Monthly Archives: August 2012

Do You Need to Hear Some Good News?

“Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” 1 Samuel 14:6b

Lately I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been limiting God in my mind. I look at circumstances and I feel hopeless, even though I believe God is all powerful. I focus on my own faults that brought me to the situation, the lack of my own personal ability to get out of it, and I feel that nothing will ever change. If you’ve ever felt this way, too, I have some VERY good news for you. NOTHING can hinder the Lord from saving. Say it out loud with me: “NOTHING can hinder the Lord from saving!”

In my reading of the Old Testament, I’ve come to situation after situation where God acted on behalf of His people in unusual ways. For example, when Gideon defeated the Midianites only 300 Israelites went into battle against numerous opponents; when the 300 blew their trumpets, the Lord cause the men throughout the Midianite camp to “turn on each other with their swords” (Judges 7:22).  Another example is when Samuel subdued the Philistines at Mizpah: “But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites”  (1 Samuel 7:10). Later, in the excerpt from where the above verse was taken, only Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed 20,000 Philistines who were routed when “…panic struck the whole army – those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties – and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God” (1 Samuel 14:15). In all three situations, the odds were stacked heavily against the Israelites, except for in one important area – they had God on their side!

When I was first embarking on this journey to lose weight, I had very little hope that I could possibly change on my own. After all, it was my own laziness and overeating that had gotten me into this situation. And, I didn’t think I had the energy or the willpower to ever change. The situation looked hopeless at best. But, I was forgetting that NOTHING CAN HINDER GOD FROM SAVING!

In 1 Samuel 10:6, Samuel told Saul (as he was anointing him king) that “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.” Later, we see “As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day” (1 Samuel 10:9). I’ve been praying that God would change me into a different person, beginning by changing my heart.

I understand when people say “you don’t reap what you don’t sew” BUT for the person who needs a major life change, sewing looks like an impossible task. My suggestion to you is to start with the first steps, which is trusting in God and asking Him to change your heart. He’s the only One who can make You desire healthy choices. He’s the only One who can fix your broken situation that looks impossible at best.

In my readings of when God acted on behalf of the Israelites, their actions preceding His intercession was “mourning and seeking after the Lord” (1 Samuel 7:2), “returning to the Lord with all their hearts,” “ridding themselves of foreign gods,” “committing themselves to the Lord and serving Him only” (1 Samuel 7:3), “fasting and confessing their sin” (1 Samuel 7:6), and “crying out to the Lord” (1 Samuel 7:9).

If you are in a desperate and dire situation – if you’ve tried everything you know how to change something in your life – and you need help, this is the place to start. Don’t focus on hunkering down and exercising your own will power. Instead, confess your sin, return to the Lord with your whole heart, and cry out to Him. Then, praise Him for when He works His mighty wonders on your behalf!

I’m getting very close to the mark of having 50 lbs gone. If you would have asked me if this was possible at the beginning of this year, I would have probably said it wasn’t likely. But, NOTHING CAN HINDER GOD FROM SAVING! Praise Him with me today!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word. We who deserve nothing are continually blessed by You, our compassionate Heavenly Father through it. God, thank You that You can do all things. Lord, I want to personally praise You for acting on my behalf. And now I’d like to take the time to pray for those who are reading this right now – whether their situation is losing weight, finances, or some other difficult situation, I pray that You would have mercy on them and act as only You can. Help them, Lord. May we be humble and confess our sin before You, may we return to You with all our heart and rid ourselves of anything that’s become a useless idol in our life, may we serve You and honor You in all we say and do. Lord, come! Have Your way! Forgive us and save us as only You can! May we be reflections of Your holiness – may You be glorified through us. Thank You that NOTHING can hinder You from saving! In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

How Do You Hear from God?

Do you remember the story of Samuel from the Bible? His mom was Hannah, who prayed in her infertility and promised to dedicate her son to God if He would grant her the privilege of being a mom. And God answered her prayer with Samuel, who she gave up after she had weaned him so he could live in the temple and serve the priest. (And God blessed her with other kiddos.)

