Month: October 2023

Who Do We Trust?

As long as leaders who were witnesses of the the Lord’s miraculous works lived, the Israelites continued to follow God…

But after these eye-witness leaders died…

They forgot about the goodness of the Lord towards them and followed other gods.

Because these children of Israel walked “by sight” (dependence on and faith in leaders who knew about and saw first-hand the works that God performed on behalf of Israel), their faith soon faded when their faithful leaders died. As a result, these ancient Israelites had not developed a personal relationship with the Lord; they desired only what God could do for them, and did not appreciate the holy and perfect nature of their God. Thus they did not venerate Him for who He was, and because their faith was not in their unchanging God, they fell into an unending cycle of unbelief:

If we consistently fall into a cycle of unbelief, it might be helpful to examine ourselves as to where and in whom we are placing our faith. Are we trusting in worldly leaders for our security; or are we resting completely on a firm foundation—the Rock of our Salvation, Jesus Christ?

Jesus boldly declared that “an evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign” (Matthew 6:4). Clearly, seeking after and putting faith in someone based solely on miraculous deeds or accomplishment they perform on our behalf, is not from the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, Jesus also proclaimed this wonderful promise: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed” (John 29:29).

God Will Make a Way

I have always loved bees—they are always about the business of preserving life. Inevitably, honey pots, old bee tins, and related bee/honey items somehow made their way into my collections over the years : ) Finally this past year, after we established our yard sufficiently, we began to develop an area for beekeeping with wildflowers and water sources. My husband researched and discovered that our state had passed legislation allowing homeowners in neighborhoods to help save the bee population by maintaining a few hives in their yards. We purchased all of the gear, hives, and bees that were needed to begin our venture. We informed our HOA about our intentions; but unfortunately, the association would not allow us to maintain any hives due to an obscure addendum to the state law that allowed HOAs to override such preservation efforts.

Of course, we were extremely disappointed that our beekeeping dream was not going to come to pass; however, we had come to learn in our walk with the Lord to strive to quickly let go of such disappointments over which we had no control.

As time passed, I became involved in my gardening and the “sting” of the bee incident had faded. I had planted a few different kinds of seeds that were offered free of charge by a nursery because they had a low germination probability. I noticed that out of all the seeds I had planted, only a single strange little plant had emerged. I watered it and it slowly grew to the point I could identify it from the packaging: Nigerian Spinach. We made a salad from its leaves; after all, it was called spinach. However, we found the texture and odd taste to be unpleasantly unfamiliar to our palates.

Still, I let it grow…and grow…and grow. It was taking up the entire raised bed and I debated as to whether I should pull it up. We weren’t going to harvest it for food; and other plants could grow in its stead, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to destroy it—it seemed determined to grow and I was curious as to how it would develop. Soon small bright magenta flowers began to form; and they grew, and grew, and grew into elongated blooms that multiplied on the plant.

One morning I noticed that some bees and a few butterflies had discovered the blooms. Shortly thereafter, the plant was teaming with hungry bees that lingered around it for the entire day, day after day. I felt delighted…the bees were happy. Gratitude and awe arose

in my heart towards the Lord; He had provided a way—a new and unexpected means by which the bee population could survive and prosper.

Release Your Expectations

One very early morning, I woke up desiring to spread some grape jelly that a friend had made on my toast. I searched our pantry and finally found the jar; but because I had not yet put on my glasses, I could not read the label…

As I attempted to spread the jelly on the toast, I found it to be extremely runny, and the taste was strange and far too sweet. With the aid of my glasses, I discovered that the jar was full of honey, not the grape jelly that I desired and expected.

Then I had a “light bulb” moment.

The honey had a wonderful taste; I like honey! Yet because I was expecting the flavor of grape jelly, I found it to be unacceptable—it was not what I had my heart set on. Immediately these thoughts occurred to me:

This is much like our attitudes concerning desires and expectations in connection to our prayers. What we really want is for the Lord to answer them in a way that has an acceptable “taste”; and if the answers do not gel with our expectations, we tend to be disappointed or discouraged.

Psalm 34:8 asks us to “taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him.” In application to my situation, the message seemed to say: “Just accept and trust in the answer God gives as the best possible one from your wise, good Father. You will be blessed to witness for yourself that all will be worked by Him for good with perfect timing and in the right manner.”

It is true that we will be blessed when we release our expectations (how we think things should be) in favor of God’s will; and thereby, set ourselves free to accept, benefit from, and rejoice in God’s answer—whatever form it may take.

Covetousness Is Idolatry

Covetousness- Strong unrestrained, immoderate, or excessive desire to obtain and possess that which belongs to another.

How much war has been declared due to covetousness? We witness throughout history that many conquerors desired to have for their possession land, resources, and the desirable locations of other nations to the point they invaded them with war. However, the devastation caused by greed is not merely confined to war, but affects the very spirit of man. Therefore, the Lord commands us not to covet anything that belongs to someone else (Exodus 20: 17); moreover, scripture clearly states that covetousness is idolatry:

IDOLATRY- excessive love or veneration for anything or anyone other than God.

The fact is, because we are all born with a sin nature; we have battled with sinful desires such as covetousness even from our childhood.

This kind of covetous desire seemed to be demonstrated to my husband and I by way of our experience concerning two businesses:

We had developed a habit of frequenting a local coffee house each time we visited our favorite mountain destination; however, on a recent trip we were greatly disappointed to find that the business had a different name. We were baffled because the coffee shop had appeared to be a complete success—each time we visited, we had to scramble to find a parking space and inside was always bustling with customers. The owners made sure the coffee was hot and the staff was pleasant; nevertheless, we discovered that it was a different coffee house that had opened in their place.

My husband emailed the original owners to see if they were going to relocate so that we could patronize their new business. He received a reply that was not accusatory toward anyone, but the facts surrounding the business closure caused us to ponder more deeply about what had truly transpired. The owners of the building in which they were located refused to allow them to renew their lease, and had chosen to open their own business in their stead. When we had visited the shop, it took some time for it to register that it was under different ownership—the interior and manner of business was almost identical to our favorite coffee house. Could it be that the building owners witnessed the prosperity their renters enjoyed, and began to excessively desire their success to the point that they essentially claimed for themselves something that belonged to another?

The fact is, covetousness is the root of all kinds of sins that have tempted each and every one of us throughout our lives. As Luke 12:15 warns, we must all “be on [our] guard against all kinds of greed.

God Will Cause Us to Shine

Contained within these verses are God’s clear instructions about what we are not to do; and, what we are to do in order to avoid fretting over and envying evil people—those who unjustly appear to profit even as believers experience affliction:

What we should NOT do:

*FRET– don’t grow troubled, agitated, worried, grieved, or disturbed. *ENVY– do not be discontented because of the good fortune of another. *BE ANGRY– avoid showing or feeling resentment. *BE WRATHFUL– arrest anger before becoming violently angry to the point of seeking revenge. “Wrath” is derived from a word meaning venom or poison…perhaps wrath works in our inner being much like poison and is therefore to be ardently avoided.

What we SHOULD do:

*TRUST IN THE LORD- rely completely on and have confidence in God’s love, goodness, power, justice, holiness, and character; be secure and safe in the Lord’s care. *DO GOOD- Be kind, ethical and do beneficial things; obey God’s commands and do His will. *DELIGHT IN THE LORD- be delighted over God’s goodness and be joyful in his promises and love. *COMMIT YOUR WAY TO GOD- seek God’s will about your decisions and plans; trust and be confident that the Lord will guide you. *REST IN & WAIT PATIENTLY ON the Lord- wait hopefully, expectantly, and peacefully for God to answer your prayers and move on your behalf.

If we follow these instructions, God promises that ” He shall bring forth [our] righteousness as the light, and [our] judgement as the noonday”—He will cause us to shine. That is, the Lord will reward our obedience by making our godly character and just cause evident to the world—the misjudgment and injustice toward believers in Christ will be remedied, and the wicked will be punished in God’s perfect timing. Furthermore, we can count on the fact that just as the light of morning breaks through the darkness, and the noonday sun is the brightest time of day, so the Lord will openly and radiantly plead our cause.

Do Not Fret

The Lord commands that believers do not fret because of wicked people; and, that they do not envy the seeming prosperity of such evildoers:

FRET- To be agitated or disturbed; to be worn away, corroded, or frayed; to be irritated and angry.

FOCUS PASSAGE: Habakkuk 1

When God used the barbarous Chaldeans to discipline Judah, the prophet Habakkuk wondered why God would choose to use people even more evil than the people of Judah for his purposes. Indeed, the Chaldeans seemed to conquer and deplete countries of their wealth as they pleased to the point that they became a law unto themselves; and their own military strength was the focus of their worshipful admiration.

The Chaldeans were like roaring lions seeking whom they could devour (Read 1 Peter 5:8)

It is difficult to overlook the success of greedy, ungodly people in our world today. It is not difficult to fret over the injustice of evildoers’ prosperity compared to the suffering of the righteous. Yet, God instructs us not to worry or fret; therefore, it is beneficial for us not to fret, and harmful if we do. We can literally become so agitated and angry that we wear ourselves out physically and emotionally. Furthermore, such fretting can begin to corrode our trust in the goodness of God, resulting in loss of inner peace—worry/fretting wears away and corrodes our faith to the point that our mental state and physical well-being is frayed.

The Lord never leaves us without clear instructions that enable us to be obedient to his commands. In the next post we will discover how God has blessed us in his word with ways we can overcome worry, fretting, and fear.

Grace is Sweet

They thought they were righteous. They loved the best seats wherever they went and coveted the praise and adulation of others (Luke 11:43). However, “they”—the Pharisees—were described by Jesus as hypocrites (v. 44):

HYPOCRITE- feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not really believe; esp. the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.

Luke 11: 36-50 describes an incident in which Jesus was eating at the house of a Pharisee when a sinful woman of the city began to wash His feet with her tears, while wiping them with her hair. Not surprisingly, the Pharisee who had invited Jesus into his home, judged Him in his heart for allowing such a sinner to touch Him; but Jesus—knowing the Pharisee’s thoughts—told him that while he had not offered any true hospitality, the woman had not ceased to honor Him. Furthermore, He explained:

One could assume that the Pharisee was unloving toward Jesus because he did not need the measure of forgiveness that such a sinful woman required. Perhaps we could interpret Jesus’ comment to mean that the more sinful someone is, the more sins there are to be forgiven; and so, the more such a person will love the Lord when He forgives them. Yet, it is likely from Jesus’ description of the Pharisees that they indeed had many sins that needed forgiveness. Could it be that the woman of the city recognized her sinfulness with humility and gratitude, while the Pharisee failed to comprehend his desperate need of the Savior’s forgiveness?

It follows that as we examine ourselves, recognize our sinfulness, and confess our sins, we will grow in our gratitude and love toward Jesus. As Dr. Erwin Lutzer put it:

“Grace is not sweet until sin has become bitter.”