Give Thanks in ALL

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This verse kept coming up in my studying on thankfulness. I must admit the first time I read it, I thought nope, I don’t want to write on this verse. The second time I told the Lord, “Lord that one is just too hard to write on.” And I kept searching and it popped up again, and I said “Ok Lord, but you have to give me the words.” Which is kind of funny because He is the one who gives me the words every day. 

But this one is hard isn’t it? Because sometimes you just don’t feel much like rejoicing and giving thanks in ALL circumstances do you? But there are reasons we can give thanks even when there is not enough money to make it to the end of the month, or there are empty spaces at the table whether it be from sickness or loss or people who can’t see eye to eye. Or maybe you or someone you love just got that diagnosis, or maybe the diagnosis is completing it’s work and you are having to watch your loved one or you, yourself are having to endure the pain of a sickness that is hard to watch and hard to endure. 

The church in Thessalonica was no stranger to hardship. Paul founded this church and was essentially run out of town in a matter of weeks. Yet, the church continued even in the midst of people who weren’t believers. The church in Thessalonica was alive and active even though it’s founder Paul wasn’t welcome in the city. Paul wrote this letter to the Thessalonian Christians to encourage them. And nearing the end of the letter is where we find the exhortation to them we are studying today. 

To “rejoice always” means yes, we are to look for something to rejoice about even when there doesn’t seem to be anything to rejoice about. As christians we can’t live as those who have no hope. Our hope is in Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. We have to know that even though our circumstances at the moment may not look good, that things can and will change. Mainly because our God doesn’t change. He is the same today that He was yesterday and that He will be tomorrow. But life has a way of changing just as the seasons come and go, the hardships come and go as well. Our joy has to be found in Him and not in our circumstances. We may be grieving for a moment but we cling to the hope that we will have new mercies every morning. 

I have learned over the course of my days what it means to “pray without ceasing”. I do get up every day and have a quiet time that sets the tone for my day, but I also know what it’s like to have life circumstances that won’t leave my mind. I know what it’s like to have that worry over a thing that seems to consume me. That’s where the praying without ceasing comes in I think. When you have that thing, that is breaking your heart, you just have to keep laying it at his feet maybe a dozen times a day. I think sometimes we make prayer too complicated. Prayer is nothing more than communication with God. I do like intentional times of sitting with Him, quieting my soul and spirit to listen for what He wants to tell me. But I love the fact that I can feel His presence all day every day and I can pray, communicate with Him all day every day too. 

And because of these things that we can know His joy even in the tough stuff of life, and we can communicate with Him in the all day, every day and we can give thanks in everything. Maybe not because the thing is happening but because you can see His hand in the thing. Or if you can’t see His hand at the moment, you can have faith that He is working behind the scenes. 

I don’t know what your circumstances are. Maybe there is a seat that will be empty around your Thanksgiving table and you are having a hard time giving thanks. Things are very expensive this year, maybe you are not sure how you will make the money and the meal come out. Maybe you are concerned about things that no one knows about. But you can know that God knows. And sometimes you just have to start small. If you can’t give thanks yet for your circumstances, tell Him. Let Him know you want to and then look around and find something to give thanks for, a sunrise, a baby’s laugh, a pretty flower. Ask Him to show you today. 

This morning the weather is a little milder so I got to sit on my porch again this morning, with a heater and and a blanket but it is my favorite place to have my quiet time. So I am thanking Him for milder weather and the sunrise He is about to paint for me. What can you find to be thankful for today? 

Enter His Gates With Thanksgiving!

We are in that season that makes us pause and just be thankful. We see the posts on social media. I’ve done them too. Where we state one thing we are thankful for every day in the month of November leading up to Thanksgiving Day. I love this as it just seems to make us refocus our thoughts on being grateful for what we have. But I know , that there are times, there have been in my life too, where we are in hard seasons and it may be a little harder to count the blessings. But can I say, that is maybe when we need to be more intentional about what we DO have to be thankful for. I know from experience that those hard seasons of life can eat us alive if we aren’t careful. So for the next couple of weeks, as we lead up to Thanksgiving, I want us to look at scripture and what it says about being thankful. 

