1 Samuel 1 Part 3–The Follow Through

New Year’s resolutions…That event where we promise to make changes in our lives; and those changes last days, weeks and rarely months–if we are lucky.  Funny thing is, no resolutions are required for continuing on our journey. 
Hannah made a resolution. She told the Lord, that if He would grant her the ability to have a child; that child would be His. So, when young Samuel was born, Hannah weaned him and then dedicated him to the LORD.  She did more than promise Samuel’s service to God, She literally brought Samuel to the chief priest, Eli and left him.  Samuel was put into a life of service to the Lord and His priest.  I am sure that Eli had no expectation that he would be gaining a ward, but Hannah’s follow through was both sincere and complete.
 
In our lives, God seeks to bless us.  He asks that we trust and follow Him.  He promises that if we confess with our mouth that He is Lord, and believe God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved.  Beyond that, there are no requirements to be saved.  It is critical, however, to follow through. We must trust and follow the Lord daily. When we do,God sanctifies us, and prepares us for an eternity with Him.  Speaking the words or simply praying a prayer is only the commitment. It is the life of faith and submission; that becomes the follow through. The follow through is the sanctification process. Sanctification is what prepares us to be like God and it is what brings hope and blessing.
 
We must not be afraid to continue to seek God’s leadership daily. Diving into His word, seeking Him in prayer and following God’s lead–will give us a life of purpose and meaning.  We  simply need to be like Hannah and follow through with our commitment to God.  If we will, we will have an Amazing Journey!
 
God Bless You

When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.”[c]

23 “Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his[d] word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull,[e] an ephah[f] of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. 25 When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Matthew 1 Part 2–How to Make an Entrance

esus was obviously unique. God chose Mary as the mother of Jesus; but he also chose Joseph to raise the Savior. It must have been a mixture of heart rending emotion as Mary was to learn that God chose her for such an important mission. She knew it would be amazing, but, also terrifying to expose her betrothed to such scorn. Then, young Joseph–having to deal with the feeling of betrayal; followed by the gravity of raising someone else’s–GOD’S son. Sure, he was was of noble lineage–as was Mary; but, to parent the Messiah! Really!

These two young people were about to embark upon a journey to change the world. God chose carefully and as always, perfectly, to place  His son in the world with the right folks, at the right time, to carry out the most important mission of all. Jesus came to reintroduce God to men, and to make a way for them to reconnect with God, and personally join him for eternity.

God rarely does things as we would. If it was my son, I am sure there would have been one heck of a celebration. CNN, Fox News, angelic banners and big old celebrations–announcing Jesus entrance, and making sure people knew and followed him! But, that was the point–God wanted His chosen to follow Jesus willingly and without fanfare. The Father wanted people to be in relationship–simply because they saw the need and desired the life.

God truly demonstrated His love for us–In that while we were sinners–he did this…sent his son to live and die in an ordinary way, as an ordinary guy, with ordinary parents in an ordinary place.  He came to be one of us–the obvious best of us, but, still just one of us! That really is true love!

God Bless You

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet  did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Psalm 6–The Prayer of a Contrite King

David was a great servant of God and a great king.  Throughout his life, he was known as “a Man after God’s own heart.” Still, there were points in David’s life when sin caused him great sorrow. His seduction of Bathsheba, the murder of Uriah, the counting of his troops, and his troubles with Absalom–were times when David failed and failed large.

Still, in the midst of the failure, he was not spared the cost of his sin. He lost his baby, he almost lost his kingdom to Absalom, and he saw a devastating plague as a result of the counting of his troops. Still, in the midst of the horrific trials–David still repented and sought God.  He did not turn away from God, nor seek the world’s relief; no, instead–he repented and sought God’s mercy and God’s healing.  He was confident, that God would hear his prayer and heal and restore his life–He was right.

When we fail, we need to have the heart of David.  We need not try to hide our sin–we need to repent and move forward. It may be awful, and God may allow consequence; but, he does forgive and will continue to walk with us through the most difficult of circumstances. We must never be afraid to open our hearts and cry out to God–our Heavenly Father. We can confess our sin, and he will forgive us of that sin and cleanse us of all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).

God wants our heart. He will faithfully stand by us in all circumstance.  He simply seeks our devotion and our desire to follow him.

God Bless You

Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak;
Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled;
But You, O Lord—how long?

Return, O Lord, deliver me!
Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake!
For in death there is no remembrance of You;
In the grave who will give You thanks?

I am weary with my groaning;
All night I make my bed swim;
I drench my couch with my tears.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
It grows old because of all my enemies.

Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity;
For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my supplication;
The Lord will receive my prayer.
10 Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled;
Let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly.

 

Leaders–God’s Plan–Titus 1 part 1

Paul was preparing Titus, another young preacher, for leading a church.  Crete, Titus’s hometown, was a wild place.  So, Paul for priorities sake, hits on a critical issue–what should your leaders look like? Paul knew that the leadership would set the tone for the people in the church.  Paul knew leaders needed to be above reproach, committed to their families and gracious to others.  He knew that to best lead others, the focus for the leader needed not be clouded by life issues.  He made no judgement of folks that did not qualify–he simply pointed Titus to people that lived simple lives–to deal with the issues of the church community.
 
In our world, we all have issues. I have counseled many couples on the fact that everyone has some baggage, the trick is making sure the baggage you and your spouse have fits in the closet. If Christians look for perfect people to lead in the community–there simply will be no leadership.  
 
But, if we look for people that are gracious, love their families and live a life above reproach–well then, the baggage will fit, and the community will be blessed.  God used Noah–the drunk,Moses–the killer, Samson–the cocky, self-absorbed troublemaker, David–the adulterer and murderer, Peter–the lair and chicken, and Paul-the persecutor of Christians; to lead his people–all had major issues in their walks with God–still, upon reflection, they all qualified because they trusted him to lead through them–That should also be our goal!
 
God Bless You
 
 

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint[a] elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe[b] and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable,one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

God’s Plan is Always Right–Acts 16 Part 1

So Paul and Barnabas split.  Paul and Silas started off for a second journey. Soon into the trip, Paul met up with a young man named Timothy.  It became apparent to Paul that God had a plan for young Timothy, and therefore, Paul prepared Timothy and took him on the team to help with ministry. Timothy would go on to become Paul’s right hand and dear friend.  Timothy took ministry seriously and while young he became a pastor and led many to Christ–but, hold the phone…

What if Paul would have agreed to take Mark and he and Barnabas would have set out as originally planned? Would Paul have taken on a new young man to mentor? So much of what we do day to day can have real impact on the kingdom of Heaven.  The problem is that often those things that have the impact are not readily apparent. That is why it is the job of those that follow the Lord to remain faithful and simply keep moving forward.

God can often times even use our knuckleheaded moves to advance his kingdom.  We simply have to trust that he has a plan for us. We daily rise with the intention to follow him closely and humbly. As we travel through our day, we remain focused on the prize and honor him with our lives.  Finally, he takes our daily journey and uses it to conform us into his image; and, in that process we influence others to know and follow Christ.  There is never a short cut, but there is always a path to an abundant and amazing journey.

God Bless You

Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

Matthew 19 part 1–The Pain of Divorce

The more things change, the more they remain the same.  The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus with one of those real controversial issues of then and now—Divorce. Since Adam and Eve–marriage has remained under attack.  The enemy used sin to divide husband and wife at the beginning and continues to do so today.  The enemy has used strife, sexual immorality, social relativism and “tolerance” to so skew the lines that today as in Sodom and Gomorra, Greece and Rome the world has scrapped what a family is and replaced it with what people wish it to be.

Divorce inside and outside the church has broken many great people.  Praise God that he can restore the broken hearts.  He can bless new families that are committed to following him. As in Moses time, God allowed divorce then and does so now—but he hates it.  It is devastating and life altering.  He would rather see us cling to the covenant in all circumstance. He does continue to love his kids even after they have been broken.

As husbands, we need to love our wives and be the servant leader called for in Ephesians 5.  We need to be faithful in both word and deed. Our kids need to say of us—My dad loved my Mom and he loved us! Dads must be centered on God and his word and in prayer daily for wives and kids.  Wives must hold the family together as the chief of operations.  They have to turn the unruly group into a family and the house into a home. Most importantly, couples have to think and act as one. They are a united front against the world, its culture and the trials of parenting, finances and health.

Thank You, Lord for my wife—help her to remain secure in your love, my devotion and the plan you have prepared for us.

God Bless You

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. Large crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick.

Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’[a]And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’[b] Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

“Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?”[c] they asked.

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful