May God do what seems right to Him - 2 Samuel 10:12

Joab’s Faith

In 2 Samuel 10:6-19 we see an example of the kind of faith that gives God room to be God. The story starts after a group of David’s men have been humiliated by his enemy after they were sent on a mission of comfort (v. 1-5). The enemy realizes that David was upset at their treatment of his men, so they regrouped and called in (paid) allies to come and defend, possibly attack David. David sends out Joab, commander of his army, with what is described as “all the host of the might men” (v. 7).

Joab sees that they’ve flanked his group and he divides his men into two groups to face the army. Their loose battle plan is to fight and if either one seems to be losing badly, the other group will come help (v. 11). Not exactly a detailed attack plan, but Joab follows it up with an observation that shows his understanding of their true source, “Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the LORD do what seems good to him” (v. 12).

Joab is going to do his best for the people he cares about and he’s going to allow God room to be sovereign. He doesn’t demand an outcome or hinge his belief on the outcome on his view of God’s favor for him. He simply allows God to do what he things is best in situation and pours himself in to doing his best.

Too often we confuse faith in God with the idea that we deserve something from Him. We think that because we love Him, he must or should do something. God is a good god and He is always working for our best interest. However, He is not a force we can manipulate or connive. He doesn’t operate out of guilt. He is a sovereign God (meaning he’s the boss), and He will do what is best for all His children for all of time. That may or may not line up with your selfish outlook on what he should or shouldn’t do.

God will do what seems good to Him, and we are to do our best. We are to step into the role and circumstances that we find ourselves in and let go of the outcome. However it turns out, it’s the good outcome. Sometimes, it might be easier to accept that than others. It’s our faith in God that allows us to see past our limited circumstances to accept His goodness because of who He is and what He’s accomplishing.

The outcome for Joab, by the way, was the fleeing of the entire army before him. Then, after the enemy gathered even more men to attack with, David came with all of Israel and defeated them so soundly that the paid soldiers were too afraid to attack David anymore (v. 19). That’s God working for the good of his people: He’s working toward our ultimate win, not just momentary relief.

Fret Not Over Evil Doers - Psalm 37:7

Trust in His Long-Term Plan

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. – Psalm 37:1-6 ESV


When we read an inspirational scriptures, we can often imagine the passage in glowing and pretty images. We feel warm and fuzzy over what it says, but we don’t’ stop to think about how the passage would look in real life if we lived it out. Psalm 37 is one of these that has beautiful, true, and inspiring promises. However, if we pick out only those phrases, we don’t see the true image that’s being painted of what we are stepping into.

Truth 1: There are evildoers, and we must let them be. This passage is about letting the Lord fight our battles and believing in His long-term plan. It’s about how we’re supposed to live in the midst of bad people. We sometimes act like, as Christians, it’s our job to get rid of the bad people or at least convince them their bad and try to make them stop doing bad things. Psalm 37 is saying that there are evil people in the world, and we’re not to get worked up about it, but to let the Lord deal with them in his way and His time.

Truth 2: Our righteousness is to be highlighted by God, not us or our friends. Our righteousness isn’t defined by what group of people we associate with or how good we’ve followed a list of rules. We are to wait on the Lord to acknowledge our righteousness, not ourselves. He will bring it about, after we are patient. Note, it says, after we wait on Him; He doesn’t say it will happen right when we want it, or when it will make us look good to other people, or anything else that is based on our desires and expectations. It’s His work to do and it will be done in His time and His ways. Our job is to wait.

Truth 3: Belief first. We often want God to answer our prayers or give us blessing and then we’ll believe Him. We don’t say that outright, of course. Our minds are a lot more nuanced and complicated than that. This passage highlights how important it is to put our belief in God first, before we demand proof or blessing or protection. Our hearts must be in Him and held there as circumstances change. We will face temptation after temptation to remove our faith and hold onto something more tangible and immediate.