Our focus verse today comes from Psalms. 

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” Psalm 100:4

That little verse is pretty simple and straight forward and doesn’t need much explanation. It lives in the 100th Psalm which is only 5 short verses. It is simply known as a “A Psalm of Praise” or thanksgiving. I read a short commentary from C. H. Spurgeon that bears some repeating here. 

“In all our public service the rendering thanks must abound; it is like the incense of the temple, which filled the whole house with smoke.” 

We must give thanks! When you light incense or a candle or even those essential oil lamps, they fill the whole space with fragrance. It is a sweet smell that can come from a small vessel. Giving thanks is like that too. When you allow your heart to find something to be grateful for it will fill your heart with a sweet fragrance and will be a sweet fragrance to God. If you are having trouble finding something to give thanks for, just ask God to show you. It may be something simple like a baby’s laugh or the eyes of your child. It may be a glorious sunrise or sunset. It may be whatever your circumstances are or it may be that your circumstances are making it hard for you to find something to be grateful for. If that’s the case, give thanks because you have survived another day. But above all, give Him thanks for something! I truly believe it will bring healing to a bitter soul. 

Today, I give thanks for this little community that seems to have come about by  all of you who read my simple thoughts. I have reconnected with old friends, and I feel I have made new friends. I am in awe when I see some of you share these devotions. It humbles me so. So today I am grateful for you, the reader who encourages me to keep studying and writing down whatever He teaches me. Please know I am always teaching myself with what I write. 

What are you grateful for? What can you find that you can tell Him thanks for? Write it down, maybe in a comment here or just start making your own list. Let’s be intentional at least for a couple of weeks while we lead up to Thanksgiving. Whether your home is beginning to look a lot like Christmas or if it still abounds with pumpkin spice, I think that part of what will prepare our hearts for the joy of Christmas will be giving Him thanks for the everyday mundane things of life that really aren’t mundane but are what makes up our lives! 

Jesus Grew in Wisdom, Stature & Favor! 

Oh how I wish scripture gave us more of a glimpse of the boy Jesus than it does. But the little  snippet we get tells us really all that we need to know I guess. Our focus verse comes after Jesus was left by his parents in Jerusalem and was lost to them for three days. Jesus’ family would go to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. The year Jesus was twelve years old as the parents and all their relatives were returning home, Jesus stayed behind. When it was discovered that Jesus was not among the relatives, his parents returned to Jerusalem to look for Him and they found Him in the temple sitting among the teachers asking questions. His parents scolded Him. 

“And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’” Luke 2:49

While His parents knew because of His birth that Jesus was God’s Son and that would make Him special, they still did not fully understand what was happening. So Jesus goes back to Nazareth with them and scripture tells us He was submissive to them. And then we get our focus verse of today. 

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52

The next time we see Jesus, He is being baptized by John. And when He was baptized ….

“and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” Luke 3:22

It’s not hard to see the favor of God on Jesus. Can you just imagine being there and hearing the voice from heaven. My little feeble brain can’t even comprehend it. The thing we can know, however is that Jesus came to earth to save us but also to be an example to us and to teach us how to live in favor with God as well. God was well pleased with Jesus. Jesus had favor with God as He began His earthly ministry. 

Jesus taught us many things during His earthly ministry, but there is one that stands out to me and comes to mind as I study the favor of God on Jesus and how we can gain favor with God by following Jesus. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were always trying to trip up Jesus, so to speak. They did everything they could think of to entangle His words, yet Jesus was always able to come back with wisdom and it amazed the crowds, which only made the leaders more angry. One particular instance a lawyer asked Him about the greatest commandment. 

