Trusting God

Ultimately It's Up To God

And may the Lord do what seems good to him. 1 Chronicles 19:13 (ESV)

David was King. The King from the Ammonites died so David sent a delegation to express his sympathies to the King’s son. His son, not trusting David, humiliated the delegation and sent them home. Afterward, he realized he made a mistake. I love how the ESV says it “When the Ammonites saw they had become a stench to David.” When the Ammonites realized they were stinky, they hired an army to fight for them. In response, David sent his might men and his army to fight.

Now David’s mighty men and his army had a great reputation. People from all around knew who they were. These were not ordinary men. As you read through the Bible, some extraordinary feats are listed. They were powerful.

David put Joab in charge. Joab realizes the odds are not in their favor and he puts together a plan. He tells everyone what to do, and then I love his next line.

And may the Lord do what seems good to him.

Some days, it feels like we are fighting a battle. It feels like the odds are against us. No matter how well we plan, the odds do not seem to be in our favor. We need to remember, just like Joab, that in the end it is up to God.

God is the tipping point. He is the One greater than everything we see. It’s His plans that get executed, not ours. Will He fight for us? Most definitely! But there will still be things that don’t work out the way we want them to…..and that’s OK. Because we know in the end that God is the One in control. And if He allows it, there is a purpose.

Like Joab, we need to plan. We need to do everything we can to succeed but after all that is said and done, we need to trust God in whatever the outcome.

Let Not

You must not let yourselves be distressed—you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me.  John 14:1 (PHILLIPS)

The day started off rather well. It was a bright morning, birds were singing and I was looking forward to accomplishing my tasks. Then, I remembered. I remembered a meeting I had that was not going to be fun. The knot grew in my stomach and I began to stress about it.

As I continued to ponder the possible outcomes, I got more anxious. Like, debilitating, can’t move forward anxious. And I thought, “This is going downhill fast. God, I need help.” Today’s verse popped into my head.

Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. (that version my mom made me memorize when I was little.)

The words “Let not” began to resonate. Let not. Don’t let. Fight the anxiety. But how? Honestly, I wasn’t sure how do to that but I decided to stay focused on those words. At least if I had something to focus on, no one would see the turmoil inside.

As I drove to the meeting, the knot grew I repeated the verse. “Let not your heart be troubled.” Trust me.

As I walked into the building.

“Let not your heart be troubled.”

As I stood at the elevator. Uh oh. The feeling is getting worse.

“Let not your heart be troubled.”

And after each agenda item was read before we got to me. “Let not your heart be troubled.” Honestly, there were moments I couldn’t remember the verse! I’d have to turn my brain off of worry and search for the verse in my head. But when I found it, I felt better.

Gradually, every time I repeated the verse I noticed that I felt a little calmer. Pretty soon, I was calm enough to remember that no matter how it turned out, I trusted God to have it.

We got through the meeting and while it wasn’t great, it was better than I expected. There are still some things to walk through but I now have my go-to.

Don’t let yourself forget who God is. What you are looking at is stressful but God will walk you through it every single step of the way.

Giving

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!  Malachi 3:10 (NLT)

Many years ago when my children were young, we were super tight on funds. I was a single mom and it was hard. I had just gotten paid. I went to the Grocery store and when I got home I sat down to pay the bills. After that, there was a little bit left. I was excited about that because my daughter needed a new pair of shoes.

Then, I heard the Voice. “You didn’t pay tithe.” So I started reasoning. Lord, if I pay tithe I won’t have money for shoes. Silence. I have learned enough to know when I get the silent treatment from God it’s because He knows I know what I’m supposed to do.

Not sure what came over me because my inclination was to buy shoes but I paid the tithe.

A few days later I was at work and a lady walked into my office. She said “Don’t you have a daughter that’s 2?” I said yes. She said “My daughter is just a little older than that and I just went through her clothes getting rid of the things that were too small. Would you like them? Maybe they’ll fit your daughter.” I assured her I would definitely like the clothes.

