Month: December 2014

Tuesday Devotional: Nehemiah 1

bibleThe words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa,Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.
They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:
Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
I was cupbearer to the king.

Confessing a sin can be void of any pain or sacrifice.  Repenting for sin, by contrast, is anchored entirely in pain and sacrifice.  Repentance not only comes after one has seen the destruction of sin in one’s life, but after one has reflected on the potential darkness we all possess within our hearts.  While God is quick to show us the far-reaching power for good that resides in the human heart, He is as quick to show us that within the same heart is a similar appetite for evil.  Repentance rarely comes after prolonged periods of good fortune.  As our good days begin to outweigh the bad, we daily reinforce our own strengths, our own will and our own plans.  Repenting of sin must come from a place where our paths have repeatedly led us, crashing into the same wall.  In order to reach true repentance, we must sometimes crash into this wall hundreds and hundreds of times before realizing that we are simply retracing heavily worn out ground.  From here we can begin to ask for help, and as slow as we are to change, God is quick to remind us how quickly He intends to rebuild us and guide us, into the light and out of darkness.  Once we are completely enveloped in light we can finally see the dark for what it really was.  Dark is not dark if you choose to never turn on the light.  Our eyes adjust and we can function in the dark if we choose to.  However, once we have lived a full day in a well-lit room, none of us would ever choose to go back.  Light produced life and we were created to live.  Choose repentance and choose light.

 

Tuesday Devotional: Ezra 3

bibleWhen the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled together as one in Jerusalem. Then Joshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses, the man of God. Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices. Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Festival of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day. After that, they presented the regular burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices and the sacrifices for all the appointed sacred festivals of the Lord, as well as those brought as freewill offerings to the Lord. On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, though the foundation of the Lord’s temple had not yet been laid.

Any time we take a strong position on an idea or anything in which we firmly believe, there will be those that do not share our position.  When facing this opposition it can be difficult to uphold or sustain our faith in what we believe.  It can be difficult if we do not find complete joy in the faith we profess to those who disagree.  The feeling of intimidation at opposition toward something you believe is only felt if your faith was resting at least  partly on others sharing your faith and supporting you in it.  That is, underneath your faith, there remained an element of insecurity that desired the approval of others.  On the other hand, if what you have faith in is your sole source of joy, regardless of how many people either agree or disagree with your position, your faith will remain unshaken.  Faith in God is not a matter of working your way up a ladder of knowledge or education in the Lord.  The foundation of one’s faith has very little to do with background.  It has everything to do with experience.  And to experience the living God is to experience the truest and most complete reason to worship and celebrate.  Having found and experienced God, one does not need to know every detail about the word.  One must only know that the word of God is good because he is good, and that his gospel is the only truly “good news.” With this assurance we may stand and act in faith, regardless of outside attitudes.

Thursday Reflection: Carnival Kings and Dizzying Dynasties

pen-and-paper_400x295_39No matter how many times I read certain portions of the Bible, I tend to react the same way, with the feeling I’m taking a seat on one of those ever-popular “spinning” carnival rides where the entire structure spins in circles while each individual car spins independently, on its own orbit of pure nauseating insanity. While getting buckled in by the ride attendees, my gut and my mind voice hesitation, fear and confused excitement. An inner dialogue can be faintly heard: “Are we really about to do this?” As the loud, punctuated whistle of the ride-operator initiates the craziness, all that I can do is hold and keep holding on. In a weird way, these same sensations arise the moment I proceed deeper into certain books of the Old Testament, especially the books of the Kings. Reading the name, “Jeroboam” is like me getting buckled into my seat. Reading “Rehoboam,” I know that the ride has begun and disorientation will soon meet me head on.

For me, this feeling is triggered by the knowledge that in the books of 1 and 2 Kings, the names come fast, they change even faster, the stories intertwine and bypass each other, and there seems to be an overwhelming sensation of confusion.

My approach to these books of the Bible resembles my notoriously bad approach to the books I used to read in high school where my eyes would finish pages before my brain could comprehend anything I’d read and, before I knew it, the pages indicated that I was done. The time passed aligned with the amount needed to read a passage of that particular size, but my brain seemed more empty than before I started reading in the first place. One thing that a Bible reader should constantly be asking is, “What is the point?” Or perhaps, “What did I just read?”