God promises us wonderful things, but the path to those blessings is one of patience in the face of evil, wait for acknowledgement from Him alone, and choosing to believe no matter whether circumstances make you look crazy or not. This is a slightly less rosy picture than just believing for happy blessings. However, if we can keep this image in our mind, we will stay closer to God during the less rosy times. Otherwise our happy image of how things should be collides with the truth of our reality and we feel disillusioned or let down.

Life isn’t pretty or easy, but God will come through in the end. Don’t let the selfishness and harm that comes from the evil in the world stop our eyes from seeking the Lord. We must remember to not worry or be jealous of their success or fear that God has forgotten to deal with them. God is the boss and He will bring about His justice in the perfect time.

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.

An Open Heart and Mind - Part 3 - Proverbs 1:33

An Open Heart and Mind – Part 3

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” – Proverbs 1:29-33 ESV

Yesterday, we talked  not choosing the fear of the Lord, and the day before that we talked about hating knowledge. Today, we continue on through Proverbs 1:30

[They] Would Have None of My Counsel

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, advice is worth what you pay for it. The implication is that free advice is worth nothing and probably shouldn’t be followed. God’s advice, however, is always free and always worth it. Sometimes, however, we don’t choose to seek it out. The foolish people in this passage seem to be actively pushing it away.

The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. – Psalm 33:11 ESV

The Lord’s advice isn’t trivial. What He is offering to us is life forever. In Acts, Apostle Paul is talking with the elders at Ephesus and he says, “for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20: 27 ESV). Paul isn’t saying that he knows everything that God knows. A few verses back Paul says this, “ how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:20-21 ESV). Paul is saying that the whole counsel of the Lord is the plan for salvation.

God wants us to return to Him through the blood of His son, Jesus Christ. He has planned this from the beginning (John 1:1, 14) to bring us back into His presence. This is his counsel, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 ESV)

Receive him, believe him and you can become children of God. Romans says that we’re join-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). How amazing! Jesus, who was from the beginning and will be forever, came into the flesh to live as a blessing for the people and died to be salvation for all. We can be join-heirs in the blessings of heaven with Jesus himself, not because of who we are or what we’ve accomplished but because we believe in salvation through Jesus.

This is the counsel that the foolish reject. This is what they are pushing away and running from. Perhaps they’re highly intelligent and can’t handle the faith aspect. Perhaps they are driven by ambition and independence and can’t let go of the need to be righteous themselves. Perhaps they just chose sin over salvation.

Whatever the case for their rejection, let’s not join them. Accept the counsel of God and let him lead you to a deeper awareness of the relationship we can have with Him through salvation. God’s counsel is forever and His salvation is to all generations.

God Announces Himself - Isaiah 48:4-5

God Announces Himself

Because I know that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead brass, I declared them to you from of old, before they came to pass I announced them to you, lest you should say, ‘My idol did them, my carved image and my metal image commanded them.’ – Isaiah 48:4-5 ESV

God is doing a work in this world since creation and He won’t be stopping now. God wants us returned to Him so we can spend eternity with Him. As He’s working with us, He is shining His light on us so that we will know it’s Him. Our inability to hear Him is based on our determination to keep pride in our lives.

In Isaiah 48:4-5, God is saying that He knew His people would be stubborn and difficult and only hear what they wanted to hear. It didn’t throw Him off, or make Him give up, though. Instead, He planned for it. He knew that prideful nature of our hearts and our minds and He made sure to tell us about Himself and what He would do so we’d know it was Him.

Jesus, the Messiah and Savior of the World could have come without announcement and He still could have died for our sins. But, by having prophecy that came before we could see that God had a plan. We couldn’t say anything about the wisdom of the Greeks and the power of the Romans and the piety of the Jews combined to make Him. No, we could see that God had a plan from the beginning and that He was working it out to bring salvation to His beloved and lost children.