What always stuck out to me about Samuel, though, is that he heard the audible voice of God. In 1 Samuel 3 of the Bible,the second half of the first verse tells us that “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” Then, the chapter continues where Samuel heard his name being called and thought it was the priest Eli. Verse 7 tells us that at that time, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord. The Word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” Each time Samuel would hear his name, he would run to the priest Eli and say “you called me” and the priest would tell him that he didn’t call him and to go back to bed. The third time, though, Eli realized that it was God calling the boy, so he told Samuel to say “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” if he heard his name again (1 Samuel 3:9). The very next verse says “The Lord came and stood there, calling as the other times: ‘Samuel! Samuel!'”

How great would it be to hear the voice of God and have Him call us right where we’re at, whether in bed, on the road or cooking dinner? Just imagine Him coming to stand next to us to reveal His plans to us? To hear our name from our Lord?

As I continued reading, 1 Samuel 3:19 tells us “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.” I underlined and put a star next to this verse. Samuel didn’t let any of God’s words fall to the ground. I thought about how many times I’ve read the Bible, but have I really retained it? Have I soaked it in, have I practiced and applied it? Or have the words fallen to the ground?

But it’s the last verse of 1 Samuel 3:21 that stuck out to me the most: “The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there He revealed Himself to Samuel through His Word.”

How does God speak to us? The right answer is any way He chooses! That said, God’s Word is often where He reveals Himself to us. We know the Bible to be truth whereas relying on feelings or our own thoughts can’t always be trusted.

Are we living in days where there aren’t as many visions and God’s audible voice isn’t always heard? We need to pray and seek God while He may be found…and the best place to start is in the Bible. And, we need to be more like Samuel who didn’t let any of those words fall to the ground. May God reveal Himself to us through His Word! May we know Him! God, we ask you to speak – we are listening!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You so much for revealing Yourself and Your plans to us through Your Word. Thank You for the Bible and the ability to read it. God, may we not let any of Your words fall to the ground. May we know You and apply what You reveal to us to our lives. Please forgive our sin so that we may draw nearer to You. Speak, Lord, we’re listening! In Jesus’ powerful name, AMEN!

Faced With a Choice?

The other week I came to a spot in my reading that I have contemplated almost daily since.

The passage was Joshua 9, subtitled in my Bible “The Gibeonite Deception.” When Joshua was leading the Israelites and the Lord was giving them great success against their enemies, the people who were then occupying the Promised Land got together to make war against the Israelites (9:2). However, “when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to a ruse” (9:3-4) or a plot to deceive the Israelites. They put on some worn out sandals and loaded their donkeys with some worn out sacks, old wineskins that were cracked and mended, and dry, moldy bread (9:4-5). Then they asked the Israelites to make a treaty of peace with them, telling them that they were from “a distant country” (9:6).

Here is the part that stuck out to me in ‘highlighting.’ Joshua 9:14 tells us “The men of Israel sampled their provisions BUT DID NOT INQUIRE OF THE LORD” (emphasis mine). Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath, which they swore by the Lord, the God of Israel (9:15, 18).

I’ll admit that I didn’t fully understand the ramifications of the passage until last year when studying Kay Arthur’s Covenant. In it, she noted that even though the Gibeonites had deceived the Israelites into making the covenant, they were bound to it. We see later in 2 Samuel 21:1 “During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the LORD. The LORD said, ‘It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.’” David had to go make restitution because Saul broke the covenant between the Israelites and Gibeonites that Joshua and the elders had made in Joshua 9.

I wondered when studying this passage on Covenant if maybe God was a little harsh (forgive me, Lord!) in bringing a three-year famine to avenge the blood of these people who got their treaty of peace by being deceptive. But, it drove home the point to me that God doesn’t take promises lightly. And neither should we.

In re-reading this passage from Joshua 9 more recently, I realized that it was truly the Israelites’ fault whereas I had blamed the people of Gibeon. Even though they were God’s chosen people, the Israelites simply sampled the Gibeonites’ provisions, took their story at face value, and never bothered to consult God. He had been on their side, granting them success in their journey. How difficult would it have been to pray about it? Why didn’t they seek Him in this decision? To me, it looked like they thought this was a no-brainer. I scratched in the margins of my Bible “help us not live by our own wisdom.”

