Thursday, June 30, 2016

Believeing in God vs. Believing God 6/30/2016

"Then Barak said to her, 'If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.'”  Judg 3:8

The context of this admittedly obscure passage of scripture is that a man by the name of Barak was told by God to take ten thousand men to a pre appointed place where He would deliver the enemy of Israel into his hand.  This information was delivered by Deborah, a prophetess and judge of Israel.  God was setting him up for success.

Beloved, it is easy to say that we believe in God.  In fact, if you ask most people in this country whether they believe in the one true God, the answer would be a resounding yes.  Unfortunately, that is where it usually stops.  Believing in God is easy because it is conceptual.  It requires no effort whatsoever to believe in an idea, a perceived fact or even an individual.  Believing God, however, is an entirely different matter.  Believing God means not only accepting as true His existence but conducting your life in accordance with this fact.  It means accepting that if He can create the universe then He can most certainly take on flesh, walk on water, still storms, feed five thousand with a few fish and pieces of bread, call the dead to life, forgive our sins and save our very souls.  It means having confidence that He can and will do what He says and it means conducting our lives in a manner reflective of that. 

It is recorded in scripture, "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.  But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?" James 2:19.  Essentially, believing in God is something even the devil can claim but do we believe Him enough to do what he says?

It is clear that Barak believed in God.  He was of the house of Israel and he gave credence to the words of the one who God placed in a leadership position over them.  It is just as clear that Barak did not believe God would deliver the enemy into his hand, opting instead to only obey God if she accompanied him as if He was more likely to keep His promise where she was concerned than to himself whom God actually called.  This, in effect, allowed Deborah to have the preeminence in the situation.  She believed God would do what He said and told Barak, "'I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.' Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh" Judg 3:9.  The enemy was in fact delivered into the hands of a woman.  Believe God.

Practically speaking,


Friday, June 10, 2016

Death & Faith 6/10/2016


Many of you faithful readers are aware that my wife Michelle's mother was recently called home to be with the Lord.  In my capacity as a minister, it is part of my calling to deal with death and help others find understanding, meaning and hopefully a strengthened faith in the loss of a loved one.  This is the first time, however, it has struck so closely to home.  I have eulogized many but never a relative.

There may be some of you that have endured such a loss or perhaps are dealing with it even now.  If neither of these are the case, there will surely come a time when a knock on the door of your heart will come.  The following preciously written devotional is offered for us all.


"Then the Lord struck the child that Uriah's widow bore to David, so that he was very sick.  David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground.  The elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them. Then it happened on the seventh day that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, 'Behold, while the child was still alive, we spoke to him and he did not listen to our voice. How then can we tell him that the child is dead, since he might do himself harm!'  But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, 'Is the child dead?' And they said, 'He is dead.'  So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped." 2 Sam 12:15-20

Despite being "a man after God's own heart," David was very human with all of the flaws and weaknesses that can be found in any human being.  He famously sinned with Bathsheba, impregnated her and had her husband killed when he refused to go into her during a weekend pass designed to cover David's tracks.  Despite his contrition and repentance and God's forgiveness, there were consequences for his actions.  One of the consequences unfortunately involved the death of the child. David then experienced a depth of sorrow that every parent dreads.  The illness and expected passing of his baby made him inconsolable.

Beloved, I pray that you will never know such loss, particularly as a result of your own sin. Nevertheless, we all, at some point in our lives, have known or will know despair.  If we haven't yet, we will someday experience pain that is unimaginable.  Despite the best efforts of others to comfort us, there seems to be no word that can be spoken, no medicine that can be taken and no prayer that can be prayed that will deliver us from our sorrow.  This is a normal part of our human existence.  The key is to remain faithful despite these trials and tribulations.

When there was nothing more to be said or done, David cleaned himself up and went to worship. What we learn from him is that despite his sin, punishment and pain, he never lost contact with the God who made Him.  He remained prayerful throughout his ordeal.  Through fasting, he sacrificed to the Lord hoping to find favor.  And when he found that God's judgment was final, he worshiped him.  He never broke faith with God nor lost faith in Him despite having the worst experience of his life.  When his servants asked why he despaired so when the child was still alive but recovered so quickly upon his death, he shared concerning his child, "I will go to him, but he will not return to me," 2 Samuel 12:23. Even this was an amazing display of faith in the Father.  When storms come, let us all be sure to do likewise.

Practically speaking,