The Tour, the Guide, the Tell — What Shlomo Taught in Israel

On our tour of Israel awhile back, we moved so fast and saw so many things that it was almost overwhelming. There’s an expression that was used for new people at work who are trying to get assimilated into our company and are trying to learn and absorb too much information at once. They call it “drinking from a fire hose”. That phrase was used on our tour more than once because of all of the information and locations that came flying at us in a short time. Such was our experience for twelve days in the Holy Land.

  

Many Cultures, Many Encounters

We went from the airport to Joppa to Tel Aviv to Caesarea Maritime to Capernaum to Magdala to the Dead Sea. We were on the Golan Heights, at the Syrian border, went into Palestine, and looked just across the border into Jordan. Our group stood in mountaintop trenches next to UN observers. Our tour took us to Mt. Carmel, where we imagined Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal and looked out over Megiddo and the future site of Armageddon. We encountered diverse cultures and people. I even met a nice Palestinian guard!

Our group saw multiple levels of civilization stacked upon modern times, old times, medieval times, and ancient history. We visited museums and memorials, tells and tombs, boats and borders. Our tour took us from the Sea of Galilee to the City of David, and from Dan to the Dead Sea. We encountered religion and royalty, sometimes in the same place. Prince William happened to be visiting Jerusalem the same time we were, and we ended up in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at the same time. (Y’ all, I was like FIFTEEN FEET from Prince William!)

It was a wonderful, bucket list tour. Our guide Shlomo Ben Asher was a teacher, a Rabbi and a fount of wisdom as he led us through the Holy Land (which is fitting, since the name Shlomo is a modern Hebrew derivative of Solomon). He taught us brilliantly about not just Israel’s ancient history, but about who Israel is today. Shlomo shared Hebrew music and poetry, woven into the tapestry of modern Israeli culture and life. The tour made quite an impression on me, so I put it into verse:

Solomon the Wise

I once met a modern Rabbi from the kibbutz Ein-Shemer
Who took me through the Holy Land, and showed me all the treasures there.
Shlomo son of Asher helped me look at Israel through his eyes,
Teaching our group of Baptist pilgrims just like Solomon the wise.
Ancient history came to life in Israel everywhere we went,
As we Moved faster than a nomad bedouin could unfold his tent!
We saw Israel’s treasures from the Syrian border to the South,                              Learning from the stream of wisdom as it came from Shlomo’s mouth!
From Joppa to the Dead Sea we were starting early, finishing late,
Learning more of history than Herod who was called the great!
Of Israel’s sumptuous banquet we could only get a little taste,
But led by the wisdom of Solomon, we did not let a moment waste.

Somehow, like a miracle, I’ve slept almost where David slept;
I’ve seen fields and hills where sheep by the future shepherd-King were kept.                 We saw the very stars that glistened, listened as he sang his song,
And I saw his city in Jerusalem, still alive and strong.
I have seen the evidence where men unearthed the temple wall,
Reflecting on the fact that men and walls, like David, also fall…
We observed Mt Carmel, where Elijah called for holy fire,
Where he called for Baal and his unholy prophets to retire!
I have witnessed tells where ancient truth was excavated out,
Centuries of dirt obscuring what the truth might be about,
And churches built on holy sites or old traditions they would tout,
With Truth and legend intertwined so much that it could make you doubt.

Like Elijah, I could look upon the Valley of Jezreel,
Thinking of its storied past and all the things it made me feel:
Will this tranquil place become the Armageddon battlefield?
Mary Magdalena, did you ever know or could you see
That groups would come from Mexico, that someday archaeology
Would find your village’s synagogue near the shores of Galilee?                                       Your hero and your exorcism have been so far-reaching
That they brought us to this place, this week, for Shlomo’s teaching.

I have seen so many things I want forever to recall:
The oasis of En Gedi, where David went when he was chased by Saul;
Herod’s grand and ancient hall, and desperate Masada’s fall…
Going in the Garden Tomb, or praying on the wailing wall;
So many things both big and small, and in this list not nearly all!
Ancient Scriptures, Dead Sea floating, doing Galilean boating!
Marketplaces. Children playing. Rabbis swaying as they’re praying.
The Dome of the Rock, so mean in spirit that they will not let you near it;
Their loud intrusive call to prayer–you can’t ignore it if you hear it–
The Holocaust, so much regret; so much the world should not forget…
Modern life and ancient tells are my mosaic of Israel.

I’ve been near the place where Peter wept because a chicken squawked!
I have heard some politics, where threatening words like trash are talked;
We went to the marketplace where goods were sold and wares were hawked;
But I have seen the Holy Land, and walked where Jesus walked.

