Archive for April, 2012

Serving God by Assisting Eli – 1 Samuel 3

Okay a few cool things I noticed today in 1 Samuel chapter 3.

First was how Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Verse 3 says: “Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli.”

Later in this chapter, we find out that Samuel didn’t even know the Lord yet (see verse 7). Yet, he was “serving the Lord” by assisting Eli. I read this and thought to myself how complicated I try to make things. Sometimes serving the Lord is as simple as doing well what He’s asked us to do in the place He has put us. I’m sure being an assistant to a priest was not the most glamorous job in the day, but this is how Samuel served God.

The next thing I noticed is the fact that God called Samuel. While it’s true that God does use you and me to evangelize and spread the good news, there are a few times in scripture when God does the calling all by Himself.  Certainly, the story of the conversion of Saul to Paul is a great example. Paul thought he was doing God a favor by persecuting a little religious movement called The Way, but God had different ideas. Saul did not come to God on his own – God called him. Jesus called people during His time on earth, too. When the Son of God comes up to you and says, “Follow Me” that’s a pretty good example of God calling you directly.

Here, we see a kind of humorous calling from God to Samuel – late at night while he was sleeping. After the third time of being awakened in the night, Eli, being wise, finally recognized this as the calling of God and had to tell Samuel how to respond (because Samuel did not yet know God).

Which is is another cool thing I noticed in today’s chapter. We often need those older and wiser in the faith to point things out to us. That’s why it’s so important for each of us to have a Christian “sage” in your life.

I love the last part of this chapter. It’s encouraging to read how Samuel grew up with the Lord:

“As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable. And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle.”

At first I was thinking about how cool it would have been to have been raised in the Temple with the priest, and how much I could have learned. However, I re-read this passage and see that Eli is not even mentioned – well, except for how he did not discipline his sons, and how God was going to reign down in judgement on him and his family. So, Samuel grew up and THE LORD was with him.

We can walk with God – every minute of every day. It’s what God wants for us. Yet, how simple is it to get distracted or busy and not spend the day with Him? I love John Eldredge’s book entitled, “Walking With God”. This book has some helpful insight into how to walk with God in really practical ways.

Lord, I want to serve you where you’ve put me – even though sometimes it seems like I could be doing something a bit more glamorous. Forgive my pride. Thank you that I have wise “sages” speaking life into me. And, today, I choose to walk with You.

peace,
e

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It’s not about me! (again) – 2 Corinthians 5

I have been thinking a lot lately about how I ended up where I’m at. I am so happy to be doing what I know God has wired me up to do. I still have struggles, but they’re much different than before. I think it all has to do with the fact that I’ve finally realized that trying to live by my own plan, my own desires and my own initiative – gets me nowhere.

I struggled with relationships. As a result, I’m 0 for 2 when it comes to marriages.

I struggled with careers. As a result, several times I’ve gone from entry level to executive, only to get laid off and right back in the same situation.

Financially, I’ve had jobs earning 6 figures and I’ve had jobs that paid just minimum wage. Yet, I’ve never lived extravagantly or in need.

So, when I read the following verses in 2 Corinthians today, it confirmed some things I’ve been thinking about:

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

I realize it’s not about me. When I live that way, I go no where, I struggle with no reward, I suffer and end up right back at the same spot where I realize it’s not about me.

I may seem out of my right mind, but I want to live for him who died and was raised again, not for myself. How arrogant of me to think I have a better plan for my life than my creator!

Lord, forgive my selfish motives. I want to live for you and you alone. I trust the plan you have for my life.

peace,
e

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Changed Lives Are Our Credentials – 2 Corinthians 3

As I read this morning’s chapter, I was drawn to these verses:

Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not!  The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 1-3 (NLT)

There are those that teach that the reason God granted the miraculous signs and wonders to the apostles that we read about in the book of Acts, was so that they would serve as a “letter of recommendation” to their apostolic ministry. If this were true, then it would make sense that the miracles and signs and wonders would cease with the apostles passing – because there would no longer be a need for their ministry. However, Paul clearly says it is miraculously changed lives that serve as his letter of recommendation – not any miraculous signs and wonders. This is significant.

Anybody can receive a certificate of ordination to be a pastor. Yet, it is the fruit of that person’s ministry that is the true credential – not a piece of paper.

If one thing is clear about Jesus’ teaching and constant rebuke of the religious establishment, it is that just because you call yourself a Christian, it’s the fruit of your ministry that is the true test.

Matthew 7:15-20 says this:

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”

Which, inevitably leads to the following passage. I think many who think they are Christians will be surprised on judgement day:

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in yoply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” Matt 7:21-23 (NLT)

So – we are His ministers. Our credentials are not on paper, but in the changed lives of those we come in contact with today. We need to be caught doing the will of the Father when He returns.

Let’s do it!

peace,
e

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God Never Said He Will Not Give You More Than You Can Handle! – 2 Cor 1

I’m finally getting back into my daily reading routine! Ack, how easy it is for me to neglect the daily reading of God’s word.

Here’s what jumped out at me today:

8 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.”

It actually comes up quite often that people misquote 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says:

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

This verse is all very affirming and everything, but it does not say that God will not “give you more than you can handle.” It’s talking about temptation only – that we will not be tempted beyond what we can endure.

And here’s the proof! As indicated by Paul’s writing in today’s reading, Paul and his companions WERE crushed and overwhelmed BEYOND their ability to endure. But, and here’s the good part, when they stopped trying to solve things on their own, and when they relied on God, He rescued them.

This is an important lesson to learn.

For people to think they are somehow protected by God from “too much” suffering is a dangerous, false teaching. In fact, He sometimes uses suffering to get our attention.

I have been at the place several times in my life, where I though I had been abandoned by God, left to fend for myself. But the truth is, God will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). When I felt this way, I had gotten myself into the predicament, and I was arrogantly trying to do things without God’s help. The only way He could get my attention was through suffering. Typically, I respond to suffering first by trying harder in my own power – so the suffering intensifies until I realize the only way out is by putting my focus back on God and trusting Him. When will I learn?

The more we resist and try to do it on our own, the harder it can be. Until we are able to trust Him and allow the suffering to accomplish its task, we will continue to struggle – and sometimes it will be more than we can handle, regardless of what good-intentioned people will argue with you about scripture and how God will protect you.

That’s the whole point! We simply can’t do this on our own! It’s arrogant and it’s wrong to think that way.

Silly humans…

Today, I will try to rely on God for everything.

peace,
e

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