There are several areas of the Bible evoke this inquiry more often than others. In my experience that 1 and 2 Kings finds me checking for my own understanding frequently. With the storyline transitioning back and forth between some Kings doing good, followed quickly by an overwhelming list of Kings acting like heathens, repeated with the rhythm of a pendulum, it is justifiable to ask, “What is the point?”

 

I sense two things happening to me as I read the Kings. The scripture gets denser due to the fact that there are more names, more countries and more individual “power-players” to keep track of and understand. And my mind, trying to keep track of this Biblical “carnival ride,” starts to work harder and harder to keep up and focus. Interestingly, my feeling of confusion toward the text is mirrored in the relationships I read about within the text. More specifically, my feelings are mirrored in the cycle of the relationship of God to his people and their commitment to Him as shown in the text. The more names that come into view, the less clear the view became for them and for me. The more stories I am called to follow, the less I seem able to follow the one most important story. I become disoriented just like the Kings of Israel. I become distracted, just like the Kings of Israel.

What we find, beginning with King David and leading into the divided Kingdom, is that the further Israel wandered away from God the more complicated it was to be God’s chosen people. The more Israel divided their attention and gave God company in their hearts with the temptations of sin and the outward attitude of idolatry and apostasy, the more complicated their lives, both as individuals and as a people, became.

There is a clear progression from David to his grandson Rehoboam: from a point of near total commitment to God and the fruits of a “one on one” relationship in David, to a juggling act of idolatry with David’s son. The result is that the proverbial balls drop and the carnival act suffers. The more the Kings tried, and the more we try, to juggle God amongst other things, the less focus and commitment we are able to devote to God completely.

For example, on a day-to-day basis, our time, energy, thoughts and actions are constantly pulled in different, often opposing directions. However, living a life for God means that there is only room enough for one God on the throne, only one voice to be listened to. This reality is at the heart of a Christian. To try to balance the two contradicts God, contradicts Jesus Christ and contradicts the claim that one is a Christian at all.

This idea of one King and one voice in total control of our lives is often offensive to people, and this idea of one God that demands our full attention seems selfish and unreasonable. However, these negative responses to God’s claims on himself are only understandable if there is a misunderstanding of the God making such “offensive demands.” What kind of “God” is demanding this totally radical restructuring of the soul? If God is just a demanding and judgmental deity then, of course, one might hesitate to put him uncontested on the throne, and rightfully protest such a demand. However, if this God who demands the entire life of a believer is a provider, a healer and a father, one might second-guess their initially visceral response to his rights as God.

The original intention of God for his relationship to his people was that human or worldly Kingship would never be needed in the first place. In the beginning, there was supposed to be pure trust and dependence on the one true God concerning every aspect of our worldly lives, so that the need for a human King would be unnecessary and illogical. However, as we know, the story took a different turn. Israel demanded and got a human king, and the years of “Israel’s Kings” began.

Throughout the period of Kingship and Dynasty, we notice that the more Israel as a people disintegrated from within, the more disintegrated their relationship with God became. The more they divided their mind and heart between God and everything else, the more things became uncertain and unstable. This can be seen in our approach to God as well.

When our hearts are divided between job, family, friends, dreams, hobbies, and then there’s God, it’s no surprise that the attempt to juggle everything at once is doomed to fail. Imagine trying to speak with 10 different people all at once. The chance of fully understanding each person equally, giving each person the focus and concentration that their conversation requires of you, is literally impossible. The case is the same with God. The more he takes hold of the entirety of our hearts, the more we are able to see him completely, and the more clearly we can hear his uncontested voice.

While the analogy of the conversation offers an audio example in understanding the nature of distraction, let’s use binoculars for a more visual analogy. Imagine you find yourself at a sporting event. You know your seats are directly across the stadium from some friends of yours, and in an attempt to spot your friends, you pull out your binoculars. However, before putting the set to your eyes you must first glance with your naked eye at the area of the stadium which you think most likely contains your friends. From where you sit, using just the naked eye, it is impossible to see any one person clearly. All you see is a collage of colors and shapes. This is like trying to view our lives in one moment without the clarity that God provides us. We try to see everything all at once, and ultimately cannot see anything clearly at all. The view in front of us is overwhelming, intimidating, and impossible to comprehend or decipher. Such is the experience of a life lived without the focus on God, of God and by God.

