John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. + Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
But I Really Want This, God …
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
On paper, everything seemed to make perfect sense. There was an opportunity I’d wanted for a long time. In my best estimation, this seemed to line up perfectly with my ministry, my calling and my desires.
The only problem was the deep-down knowing it wasn’t my assignment.
I’d asked God for this opportunity, but then I had worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure I’d get it. This opportunity was the product of my trying really hard, not truly trusting God. And I felt the weight of all my hustle. I was anxious, exhausted and weighed down by an emotion I couldn’t quite understand — dread.
It felt so right. It seemed like such a good fit. It made perfect sense when I’d said yes. But the closer the due date came for this opportunity, the more regret I felt. Instead of running in the freedom of being assured God had called me to this, so He’d definitely lead me through it, I felt like I was pushing a boulder uphill.
There is a weight to our every want.
And when God says no or not yet, it’s often because He can see what the weight of this want will do. Make no mistake, we will eventually realize what our choices outside of God’s will cost us.
The truth is, God has expectations for how humanity, whom He created in His image, is to live and act. Yet, sadly, humanity is prone to wander, and this is the repetitive story we see throughout Scripture. Yes, God is in control. But He doesn’t control our choices. God has given responsibility and freedom to humans to choose Him, His way and His best.
As I said before, we will eventually realize what our choices outside of God’s will cost us. And that moment of realization leads us right back to what God tried to tell us before we ever made those choices. There isn’t ever a time when God has been wrong.
Not ever. And how gracious of God to be patient with us as we learn that lesson over and over. God is trustworthy. Our obedience to God is an indication of whether or not we trust Him.
We see this tension between obedience and trust played out with God’s people and the first king who ruled them — Saul.
Saul certainly looked the part of a king. Scripture describes him as both taller and more handsome than any of the other Israelite men. (1 Samuel 9:2)
The prophet Samuel tried to warn the people of Israel about what they were losing by establishing a human king instead of following God as their one true King. They were displacing God’s best for the weight of their own choice. (1 Samuel 10:17-19; 1 Samuel 12:14-19) They would be held accountable for the choice of a king they would not be able to control. When this king went astray, the people would suffer.
And not only would the people suffer, but God would also eventually have to tear the kingdom from Saul’s hands. This king who looked the part would end up letting fear and distrust lead him to walk in disobedience to God. (1 Samuel 15) Because of Saul’s disobedience, God would find another king who was more suited than Saul to lead His people — David. This king was a man after God’s own heart, and his throne would be established forever.
How much suffering would the Israelites have avoided if only they had trusted and waited on God? Where are we signing up for suffering, all because we are too often “wise in our own eyes”? (Proverbs 3:7)
Oh, sweet friend. I know what it’s like to want something so badly that you feel you would do just about anything to have it. But I also know that sometimes, God lets us push past His better plan to experience the consequences of our headstrong attitude. I have lived with the burden of extreme stress, fear, anxiety and an overwhelming sense of regret … all because I refused to trust God’s timing and His ways.
I don’t want that for you.
Let’s trust that God’s plans truly are best. Let’s remember there is a weight to our every want. And let’s choose to live out the easy-to-quote-but-sometimes-hard-to-live reminder of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
All Shook Up
By: Karen Friday, 1.cbn.com
As we pulled into the parking lot, all 17 pounds of her started shaking.
Our dachshund, Sadie, required shots and an annual exam at our local vet. She recognized the building and tried to make a beeline for the exit during the visit, then stayed all shook up until we arrived home.
Decades ago, a song by Elvis conveyed a time he was all shook up. Why? A closer look at the lyrics and we solve the mystery. Falling in love shook up Elvis Presley. Needless to say, his famous words relayed a kind of shook up we view in a positive light.
On the downside, life gives us plenty of not-so-good reasons for an all-shook-up experience. We lose a job. Our dear loved one passes away. Our child turns wayward. We receive a troubling medical diagnosis. Broken relationships or a hurting marriage rob our joy. An injury inflicted upon our soul seems to never go away.
