Lord, please send someone else…

trust God - steps

In the previous posts on Gideon, we examined how Gideon was trained to trust in the Lord step by step. Today, let’s look at Moses.

Gideon and Moses have a few things in common.

1) God saw the potential in both men even though they did not.

2) They were both a bit scared of carrying out God’s commands.

3) Both were trained to trust.

Moses is one of the most highly respected men in history. His commendations include:

  • Author of the Pentateuch.
  • Hero of Faith (Hebrews 11)
  • Lawgiver
  • Meekest Man on Earth.

In light of all those glowing accolades, it’s rather surprising to think that he was actually afraid to carry out God’s command.

Exodus chapter 3-4 records God’s first meeting with Moses. As always, I suggest reading the chapters for yourself to get the full context.

Moses was tending his sheep when suddenly he saw a strange sight. It was a bush engulfed in flames but not consumed. That got Moses’ attention. When God sees Moses turn to check out this strange sight, he speaks through the bush. After a few brief words of introduction and explanation, the Lord says to Moses:

Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10)

I can just picture Moses with a mixed look of terror and shock on his face…

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3.11)

Even though Moses had been brought up in the house of the Pharaoh, he had given all that up. He was only a humble shepherd now. He did not see what God saw.

[God] said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (Exodus 3.12)

God never gives a command and says, “Good luck! You’re on your own!” To Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” To Moses, he says, “But I will be with you…”

Do you ever feel like God is asking too much of you at a given time?

My friends, whenever God asks us to do something, He promises to be there every step of the way. These accounts in the Bible are there to teach us the faithfulness of God and how He cares for those who follow Him. We simply need to trust and obey. This is why reading the Bible daily is so important. It helps us develop our trust in God’s promises.

Leading hundreds of thousands of slaves out of most powerful nation of the known world is no mean feat. This is a monumental task! Moses is plagued by uncertainty, but God will train him to trust.

In chapter 4, Moses makes two excuses as to why he may not be the best candidate for the job. After each excuse, God provides a way around the self-perceived weakness.

Excuse#1: They won’t believe me.

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’” (4.1)

Moses is saying, “Lord, if I go, they’re going to think I’m making this up!”

God is ready with an immediate solution. He has Moses actively participate in 2 miracles: Moses’ own staff turns into a serpent and then back into a staff, and Moses’ hand becomes leprous and then clean once more. Then God tells Moses, “if they still don’t believe, you will pour out water from the nile on to the ground and it will turn to blood.” Miracles in the Bible are often used to confirm that a person is sent from the Lord and that their message is true.

Excuse #2: I am not a good public speaker.

God is ready with another answer:

“Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (Exodus 4.11)

God is, in effect, telling Moses, “You just saw 3 miracles. I am the Lord that does those miracles. I am the Lord that made the mouth of man. Do you honestly think I can’t help you communicate My words to Pharoah? Don’t you trust Me?”

Finally, Moses can see that he is not going to get out of this commission using his excuses, so he says,

“Lord, please send someone else.”

Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you’ve even communicated those very words to God in prayer.

How many times do we find ourselves engulfed in circumstances that seem unmanageable? How many times are we called to do something and we just don’t see how we can accomplish it? As with Moses, God will never call us to do something and then abandon us. He will always be there to strengthen us, help us, and—best of all—be with us.

We are all called to different tasks during different seasons of our lives. It could be that in this season of life you are called to change diapers, wipe noses, kiss bruises and—above all—nurture a helpless little child. It could be that you are caring for an elderly parent that may or may not be a pleasant patient. Maybe you are working 12-hour days doing stressful or unpleasant work to provide for your family. You might be the student working full-time and schooling full-time with sleep and study crammed in between. Maybe you are called to be single and you aren’t sure how to cope with the loneliness. We often look at people like Moses and think that our job is unimportant by comparison. God has given you and me an appointed task for today. We need to carry it out with joy and diligence no matter how big or how small it may seem.

Above all else, we need to trust Him to provide what we need to accomplish our commission.