She came back a little while later with a kitchen sized garbage bag full of clothes. I took them home and started going through them and guess what was at the very bottom. A pair of shoes just the right size with the tag still on them! Not only did I get a pair of shoes, I got an entire bag full of clothes!

I know we’ve all heard stories about this kind of thing. God’s faithfulness is timeless. But, I can attest to the fact that over the years, in more ways than I can count, he has provided for me when I’ve been faithful to him. Some days, the possibilities look scary until I remember who God is and all he has done. Then I realize the possibilities are endless.

Silencing Doubt

Joshua had given orders to the people, “Don’t shout. In fact, don’t even speak—not so much as a whisper until you hear me say, ‘Shout!’—then shout away!” Joshua 6:10 (MSG)

The people of Israel were camped outside the city of Jericho. The city was shut up tight because of the people of Israel. No one dared come in or out. They had heard about Israel’s God. This way, the residents of Jericho thought they were safe.

God told the people to march around the city once a day for six days. Do nothing. Just march. Say nothing. Just keep walking.

I wonder what they thought about this plan. There were a lot of people marching around the city. Do you think some of them wanted to complain because this seemed silly? Were there people who thought they had a better plan of attack? How about folks who knew all about fortified walls and were sure they could come up with something more effective?

What about us? When we are doing the same routine day in and day out with no end in sight, are we more apt to complain? Do we voice out loud the fact that God is not doing anything to change our current situation? Or do we keep walking? Do we trust that God has a plan and he is working that plan out even if we can’t see how it’s going to come together?

There are times, even when we want to do something different, we need to just keep walking. We need to trust that God’s plan is coming together. We may not see how he is going to bring the walls down, but one day we will. That’s when we get to shout!

Steps of Faith

Today you will know that the living God is among you. Joshua 3:10 (NLT)

Joshua had led the people of Israel to the Jordan River. They were going to enter the land of Canaan. The river was at flood stage and all of the people had to cross. That was surely a dangerous proposition. Not only was the river dangerous but after they crossed it, they were going to be venturing into the unknown. On the other side of the river were lots of different enemy peoples.

As Joshua came to relay the instructions to the people that God had relayed to him, he said “Today you will know that the Living God is among you.” The Living God was among them in the way of the Ark of the Covenant. God spoke to Moses from the Ark. It was known that this was his presence in their midst.

The Ark would lead the way making the path clear. God would go before. But I think what Joshua meant was “Today you will experience God.” As the people walked to the swollen river, I wonder what they thought. Did it seem impossible to cross that especially with woman and children? Did they look ahead and say “We can’t get there from here?”

We do that don’t we? We look at where God is leading and say “WOW! That looks like more than I can handle.” We stop and say things like “I have to pray about it” or “Maybe now is not the right time for this.” What if the Israelites had done that? “Lord, we can’t step out now because we have to pray about this and well, we’ve been wondering for 40 years, surely a few more days won’t matter.”

We don’t have a physical Ark to follow now but we do have God’s presence. He promises it to us in the form of the Holy Spirit. He is leading us and telling us to take the next step. He is telling us to trust that he has prepared the way.

The priests, who were carrying the Ark, went to the river’s edge and stepped in. The Bible says the water stopped a distance away and became a wall of water. Below where they were standing, the rest of the water drained into the sea.

What if? What if we trusted that God was going before us? What if we walked to the water’s edge even though it looked too scary to cross? What if we stepped in (even when we were afraid) to see what God would do? Would we, like the people of Israel, know who God really was?

The Twisting Path

And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. Genesis 45:5 (NIV)

Joe was, well Joe. He had lots of brothers and sisters. They argued just like any normal family. But overall things were good. His mom had died when he was young but he was very close to his father. One day, through circumstances beyond his control, Joe found himself in a foreign city working as a slave for someone else. I can’t imagine the emotions you would go through if you were in that situation.

But Joe, knowing God, did his best to serve the man who owned him. As life would have it, not everyone had the same morals as Joe. The man’s wife was more about her own pleasure and kept trying to get Joe to sleep with her. Joe refused because….well, he knew God and he didn’t want to offend the man of the house. That could result in a bad situation.