Each of these and other factors leave us shaking in our boots or whatever our choice of footwear.
Yet, in 20 short words, God’s Word shows us how to overcome in the shaken-up department. It’s not by combing through lyrics to a love song. But this Scripture offers a two-fold plan to keep us stable and grounded.
“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8 (ESV)
With a closer look at the words of David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, we solve the mystery. Here’s how to transform from our all-shook-up mentality to God’s I-will-not-be-shaken mindset.
I set the Lord always before me.
Not just sometimes or when I feel like it. And not if I have time — always.
The book of Hebrews assures we have received …
“a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.” Hebrews 12:28 (ESV)
This is how we set the Lord before us. We come into His presence daily and often to offer acceptable worship.
God is set before us and not the world. Our focus is on Him.
You see, the choice is ours whether He is before us or on the sidelines of our life. Or, if we are all shook up.
I keep the Lord at my right hand.
The adage, He was my right-hand man, means someone who helps and supports us the most. (dictionary.cambridge.org)
David makes it clear. God is his right-hand God. And He’s our right-hand God.
The Lord gives us the most help. If we seek the Lord and keep Him near, we discover He’s our best support system. And it’s the because-factor in Psalm 16:8. Because the Lord is at our right hand, we will not be shaken.
For present and future times when life threatens to shake you up, remember the two steps.
Set the Lord always before me. Keep the Lord at my right hand.
What Do You Want Me to do For You?
Scripture Reading — Mark 10:46-52
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” — Mark 10:51
Bartimaeus was in the dark, a blind man who had to beg—until the day Jesus came by on his way to be crucified in Jerusalem (Mark 10:32-34).
Shouting above the crowd, Bartimaeus calls to the Savior, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” People tell him to be quiet, but he shouts all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Graciously Jesus responds: “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus had just asked James and John the same question (Mark 10:36). They had said they wanted places of honor in heaven with Jesus. And he had replied, “You don’t know what you are asking.”
But Bartimaeus only pleads, “Rabbi, I want to see.” And Jesus does not disappoint.
Bartimaeus knew what he needed; Jesus’ followers were the ones in the dark. They wouldn’t see the light of Jesus until later.
This incident has raised a question ever since: Who is truly blind, anyway? And after Jesus restores Bartimaeus’s sight and sends him away, the man sees what he must do next. Bartimaeus is a model disciple. No longer blind, he follows Jesus.
Christ’s question echoes through history: “What do you want me to do for you?”
As we worship together today, can we say, “Rabbi, we want to follow your way”?
Son of David, like Bartimaeus we cry, “Have mercy on us!” Give us eyes to see your way and ears to hear your Word so that we can live as your disciples. In your holy name, Amen.
The shepherds have become stupid and have not sought the Lord; therefore, they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered. – Jeremiah 10:21 NASB
What does it take to be a good leader? Many would say that key characteristics include intelligence, experience, being articulate, understanding the times, being in tune with people, and having ideas that promise success. Over time, many men and women have displayed these characteristics, only to find that they are not enough. What is most important? Acting with His wisdom, being sensitive to His will, being led by His Spirit, and knowing His Word.
The prophet Jeremiah lived at a time when many leaders seemed to have the right background and skills. They had been able to gain and keep power. On the surface, they seemed to be good leaders. But they failed in the most important area: They had “not sought the Lord.” Lacking His wisdom and insight, they literally had “become stupid.” What about leaders in our time? What kind of shepherds are we depending on to lead our flock, our church, business, city, state, and nation?
These questions also apply to each of us as individuals. As we face the issues of life, it is important to have experience and intelligence. But what is most important is having God’s wisdom and blessing. We need to be people of prayer who listen to Him, have experience being led by Him, and are in tune with His Spirit. We need to know His Word and be committed to seek first His kingdom and trust in Him.