The temptation in these situations is to take the credit to our choices, or our lifestyle. Today, not many of us worship idols the way they would have been in Isaiah’s day (referring mostly to the Western Hemisphere, here. There are still many idolatrous religions in the world, but not many are predominate in the United States). Instead, we try to take the credit for ourselves straight up. We say it’s because I’ve worked so hard for so long, or it’s my money that bought it or my connections in the world. All these things disappoint and lie, because it wasn’t any of them to begin with.

God’s promises to us in His Word and true and real. He tells us about Himself and what’s He doing so that when we see promises fulfilled in our lives we can be sure to honor Him and recognize Him. God wants us to know Him and He is actively working for us to hear Him.

Rejected God as King - 1 Samuel 8:7

Getting Our Way When We Shouldn’t

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” – 1 Samuel 8:7 ESV

There are several verses in the scriptures that promise answered prayer. These are not unconditional, however. We must delight in the Lord, and then he’ll give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). Another references says that we must ask according to His will (1 John 5:14). That same author says a little before that we must ask and obey His commandments and do the things that please God (1 John 3:22). So we know that we don’t just get to demand our way and have the Great Vending Machine in the sky spit out our heart’s desire.  1 Samuel gives us another scenario: demanding our way when it’s not God’s way and God giving it to us anyway. What happens then and what can we do to avoid finding ourselves in this position?

In 1 Samuel 8, we meet a great prophet, the namesake of this particular book, and he is getting old. He has a couple sons who should be the ones taking over the job of judging Israel, but they aren’t godly. They put personal gain first and pervert justice by taking bribes (v. 3). The elders of Israel, trying to avoid that problem, go to Samuel and ask him to anoint a king (v. 4-5).

Samuel goes to the Lord with this request and the response is not promising. The Lord essentially tells Samuel not to take it personally; they’ve rejected God, not Samuel. In addition, if they ask for it give it to them (v. 7,9).

Samuel goes back to the people and tries to warn them away from this course. He tells them all the troubles a king could bring, and all the things they’ll lose by being ruled by a man instead of God (vs. 10-18). This doesn’t sway the people, however. They want to be like the other “cool kids” of the time who have a king. After double checking with the Lord and confirming the first response, Samuel agrees to find them a king.

This scenario is useful for us to understand our own requests to God. In particular, request that are something we want, but that God says isn’t best for us. This passage tells us that the people are pulling away from God (v. 8). They don’t remember what God did for them and they don’t care. They want to have what they view as valuable: someone to rule over them and fight for them (v. 20). Never mind that God did that for them. They want a real flesh and blood person they can see.

How many times do we do this in our lives? We say we believe the Lord, but when we can’t see Him moving or understand His plan, we doubt and try to find a solution we can touch and feel and understand. Willingness to trust Him comes at the cost of control. We want to know how things turn out and we want a guarantee that it will be pleasant as we go. However, God doesn’t give us those things. (In fact, there’s more promises of unpleasantness than not. For example, John 16:33).

When you are pulling away from God or when you’re feeling negativity, like fear or anger, stop and check what you’re asking God for. Why are you asking for it and are you willing to take no for an answer. God is making you in the image of Christ, but only if you’re willing. We must chose to commit our lives to the Lord and choose to accept His answers for us. If you’re not, you may get what you ask for anyway, to your detriment.

Even though Israel demanded a king here and there were probably more bad kings than good ones, God still used the kings to bring about His plan. The first king Samuel appointed, Saul, ended up going a little crazy. The second king, David, brought about a time of prosperity that was only increased by his son, Solomon. The line is also the line that Jesus was descended through, as God promised David (1 Chronicles 17:11–14).

God’s plan will be fulfilled and our sin or selfish requests won’t keep Him from His plan. However, God’s ways of doing things are always better and are always worth whatever we feel like we have to give up to follow Him.


The Valleys Sing For Joy - Psalm 65:13

Purpose Is a Joy

The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy. – Psalm 65:12-13 ESV

When I think about a picturesque view and see fields full of wildflowers and valleys full of crops, I don’t often think of joy as the emotion that I associate with it. However, when I stop and think about what these nature scenes represent, I can completely relate to the emotion of joy.