At this point in our fictional stadium scenario you remember your binoculars. As you put the set to your eyes and aim at the area you think hosts your friends, you find that the view is blurred and nothing is clearly visible. However, adjusting the dial slowly brings the view into focus. To your surprise and delight, you find your friends, distant and small, but with every detail accentuated and clearly visible. This is the effect that the Holy Spirit has on us when we no longer try to take in the view in front of us unassisted, but allow our sight to be purely on God the Father, enhanced by his vision. By centering our sight on God alone, and through the focusing power of the Holy Spirit, we can finally see a life that is not only clearly visible but also completely manageable and possible. What we now have is a confidence in a God we can trust, that not only understands the difficulties of this world, but has also overcome everything in it, and offers us the power to overcome it with him. One of the reasons why the saga of the Kings in Israel’s history is so confusing and disorienting is that God’s authority was not the focus of their Kingly positions. God’s authority was not used to focus their lives, although their Kingship was intended to glorify God and accentuate His primary Kingship over creation and in turn bless them according to his will and design. The result was a blurred and nauseating period in Israel’s history that takes even readers today on a dizzying ride through this tumultuous period of man’s relationship with God.

The Kingship era in Israel’s history is an approach to life that focuses on idols while still claiming to have a place in our heart for God. The result is not clarity. The result is chaos and we create trouble that God never designed for us to experience. One must return to the moment before boarding the carnival ride. The pre-Kingship design of God to man had at its center a relationship. As in a marriage, time, energy and effort were to be divided between two mutually adoring and selfless parties with no need or desire for anything else. It is in this relationship that each party enjoys clarity and purpose. It is in this relationship that God desires to be united with us and it is in this relationship that Jesus Christ has provided the door through which we may seek entrance. We know he promises to open that door. The question is, are we knocking?

The lesson learned from reading the Kings is that life has the potential of becoming complicated and disorienting. However, the choice to allow such disorientation rests with each of us. We have authority over the door to our hearts. We control how hospitable we are toward temptations and distraction. We have control to realize our place as the created under the authority and care of the Creator. We can also convince ourselves that we are not held accountable to any higher power. In confronting the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ ,we must ask two important questions. First, do we desire to be defined by a greater and more powerful King, and accept his will and his authority? Or second, do we desire to define our own path with the hopes of becoming a great and powerful King, and are we willing to accept the risks and dangers of doing so? My advice would be to learn from Israel’s Kings and be redefined, led and protected by the “King of Kings” in Jesus Christ, and be thankful that God has given us a warning view of the dangers of that carnival ride, and provides us the opportunity to choose to never get on in the first place.

Tuesday Devotional: 2 Chronicles 6

bible2 Chronicles 6.12-42

12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. 13 Now he had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high,[a] and had placed it in the center of the outer court. He stood on the platform and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. 14 He said: Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.15 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.

16 “Now, Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me according to my law, as you have done.’ 17 And now, Lord, the God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David come true.

18 “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 19 Yet, Lord my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. 20 May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 21 Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive.

22 “When anyone wrongs their neighbor and is required to take an oath and they come and swear the oath before your altar in this temple, 23 then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence.

24 “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you and when they turn back and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication before you in this temple, 25 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to them and their ancestors.

26 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, 27 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.

28 “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when enemies besiege them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 29 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of their afflictions and pains, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— 30 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know the human heart), 31 so that they will fear you and walk in obedience to you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.

32 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, 33 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.

34 “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to you toward this city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 35 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.

36 “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; 37 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; 38 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; 39 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you.

40 “Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.

41 “Now arise, Lord God, and come to your resting place,
    you and the ark of your might.
May your priests, Lord God, be clothed with salvation,
    may your faithful people rejoice in your goodness.
42 Lord God, do not reject your anointed one.
    Remember the great love promised to David your servant.”

The nature of God is that He is God.  The nature of man is that he is man.  These roles often get reversed in our prayer lives.  We tend to make demands of God as if He were serving us.  We demand relief from situations that we feel are unjust or unnecessary.  We request changes in fortune for health, finances, family, career, as if God made a mistake letting us experience challenges and must now, by our grace and under our supervision, rectify his errors.  The truth is that all we are and all we have is because of God.  He created all things out of love and desires to maintain them in love.  In all of history he has made good on his promises to be a loving yet just God, while we have been proficient at not keeping promises of our own.  Prayer should never be reduced to “what have you done for me lately?” nor should it be reduced to “what can you do for me tomorrow?”  Prayer is a desire to be in the presence of a God who has control of our often seemingly out of control lives.  While a hurricane might unleash devastating power, there is always a calm center amidst the chaos.  It is there that God desires we follow him, and it is there that Jesus says to come to him.  The center of the hurricane is still in the hurricane, but in the center, alongside our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we can survive, thrive and look ahead joyfully toward tomorrow.