“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

You see it all comes down to this. We can check everything back to are we loving God with all of our hearts and are we loving people. When you don’t know how to react to a situation or circumstance it all comes back to love. How do you follow Jesus? You love the Lord and His people. How do you gain favor with God? You love Him and His people. And when you have that unlovable person in front of you that you think “Oh Lord, I don’t know how to love this one.” You ask the Lord to love them through you. Everything depends on how we love God and how we love people. And when we are doing that, the rest just has a way of falling into place. I don’t mean there won’t still be hard days and hard times, and loss and grief and things we want to change in the world. But the only way to survive it and to get through it is love. That is how we grow in favor with God and with men. 

And when we do that we can be assured of God’s favor for the rest of our lives. 

“For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.” Psalm 30:5

May we grow in wisdom, stature and favor as we follow Jesus! 

Highly Favored One! 

“And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’” Luke 1:28

These were the words spoken by the angel Gabriel to Mary the mother of Jesus. Mary, sweet Mary was a young girl, who was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter. They appear to be simple people, living a simple life in a simple town. And then an angel appears to Mary and tells her she is the favored one who will carry the son of God! 

I wonder about this young woman and what thoughts were going through her mind. Scripture tells us some of the things but I know most women would be like me and our minds race a million miles a minute when there are things that we weren’t expecting put in front of us. 

“But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” Luke 1:29

I think sweet Mary’s mind was a racing. First of all she may not have felt very favored at first at this news. First, how is this going to play out as she has never had relations with a man? Then what will she tell her parents, what will she tell Joseph, what will people think, how will this happen again, will she need to hide away, will Joseph believe this, but wait didn’t the angel say favored one? I just think Mary would be feeling more fear than favor at this point. And the angel addresses that. 

“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.’” Luke 1:30

Mary asks the angel a few logistical questions concerning what is about to happen to her and the angel gives her some reassurances. And then the most remarkable thing about this remarkable woman happens. 

“And Mary said, ‘Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38

Mary goes from fear to faith in a matter of minutes. Which probably had something to do with why she was the favored one to be the mother of Jesus in the first place. Mary found favor with God because God knew her character before the announcement came that she would be the mother of Jesus. Mary was already known by God in order for him to have found favor with her. God already knew that while she may be afraid she would handle her assignment with grace, peace and submission early on. One thing to note here I think is when Mary was questioning the angel “How can this be?” I don’t think she was questioning him as to IF this would really happen as she was questioning how it would be carried out. As soon as God revealed His plan to her, she submitted to the plan. Was she afraid? Sure she was. Did she want to understand the process? Yes she did, but she believed God and submitted to the plan immediately. 

Now I don’t think any of us have to worry about being given a task of this multitude by God. Mary was the highly favored one to carry His son. Salvation has already entered the world through God’s son, so I don’t think there will be another task to match this one. But we can learn a few things from Mary. How many times or in fact do I ever submit to God’s plan as soon as it is revealed to me? When I question God, I am afraid I am not questioning Him about how I carry out His assignment as much as I am questioning if it has to be me? I am afraid I am more like Moses who argued with God about being the one to lead the people out of Egypt than I am like Mary who says ok Lord, I’m your girl just show me how and lead the way. I want to be more like Mary, I truly do. I want to take on whatever God decides to throw my way. I pray that when God looks on me that He finds favor in me. Favor to be the one to carry out his purposes and plans. Favor to complete whatever task He is giving me to do. 

May God find favor in us as He found favor in Mary! 

Ruth finds Favor with Boaz

Let’s talk today about another woman who found favor with men because of the hand of God guiding her. Today I want to talk about Ruth. Ruth was the daughter-in-law of Naomi. Naomi had been married to Elimelech. Naomi and Elimelech had moved to Moab because of a famine in Bethlehem. While in Moab, their two sons took wives but over time Elimelech and the sons all passed away. The wives of Naomi’s sons were Orpah and Ruth. After the loss of her husband and her sons, Naomi decided it was time to go home. At first it appears that Naomi would take both of her daughters-in-law with her, but she implores both of them to return to their parents home. Naomi was obviously very loved by them as they both wept and protested. Orpah eventually relents but Ruth says no that she will return to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. 