When a field is full of grain, whether it be in the middle of the season or full or ready to harvest plants, that field is living in to the utmost what God made it to be. These two verses show the earth allowing God to bring about good work and fulfilment out of them. They are achieving the things that they were created to achieve.

For me, I can relate to this in times when I’ve felt connected with what I’m doing. I’ve had moments when I knew that I was where I was supposed to be doing what I was supposed to do. These moments are so joy filled that it completely passes circumstances. Allowing God to fill my moments and direct my days means that He is directing my time and energy to fill up with the things that He uniquely created me to do. There is no greater joy than that!

As pleasant as these moments are, I hope to continue to grow in this awareness so that, like the scripture verse, I can put on joy (vs. 12) and I can join in the chorus of praise to God for His oversight and His blessings.

Gods Steadfast Salvation - Isaiah 51:8

God’s Steadfast Salvation

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed. “Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations.” – Isaiah 51:6-8 ESV

There are things in our world that feel like they’ve been around “forever”. There are ancient ruins and traditions that go back farther than anyone remembers. None of these things, however, will matter or stay. Even our planet itself will someday wear out (Isaiah 51:6) and all the people will die out as well. Doesn’t sound like a happy thought, does it?

This thought isn’t frightening or scary, however, if you know the One True God. He always has been and always will be; He is the great I Am. He offers us an eternal hope beyond the world that we’re in and beyond the limitations of our existence.

Once we know this, it’s so much easier to understand how we cannot be afraid of those who threaten us. Even if they are threatening to take away our very life, we don’t need to fear. They are just as fallen and mortal as we are. If we are being taken to task because of what we believe, simply smile and say, “Let’s talk about this in the next life.”

We spend so much time trying to be right and trying to defend ourselves and our beliefs. God is so much bigger than any kind of theological correctness. He is good and true and right and we need to experience a relationship with Him first, not just try for churchiness or correctness.

The salvation that God offers through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His One True Son, is eternal. It is lasting and it can be relied on when everything, absolutely everything, in our world can’t be.

Arrows, Part 3 – Sermon Notes

Rhythm – Movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements.

God has a specific rhythm for each of our lives.

1. If you want God’s rhythm in your life, you need to control your schedule. There is no one else who has the power to fill up your schedule except you. We live in a culture that equates busyness with importance.

What good things in your life are keeping you from the great things?

It’s easy to justify all the things we cram on our calendars. What are the great things God has for us? Start by going back to week 1 and focus on the target, knowing Jesus Christ.

We need to view our schedule like a pitcher of water. When more is added, it displaces what’s already there. You need to add a scheduled time for prayer Mark 1:35). You’re not too busy to pray, you’re too busy not to pray.

2. You need to begin each week by gathering before you scatter. It’s important to start your week by joining the body of Christ and honoring God before scattering for the week.

It’s also important to join a circle. You need to be in a place where people know your story.

You need to serve. Many people believe that the church is not here to serve you. Instead the hope is that you will be so inspired by others’ service that you will offer your own service to bring others to Christ.

Two things that we need to make surr are important in our days are family days ans family dinners. Make it an appointment that you can’t break.

3. Discipline is vital to finding rhythm. God loves us so He disciplines them; we should do the same for our children. No one enjoys it. Discipline, by definition, is an unpleasant process that leads to a desirable result. There is a difference between punishment and discipline. We need to be the archers that set a standard in our home that when broken is consistently enforced. Giving freedom only works when we’re willing to reel it back in when needed.

4. Rhythm requires rest. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 says there’s a time to work and a time to enjoy the results of the work. Take a break, take a vacation. Why did God rest on the seventh day? He rested to provide for us a model, to show that the rhythm he wants for us includes rest.

Are you taking a Sabbath weekly? Are you taking a day to rest and not work? We need to cultivate the difficult art of doing nothing. Psalm 127:2. Lack of rest increasesany physical issues, including heart disease.