I love this quote from Elizabeth Elliot:

“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”

Elisabeth Elliot

Moses asked God to send someone else, and unsurprisingly, God became angry. God provides one more solution: Aaron, Moses’ brother is a good speaker. I’ll tell you what to say, you pass it along to him and he will speak for you. Stop making excuses and get moving. (my paraphrase)

According to Exodus, Moses doesn’t say anything else, but as we read further, we see him proceed to carry out the command of the Lord.

The training of Moses has begun.

Tomorrow, I will list out the promises that God makes to Moses in chapters 3-4 and their subsequent fulfillment so that we can see with clarity how Moses was trained for the enormous task of leading the people out of Egypt and all the way to Canaan.

Do not be discouraged, my friends. Give your tasks to the Lord. Don’t ask someone else to do what has been appointed to you. Trust God to give you what you need to carry it out.

~Elihu

Know God and Trust Him

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

-Corrie Ten Boom

Are you feeling anxious about your future? We’ve all been there at some point. High School students worry about college. College students worry about getting a good job. Parents worry about how their kids will turn out. People worry about prices, taxes, wars… Need I go on?

I have fought anxiety for as long as I can remember. It is only now that I am beginning to understand how to let go of worry and express my fears to God in prayer. He already knows my fears and needs before I ask. When I go to my Father in prayer, I am releasing those fears to the only One who can take care of my tomorrows.

I can let go of tomorrow and focus on today.

Know God. Know Trust.

The Effective Prayer 5.25.15 – Families of the Fallen

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Each week, we turn our focus to praying for a specific person or group of people.

If you missed the original post on effective prayer, read it here.

Effective prayer is a learned habit requiring discipline and diligence. To that end, I am encouraging you to write down the people you are praying for. Part of building and maintaining habits is to have reminders and tracking tools. Making a list isn’t self-righteous or sacreligious. It is a tool. We devote time to counting calories, monitoring money, checking Facebook, making to-do lists–is prayer of lesser importance?

For other posts regarding prayer, click on “prayer” in the categories tab.


Focus for this week: Families of the Fallen

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

~John‬ ‭15‬:‭13‬ NKJV

6 years ago, I got a phone call from a friend and brother in Christ. What he told me absolutely shocked me: one of the members of our church had been killed in Iraq—on Memorial Day. His convoy had been hit by an IED. He was due to be home and retired in just a couple weeks. Without warning, he was gone.

We raced over to the coast to be with his family. My heart grieved for them. His wife, one of the most joyful and radiant people I know, was sobbing, heartbroken. Through tears she told us about how he had gone over there to help rebuild. They’d had plans to celebrate his retirement upon his return. Now, suddenly and unexpectedly, he was gone. He also left behind three young adult children. They too, were in shock and grief. No words of comfort and no amount of hugs could ever fill the chasm so violently created in their lives.

He died serving. Now he is safe in the arms of Jesus where no IED, no evil fanatic and no other pain can touch him. We draw comfort from the knowledge that he is with the Lord.

His sacrifice brings into sharp perspective the immensity of Christ’s sacrifice. My friend and brother in Christ along with millions of other Americans have died to preserve our freedom, and to secure freedom for others enslaved by cruelty, oppression and tyranny.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God allowed Himself to be tortured and killed in a very cruel and violent way. He didn’t have to die. He could have chosen to walk away. But He did not.

He died serving.

He died to secure our freedom from eternal death.

He died so that we might live.

Every week, we observe His death when we take the Lord’s Supper. We remember.

Today, millions of Americans are remembering the people who died serving our country. But what of the loved ones left behind? They have lost someone very important to them. They have sacrificed as well.

My friends have grown even closer together in the wake of their loss. They are there for one another. They have drawn comfort from the Lord. Today, they remembered his death. 6 years to the day. They have picked up and continued to live. They honor his memory every day as they live full, godly lives. They are amazing people.

In your prayers this week, please pray for those, like my dear friends, who have lost family and friends serving the country. I think sometimes the families are forgotten, but they should not be. They live with their sacrifice.

Pray for the Lord to give them comfort in the way that only He can.

Pray that He will renew their strength so that they can keep on going.

