Trust Me…I Got This

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S (Scripture): 2 Chronicles 20:2 Jehoshaphat was told, “A large army from beyond the sea, from Edom, is coming to attack you. They are already at Hazazon-tamar!” (that is, En-gedi). 3 Frightened, Jehoshaphat decided to seek the Lord’s help and proclaimed a fast for all Judah…

13 All Judah was standing before the Lord, even their little ones, wives, and children. 14 Then the Lord’s spirit came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah son of Benaiah son of Jeiel son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the line of Asaph, as he stood in the middle of the assembly.

15 “Pay attention, all of Judah, every inhabitant of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat,” Jahaziel said. “This is what the Lord says to you: Don’t be afraid or discouraged by this great army because the battle isn’t yours. It belongs to God! 16 March out against them tomorrow. Since they will be coming through the Ziz pass, meet them at the end of the valley that opens into the Jeruel wilderness. 17 You don’t need to fight this battle. Just take your places, stand ready, and watch how the Lord, who is with you, will deliver you, Judah and Jerusalem. Don’t be afraid or discouraged! Go out tomorrow and face them. The Lord will be with you.”

O (Observation): Battles are a regular thing in the Old Testament. This text points out a foreign country coming into the southern kingdom of Judah. The people are faithful to God. They fast and pray and stand before God’s temple. A prophet shares God’s word:

This is God’s battle. You will go out and watch, but you will not fight. God will win this victory!

Even without knowing the end of this scenario, God’s people believe this strategy will work. It must work. For God is to be trusted.

A (Application): I trust God, but I don’t know how well I trust myself. My hope is that as my days continue, I will continue to seek God to fight my battles for me. If a foreign kingdom was coming to conquer me, I don’t know how I’d handle that.

But in more practical terms, I will wrestle with finances, local politics, being a parent, and much more. In all of these, I ask God to help me.

But will I let go? Will I listen to the prophetic voices in my life? How can I trust those voices?

This all takes time and prayerful consideration. We discern to the best of our abilities. After that, we go on faith.

May you hear God’s word speaking to your struggles today! Amen.

P (Prayer): Lord, hear my cry! Amen.

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Crying Out & The Response

 

S (Scripture): Psalm 107

13 They cried out to the Lord in their distress; he delivered them from their troubles.

14 He brought them out of the utter darkness, and tore off their shackles.

15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his loyal love, and for the amazing things he has done for people!

O (Observation): Because of it’s poetic nature, you can tell that this text is from the Psalms.  The Psalms, at times, portray universal sentiments – emotions and thoughts that can be applied to any of God’s people across time and space.   This Psalm supports the idea of a universal application to all of God’s people throughout time.  While the specific suffering and hope of the psalmist came about through a particular set of circumstances through a particular person (or people), today’s reader can tend to relate to the psalmist and apply the suffering or hope to his or her own life struggles.  

The cry of suffering here is a universal one. God’s response is a universal response, but with specific circumstances. 

A (Application):  We don’t deserve the love we get, but God is willing and ready to dole it out.  

I remember being in a financial difficulty in seminary.  We were basically living off of our credit cards and loans.  Then, we moved to my first call as a pastor.  We purposefully chose to live mainly on one income, so Kelly could help with the children at home.  

I remember crying out to God.  We were paid well enough, but we still felt the pinch.  Then, my father-in-law introduced us to Dave a Ramsey and my assistant to the bishop in my area pointed out Consumer Credit Counseling services in the Atlanta area.  We got a great 1-2 punch of getting out of the immediate financial crunch (thanks to the credit counseling services) and learned how to better plan out our spending going forward (thanks to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University – we used the online version). 

My wife and I cried out (metaphorically speaking…it would be a little over-dramatic to stand, hand in hand, looking to the sky and literally crying out : )

God answered.  Sometimes the help we receive can be seen as coincidence.  In this case, however, Kelly and I see the help we received  as acts of God – God working through particular people.   

And the best part is that we are now witnesses of God hearing our call and answering.  We know it doesn’t always work out this way, but it did in this case.   

We cry out.  God answers.  We just won’t always like the way the answers come.  

P (Prayer):  Lord, we thank you for listening…help us to be thankful for your response.  Amen.  

You Want Me to Do What???

 

 S (Scripture): Psalm 50:8 I am not condemning you because of your sacrifices,
or because of your burnt sacrifices that you continually offer me.
50:9 I do not need to take a bull from your household
or goats from your sheepfolds….
50:12 Even if I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and all it contains belong to me.
50:13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls?
Do I drink the blood of goats?
50:14 Present to God a thank-offering!
Repay your vows to the sovereign One!

O (Observation):  Worship practices are sometimes described in Scripture, like today’s psalm.  I love how the psalmist lifts up God’s voice here, regarding the worship practice of Offerings.  God’s people are giving as a “sacrifice” to God.  God doesn’t NEED the sacrifices… rather, God’s people are to give as a response of thanksgiving!  

The people perhaps got into a routine of offering something to God as part of a quid-pro-quo system.  I screwed up, so here is my penance.  Or, I need a favor, God, here’s a little something I have for you…

What does work, however, is bringing an offering from a posture of thanksgiving.   Let that be the simple practice of Offering. 

A (Application):  In our world, we look to give AND receive.   And only BOTH!   I look like a fool if I give to you, and you don’t give back.   Or I look lazy if I don’t give you back something, if you’ve given me something. 

In worship, we give to God because we celebrate what God has done, is doing, and will do in this world – not just what God will do with our congregation.  If we thought Offering was a time of sacrifice (quid-pro-quo), it would be a very low point in the worship service.   

Instead, I view the time of Offering as a high point in the service.  We are trusting that God will bless those monies.  We trust that the gift I give will be a blessing to my personal/household finances.  

How do we know that last part is true? Couple of options:  

  1. Ask others who are generous givers.  Ask if they regret it. 
  2. Just start giving 10% of your income.  This is known as a “tithe,” a concept from the Old Testament.  (Or increasing your gift towards the tithe mark.). Then, step back, and discern where God has surprised you. 
  3. Look at your personal budget. Does every dollar have a purpose?  Are you blowing through your finances and don’t know where the money is going? Classes like Financial Peace Univsersity are wonderful for helping to bring hope to people in the area of personal finances.  

These are some real ways that you can engage in to find a new purpose for giving to God. 

My wife and I have made the leap of faith to giving 10% of our income through our congregation and local charities, and we haven’t looked back since.  We are happy to give thanks to our God, and we invite you to do the same, whether to church or charity or a local neighbor.  Give, and you will receive blessing. 

P (Prayer):  God of Abundance, open our eyes to your generosity, and to giving out of joy, rather than sacrifice.  Amen.