God calls us to be wise. But, we are to seek Him when faced with decisions and allow Him to speak to us! Something may look and seem like a good deal or wise choice, but we need to pause and inquire of the Lord before pursuing it. After all, this one choice or decision may affect later generations more than we realize!

Father God, thank You for Your Word. Thank You that keeping a promise is important to You. Thank You that You teach us the right way to handle situations. God, may we not rely on our own wisdom to make important decisions but may we inquire of You and Your will as we go throughout life. You are important to us, and we want what You have for us and for the generations that will come after us. Forgive us where we’ve made poor decisions in the past and help us move forward by your grace. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

What Are You Hungry For?

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

I love how God can speak to us in various ways! This morning’s challenge came in the form of a children’s devotion I read to my boys.  Here is an excerpt from Growing With Jesus by Andy Holmes:

“Have you ever heard your tummy groan or grumble. That’s your body’s way of saying ‘Hello up there! I need some food!’ Have you ever been so thirsty that your mouth felt as dry as desert sand? Remember how wonderful it was when you finally found a glass of water and guzzled it down? God wants you to be hungry for Him. God wants you to thirst for Him! Think of God as food for your spirit and living water for your soul.”

It dawned on me that sometimes our bellies are so full that we forget what it’s like to be truly hungry. When we fill up on other things, we forget how much we need Jesus and how to truly rely on Him to get us through our day. When we stop over-stuffing ourselves on momentary pleasures, I think we remember how important it is to hunger and thirst for more of God, His Word and His Holy Spirit.

Today, may we hunger and thirst for righteousness and more of the Lord rather than temporary gratification. We can live without food, we can go days without water, but I wouldn’t want even a moment without God in my life!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promise that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. Lord, we confess that we are prone to fill up on other things than that which is good for us. May we lay aside our own desires and look with more of an eternal perspective. We are starving for more of You! May Your Word and Your holiness fill our lives today. Lord, we humbly ask for more righteousness. May we have You rather than just Your blessing. We long to know You and please You. Have Your way in our hearts and lives today. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Tagged ,

How Do You Use Your Freedom?

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But don’t use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

The other day I’ll admit that I was running late and didn’t read my Bible first thing when I woke up. As I turned on the radio, though, this verse was being spoken over the airwaves. And I felt like it was a message from the Lord!

I had been thinking of my friends who are on strict diets. They are indeed losing weight, but I know that they aren’t free to eat just anything that sounds good to them. No taste of cake at a birthday party, no pizza a friend is serving for dinner…in fact, they have to say no to most things that the average person can eat on occasion.

For me, I’m hoping to make a permanent lifestyle change. I’m not sure I could do these hardcore diets long-term. I’m glad that I have some freedom to choose what to eat and don’t have to stick only to certain foods or pay for meal plans/logs, etc.

As I was going through my day, though, I’ll be honest and say that I was experiencing a severe craving for chocolate. Was I hungry? Not at all. But did I WANT it? Absolutely! However, the above verse kept coming to my head: “Don’t use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature” replayed over and over again.

I am free to eat anything, BUT I’m not to use that freedom to indulge myself. Rather, I am to serve others in love. That includes my husband who wants to see me succeed, my kids who deserve to have a healthy mom who can keep up with them, and the readers of this blog or others that I’m encouraging to come alongside me in this journey to lose weight!

We are called to be free. We are called to exercise freedom. But, we’re not called to use that freedom to indulge ourselves. May we think about that the next time we think we MUST have something that isn’t good for us. Let’s pray that God would help us!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for speaking to us right where we’re at. God, thank You for Your Word. Thank You that it brings life! We are grateful for our freedom. We are thankful that You died on the cross to set us free from slavery to sin. We are so blessed that You have given us a new start! Help us not use our freedom to indulge our sinful nature, but rather let us serve one another in love as You have asked. May we be able to say no to things that aren’t good for us and take pleasure in You and Your love for us instead. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!