Pray that they will turn to God in their times of deep grieving and sorrow.

Lastly, offer thanks to God for brave men and women who are willing to serve others to the end. What would the world be like without people like them?

The effective prayer of a righteous person avails much. Let us pray together to great effect this week.

In loving memory of Duane G. Wolfe.

Gideon: Trained to Trust (Part 2)

God chose what is weakYesterday, we started examining the account of Gideon in Judges 6-7.

God trained Gideon to trust Him through a series of “trust exercises.”

The first training exercise was a call to arms.

The second was tearing down the altars of Baal that belonged to his family.

If God gives a command, He will help you succeed if you trust and obey.

Let’s look at the remaining exercises and the final outcome.

Exercise #3: A sign… or two.

Before we dive into the signs from God, I want you to take note of verse 34 in chapter 6:

“the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow him. And he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them.”

In the first exercise, God said He would be with Gideon three times, and He kept His promise.

Gideon is still in doubt-mode. He sees that the Lord is with him, but he is intimidated by the strength of the Midianites. So, he asks for two signs. First, he puts a fleece on the threshing floor by itself and asks God to make the fleece wet and everything around it dry. God obliges Gideon and it happens. In fact, the fleece is so wet, that he filled a bowl with water when he wrung it out.

Gideon humbly asks for the opposite to happen (fleece dry, everything else wet) and God does that too!

Many tend to focus on Gideon’s need for a sign. I prefer to focus on God’s patience.

God knows that He is asking Gideon to do something terrifying. Like a parent coaxing a child to jump in a swimming pool for the first time, God is leading Gideon to the edge of the pool, lovingly and patiently. He is not going to allow Gideon to drown.

Exercise #4: Culling the army

Most people believe there is strength in numbers.

I absolutely love the scene in the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King when the hordes of Orcs and goblins surround the city of Minas Tirath, and a small cavalry comes with the sun shining behind them to engage the enemy. The men in that cavalry know they are outnumbered, but they also know that they need to fight the evil. If they don’t stand and fight, who will? They would rather die fighting for what is right than to live beneath the reign of evil.

About 32,000 men came when Gideon summoned them to fight against the Midianites. God, well-aware of the Israelites’ tendency to be forgetful, knows that this victory has to be miraculous. If the Israelites defeat the midianites with 32,000 men, it would be amazing, but not necessarily miraculous. They would think they had won by their strength alone. God needs to shrink the army.

First, all those who are afraid are told to leave. 22,000 people high-tail it out of there. That’s 22,000 people who fear the Midianites more than they fear God. It’s a sad state of affairs, but not surprising. Now, Gideon is left with only 10,000 fighting men.

God says 10,000 men are still too many and thins it down to a mere 300.

The Midianite army wasn’t a small group of bandits. They are described thus:

And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance.

Judges 7.12

Consider briefly another fighting force of 300 men—the Spartans in the Battle of Thermopylae. Modern scholars estimate that the Persians numbered in the range of 70,000 to 300,000. 300 Spartans vs. 70,000 Persians (on the low side). The Spartans fought to the last man. They lost. Three hundred against ten thousand is practically impossible, even with the most valiant and strong warriors…

…impossible, that is, unless you have God fighting with you! That is what makes the account of Gideon so amazing!

Exercise#5: Reassurance through the enemies’ dreams

I find this part of the training rather amusing. After all the reassurance God has given Gideon up to this point, he says to Gideon:

“Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.”

Judges 7.9-11

Most people, when prodded with the “if you’re scared” line, try not to succumb to the jab. I don’t think God is taunting Gideon, but with as many signs as God has given Gideon, you’d think he’d be ready by now. Instead, Gideon immediately goes to see what God is talking about.

Here is what Gideon hears in the Midianite camp:

When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.”

Judges 7.13-14

If Gideon wasn’t sure before, he’d better be now!

Final exam: Facing the Midianites

Finally, Gideon is confident that God is not going to leave him unaided. He tells his 300 men: “Arise, for the LORD has given the host of Midian into your hand.” (Judges 7.15)

Read what happens next:

So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow.