5. Rhythm includes romance. If, after the kids leave the house, you turn to your spouse and realize there’s no feeling there anymore, it’s because you neglected to pursue the one you caught. We are also called to serve our spouse above our kids. We should never discontinue to pursue the one we are spending life with. The kids are supposed to leave, but our spouse isn’t.

Where do you go from here? What are the area that you are out of rhythm? Ending prayer comes from Hebrews 12:1-3, run the race you were made for with perseverance.

The God of Heaven Will Help Us Succeed - Nehemiah 2:20

You Have No Right Here!


But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king. They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work. But when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan, they scoffed contemptuously. “What are you doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” they asked. I replied, “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no share, legal right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.” – Nehemiah 2:17-20 (NLT)

We each have work that God had for us to do. In fact, he not only knew us and knew who we’d be (Psalm 139), but he even made good works for us to grow into (Ephesians 2:10). As we walk through life and we find our calling and learn to submit our heart and mind to the Lord in order to do this work, we will face opposition. People will scoff and laugh and tell us we can’t do it; sometimes, it will even be people we love and want support from. When we face this, we can learn from Nehemiah how to respond to this.

Nehemiah was in the time of the Babylonian captivity. He had a job (cup-bearer) very close to the King of Babylon. When he heard that Jerusalem had been destroyed and burned, he was heartsick. So much so that the king noticed how sad he was. When the king asked about it, Nehemiah not only was honest about what upset him, he also asked for permission to go fix it. In the day when kings were the ultimate law, taking it on yourself to ask for something when he didn’t start the conversation shows either a world of trust, a little insanity, or, I believe in Nehemiah’s case, faith in the Most High God.

In answers to Nehemiah’s prayers, the king responded positively to his request. The king even went so far as to give him letters to show he was working with the King’s permission and to pass through the lands as well as officers and men to accompany him. Even with all that, the enemies of the Israelites were upset that someone was coming back to try to build up the city.

This is a direct parallel to our own lives to many times. We think we have it all set and we’ve got all the blessings we need to keep walking. Then, before we’ve even really started, opposition comes at us. It can be so disheartening! We want to have the feelings of enthusiasm keep us moving, but it can seem so draining to feel like our best laid plans aren’t quite good enough or strong enough. But, like Nehemiah, we can stand up and renew our commitment to our God-given work.

Nehemiah said three things to the opponents that we can use in our fight.

  1. Know the Source – “The God of heaven will help us succeed.”
    We need to know who the source behind us is. If you don’t fully and completely believe that God is with you, growing you and changing you and causing you to succeed, you risk faltering when the road gets rough. It’s not about you, thank God. It’s about Him and He takes his job very seriously.
  2. Know the Task – “We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall.”
    Nehemiah was very clear on his task. He didn’t worry about any work that hadn’t been assigned to him. We must find this kind of clarity and choose to keep our focus. One quick way to fail is to start getting distracted or increasing the size of the task the Lord has given you. There will always work to be done, don’t worry about that. Instead, claim the work you have and focus on it and only it until you’ve completed it.
  3. Know the Boundaries – “You have no share, legal right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.”
    Nehemiah knew that he was in the right place doing the right thing and that his enemies were in the wrong. He didn’t give them ground and he didn’t entertain their claims. So many times we let the words of the enemy into our hearts and our minds. We forget that we’re on a divinely appointed mission and we start listening to those voices. “Maybe I don’t have wat it takes. Maybe I’m wrong in what I believe. Maybe I should quit now and risk looking foolish.” On and on the voices go, trying to take back land that doesn’t belong to them. Throw those voices out! You have the right to be serving your God and no amount of doubt or nay-saying should throw you off course.

Always remember, God is with you and you can do what he’s called you to do. Not because of who you are, but because of who he is: the Great God and Creator of the universe. He is strong and He is moving and He will lift you up and cause you to walk in His light and His truth.