Men may turn from ancient truths and follow after new;
Men may scoff at Scripture and debate its point of view,
And men may say there is no God by what they say and do;
But I have been to The Holy Land. And I know it’s true.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Grow the Church. It’s Something We Have to Do in Order to Grow the Church

Is the Church supposed to grow? Today’s church seems to be different from the one mentioned here: “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they [the church] were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47 NASB)

Exciting New Growth

The first days of the Book of Acts must have been exciting. There was a new Spirit at work on planet earth. The small group of believers had started to grow. A movement had begun that literally changed the world. Those early believers broke down social barriers, changed habits, and initiated transformation that ultimately brought down the mighty Roman Empire. Believers enjoyed a sense of unity and fellowship that no repression or persecution could break, that no apathy or boredom could diminish.

Tell me, has there been a movement in your life that changed your world? Among the first-century believers, people were devoted to helping each other. They practiced what was preached, and committed the two most personal items they had: time and resources. The new church had started to grow. Relationships provided a basis for loving evangelism, and spending time together daily provided a platform for organic growth. They went deeper in order to get wider.

grow

What’s the Right Metric?

As a result, Luke says that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Is the Lord adding folks to your church day by day? Are you and your church being transformed by love? In our modern world, there are marketing plans and efforts made to get folks to come on Sunday by promoting celebrities or hooking up to what’s hot in culture—but surprisingly, with all of our marketing sophistication, church attendance in the US is actually down.

It’s a little awkward talking about growing numbers, 1) because most churches today aren’t growing numerically, and 2) because numerical growth is truly not the end game. Maybe we need to grow the church internally before we worry about growing the church externally. The focus of the early church was not on larger numbers but on being together, breaking bread, sharing gladness and sincerity, and praising God together. Growth was a by-product of unity and gladness.

Sad But True

Unfortunately, unity is often in short supply. A man became shipwrecked upon a desert island. It may have been a Southern Baptist man. (And I don’t pick them out just because I go to church there.) When rescuers found him, they discovered three huts on the island. Curious, they asked the man about them. “Oh, the one on the left is where I live”, he said. “The middle one is where I go to church. And the one on the right is where I USED to go to church.” Conflict, culture and bureaucracy destroy the mission of the church. Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship.

What Luke describes is still the blueprint for the church: be of one mind. Enjoy mealtimes and fellowship together. Be glad! Keep God in His proper place, and get along with others. It’s a simple recipe. When believers come together to share sincerely, praising God in love and gladness, the church will grow. And since we ARE the church, it’s up to us to go deeper in order to get wider. Have dinner with somebody from church this week. Invite somebody who’s not. If you’re too busy to love somebody this week, then you’re too busy.

Acts 2

Breaking bread with one accord,
believers served before the Lord.
Christians gave the church its start
from house to house, and heart to heart.
It wasn’t how much stuff they had,
but how the Lord had made them glad!
Focus on love, and not on growth;
I think you’ll find you have them both!
Have fellowship with those who search;
unite in love, and BE the church.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

In a World Where We don’t have Much Time for Contemplation, Contemplate THIS

How important is contemplation these days? Do you ever spend much time just thinking about meaningful stuff? In a modern world, perhaps that notion seems unrealistic. But today, I thought we should do a little contemplation about contemplation.

Along those lines, Jesus told Philip something that deserves some contemplation. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.” (John 14:10-11 NASB)

Contemplate The Need for Proof

Philip asked Jesus for proof: “show us the Father, and it will be enough.” It was a moment like in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy wanted to go home. The Wizard told her that, really, all she had to do was click the heels of the ruby slippers on her feet and say “There’s no place like home!”. Just do that, and she’d be back in Kansas! It turned out that she really had everything she needed right there, but she didn’t realize it. By asking Jesus for proof, it seems that Philip was in the same situation! He already had everything he needed right in front of him… But he wanted more.

As you contemplate that, it brings up an interesting question: Do WE ever keep asking for an answer when God has already given us one? Do we ever seek more proof when God has already provided more than enough? Two things here:

Reflecting the Spirit

1) Jesus performed the works he did (miracles) not because he had magical super powers, but because he was in the Father, abiding in him. He was so intimately connected to God that He did what God would do. It’s another way of describing “walking in the Spirit”. He was uniquely yielded and empowered, and his life reflected the results of having the Father in him. If what Jesus taught was true, then ours could reflect that as well.

Andrew Murray’s devotional Book, “Abide in Christ” (http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/murray/5f00.0562/5f00.0562.c.htm) offers a 31 day exercise in abiding that teaches how to do just that. Going through it is an enriching exercise that offers an antidote to the hustle and bustle of our “modern” world.

contemplation today

Deflecting the Reflecting

Since contemplation and time alone with God are part of the means to abide in Him, here’s a thought. If I was Satan, I would make contemplation and quiet time a thing of the past. I’d offer distractions to deflect God’s followers from reflection. I would fill the hours that were once available for reflection and connection with music, media and busy-ness.

If I was Satan, I’d provide music 24/7, sound-canceling headphones, 180+ channels on television, plus thousands more on the internet. I’d create fantasy-world games that could distract from real-world possibilities. I would fill time with Pinterest, social media, Twitter, Snapchat, celebrities, and Facebook. I would provide so much mental distraction that there would be no time for contemplation… I’d do that because I know that busy minds will never be intimately connected with the Father.

Words or Works?

2) What is keeping you from living by faith, and from doing the kind of works Jesus did? I’m sure Philip thought Jesus was an amazing guy, but he wasn’t completely convinced– and his lack of belief was holding him back from being amazing himself. Jesus said in John 14:12, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

I think we often limit ourselves because we aren’t sold out enough. We don’t really believe that Jesus was who he said he was. Put your faith to work, and invest a little quiet contemplation in who Jesus was. Either believe Jesus’ words, or believe his works. Perhaps if you contemplate HIS, it will impact YOURS…

Contemplation Template

Perhaps you could allow me just a small interrogation:
How often does your day include some quiet contemplation?
Spend some time with Jesus, have some two-way conversation;
Allow yourself to feel the Holy Spirit's inspiration!
Search the Scriptures for him; do a small investigation,
Reflecting on his character and seeking calibration.
Get to know him well enough to do some imitation:
You'll find that Christ in You is a creative combination!
 

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Word to the Wise: Out of the Thousands You’ll Hear or See Today, THESE Words Matter

Read every word of this quote and see if it sounds sane or crazy: Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6) This short statement is amazingly full.

Depth Not Length

First of all, consider the first two words: Jesus SAID. The spoken word is incredibly important in the Bible, even from its earliest statements on. Genesis 1:3 says, “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Armed with nothing more than His Word, God created the heavens and the earth. The first chapter of John informs us that Jesus himself WAS the Word of God made flesh, which is validated in part by this: Armed with nothing more than his words, Jesus Christ changed history.

word

Quotable Quotes

Think about some of the things he said, and consider the impact of his words: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Luke 21:33) What are the odds of the sayings of any random rabbi or religious guru lasting over 2,000 years when they were uttered before the printing press, digital recording, or mass media? What Jesus said is eternal, and still provides guidance for millions around the world.

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” (John 6:63) “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6 :68) “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” (John 8:51) Listening to and obeying what Jesus said (the spoken Word) gives life that is different not only in quantity but in quality. Followers of Jesus participate in eternal life right here on earth. It changes not just how long they live, but how they live as well.

More Than Just Words

But wait, there’s more! “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) “He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:28) The Word provides blessing, and foundation for living. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

The Words of Jesus are not only foundational but they provide wisdom, and encourage us to live by higher standards. He challenged not only the religious and social institutions of his day but of ALL religious and social structures of all time.  “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24) The Word provides redemption from the penalty of sin, and a way to escape death and judgment. “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

Pay Attention

The Word, which is the truth, offers us not only redemption, but also sanctification. It is an actual means to personal growth and behavioral change. And lest you dismiss all of this about the words of Jesus and take it lightly, consider this: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26) Consider what he said. Pay attention to his Word. Cross over from death to life. Be blessed!

Whose Words?

Two thousand years ago, before recorders or TV,
Before the printing press became a new discovery,
The mystery of history depended upon memory,
And men who put things on a page to save them for another age…
Of all the pages that have been read,
Of all the things that men have said,
This claim withstands time’s harshest test,
And stands alone, above the rest:
“Heaven and earth will pass away,
And everything that men may say, But my words never will.”
He spoke two thousand years ago,
And history proves that this is so: His word is living still.
Think about it: What are the odds? Chances are, these words are God’s

To purchase my newest book Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Abba: Discover the Loving Warmth of the Father

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:4-7, NIV)

Affectionate Abba

In the grand drama of the cosmos, man was created in God’s image to be share in all that God made. He created man as a member of the family, someone who could walk with Him daily. He even said we could call Him Abba, the affectionate form of Father that most closely equates in our culture to “Daddy”.

Vine’s says this about “Abba”: “Abba is an Aramaic word, found in Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6. In the Gemara (a Rabbinical commentary on the Mishna, the traditional teaching of the Jews) it is stated that slaves were forbidden to address the head of the family by this title. “Abba” is the word framed by the lips of infants, and betokens unreasoning trust; “father” expresses an intelligent apprehension of the relationship. The two together express the love and intelligent confidence of the child.”

Broken Bonds, Broken Hearts

Adam and Eve were his children, and the LORD was their Abba. Man was placed in the garden with a covenant that had one stipulation: do not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve broke that covenant. They not only disobeyed, they did what all children do. They rejected the Father to do things on their own. As a result, they were separated from all of God’s goodness.

Like the prodigal son, (like all of us!) they selfishly tried to take their inheritance early. Living independently of their Abba, they ended up outside the family and far from home. Those who once walked daily with the Father now walked alone. Their actions brought a curse not only upon themselves but also upon the creation in which they labored.

Far-reaching Consequences

Because of the curse of sin (self-will), the very fabric of existence was torn, and no amount of effort by mankind could repair it. The story of the Bible is how God redeemed His children from the curse and adopted us back into His loving family. It has a fascinating and inescapable logic behind it when you break it down. First, the curse resulted from the breaking of the covenant by men; so only a man could provide justice before a righteous God.

Second, sin was the deadly enemy of man, separating him from the Father and bringing death and corruption into the world. Only a redeemer untainted by sin could triumph over it. Third, because its wages are death, sin affected all of mankind both physically and spiritually.

This passage from Galatians offers assurance and hope. It assures us that God has always had a plan, and that plan has always been bent on restoring us to His family. It says that God sent his Son at “the set time.” The appearance of Jesus was no accident, and he was sent by the Father.

Like Father, Like Son

God the Father sent his Son to solve the problems surrounding the redemption of his children. He was born of a woman, so that he might redeem those born of women. The problem with those born under the curse was they were tainted by sin, and therefore were not qualified to lift the curse. A Redeemer had to be untouched by the curse of sin in order to save those who were already condemned by it.

Third, He satisfied the law, so that he might save those cursed by the law. He provided not only a physical solution to sin, but a spiritual one as well. His words were not the random ramblings of a Jewish wise man, and his claims to be one with the Father were not blasphemy but fact. He was unique in all of history as being the one qualified to counteract the curse and mediate our adoption back into the Father’s family.

Because of Jesus Christ, we are all able to be God’s children once again, walking with Him and calling Him “Abba” (Daddy). Read the words of Jesus sometime and see how often he depended on his Father, talked with his Father, and walked with his Father. See the affection and intimacy Jesus had with “Abba”. When is the last time you loved on the Father, and talked to Him not as the Awesome God of the universe or as the somewhat intimidating Righteous Judge, but as your Daddy? I’m pretty sure he sent His Son so you could do just that. Crawl up into God’s spiritual lap today and sit there for a while. It’s what children do.

Abba’s Children

Abba's children
Why would the Almighty God, the LORD, the great Creator,
Concern Himself with our mistakes? He could say, "See you later."
He could have started over with another cosmic plan
That had a better version of the beings we call Man...
He could have left us all behind. When all was said and done,
He didn't have to save the world or send His only Son!
And yet, he did. He paid the price to set his children free,
So we could all be heirs, and children in His family.
Crawl into your Father's lap, and let him hold you near;
Lean against his chest, and hear him whisper in your ear:
"Out of all creation, it is you that I hold dear,
And I have moved the cosmos just so I could have you here."

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Want help? Get Help from the Helper

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26 NASB)

A Bit of a Mystery

There’s something of a mystery about the Holy Spirit. Jesus compared Him to the wind, because we see him by his influences than his pure substance. How do we hand over the controls of our life to him? Is it possible to set aside our natural instincts and become inclined to “walk in the Spirit”? How can we supersede our very human nature and allow God’s character to shine through us?

I always thought that the disciples had it easy, of course, because they had Jesus. Certainly if I could just hang out each day with Jesus, I’d be more likely to act like him or think like him. I wouldn’t need a helper because I’d have JESUS. I have always thought the disciples had a distinct advantage over all the rest of us believers because of that.

That logically creates TWO questions for me, because 1) Jesus is the Word made flesh, technically speaking, so don’t I have the Word to explore every day as often as I like? (Yes, it’s “just” the Bible and not Jesus in the flesh, but it IS the written Word, the exact representation of the LIVING Word. You know, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…”)

The One Thing That Can Stop Him

And 2) How do we access help from the Helper? He promised he would ask the Father to send me help, so don’t I have the Holy Spirit to seal me, indwell me, and teach me? The Holy Spirit is the HELPER Jesus asked the Father to send to us. He will provide hope when things look hopeless, faith when you can’t believe what is happening, and comfort when life in a fallen world seems like too much to bear.

As a believer you are NEVER alone. In verse 18, Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans.” So he sent us his Spirit to assist us. Shouldn’t that mean that, with God’s own Spirit within us, there is nothing spiritual we can’t do? If God be for us, why, who can be against us??

God’s intent in the New Covenant is to provide us with support and strength as long as we are yielded to Him. Circumstances can’t stop Him. Satan can’t stop Him. The only thing that can prevent that is, apparently, ME. (And yeah, the only person who can stop Him from exhibiting power in your life is YOU. So don’t blame me if you’re not spiritual.)

There’s a reason 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Do not quench the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit has come to dwell within Christians in order to provide the followers of Jesus a presence and a resource that previously existed only when he walked among them. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit was sent to assist us and teach us, which is great news! It’s news we should use.

helper

The Helper’s Role

But notice that he doesn’t say the Helper will magically implant knowledge into our brains. Jesus says He will “bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”

To me, this implies that I’d need to have ‘heard’ things Jesus had said to me. That way the Holy Spirit could help me to REMEMBER them.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit will bring those things to my remembrance, and He will teach us. The Spirit will interpret, expand the truth to us, and motivate us… But how much do you know about the things Jesus said for him to be ABLE to call them to your remembrance? How many words of Jesus are in your subconscious, just waiting to be recalled and illuminated by the Holy Spirit? I probably need to listen to Jesus more, and hear him better. I think I probably haven’t always given the Holy Spirit a full deck to play with.

The Helper
Jesus taught us how to live, if only we will hear it;
And people strive to be the way he was, or to get near it. 
When he went home, He told us He would send the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is the Comforter, who helps us to abide,
And leads us into truth: He is our teacher and our guide.
Walk, then, in the Spirit, January to December:
If you forget what Jesus said, He'll help you to remember!
Our human, carnal nature offers spiritual resistance,
So walk, then, in the Spirit, and He'll give you some assistance.
 

To purchase my newest book Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Solomon Had a Mission, but God’s Temple didn’t Build Itself!

Solomon was given a Mission, ordained and blessed by the God of the universe. Since you’ve also been given a mission, perhaps it would be instructive to see what Solomon did!
“I intend, therefore, to build a temple for the Name of the Lord my God, as the Lord told my father David, when he said, ‘Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my Name…’ When Hiram heard Solomon’s message, he was greatly pleased and said, “Praise be to the Lord today, for he has given David a wise son to rule over this great nation.” …

A Mission Requires Workers

So, the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised him. There were peaceful relations between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty. King Solomon conscripted laborers from all Israel—thirty thousand men. He sent them off to Lebanon in shifts of ten thousand a month, so that they spent one month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor. Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stone-cutters in the hills, as well as thirty-three hundred foremen who supervised the project and directed the workers.” (1 Kings 5:5-16, NIV)

Solomon mission

Wow, this was a pretty big construction project—as far as Israel was concerned, it was the biggest one of all time… God could have chosen David to build the temple, but he didn’t. The Lord knew that David’s enemies would likely object to his military past, so He chose David’s son instead. David was incredibly disappointed, but Solomon was chosen to carry out God’s will.

A Man With a Mission

Thus, Solomon was given a clear mission by God, and he went out committed vast amounts of resources, workers, and leaders to get it underway. He worked hard to fulfill his mission. It should be instructive to us that the Lord gave Solomon a job, and he then did everything he knew how to do to get it done. He planned, organized, called in favors and committed resources. He applied his gifts and his wealth to do what God appointed him to do.

God could have just created a temple and set it right down in Jerusalem, but he gave that task to Solomon. The king could have waited for workers to appear miraculously, and for timber and stone to materialize, but he realized that God had put him where he was to have an impact on the world, and he applied himself to doing God’s work. He exercised his own wisdom and position in leveraging relationships and managing people, and he used all of his skill as king to serve God. He knew that he had been chosen by God to perform a task, and he believed that God had put him there to get it done.

Not By Magic

Here’s the point: Why are YOU where you are? What mission has God given you? How much have you committed your skill and resources to make it happen? We may not be building a temple, but we ARE a temple (I Corinthians 6:19-20), and we HAVE a mission (Matthew 28:19-20). There is something to be done that only you can do. The fabric of eternity is woven with millions of seemingly unrelated tasks that change the world for good, and not all of them get headlines.

The small commissions matter just as much as the big ones in God’s economy, and He has chosen the weak things of this world to confound the mighty. Jesus told us to love each other, to love “the least of these”, and even to love our enemies. Who will you love today? God has a job for each of us to do. What will He do through you? It only remains for you, in Paul’s words (Philippians 2:12-13), to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to act to fulfill his good purpose.” Go. Fulfill.

The Only Mission that Matters

God gave Solomon a mission: build a temple, fit for me;
Put it somewhere high and strong, for all Jerusalem to see!
Solomon secured the workers, more than a hundred thousand men,
Working shifts in Lebanon to bring the cedars back again.
Everything was organized–the workers getting stone and wood,
And Solomon made certain they were doing everything they could.
See, God gave Solomon a mission, so he had to do his best;
He had lots to do, but this priority outstripped the rest.

No matter what transpired, he knew he had to get the Temple done:
God gave Solomon a mission–but he’s not the only one.
Jesus gave us all a mission, there in Matthew twenty eight:
“Go and make disciples. I am with you. Don’t procrastinate!”
God has given us the job of reaching out to every man;
I hope, like Solomon, that we are doing everything we can.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

The Prayer of Jabez is Good. Here’s One I Like Even Better!

Do you remember The Prayer of Jabez,  the best-selling book from a few years ago? It had wide circulation among evangelicals, and it certainly stimulated some thoughts about praying for results. Let’s take another look at the man made famous for his prayer:

A Famous Prayer?

“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10, NIV).

This little passage was the subject of Bruce Wilkinson’s book, “The Prayer of Jabez, Breaking Through to a Blessed Life”, back in 2000. Mr. Wilkinson’s work was embraced by many who agreed with him that praying this prayer devotedly and persistently would result in God’s blessings. Others criticized it because they said it focused on prosperity rather than on spiritual blessing, and prescribed rote, formulaic prayer rather than sincere, heart-felt prayer. Whatever your take on it, it is a well-written book that was quite popular, and got folks talking about the power of prayer.

Jabez

Valuable Lessons

The book does a great job of encouraging us to be persistent in prayer and to claim Bible promises for our own, just as Jabez did in 1 Chronicles 4. Mr. Wilkinson did a great job sharing the story of Jabez and drawing some Biblical principles from it. I’ve given it some reflection as well, and here are my own observations about this passage:

1) Jabez is a sincere and honorable man, and he turns to God for blessing. I’d have to say that if everyone we met was sincere and honorable, the world would be a better place. But apparently then—as now—being honorable was the exception rather than the rule. Be the exception.

2) Jabez seemed to be motivated by the fact that his name meant “he makes sorrowful”, apparently or possibly because of the pain he caused his mother in childbirth. He didn’t name himself, but as he grew up he was constantly reminded that he had once been the source of pain…

Parents, be careful what hurtful things you say to your kids, because there are things that stick with them. (I can remember some that were said to me, and I know there are lots of dumb or angry things I have said to my kids or my wife that I wish I could have back! I’m very sorry guys, if anything I said gave you a negative message or memory. I really do love you a lot with my imperfect love!).

The Fine Print

3) This isn’t necessarily a bad prayer, since Jabez asks for God’s hand to be on him, and to keep him from evil so that he would not cause (or have) pain. “And”, the Bible says, “God granted his request”. So there’s that. It’s a prayer that identified Jabez uniquely among his peers, and God answered it. It’s a good prayer, and probably one that all of us would make from time to time…

But when you break it down and look closer, the prayer of Jabez does seem perhaps a bit self-serving, and might just be a bit focused on personal benefit. (Bless ME. Keep your hand on MY territory. Let your hand be with ME. Keep ME from harm. Keep ME free from pain.) These are all legitimate requests to make of God, but there’s a different prayer in the Bible that also asks God for something about ME, and it’s one I can relate to far better.

If I had to pick a Bible prayer that we should pray early and often, it’s not the one prayed by the arrogant Pharisee who stood in the Temple in Luke 18 and thanked God that he was more righteous than his fellow men; it’s the sincere, passionate one prayed by the humble, repentant tax collector as he beat his breast in anguish in Luke 18:13: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

Now, THERE’s a prayer worth repeating! (And one that I can certainly relate to!) “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Try praying that one. I bet it will enlarge your territory.

My Own Personal Jabez Prayer

Jabez was an honest man who went to God and prayed,
He asked for God’s protection in the petitions that he made.
Apparently he was honorable; and he was surely blessed.
The Bible says when Jabez prayed, God granted his request.
I guess I’m not like Jabez, since my prayer life is much thinner;
I’m much more like the man who said, “Be merciful to this sinner!”
You may have a different prayer you think of when you pray,
But when you kneel before your God, and find the words to say,
I hope you pray with love and passion every single day.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

The Obedient God: Something from Jesus’ Childhood that Might Surprise You

Hidden away in Luke’s comments about Jesus as a boy is a nugget you should not miss: Luke tells the story of the Obedient God.

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them…” (Luke 2:49-51 NIV)

We have talked several times about this passage from Luke, which gives us pretty much everything we know about the years between Jesus’ childhood and manhood. Here are a few final thoughts on Jesus as a boy… Remember, this is God with skin on, the Son of God, the Messiah who has been foretold. Surely he was no average twelve-year-old…

obedient

The Best Kid in the Neighborhood

Have you ever wondered: What was he like? How did he exercise his power? Was he gifted physically the way he was gifted spiritually? If he was alive today, surely he’d be an NFL quarterback, right? There is so little in Scripture to go on about Jesus’ boyhood, and it’s tempting to try to reconstruct some things, but it is always important to let Scripture be Scripture, and allow the story to speak for itself. Luke 2:52 says that Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” He was growing in a balanced way; and the Bible basically says that his development was apparently fairly normal.

obedient

I love the fact that Luke points out how Jesus grew in four dimensions: mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. He wasn’t some spiritual nerd who didn’t live in the real world, but there was a balance in his growth that encompassed intelligence, strength, and his relationship with both God and men. That’s probably a good template for goal-setting when we start jotting down those New Year’s resolutions…

Even Joseph and Mary Seemed Surprised

As for this story, the fact that he slipped away and stayed at the temple caught both Mary and Joseph a bit by surprise. I’m sure he was normally very obedient, and this was new behavior. Jesus was exploring some independence at age 12, and apparently knew an impressive amount of Scripture and was able to teach about the principles it contained. He knew enough, according to Luke, to astonish learned men.

Since his own parents were surprised by what he was saying about doing his Father’s business, it makes sense to assume that this was not behavior they were yet accustomed to. What do we learn from that?