And they cried out, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. When they blew the 300 trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. And the men of Israel were called out from Naphtali and from Asher and from all Manasseh, and they pursued after Midian.

Judges 7.19-23

The Midianites were defeated by one man’s obedience and God’s great might.

You might think Gideon weak for needing all that reassurance, but try to keep it in perspective. God knows that we are weak. He has chosen the weak things of the world to demonstrate His power through them:

For consider your calling, brothers:

not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,

not many were powerful,

not many were of noble birth. 

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;

God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

~1 Corinthians 1.26-29 ESV, emphasis mine

If we were able to accomplish God’s purpose through our own strength, skill or smarts, how much glory would we give the Lord? What would be our level of trust? God calls us to step out in faith. He asks us to trust in Him and not in what is seen.

Learn from Gideon. Learn to trust in the Lord.

Press on to know the Lord, my friends. He is trustworthy and faithful.

~Elihu

Gideon: Trained to Trust

Time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

Hebrews 11.32-34 ESV

Hebrews 11 is commonly referred to as the faith chapter. The people named within are called the “heroes of faith.” These “heroes” were trained to trust, not only for their benefit, but also for ours. Their relationships with God demonstrate to us His faithfulness, His trustworthiness and His unfailing love. The accounts are there to teach us that God can be trusted.

romans 15.4

Small children can be very trusting, but when faced with something new or overwhelming, they will typically have two reactions—complete fearlessness or complete fearfulness. Both stem from inexperience and the reaction depends heavily on the temperament of the child.

My youngest child loves the water. He started plunging his whole face underneath the water on his own at age 2. It was rather terrifying to me, but he always popped up laughing. You can imagine my surprise at his behavior when I enrolled him in swim lessons that summer. He sat in the pool for the first four days screaming in utter terror. Out of all my children, I assumed he’d be the most comfortable, and yet he was terrified! After much coaxing on my part and repeated reassurance from the instructor, he finally grew comfortable with the situation. The instructor gained his trust by repeatedly being there for him if he ever started to sink.

How often do we look at the people in the Bible and think, “those people were dumb. Didn’t they remember what God did for them here, here and here?” Or “why did they ask for more signs? God already did one. How come they didn’t get it yet?!”

If I really stop and consider the reaction of those people and try to put myself in their position, there are times when they don’t seem quite so foolish as I may have thought. They were like children, faced with something large and unknown and they were afraid to plunge into such an enormous task, unsure whether God would let them sink or help them swim.

Let’s begin with Gideon.

I used to think Gideon was a bit of a coward, needing so many signs. And yet, when I think about it from his perspective, his hesitation makes sense. He had been told the stories of his ancestors. He believed in God, but all around him he saw destruction and persecution. He thought that God had abandoned the Israelites.

When we come to the account of Gideon in the book of Judges, we observe great faithlessness in the people of Israel. The Israelites had failed to drive the Canaanites out of the land. Instead of worshipping the God who had been faithful, patient and powerful, they worshipped the idols of their enemies. Talk about silly!

Take time to read Judges 6-7 in order to get the full account of Gideon. I will bring out some highlights here, but as always, be sure to read the full context.

God is going to run Gideon through five trust-building exercises before he goes to battle against the Midianites.

Exercise#1: Call to Arms

An angel of the Lord appears to Gideon while he is beating his grain in secret. The angel says to Gideon: “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” (Judges 6.12)

God recognized the potential in Gideon before Gideon knew it existed.

Gideon doubts.

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

Judges 6.13 NIV

God doesn’t sit there and explain Himself. He gives a command, with reassurance: “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” (v. 14)

Gideon knew the history of God sending the Israelites into battle, but still he doubts. He looks at himself as weak and foolish:

Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (v. 15)

He still doesn’t see what God sees. He knows that he is insignificant in the sight of others, and not a mighty soldier. Why would God use him?

God gives a second command, with reassurance: The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” (v. 16)

Gideon is still unsure, so he requests a sign, and God gives him one! The angel of the Lord touches the offering Gideon brings and it is instantly consumed by fire.

After receiving the sign, Gideon worships God and builds an altar to him. He knows that the Lord is with him. A building block of trust has been laid.

Exercise #2: Tearing down the altars of Baal

It’s time to heat things up and get Gideon ready for the task at hand. God gives Gideon a command:

“Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.”

Before Gideon faces the Midianites, God wants him to tackle the problems on his door step. It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your own family.

Gideon fears the wrath of God more than the wrath of men, so he obeys. But, he is still afraid, so he obeys secretly, hoping that they won’t find out who did it. He is taking steps out onto the high wire with fear and trepidation, but he’s stepping out in trust and obedience.

When the men of the town discover the desecration of their altars, they seek to kill Gideon. Gideon’s own father—the same one who had the desecrated altar—intervenes on Gideon’s behalf. These were his father’s altars and yet his father defends him!

God protected Gideon and further solidified the bond of trust between them.

Tomorrow, we will discuss the next two training exercises God has planned for Gideon. In the meantime, read or listen to Judges 6-7. See if you notice how many times God reassures Gideon that he isn’t facing the challenge alone.

The Effective Prayer 5.18.15

pray2

Each week, we turn our focus to praying for a specific person or group of people.

If you missed the original post on effective prayer, read it here.

Effective prayer is a learned habit requiring discipline and diligence. To that end, I am encouraging you to write down the people you are praying for. Part of building and maintaining habits is to have reminders and tracking tools. Making a list isn’t self-righteous or sacreligious. It is a tool. We devote time to counting calories, monitoring money, checking Facebook, making to-do lists–is prayer of lesser importance?

For other posts regarding prayer, click on “prayer” in the categories tab.


Focus for this week: The President

There are two topics most people avoid—religion and politics.

Since this blog deals with God and the bible, it already falls under “religion” category. I don’t want to focus on politics, but with regards to prayer, we should be taking the time to focus on politics a little bit.

No matter how one feels about the folks in office, they are still in charge. I’m sure the first century Christians were not enamored with Emperor Nero or Domitian. Those two guys weren’t the nicest people to have walked the face of the earth. In spite of how these rulers treated the early Christians, Paul encouraged prayer for them. We are living in times in which there is growing disdain for Christians. The leaders in the government not only attempt to marginalize us, but are making decisions that imperil us in the sight of the law.

Last week we focused on praying for law enforcement officers. They are the arm of the law, making sure it is carried out. This week, I want to focus on the head man—the president. No matter how much the head of the government may cast blame on those beneath him, ultimately, the buck stops at his desk. He has been given power to govern the entire country and needs to take responsibility for what goes on within it.

To that end, we need to pray for him. If you are gagging on this, as I am sure many of you are, please please please try to put yourself in the place of the early Christians who were not only appalled by the decisions of the emperor, but were often put to death in unimaginable ways because of those decisions.

So, what should we ask in our prayers for our President?

Pray that he will make decisions to allow us to live a peaceful and quiet life.

I used this scripture last week, and I am going to use it again here. Read what Paul wrote to Timothy:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2.1-4

If we desire to continue to the peaceful and quiet life that we have been blessed with, we need to pray for the person that is in charge of the country—whether we like him or not. More importantly, we need to pray for him because we are commanded to.

Pray for him to lead righteously.

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
but when the wicked rule, the people groan.

~Proverbs 29:2

I think our country has groaned under the weight of corruption for years. Every country in the history of the world has been plagued by less than desirable rulers. If we pray for our president to learn the way of righteousness and truth, the country will eventually be blessed and we will not groan under the weight of evil.

If you think such a thing is impossible, consider that in the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar was brought low by God for his arrogance. I often wonder if Daniel prayed for Nebuchadnezzar, since Nebuchadnezzar had three major miracles happen that ultimately made him recognize the sovereignty of Almighty God.

Consider also Pharaoh in the account in Exodus with his hard heart. He too was humbled by God for a greater purpose. It could be that we have to endure a few bad presidents so that the people will learn to vote with greater care.

God always has a purpose. Pray for His will to be done.