One thing that is notable in Ruth chapter 1 is that it appears that Ruth is not just following Naomi, but Ruth is following who Naomi is following. 

“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God.’” Ruth 1:16

Ruth obviously saw something in Naomi that maybe Naomi did not even see herself. Naomi is bitter because of all she had lost, but she apparently still loved the Lord and wanted to follow Him. And while doing that, she had shown something to Ruth that made her not want to return to her life as a Moabite woman and to follow the gods of Moab. Ruth was a Gentile and she chose to follow God. 

So Ruth follows Naomi and they return to Bethlehem. And Ruth goes to work. In those days in Israel the poor of the land who had no means would go to the fields and would glean from the grain that was dropped or left behind to get food. 

“And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.’ And she said to her, ‘Go my daughter.’” Ruth 2:2

There is nothing here that suggests that Ruth knew to which field exactly she would go. In fact in verse 3 it says “she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz.” Now Boaz was a relative of Elimelech, which meant he could be a kinsman redeemer to Ruth. In those days a kinsman redeemer was a male relative who would have the privilege and responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble or deceased. The kinsman-redeemer would care for the widow and possibly even take her in as his wife but in turn would receive the property owned by the deceased. Isn’t it just something that Ruth just “happened” to come to a field that was owned by a relative of her deceased husband. 

Boaz takes notice of Ruth and asks about her and when he does, he is told that she is the daughter-in-law of Naomi and that not only did she follow her mother-in-law to Bethlehem, but that she is now caring for her by working to get grain to feed them. Boaz was impressed, Ruth had found favor with him. And Boaz tells her to stay close to the women who are working for him and he instructs the men that they should not touch her. 

“Then she said, ‘I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.’” Ruth 2:13

Boaz also goes so far as to have Ruth sit down with his servants to eat and he instructs his servants even more to intentionally drop more grain so that Ruth can pick it up. When Ruth returns home she tells Naomi about Boaz and his kindness to her and Naomi realizes that he is a kinsman redeemer to her family. 

I love how this story unfolds because as it is playing out the people in the story may not necessarily see God’s hand guiding them, but as we read it and in hindsight they can surely look back and see the hand of God guiding them. First God guided Naomi and Ruth back to Bethlehem, then He guided Ruth, first to even go to glean in the fields and then to the exact field that she should land in where there would be a relative of her husband. He guided Boaz to take notice of her and then as the story continues to unfold He guides the plan Naomi puts into action to let Boaz know that Ruth is interested in him. 

Our lives can be much the same way. We don’t always see the hand of God guiding us in the moment by moment things of life. But when we look back and we see the fields we ended up in and the people we crossed paths with, we can see that God was guiding us all along and granting us favor with the people we need to find favor with to walk out His plan for our lives. 

The ending of this story is in a lot of ways the beginning of ours as well.  Boaz does indeed redeem Ruth and marry her. And when he does she gives birth to a child and they name him Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse, who is the father of David. And we all know that this is the lineage of Jesus! Which is another notable thing in the story. Ruth, being a Moabite was an unlikely player in the lineage of Jesus. God often uses unlikely people to carry out His plans. But He will use, whoever is following Him, and those who follow Him will find favor! 

May we find favor with men as we follow Him! 

Esther Finds Favor with the King!

Today I want to look at one of my favorite books of the Bible. This is the story of Esther. Esther was an orphaned Jewish girl who was raised by her uncle, who ended up Queen of Persia. But the backstory of Esther is what is so incredible. The story of Esther in the Bible shows how God directs paths and people and events.  

When King Ahasuerus found himself, because of his own foolishness, without a queen, a plan was devised to bring all the beautiful young virgins into the palace so that the king could choose a queen for himself. Among those was a young Jewish girl who was being raised by her uncle, Mordecai. Esther respected Mordecai and followed his advice as she was brought into the palace. She was apparently a very beautiful girl and she was a non-assuming, godly young woman who carried herself in such a way that she gained favor from those who were put in charge of the young women. 

“When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her.” Esther 2:15

Esther followed the advice of Mordecai as well as Hegai and when it was her turn to be brought into the king she found favor with him as well. 

“the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” Esther 2:17

Now you may be thinking this is a great story but what does this have to do with favor from God. Make no mistake this remarkable story would not have played out as it did if God’s hand had not been in it. Esther was a beautiful woman but it was not just her outward beauty that found favor with people. God had a plan for Esther and for Mordecai and He was raising her up to this place as queen because there were things that would need to be carried out by her. Esther followed the advice of people, but these people were also a part of God’s plan in directing her. 

So Esther became Queen of Persia, but her King still had no idea that she was Jewish, she didn’t reveal it to him on the advice of Mordecai. Also, there was a man who was a servant of the king named Haman who had been exalted to position by the king and he hated the Jews, especially Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to him.  Over time, Haman devised a plot to kill the Jewish people in all the provinces of Persia. When Mordecai found this out, he dressed in mourning clothes and went to the entrance of the king’s gate. He could go no further as he was dressed in sackcloth but he did this to gain the attention of Esther. When Esther sent someone to question Mordecai as to what was going on he explained Haman’s plot to them and they returned with the news to Esther. She was given a task to do. Mordecai was instructing her to go into the king and beg for favor on behalf of her people. It was time to reveal that she was Jewish to the king. 

The thing was not even the queen could just go in to see the king unless he called for her, unless he holds out his golden scepter to her as she goes in. She must wait to be called or she is risking death as she goes in. This king has been known to be foolish in the past so this was a very scary position to be in for Esther. She calls on Mordecai and all of the Jews to fast on her behalf. Esther and her women would do the same and she would take her chances. 

After three days of fasting by Esther, her servants and the Jews she put on royal robes and went to the king. 

“And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.” Esther 5:2

There is much more to this story than time allows here but Queen Esther, because of the favor that she found in the king was able to save the Jewish people. God used Queen Esther to save the Jewish people because Queen Esther postured herself in a position to be used by God. We can be used of God too when we posture ourselves in a position to be used by Him. 

This story is one that shows us how God crosses people’s paths to carry out His plans. No one  would have ever thought a young, orphaned Jewish girl would become the Queen of Persia. I kind of think that King Ahasuerus was an impetuous king, possibly no one would have thought a girl like Esther would find favor with him that he would follow her wishes and advice. Yet God used Esther and he used Mordecai in this story to save His people. 

May God grant you and me favor with people to carry out His purpose and plans. 

Hannah finds favor! 

Our favored one today is a woman named Hannah. It comes from 1 Samuel 1. Hannah’s story is one of anguish, heartbreak, favor, faith, peace and blessing. First of all, Hannah was married to a man named Elkanah. Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Penninah. This doesn’t sound like a very good idea to me, but polygamy was often practiced back in those days. However, I can’t find anywhere in scripture where it seemed to work out well. In this story Penninah had children and Hannah did not, and that brought on jealousy. Hannah was jealous of the fact that Penninah had children and Penninah took the opportunity to rub it in. Elkanah loved Hannah deeply and tried to do what he could to show her that her not having children did not affect the love he had for her. But Hannah was still heartbroken over the fact that she desired motherhood but so far it had not been hers to enjoy. And on top of it, she had a front row seat to Penninah’s motherhood journey. I can only imagine how hard that must have been. 

Elkanah was apparently a godly man, in that he took his family to Shiloh every year to offer sacrifices to God. When they did, Elkanah would give portions of the sacrificial meat to Penninah and her children but to Hannah, he gave her a double portion to show his love for her. But Hannah’s heart was broken over the fact that she had no children. Elkanah was trying, but there really wasn’t a lot he could do to make it better for her. So Hannah goes off by herself to the temple to pray to God. 

She pours her heart out and she makes a vow to God if he will grant her request for a son that she will dedicate him back to the Lord. Eli, the priest, mistakes Hannah’s anguish for drunkenness and he rebukes her. 

“But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.’” 1 Samuel 1:15

Have you ever been there? In a situation that you felt you had to pour it all out to the Lord. The kind of desperation that brings gut wrenching sobs is where Hannah was. I can feel her anguish and her heartbreak, as I have been there too. I have been at a point where pouring it all out to God is the only thing left to do. Hannah was at a point where she was ready to bargain with the Lord. When Eli sees that Hannah is not a drunken woman but that she was a woman with anguish in her heart. He prays for her as well. 

“Then Eli answered, ‘Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.’” 1 Samuel 1:17

Hannah has poured her heart out to God, she has poured her heart out to Eli and then she pulls herself together. She has found a peace that God has heard her. Maybe just because of her own prayer, maybe because of Eli, but nevertheless going to God with her feelings, her heart, her hurt has at least turned her attitude around. Sometimes you just have to pour it all out to find peace. 

“And she said, ‘Let your servant find favor in your eyes.’ Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” 1 Samuel 1:18

Hannah had found peace in her circumstances. Hannah had prayed to God for a son and had in the process asked for favor from Eli. Hannah had found her faith. She had faith that God had heard her. She took what Eli said as a word from God that He would grant her prayer. Maybe in her asking Eli for favor she was asking him to continue to pray for her. 

The next morning, Elkanah and family worshiped the Lord. This time it seems that Hannah was able to truly worship as she had found her faith in pouring her heart out to God. I love that Hannah found her faith and her peace before she received her blessing. 

“They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.” 1 Samuel 1:19

I love this story about Hannah because it is so real. Hannah knew heartbreak. She knew anguish and bitterness but when she pours it all out to God, she finds her faith. She finds her peace. And the bonus is she is blessed with her son. She also fulfills her vow of dedicating him to the Lord by taking him to live in the temple after he was weaned. She visits her son in the temple every year and takes him a robe that she makes for him. 

Hannah found favor and her prayer was answered. But the most important thing that Hannah found was her faith and peace. Sometimes it takes a good old gut wrenching, crying, prayer session of laying it all out to God to regain our peace when things are not going the way we hoped. I have found that when I do that, when I lay it out to Him, and pray and maybe cry, when I pour my heart out to Him, I will find peace and it restores my faith. 

May you find favor, and through it may it restore your faith and peace! 

When God says No to our Favor

So, what do we do when God does not grant us the favor we are seeking. I don’t want to be someone who tries to make you believe that being a christian is all sunshine and lollipops! That we will always get exactly what we want. Sometimes favor comes just because Jesus holds us through a situation or circumstance and we don’t get what we are earnestly praying for. Sometimes we have to accept that God has a reason for not answering our prayer in the way we wish. 

In the book of 2 Samuel, chapter 12 there is a story about David that has always struck my heart. You remember him, David, the one who killed the giant of the Philistines with a stone. He was a mighty warrior of God, he was anointed king but didn’t take the throne for 15 years or so because he was hunted by the former king Saul, who wanted to take his life. David, the one that is called a man after God’s own heart. Well even though David was a man after God’s own heart, David was also a fallible man, aren’t we all! David stayed behind one time when his men had gone to war and found that he had idle time on his hands and well, he spotted Bathsheba and he desired her. He slept with her and she became pregnant. So to cover it up, our David had her husband killed. The beginning of this chapter is the prophet Nathan rebuking David and showing him that even when we think we may have gotten away with something, that God still sees it all. God told Nathan to let David know that as punishment for his sin, that his son would die. Now this is a bitter pill to swallow. I hate the fact that God struck the son down because of David and Bathsheba’s guilt. But the commentary I read pointed out, and it is true that sometimes the innocent will suffer because of the sin of the guilty. And we do know that to be true don’t we. We see innocent people lose their life all the time because of someone else’s sin. So we have to accept that is what is happening here. 

But let’s look at what David does when his child became sick. 

“David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.” 2 Samuel 12:16

I can just see it, can’t you? David did what any father would do for his sick child. He was distraught, he prayed hard! He sought God, he fasted, he cried, I am sure he begged God to heal his son. He probably even said God take me, instead of him. But God chose his son. The servants surrounding David were worried about what David would do once the child had died. So much that they were afraid to even tell him. When David saw them whispering, he perceived that he had gotten his answer from the Lord and that it was not what he had hoped. Let’s look at what David did next. 

“Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate.” 2 Samuel 12:20

It has always amazed me what David’s response was after his child died. It amazed his servants too. I believe in my human nature I would have had me a good old crying, stomp my foot session. I would probably be mad at God for not answering my prayer in the way I wanted Him too. But David actually pulled himself together and worshipped God! That is what our response should be. But I am not telling you I am spiritual enough that is what it would be. I hope so, but I am not sure I trust myself enough to think so. There was another man in the Bible who had lost his entire family and his fortune and his response was: 

“And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’” Job 1:21

A very important lesson here too, comes when the servants questioned David as to his response. They were amazed at his response to the child’s death. David had pulled himself together, and he worshipped God and he ate in order to regain his own strength. The servants questioned David as to how he could pull himself together. David had a very comforting response to all of us who are christians when we lose someone we love but we know their salvation. 

“But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12:23

David knew that he would see his son again in heaven one day. That was comfort to him. He still would have preferred that God would have answered his prayer by allowing his son to live. But David still knew God and he still trusted God and he knew that one day he too would die and go to heaven and he would be reunited with his son. 

My friends I would love to tell you that God will always answer our prayers for healing just like we want him to. I can’t I know too many people who have prayed for it and their healing came in heaven instead of on earth. But what I do know is that when we lay it at his feet and we worship Him no matter the answer we receive that He will carry us and He will walk with us through, and He will strengthen us as we walk the path of this imperfect world. 

May he hold you even when you don’t receive the favor you ask. 

Moses asks a Favor! 

Our story today comes out of the book of Exodus. God had become very frustrated with the Israelites since He had brought them out of Egypt. It seemed they were never happy. They asked to be delivered and when they were delivered all they could seem to do was grumble and complain about their new surroundings. To the point at times of even wanting to go back, back to slavery and oppression. Moses was doing his best to lead the people but they were difficult. At the beginning of chapter 33 of Exodus God even called them a stiff-necked people. He had had enough. You see back in chapter 32 when Moses had disappeared to the mountain to meet with God for a bit, the people got tired of waiting for Moses and for God, so they decided to take matters into their own hands and make them a god to follow. They had taken all of their gold and jewels and fashioned a golden calf that they decided would lead them to the promised land. God was not happy and neither was Moses. 

When Moses came off the mountain, after meeting with God with the ten commandments in his hands, he wasn’t quite ready for the sight he saw. The people were dancing and singing and worshiping this golden calf. Moses got so angry, he broke the tablets that the ten commandments were on and he, well he threw a fit all over them. This all happened in chapter 32 of the book of Exodus. But then the worst thing happened. God was going to leave them to it. God tells Moses at the beginning of chapter 33 that he could still lead the Israelites but that God would not be with them. 

“Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” Exodus 33:3

Oh how awful! I hope I never anger God so much that He leaves me to my own devices. Scripture tells us that the people mourned when they heard this. But Moses uses his favor with God to ask a favor of God. Moses intercedes on behalf of the Israelites with God. 

“Moses said to the Lord, ‘See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.’” Exodus 33:12-13

God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendants would inherit the promised land, but He had never made a promise to them that He would be with them in it. God is sovereign, He is all-knowing, all-powerful and worthy of our full attention and praise. His decision not to go with the Israelites was a blow to them. The Israelites knew it, and Moses knew it. But it was God’s decision to make. But God grants the favor for Moses! 

“And he said ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” Exodus 33:14

Moses wants a little insurance to the deal. 

“And he said to him, ‘If you presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?’” Exodus 33:15-16

Moses is saying, I don’t want to go anywhere without you Lord! Please don’t make me!

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.’” Exodus 33:17

Moses knew God well enough to ask Him a favor. God didn’t have to grant it. He did so because Moses walked with Him and because Moses asked. Have you ever asked God for a favor? I have and the key is to know that God has the knowledge, the power and the sovereignty to grant or not grant your favor. In this case He did grant it. I had a recent event that I needed God to move in, I asked Him for a favor to let me see movement before the week’s end. I can’t say that the matter is resolved, but God did allow me to see movement by that week’s end. And I was very grateful and told Him so. The key is to know that God may or may not grant your favor when you ask Him, but when He does it is so sweet. Be sure you say thank you! 

May God grant your favors as He did with Moses!

Noah Found Favor! 

We all know the story of Noah building an ark and taking two of every kind of animal on it and his family and getting on the ark while the Lord flooded the whole earth and wiped out mankind. But why Noah? 

“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:8

Noah lived during a time when men lived a very long time. Men had begun to multiply and while the numbers of people were growing there was also corruption and wickedness. Men were doing whatever they pleased and the Lord was grieved by it. But Noah, he was different. 

“These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:9

I knew that God had chosen Noah to build the ark and to take his family and the animals on the ark in order to preserve mankind. And I knew that it was because the world was a corrupt place. But I guess reading it here today puts a new perspective on it, maybe because of the times that we live in. I am sure other people have said it before, but I do think that the last few years we have seen an increase in corruption in our world. People pretty much want to live however they want to and they want to ignore and even deny that God exists. I guess living in the world today and trying to walk with God, makes me identify a little closer to Noah and the fact that he walked with God even in the midst of the corruption surrounding him. So much so that God chose Noah to repopulate the earth. 

Now I wonder what kind of things went through Noah’s mind in the year he spent closed up in the ark. First let’s think about being in a closed up area, with a bunch of animals. The only living people are your family. There are things to do every day like clean up after the animals, feed the animals, clean up after the animals. I can only imagine the way the place began to smell. I am sure it was dark in the boat. And there was probably a lot of noise. For forty days and nights of being cooped up in the boat you could hear the rain beating down on the boat. I wonder if in the middle of the dark, dank, smelly days of being on the ark if Noah felt favored by God? Oh we know he was because the alternative that the people on the outside of the ark was death and destruction. But I just bet being in the middle of it did not feel like very favorable conditions. 

My point here is this, well actually I have a couple. First, let’s realize that Noah’s living conditions before the ark may not have been great. It’s hard sometimes to be the only person in your workplace, or your circle or maybe even your family that is walking with God. But Noah found favor with God because he walked with God, he held fast to his faith. Even in the midst of corruption. Even in the midst of a rebellious bunch of people Noah walked with God and he found favor with God. 

Second, even though Noah found favor with God, he still had work to do. He built the ark and then he and his family still spent a year of their life floating along on a boat with a bunch of smelly animals. They worked out their faith that God had a plan to get them off the boat while in dark, probably not the most comfortable conditions. Just because your circumstances and your surroundings may be dark and smelly and you feel like they are droning on and on, you still may be just where God wants you for the moment. Our job is to walk it out with Him. To be set apart, like Noah was among rebellious people. To do the work that God has put in front of us, even if it is not the most desirable work. And to have faith that the sun is going to come out one day and we will be able to get off the boat. 

“Then God said to Noah, ‘Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.’” Genesis 8:15

“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’” Genesis 9:1

God found one good man who was walking with him, among all the corruption of the earth. I don’t know about you, but I for one, when God looks and sees the corruption surrounding us now, I hope that He can look at me and smile and that I can find favor with Him just because I am trying every day to walk with Him! 

May His favor be upon you as it was with Noah!