Bigger Better Baked Goods: the Baker

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For our final post in this series, we’re talking about doubt in the Baker. For the earlier installments, go here, here, and here

The news that my mother was preparing to bake something was always met with exuberant support and joy in our house. My mother is known for her delicious baked goods, so it stands to reason that all members of the household would unanimously support her plans to bake. Now, let’s contrast the reactions when I made such an announcement. When I announced an intention to bake, imagine dramatic orchestral music accompanied by a slow motion montage of all members of my family frantically lunging to prevent me from entering into the kitchen, in hopes of stopping me from proceeding with this catastrophic plan. Where my mother’s plans were met with joy, support and excitement, mine invoked doubt, suspicion and fear. The guarantee of something heavenly emerging from the oven as a result of my mother baking no longer dominated the thoughts of those unfortunate few that heard my announcement. Now the only guarantee is that something was definitely going to go wrong. The question was no longer, “How long will we have to wait?” spoken in anxious anticipation. The now unspoken question was, “How long will we have to wait?” in fearful expectation of disaster.

Why were the responses so different? The answer comes again to “trust.” My family had all the trust in the world in my mom’s baking abilities, and little to no trust in mine. And this trust, although to me clearly biased and one-sided, was not misguided. In fact, it was absolutely justified. My mom possessed a long and illustrious record of producing wonderful creations from the oven. I did not. My mom had proven herself a wonderful baker. I had proven that I had no right to be baking in the first place. Therefore, the fear of what might happen when I began to bake was a judgment call made on nothing except my record. My record of mistakes spoke louder than my record of success.

With each passing year we all hope to be one step closer to our goals, whatever they may be. Regardless of which direction you are heading, everyone is heading somewhere. Regardless of what destination you are striving toward, everyone is striving to attain something. While we can all accept this observation as mere common sense, what we tend to forget is how much we are investing every day of our lives in promises that perhaps do not deserve such committed sacrifice and devotion. To invest so much of ourselves into certain things that make such bold promises and encourage us with such hopeful guarantees, we would be unwise to neglect a look at “the record.” Human beings are amazing creatures that are capable of incredible levels of thought and analysis that not even science can fully account for. We are incredible beings with incredible minds. Our ability to think is what elevates us above the animal Kingdom and gives us an advantage over every other living thing in this world. Yet it is shocking how often we make seemingly blind investments in unsure things. We forget to “use our minds,” constantly unwilling to analyze “the record” of those unfulfilling things in which we invest, repeatedly left astonished by the outcome when perhaps the outcome is not all that surprising.

Perhaps a person takes the guarantees of a job at face value: that to accept a new position will ultimately bring about happiness. While the job may produce forms of happiness, there are typically caveats in the promise, where happiness will ultimately evolve into promises unfulfilled. Perhaps you or your family might begin to enjoy certain perks of the new job, like luxurious vacations provided by a competitive salary, fulfilling the promise of happiness. While these vacations most certainly bring about happiness, enjoying these relatively short-lived experiences of bliss tends come at the cost of long working hours and decreased family time. While this might not always be the case, it is widespread and tragically common. With such a predictable outcome, why do we continue to fall for the trick? Perhaps buying the latest and greatest merchandise keeps you going to work every day, putting forth the effort that you do. Perhaps it is the promise of acceptance and value that you will feel once you purchase said merchandise that keeps you working so hard. After months of working and saving, perhaps you finally buy the thing which you have striven to attain for so many months. This feeling is noticeably satisfying, and the joy of possessing your new “precious” gives you a feeling of such joy and delight that, at that moment, all of the toil was worthwhile, and the promise was fulfilled. Unfortunately, what you find, time and time again, is that as your “precious” begins to age, and a new “precious” becomes known to you, the journey to attain “precious 2.0” begins all over again. Day after day, month after month and year after year we chase the uncatchable and grasping for the unattainable.

With the knowledge of such repeated dissatisfaction it is shocking that so many of us continue to fall for this scam. These motivations to strive and pursue certain things, whether a career or material desires, are based upon the same assumption: that if we seek these “pots of gold” with our greatest passion and ability, we will ultimately be satisfied when we find them. Yet, something rather illogical and inconsistent is observed when we view the pursuit of these things with the same rationale that my family used when questioning my baking ability. My family was not judging me because they had anything personally against me. My family loves me deeply, but they judged my record as Nathan, the infamous cake buster and cookie burner. Their hesitation to trust was based on my past failures.