The Son of God was leaving boyhood behind, and stepping out onto a larger stage. He knew who his Father was, and was already connected to his mission. Those are all pretty impressive qualities to exhibit at only twelve. Luke’s short account of twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple makes it clear that Jesus was destined for greater things; but that last phrase in verse 49 about how he treated his parents kinda sneaks up on you. “He was obedient to them.” Apparently even the King of Kings obeyed his mom and dad. Young people take note: If God with skin on obeyed his parents, so should you.

The Obedient God

Our culture loves the shallow things,
And all the toys celebrity brings:
The bling, the cars, the diamond rings,
The cash register when it cha-chings!
But Jesus grew up mentally,
And physically, and socially.
He also grew up spiritually,
In ways you could and could not see.

You’d think that Jesus had it made,
The power of God in man displayed–
And yet the hand that Jesus played
Was this: the Son of God obeyed.
He didn’t try to take command,
He didn’t overplay his hand,
But followed what His Father planned:
Obey. Be humble. Understand
That life in all its parts can be much greater than the sum;
And greatness doesn’t celebrate before its hour is come.
The key to life is not what is expedient,
But this: know what God wants, and be obedient.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

We Love Condemnation: But Who is Going to Judge the Judges?

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17 KJV) Institutionalized Christianity has a long history of condemnation, from the Crusades to the Inquisition, and from the Church Lady to Westboro Baptist.

Judged By Whom?

When unchurched people are asked why they don’t go to church the #1 answer is “I feel judged when I go there.” In the name of Jesus, folks who call themselves Christians have condemned Muslims and Mormons, Denominations and Democrats, homosexuals and heretics. Now, I’m not saying those folks are all immune to judgment by a righteous God, because ALL OF US are going to give account before Him.

So, none of us is immune to condemnation. We’re just not supposed to heap it on each other. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

condemnation

The only sin you should ever get concerned about is your OWN. If you are sitting there reading this thinking, “Yeah, but, what about that group?” or, “What about those other guys?”, then you have the wrong perspective about sin.

God’s Tolerance Is Different Than Ours

The Bible teaches clearly that a Holy God cannot/will not tolerate sin, and that sin will be judged. Since sin and death cannot abide in the presence of the Living God, unresolved sin will be left to its own devices. In essence, it will judge itself. Those who reject God’s provision for payment will bring death and separation from God upon themselves.

Sin by its very nature requires condemnation because it brings death. Since God is Life, He is diametrically opposed to sin. He cannot tolerate sin because it brings His polar opposite into His creation.

As Paul says in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” I definitely believe that the Bible teaches about sin’s penalty and the righteous judgment of a Holy God. But in John 3, when Jesus told Nicodemus why he came into the world, he ruled condemnation out of his mission statement. (And yes, I know he condemned the hateful self-righteousness of the Pharisees, but whenever sinners were brought before him, he offered grace. You can look it up!)

To Condemn or Not the Condemn?

Apparently Christ does not condemn, he only saves. Repeat that. Remember that. In a world full of blame, finger-pointing, criticism, and condemnation, Christ does not condemn. I bet most of us still focus on the theology of right and wrong, and we focus on God as the Righteous judge. Curious, then, that His only son didn’t come as a judge but as a Savior.

Read John 8 sometime. When the Pharisees accused Jesus of being a demon possessed Samaritan (racial slur) he said, “I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” (John 8:50-51) God didn’t send his Son to condemn, but to give life.

As John said, “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” If you were ever a sinner, if you have ever wronged someone else, or if you have ever been less than godly: remember that, and be grateful; remember that, and be gracious.

Pointing the Wrong Way

In a world of polar hate, where almost no one budges,
Who is going to heal the scars, and who will judge the judges?
You can look at other folks and judge them for their sin,
But in the end, your condemnation will not help you win.
Point out someone else’s sins, but know that when you do,
Three fingers there upon your hand are pointed back at you!
Christ told Nicodemus, though the world might be depraved
He came, not to condemn the world, but that it might be saved.
Take a hint from Jesus when the shallow world condemns,
And offer love instead, because you know… love always wins!

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Stubborn Love: We All Need It, and the Bible is Full of It

Being stubborn is not always thought of as a good thing, but sometimes the best kind of love is the stubborn kind. Stubborn love will throw its arms around the unlovable, the underdog, and the unlikely…and it won’t let go.

Orpah and Ruth were sisters from Moab who married two brothers, the sons of Elimelech and Naomi. Both brothers and Elimelech up and died. Suddenly both the two younger women and their mother-in-law were thus tragically widowed.

Bad to Worse

Now, the prospects for a widow in that place and time were not good. The prospects for a widow with no children was even worse. Poverty was likely at best, and at worst women were subject to misuse without a man to protect them. (Yes I hear you strong women protesting, but it was a fairly primitive time. Women had far fewer options in ancient Judea than they do today.)