Even though Joe did everything right, he ended up in prison because the wife lied. I wonder where his mind went with that? I mean, you do everything right and everything keeps going wrong. But God has his eye on Joe. And Joe, true to his character, continued to do the best he could where he was.

While he was in prison, he helped out some guys who worked for a very important politician. When one of them was released, Joe asked him to remember him. Did he do that? Nope. I wonder if that made Joe bitter? Here he helped this guy and the guy forgot him.

Finally, one day the guy did remember Joe. The very important politician got him out of prison to utilize his unique skills. And Joe did such a great job! He became very, very important. He had lots of money; he controlled everything. The only person who had more power than he did was the politician.

A few years had passed and Joe was working his new job. By now, he had a wife and some children. He still missed his father but God had really blessed him. Suddenly, the men who had caused him to end up in the foreign land showed up. They needed help. Now Joe knew who they were right away. If I were him, I may have thrown them in the same prison I ended up in. What goes around comes around! But not Joe.

You see, Joe knew God. And he realized that all that he went through was for a reason. Because of him, many people’s lives were changed. Many people were better off because of the different path he was forced to walk. Joe knew this was a God thing, not a Joe thing.

As we walk our broken road, our twisted path today, maybe we could be more like Joe. We may not necessarily understand why everything is happening but we can know the God that is in charge and trust in his plan.

My Faith Stands On.....

And Abram believed the Lord . Genesis 15:6 (NLT)

Abram and Sarai were old. Really old. They were way past the age of child-bearing. Yet when God told Abram that he would have a son, Abram believed him. And as years went by and nothing happened, Abram still believed God.

Why? As we look at our circumstances and they look impossible, it is so easy for us to give up and think (pick one) God forgot or we heard him wrong or we did something to change his mind or God doesn’t love us or fill in the blank because we each have our own nuance of this.

Abram believed God and he kept walking. Romans 4:18-21 says:

Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.  He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

Do you see that? Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping…..and He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

What was he putting his hope in if there was no reason? What do you put your hope in when it seems hopeless? Is it possible that we should not be hoping in our circumstances or the things we see but in what we don’t see? Shouldn’t our hope be in the God we know and love? How about this? Shouldn’t our hope be in the intentions we know God has for our lives?

Ahhhh, that’s a different twist huh? If we know that God loves us and his intention for our life is to save us, wouldn’t that be where our faith should rest? You see, often we look at how things are going and determine that God isn’t working. We are basing that thought on a fleeting circumstance - a moment in time. God is looking at the big picture and he’s working to fill in the puzzle pieces so the picture is complete for his purpose in your life. I bet if we really think about it, deep down we understand that his complete picture is very different (and should be) from our temporary one.

Some days it is really hard to keep walking when you look around and it just doesn’t make sense. It’s on those days especially when we have to return our gaze to the Good we know. That Good is God. His intentions for you are perfect. Hold on to that and let that be where your faith stands.

What Happened To The Giants?

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)

I am in a season right now where I am privileged to spend some extra time with my oldest grandson. The conversations we are having are amazing. They make me think about God a lot. The other day, we had this one.

Him: Yiayia, there are giants in my bedroom.
Me: There are? Where did they come from?
Him: Come see, Yiayia.
As we approached his room he turns to me and says “Hold me.” So I picked him up as we walked into the room.
Me: Where are they? He scoots down and stands in front of me.
Him: There are no giants in my bedroom. Let’s go play.

Made me think about our giants. We think we see them. We are sure they are there and sometimes they really are. Just like the Israelites when they ventured into the land of Canaan. They really did see giants. Unfortunately, that is all they saw. They didn’t see God standing there with them. They didn’t see the power and the strength that is so readily available to God’s children.

All we have to do is ask God to “Hold us” and he will walk with us. We never venture into the land of giants without him. As a matter of fact, we never venture anywhere without him.

Next time you are sure you see giants, grab hold of God and keep walking. He’s right there holding and fighting for you. Our God is bigger than any Giant.