Pray for him not to be persuaded by rich gifts or bribery.

The king gives stability to the land by justice, But a man who takes bribes overthrows it. 

~Proverbs‬ ‭29‬:‭4‬ NASB

A leader with integrity won’t be swayed just because one group has money and the other does not. Unfortunately, most politicians listen to the jangling of coins rather than the cry for justice.

Pray that he will discard lies and focus on truth.

If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, All his ministers become wicked.

Proverbs‬ ‭29‬:‭12‬ NASB

I think the proverb is self-explanatory. The president delegates authority and, as we have seen, sometimes presidents pick the wrong people.

I know that the president is not well-liked, and the things I have suggested for prayers may seem impossible or unrealistic. We know that every president for the last several years has been persuaded by his donors. We know that most presidents pick people for cabinet positions because of their contributions to his campaigns. I know what goes on, and I am not blind to it. The president we have in office now has violated many of these things we are praying for. Yet, we still need to pray for him. We are commanded to. We need to trust God to direct the course of the country for His good purpose.

Furthermore, consider the words of Jesus:

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matthew 5:44-45

Let us pray together to great effect for the president so that we may live in peace and dignity.

~Elihu

Building Trust Through Praise

Image-1 Building trust in the Lord takes time and training. I have already suggested 3 steps toward building trust: READ the Word of God. Daily. PRAY to God. Daily. RENEW your mind. Daily. The last step is equally important—Praise. How on earth does praising God build trust? It’s very simple: when we acknowledge God—who He is, what He has done, the promises He has kept—we are reminding ourselves that He IS faithful. He always has been faithful. He always will be faithful. In the posts on prayer and renewal, I referred to Philippians chapter 4. I want to bring your attention to it one more time:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ~Philippians 4.6, ESV, emphasis mine

It says, “with thanksgiving…” How will we develop trust in God if we don’t acknowledge what He has already done? If we attribute our blessings to luck, we dismiss God’s hand in our lives completely. What is there to trust? How trustworthy is luck? Here’s another scripture for your consideration from Proverbs:

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. ~Proverbs 16:33, ESV

Even “luck” is determined by God. (Casting lots was akin to drawing straws or flipping a coin.) When your prayers are answered, when good things happen, do you thank God? Have you ever been on a long trip only to find out that you narrowly missed a crash or maybe a catastrophic storm? My best friend spends a lot of time on the road. When he gets delayed or stuck in traffic, he will often say, “thank you God for keeping us safe from whatever crash we might have gotten into.” Instead of grumbling over the delay, he shows thankfulness for the unseen protection that God has given. Do you give thanks when you arrive home safely from work? Do you give thanks when money suddenly comes available right when you need it? Do we give thanks for our freedom in America to worship? (That freedom may be gone in our lifetime my friends. Do not take it for granted). Do we acknowledge God’s blessings daily? If we make a habit of gratitude, we train our minds and hearts to trust in the Lord.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him [God], and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Acknowledge God. In everything give thanks. It’s interesting that in a verse so widely-quoted on trust, people often gloss over the “acknowledge Him” section. It’s part of the equation! Like prayer, we need to establish good trust-building habits: Read. Pray. Renew. Praise. Repeat. Read. Pray. Renew. Praise. Repeat. If the Lord permits, next week I’ll begin a short series of posts on the heroes of faith who were trained to trust. Remember: Read. Pray. Renew. Praise. Repeat. Press on to know the Lord. He is faithful. He is trustworthy. ~Elihu

Building Trust Through Renewal

dwell

Over the past few days, I have been writing about how to build trust in the Lord.

We need to READ the Word of God daily.

We need to PRAY to God… daily.

The next step in this process is renewal.

In the previous post on building trust through prayer, I referenced Philippians 4:6-7:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Until recently, I never really picked up on the significance of the verses that immediately follow:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

~ Philippians 4:8-9 NASB

Paul just finished saying, don’t be anxious—pray! Then he completes the thought by saying, in essence, once you’ve prayed, fill your mind with somethin else besides worry!

Imagine for a moment that your mind and heart are like a pitcher full of liquid. That liquid is a mixture of all your worry, anxiety, sorrow, doubt and fear. If you pour that pitcher out before God so that He can take care of it (through prayer), you are left with an empty pitcher. That pitcher is going to fill up with something, even if it’s just hot air.

You need to fill it with something other than the toxic soup that was there before.

Make it a point to fill that pitcher with God’s Word. Dwell on the Word, fix your mind on something good. Find the positive within the negative. Fill your mind with truth, honor, excellence, purity, and loveliness. Find something to give thanks for. If worries start seeping back into the pitcher, pour it out again and refill it with God’s Word. Remember, worry does not stem from trust in the Lord, it stems from trust in the world. Build trust by severing ties with your fears.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

Renew your mind and crowd out the negatives.

Renew your mind and develop trust in God.

Pray for Law Enforcement – The Effective Prayer 5.12.15

thin blue line

Each week, we turn our focus to praying for a specific person or group of people.

If you missed the original post on effective prayer, read it here.

Effective prayer is a learned habit requiring discipline and diligence. To that end, I am encouraging you to write down the people you are praying for. Part of building and maintaining habits is to have reminders and tracking tools. Making a list isn’t self-righteous or sacreligious. It is a tool. We devote time to counting calories, monitoring money, checking Facebook, making to-do lists–is prayer of lesser importance?

For other posts regarding prayer, click on “prayer” in the categories tab.


Focus for this week: Law Enforcement Officers

Over the past few weeks, we have been praying for specific people in our church, but today I’d like to focus on a group of people—law enforcement officers.

I have heard people pray for the government and “those in power,” but they are typically referring to the law makers. Most people do not pray for law enforcers. The irony is that the politicians have very little to do with the laws once they are made. They make them up and then expect someone else to carry it out. The ones who enforce justice, who carry the “sword” and strike terror into the lawless are the ones we grumble at every day. They are the sheriff deputies, highway patrol officers, local police, border patrol, and NCIS. They are entrusted with authority by the government. Do we pray for them?

The news media has been all over cops lately. They are working to turn society against the very people who are there to protect us. Are all law enforcement officers good? Are all clergy good? Are all business people good? No. In every group on earth, there’s bound to be a bad apple or three. The law enforcement officers are under greater scrutiny, because if they violate the law, then the consequences to the innocent are far more dire.

All the more reason to pray for them.

Read what Paul wrote to the Romans:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

~Romans‬ ‭13‬:‭1-7‬ ESV

I had planned to do an effective prayer post for our leaders, and I will soon, God permitting. However, in light of the events of the last 12 months, I thought that our law enforcement officers were in the greatest need of prayer. Less than a week ago, two officers were shot in the line of duty. Some officers have made poor choices, others are prosecuted simply for doing their job. Christians should have some sympathy for these people—no matter what they do, someone will say they did it wrong. People are always lying in wait for them to mess up. Sound familiar?

So, what should we ask in our prayers for them?

Pray for them to carry out justice.

“Rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” Without justice, a society will be overrun with evil. Benjamin Franklin said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Justice isn’t always pleasant, but it is necessary to keep order in society. God tells us:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

~Micah 6:8

Pray for them to exercise mercy.

Notice that in Micah 6:8, it says “do justice, love kindness.” The New King James Version uses the word “mercy.” When a cop pulls you over for going 90 mph in a 65 mph zone and lets you off with a warning, that person is showing you mercy. You did wrong, you deserve punishment and you received mercy. Law Enforcement officers have to make those judgements daily. Pray for them to know how to balance justice and mercy.

Pray for them to have integrity.

If all law enforcement officers lacked integrity—as many seem to think—our society would be one huge disaster. We are fortunate that there are still men and women working the beats and borders that have integrity. Mixed in are some who don’t have integrity and they make the rest look bad. The odds of a dishonest person meting out justice and mercy proportionately are slim. It can happen… but do you want to take your chances?

Pray for their protection.

It is not justice to murder one man for the actions of another. Since last year, we’ve seen at least four police officers killed because someone “felt” they were executing justice for the actions of another officer. That isn’t justice, it’s murder. Pray that our law enforcement officers will be protected from mob “justice” and from the dangers that surround them so they can continue to protect the innocent.

Pray for their families.

Cops are people too. It breaks my heart when I see the pictures of weeping spouses, fatherless (or motherless) children, and bereaved parents. It’s a grim reality that the families face every time their husband/wife/father/mother puts on the uniform. They never know when or if they’ll get the call that their loved one has been killed in the line of duty. They never know if their loved one will find themselves in prison for carrying out their duty. The constant threat of death, prison and job loss hang over them and many families crumble under the strain of it. Pray that they will be supportive, loving and faithful and that the Lord will comfort them during the dark times.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2.1-4

Let us pray together to great effect for these men and women so that we may live in peace and dignity.

Building Trust Through Prayer

gotanxiety

I’ve done a lot of writing about prayer on this blog. There is a reason…

God commands us to pray.

The Bible is filled with of examples of prayer.

Prayer is communication with God, our Creator and Father.

How much do you trust someone that you rarely talk to?

Parents—how awesome do you feel when your kids confide their fears to you? It gives you an opportunity to comfort, reassure and guide your children. It strengthens the bond between you. Our Heavenly Father (God) wants the same opportunity, but how often do we pour out our anxiety and worry before Him?

For those who are not parents—I’m sure you have friends. Isn’t it a blessing to have friends to lean on? Friends give you a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear, and a warm hug. We aren’t going to make ourselves vulnerable to our friends if we don’t trust them. We aren’t going to trust them if we never communicate with them. Do you trust God and confide in Him as you would a friend?

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

~Philippians 4:4-7 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything.

Pray.

Don’t simply go through a list of requests to God. Communicate your fears to Him.

One thing people in the Old Testament did in some of their prayers was to remind God of His promises. This scripture says, don’t be anxious, but pray and give thanks and the peace of God will guard your heart and your mind. That’s a promise! If I stop dwelling on my worries and fears and hand them over to God, He will give me peace. If you are not feeling peace, reverently remind God of this promise from His word… oh yeah, and don’t forget to read the word too…

One of my favorite examples of prayer is the account of King Hezekiah in Isaiah 37. In the previous chapter, the King of Assyria (Sennacherib) had invaded Judah and was headed for Jerusalem. Sennacherib sent a message telling the people in Hezekiah that they have nothing in which to place their trust.

Here are some excerpts of Sennacherib’s message:

Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.”

Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?

Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’”

~Isaiah‬ ‭36‬:‭14-15, 18, 20‬ ESV

His servants bring him the message and he is overcome. Notice what he does in chapter 37. He sends a message to Isaiah the prophet:

“Thus says Hezekiah, ‘This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the Lord your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’”

‭Isaiah‬ ‭37‬:‭3-4‬ ESV

He asks a righteous person to pray for Him and for Judah.

Then, he gets a letter from the Rabshakeh, reiterating what his messengers had already told him. Hezekiah takes the letter, reads it and then goes to the house of the Lord.

Where do we go in our distress, fear, anxiety or doubt? Do we go to the Lord? Do we go to other believers or do we simple seek out the “experts.” Do we hide or do we seek help?

Hezekiah went to the house of the Lord.

When he gets there, he spreads the letter out before the Lord and prays:

“Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.

“It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands.

Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God. “

~Isaiah 37:16-20

I love this part. He spreads the letter before the Lord. God already knows what it says. God doesn’t really need to see it. Nevertheless, Hezekiah lays it before God. He shows God reverence in his prayer. He reminds God that the Assyrians have degraded the Lord. He acknowledges that deliverance will not come from his own might, but from God’s mighty hand.

Spread out your fears and doubts before the Lord. He knows the troubles you are facing, but tell Him anyway. As you tell Him your fears, show him reverence, remind Him of His promises and acknowledge that He is a God of power.

The effective prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

To build trust: Read. Pray. Renew. Praise. Repeat.

Lord willing, we will talk about “Renew” in our next post.

Remember to pray, dear friends.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5.6-7)

~Elihu