Naomi had decided to leave Moab and go back to her own people and try to live out her days on their charity. In all likelihood, she would remain a lonely, heartbroken woman. The chances of finding a suitable husband for her younger daughter-in-laws was remote if they stayed with Naomi, so Naomi urged the girls to go back to Moab and try to find a husband.

A Surprising decision

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and left. “But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16, New King James)

stubborn

Ruth stubbornly refused to leave Naomi, and stayed by her side for a journey back to an unknown land and an uncertain future. There she got to work in dry, dusty fields alongside beggars and slaves, picking up scraps that the harvesters left behind. This story could have gone wrong in so many ways, and yet it turned into an amazing story of redemption and hope when Ruth was noticed by Boaz, who bought the rights to both Ruth and Naomi to act as their kinsman-redeemer, marrying Ruth and reestablishing Naomi’s family name.

A Stubborn Decision

Ruth’s stubborn love for Naomi seemed destined to force her into obscurity and poverty, but instead it opened doors and changed her life completely; and did you know it also changed Israel’s future, and sent ripples through the pond of history that have touched all of its banks, and have even touched you and me?

As we discussed on another day, Ruth had a son named Obed, who was the grandfather of King David. If you have ever been encouraged by a Psalm, then you have been touched by Ruth’s stubborn love. If you have ever profited from a Proverb (written by David’s son), then you have been touched by Ruth’s stubborn love. Her simple act of faithfulness to her mother-in-law turned into an eternal legacy.

I have been the blessed recipient of stubborn love several times, including parents who never absolutely despaired, and an amazing wife who has loved me in spite of myself, and who never gave up on me. And, oh yeah, there was love so stubborn that a brutal whipping couldn’t stop it, the temptation to turn aside couldn’t end it, and a crucifixion couldn’t diminish it. May you, too, find stubborn love in the midst of a thoughtless, temporary and selfish world.

The Best Kind of Love

Naomi’s husband died, and then she lost her sons as well;
Her loss and grief were greater than she had the words to tell.
She told her dead sons’ widows both to leave her there behind,
So they could build a better life and find some peace of mind.
Orpah left. But Ruth said, “Mother, both of us will grieve.
But please, Naomi, in your grief, entreat me not to leave!
No matter what will come our way, there’s one thing you can know:
Wherever you stay, I’ll stay, and I will go wherever you go.

Our prospects are uncertain, and our future may be flawed,
But your people will be my people and your God will be my God.”
Naomi realized then that Ruth just could not be got rid of,
And acquiesced to be blessed by Ruth’s stubborn, stubborn love.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Being Courageous has Nothing to Do with Being Big and Strong

There are times in life when people need courage, and we see that wherever bad leaders wield their strength to oppress regular people. Sometimes it’s because people have chosen to face danger, and sometimes it’s because danger has chosen them. We are often inspired by their courage; we hope that we ourselves could stay strong in the midst of adversity. The Bible’s message on this is pretty simple: You, too, can be Strong and Courageous, and it has nothing to do with your strength or resources.

courageous

[Moses said] “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV)

An Exhortation We can Make; An Exhortation We Can Hear

As Moses transferred leadership to Joshua, this was his advice. The Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, where the inhabitants appeared to be stronger than they felt themselves to be. They were leaving the familiar and going into the unknown. They were facing uncertainty, hardship, change, and difficulty. So in this sermon, Moses told them to be strong and courageous—and why? Was it because they had a better army? Stronger men? Better logistics?

No. Moses told them they could be courageous, not because of their OWN sufficiency, but because THE LORD was going before them, and He would never leave them or forsake them. Pretty good advice, based on an eternal foundation: don’t be courageous based on self-sufficiency or what you know; be courageous because of WHO you know.

The Source of Courageous

John’s epistle said that perfect love casts out fear, and that God is love. It stands to reason that any time we accept God’s love we can become fearless! Are you entering a season of uncertainty and Insecurity? Be strong and courageous, because the Lord is with you. Dealing with change? Be strong and courageous, because the Lord is with you. Having to battle disease or health issues? Then this is pretty good advice for you, too.

This verse doesn’t promise that the trouble will disappear, or that we can hope in circumstances; it tells us to be strong because GOD is with us. When we appropriate His presence by faith, it offers us calm in the storm and assurance in the valley of the shadow. In the places we feel most alone, He will never leave us.

In our greatest uncertainty, we can be sure of Him. We can take courage, not in our own strength and sufficiency, but in the Lord our God, who goes before us and stands beside us. As David said, “My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26) When your flesh and heart fail, fall in love with God. Be strong. Take courage from your Father, and be encouraged today!

The Cowardly Lion Could Have Used This

If you face uncertain times, and have to deal with fear,
The Bible has a word for you. I’m going to write it here:
Be strong, and be courageous, not because of what you know,
But because the Lord is with you everywhere you go.
Whatever happens in your life, wherever it may take you,
Your Father’s endless love will never leave you or forsake you.
His love is warm and comforting; in fact, it is contagious.
Allow His strength to help you to be strong, and be courageous.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread