in the future. We all do this; it’s a part of staying sane in this world. In and of itself, I don’t think it’s a wrong way to think. The problem comes in when we limit our future to what we know and can see. The future is a big unknown and trying to mold it and manipulate it into our way of thinking only ends in disappointment.

God holds our days and knows our steps (Job 14:5). We can fully rely on and trust Him to provide for whatever is coming our way. In fact, fighting Him about what we need or don’t need only ends with us having to learn the hard way that He knew what He was doing the whole time.

I recently read a fantastic example of this on Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience. Her son had some difficult health issues recently and she talks in her entry about the struggle and pain, but also joy and growth that comes through that.

God knew this would happen. He knows what will happen and knows the length and quality of Ann’s son’s life. He isn’t surprised or disappointed by the diagnosis her son received. Ann says this, “Grieving how plans change — is part of the plan to change us.” Just because tomorrow brings unexpected news to us doesn’t mean God won’t be there every step of the way. He will provide what is needful for us today, tomorrow and forever.


God Is for Our Ultimate Good

Limitations for Our Good

When we are seeking the Lord’s guidance in our life, we are often only looking for open doors. “Tell me where to go.” “Tell me what to do.” A question we ask less often is, “What doors are closed?” Often, even if we get an answer that a door is closed, we fight it or feel like we haven’t heard right.

Accepting the limitations that God puts on our choices is an important part of walking with Him. The world says, “Make a plan and make it happen.” God says, “Do what I say, when I say to do it.” Apostle Paul demonstrates this in his journey and how he handled ministering in Asia.

In chapter 19 of Acts, we learn that Paul spent two years in Asia and it says, “all the residents of Asia heard the words of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” Sounds great and wonderful, but if we look back three chapters, we see that Paul didn’t just get this handed to him.

In Acts 16:6, it says, “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.” Paul accepted that limitation and moved on. He continued following the leading of the Lord even when it contained a limitation. Then, after Paul’s continued obedience, the door that had been forbidden to him was opened.

There are areas in my life where right now I have limitations, things that the Lord has asked me to let go of or hold back from. Many, many times I want to fight Him about it. I have many arguments against it, but the usual one is something along the lines of “Everyone else can!” Not the most mature response, I know, but it seems unfair and I don’t understand.

God is so good, though, that I’m learning to trust the limitations and accept limitations or withholdings. Not because I think that the point is to do without, I don’t think that at all. My personal opinion is that God doesn’t ask you do without something just to see if you can or if you’re willing to. It always has a purpose in transforming you.

So far my experience is that God’s withholding something I want or asking me to not do something is for several reasons. One, protection. God knows how to give good gifts to His children (Luke 11:13), and He also knows what won’t be a good gift. Two, transformation. There are times when getting what I want would block him because I’d turn to something other than Him. By letting Him withhold or limit me, I can choose to be transformed more and more as I lean on Him and wait. Three, focus. There are things in our life that we put above God and rely on more than we rely on Him. God wants us all to Himself and will do what it takes to bring us an awareness of what’s more important to us than Him. (Exodus 34:14).

As we walk with Him, let us accept all things from him, both the gifts and the limitations. He is always after our ultimate good (Romans 8:29).


Be Humble and Be Glad - Psalm 34:2

Humility and Faith

My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. – Psalm 34:2 ESV

[Note: This is my 100th blog post! I can’t believe I’ve been able to do this. I thought I’d get tired and give up on this a long time ago. Thank you so much for reading! It means a lot to me!]

In an article called Faith is not a Feeling, author Ney Bailey talks about her journey to understanding what faith is.

“After reading and rereading the passage, with all its references to the phrase “by faith,” I began to see that all the people mentioned had one thing in common: No matter whom the writer of Hebrews was talking about, each person had simply taken God at His word and obeyed His command. And they were remembered for their faith….

Through my study of these three passages, I had arrived at a simple, workable definition of faith: Faith is taking God at His word.”[1]

I love this idea of faith defined so simply and I realized that humility can be looked at in a similar way. “Humility is accepting God’s word about who I am.” Humility is an act of faith in regard to who you are. It’s not trying to be anything else than what He created you to be, or do anything else than He is asking you to do.

Faith, while seemingly simple, is very difficult to live out because it requires two things of us: hearing God’s word and accepting it. With all the conflicting voices and ideas demanding our time and attention it is a choice to listen to God and a choice to accept it, no matter what else we hear.

Humility is the same way. There are many things that we hear about ourselves. There are messages around us about what makes us valuable and what or who we should be striving to be.  We have to choose to listen and accept what God says about us in His Word and choose to act and live based on those truths.

Humility keeps us from becoming prideful. It allows us to stay on our knees before the Lord without succumbing to false humility of self-degradation. God doesn’t want us to abase ourselves or grovel like a worm. He wants us to remember who He’s told us we are. To hold to that and let Him teach us more and more about Him and ourselves so He can lift us up and bless us.

When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. – Psalm 69:32 ESV

[1] Bailey, Ney. “Faith Is Not a Feeling.” Starting With God. Web. 23 Jan. 2016. <http://www.startingwithgod.com/knowing-god/what-is-faith/>.


Celebrate Salvation - Luke 10:20

Celebrate Salvation

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” – Luke 17:7-10 ESV

 

In Luke 17 Jesus gives an example of what it means to have a heart for obeying the Lord. He is addressing the assumption that when we obey the Lord we’ve somehow done something amazing or something worthy of note. Instead Jesus says that when we obey we’re supposed to simply acknowledge that we did what we were supposed to do, not seek reward and attention for it.

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” – Luke 10:17-20 ESV

Earlier in Luke Jesus is talking to the seventy-two that He sent out ahead of Him to help with the harvest, teaching and healing. When they came back, they were amazed at the miracles they were able to do in Jesus’s name. Jesus’s response? Yeah, it’s cool, but you’re getting excited about the wrong thing.

Jesus reminds them that He saw Satan fall from heaven and that they were given authority over all the power of the enemy. That seems like something to be excited about! Having the ability to thwart the plans of the devil with a word would seem like something to celebrate. Jesus, always wanting our hearts focused on the eternal, stops them. He specifically says don’t rejoice in this. Instead, rejoice because we’ve been saved.

What is your motivation in seeking miracles? Why do want to obey and serve Him? What are you seeking from Him as you walk with Him? Is it a quid pro quo kind of thing? If you’re honest about what’s in your heart, what do you see yourself receiving from God: attention and miracles? Or are you a humble servant who views obedience as nothing but your job and celebrates the salvation of God over the blessings of God?


God's Strong Support - 2 Chronicles 16:9

Strong Support for Our Purpose

When we hear “You’re here for a purpose,” what do you think? Many people seem to think that it means that you are going to be accomplishing a pre-set list of things. What if, however, there is a broader meaning to purpose that can open up some powerful truths for living?

In 2 Chronicles 14-16 we meet a king of Judah who was a Godly king, Asa. He sought the Lord and he fought against the idolatry in his lands. Among the other events of Asa’s life, we see two battles that he fights. One, he fights with purpose and one he fights without it. The results? He wins both.

The first battle is Judah verses the Ethiopian army. Asa goes before the Lord and he asks for the Lord’s help and blessing. He acknowledges that they fully rely on the Lord for victory. The Lord gives them victory and much riches and spoil are collected from the army and the surrounding cities.

The next battle happens much later in Asa’s reign. After many years of peace, the king of Israel decides to cause trouble with Judah. Asa, being savvy, goes to their ally with a big army: Syria. He sends them money and asks them to break their treaty with Israel. Syria agrees and the ensuing fighting sends Israel packing back home. Asa comes in and takes over the land they had encroached on and gains all the spoils they left behind.

From an outside perspective, Asa won both battles and he gained material goods in both cases. Once cost some money and one cost a fight, but they both ended up in a way that benefited Asa and Judah. We can’t stop reading there though. The Lord wasn’t as pleased with the second outcome as the first one.

A seer comes to Asa with a message, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:9 ESV) Asa’s reign that had years of peaceful living was now doomed to trouble. In fact, Asa ends up not putting the Lord first and ends up being cruel to his people and suffering from disease (vs. 10, 12).

Our purpose is to put God first and let Him take care of accomplishing what He sees is good for us.