Why do we continue to live for things that are proven to disappoint us? When we consider what sin is at the center of the human heart, the answer is clear. At the heart of sin is a belief that we know best what will truly satisfy us. However, what sin ultimately produces in us is an addiction to a counterfeit satisfaction. In an attempt to satisfy our cravings, we are eventually consumed by them, left with little that truly satisfies. While jobs and “things” might tend to take more than they give, in the process of chasing them we see that even slight or temporary gratification provides us with such a “high” that we continue to chase. When asked to choose between low, yet prolonged, levels of excitement versus high, yet fleeting, validation of worth, most people would choose the latter.

All of us deeply desire or even need to be something bigger than we are, to be in a better situation than what we now find ourselves in. We spend our lives seeking to satisfy these inner desires, yet without complete success or satisfaction. We throw ourselves at the feet of those who promise to deliver us this sought-after satisfaction but are repeatedly confronted with the realities that the promises were simply words and the desires remain unfulfilled. At the mere utterance of a newer and more successful plan to deliver our deepest dreams, our ears perk up like a dog hearing the clinking of the food bowl. We are so quick to say, “Yes, Yes, Yes!” without stopping to ask,“Why, Why, Why?”

For many years, I saw the Bible as a legal textbook, an unnecessarily long document of laws, regulations and standards that loomed ominously over my head in judgmental condemnation. I viewed the writer of this book to be someone so perfect that to expect such a standard of living out of a regular person like myself was clear evidence that this “God” was too perfect for me to have anything in common with, or too clueless to realize my limited potential. However, this view changed as I read through the Bible in its entirety for the first time. To my surprise, what I found was not what I initially assumed I would. I found was a heart-breaking love story of a father that knows that his children can do so much more if they would only trust his voice and follow. What I found were children, people, who think they can do things on their own but tend to find themselves making long and painful detours which often lead them back to where they originally began, scarred, broken and more hopeless than before. What I found was a father who, over thousands of years, has proven his promises to be true. What I found was a God telling me that I have the potential to become something more than I am now, and in a place more satisfying that I now find myself. This God I found had been trying to prove to me that I can trust his promises, and that all he wanted to do was bring me into the true fulfillment of my heart, satisfying in the way that he intentionally designed.

My new reaction to God’s word was not unlike my family’s reaction to my mother announcing that she would soon be baking a cake. My mom has proven herself time after time to be a competent baker so, naturally, we all looked forward to the finished product.

On a much larger scale, God is no different. He has a long history of making good on his promises. Not one of them has been left unfulfilled. He promises to create something in us that is bigger than we hoped for, and better than we could have ever expected. The question is, have you looked at His record to deliver on such promises? And if you have, what is stopping you from trusting in Him and eating His cake?

Tuesday Devotional: 1 Chronicles 10

1 Chronicles 10bible

10 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him.

Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died. So Saul and his three sons died, and all his house died together. When all the Israelites in the valley saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They stripped him and took his head and his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news among their idols and their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of their gods and hung up his head in the temple of Dagon. 11 When all the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul,12 all their valiant men went and took the bodies of Saul and his sons and brought them to Jabesh. Then they buried their bones under the great tree in Jabesh, and they fasted seven days. 

13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, 14 and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Daily we are faced with situations we believe should go in a different direction than they are going.  Daily we are faced with people who do not believe or do what we feel they should.  We love to be right and we love to prove others wrong.  This pride can be an empowering attribute, spawning great achievement, but it also possesses potentially destructive qualities.  With each passing day we face opportunities to either isolate ourselves as a result of our self-pride, or to engage in community in humility.  We hold onto pride harder than almost anything else.  We go to great lengths to remain right in our own minds, even if facts may prove otherwise.  The desire to be right and stay right has the ability to destroy everything good in our lives.  It has the ability to destroy our families.  It has the ability to destroy our occupations.  It has the ability to destroy our very selves.  It breeds unfaithfulness to every other thing, even what once was most important. Like being under a spell, pride effectively, powerfully convinces us that all of the destruction it brings is worth the cost of not losing one ounce of it.  Pride will never bring and maintain life.  Pride, in the long or short term, will ultimately take what you held dear and will leave you with only one thing to be proud of: that you stayed proud.