I have always had the privilege of working with people all of my life—people from all walks of life. Today there was a man who said he wanted to ask a question to a lady who was standing in my line. He said, “If a bear was chasing you and up ahead there was a tree on the one side and a church on the other, which would you choose? The tree or the church?” Quickly she responded, “I would choose the church. I trust Jesus. No matter what, I trust Jesus.”
The question was actually a joke. The man knew the lady would respond “church” and his response was going to be, “I would have chosen the tree. I was taught not to go to church with a bare behind.” (Insert snicker here). What I loved is how quick the lady responded with Jesus and how she said NO MATTER WHAT.
Today I want you to consider the NO MATTER WHAT. Do you trust Jesus no matter what? If there was a bear chasing you – if you lost your job – if you lost a loved one – if you are having difficulties at work – if school is stressful – if your relationship is falling apart – do you TRUST JESUS no matter what?
“But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.” – Psalm 52:8 [NLT]
I remember the time David was brought before Abimelech and he pretended to be crazy so he would not face death. I still recall the first time I read that and chuckled at the thought of David their acting in this manner. But what I remember more so is the Psalm that David wrote from this event—especially the first verse. It says, “I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.”
There are two things that are very clear by this verse. David said he would praise the Lord at ALL TIMES. David said he would praise the Lord CONSTANTLY. All times means good times and bad times. All times means when things are going well and when things are not going so well. All times means when you cannot see light at the end of the tunnel and when you are knee deep in problems or when things are just rainbows and butterflies. Constantly means never ending. Constantly means continually. Constantly means always. How can you praise Him constantly? In everything give thanks. In everything point to Him. In every circumstance, as Paul said, be happy. Constantly means it’s a way of life.
Today, are you praising the Lord at all times? Are you continuously praising the Lord? Let your life be a life of praise to the Lord. With everything you do, praise Him.
“A psalm of David, regarding the time he pretended to be insane in front of Abimelech, who sent him away. I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.” – Psalm 34:1 [NLT]
After the battle was won, the Israelites asked Gideon to be their ruler. In Judges 8, they had already moved from the position of the Lord bringing the victory to turning away from the Lord. They wanted Gideon to be their ruler. Gideon quickly told them that the Lord was their ruler.
Even though the victory was clearly given by the Lord, they were quick to take their eyes off of Him. They were quick to attribute the victory to Gideon and his leadership. In the same way, we often are quick to attribute our accomplishments to others. We easily agree to support someone’s decisions, advice, and opinions and forget about our true Ruler, our Lord and Savior.
We have bosses. We have politicians. We have a lot of people in leadership positions in different areas of our lives. But there should never be a moment when anyone is put before God. God is first always.
“Then the Israelites said to Gideon, ‘Be our ruler! You and your son and your grandson will be our rulers, for you have rescued us from Midian.’ But Gideon replied, ‘I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The LORD will rule over you! ‘” – Judges 8:22-23 [NLT]
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways.’” – Haggai 1:7 [NIV]
Haggai is a very short book but in two chapters we read four times that we should “give careful thought” (1:5, 1:7, 2:15, 2:18). Something repeated that often certainly cannot go overlooked. It is such a simple command, but one that we cannot hear enough. At that time, the people had no argument with rebuilding the Temple, but they had chosen to do other things before undertaking the task of rebuilding the Lord’s house. They had skewed priorities.
We also need to give careful thought to our ways. We need to constantly be evaluating our own lives to make sure that we do not have our priorities skewed. It is so easy to be turned toward worldly items like the people of this time period. It is easy to allow our focus to shift gears.
The Lord declared that he was with the people (1:13, 2:4). The Lord is also with us. We do not do life alone. Today be sure to give careful thought to your ways, but don’t forget this promise—that he is with us. May that promise bring you peace.
I recently moved and I’ve had to make a lot of phone calls to get some things organized. I noticed that while I was getting everything in order, that I hesitated to make the telephone calls. I looked to see if I could contact people online instead of making the actually physical phone calls. When I had to initiate my internet, I decided to active online. When I had difficulties, I even chatted with a representative because I felt it would be quicker and not eat up my cell phone minutes. At the same time, I really did not want to be on the telephone.
I didn’t find anything to be a problem until I noted that I had some things left to do, and everything on the list was what needed actual telephone calls. I had avoided making the calls. I was disconnected. This was something we spoke about in my media ministry course last semester. Our society has gotten so accustomed to communicating online and with technology that there is this great lack of people being connected with people. We even send a text message or chat on Facebook with people who are in the same room.
I am not against technology. I love technology. However, I think that we need to make sure that we do not spend so much time with technology that we try so hard to not connect with people in person and on the telephone. Sometimes people need to know that a real person cares about them, that another actual human being was thinking about them enough to take the time to call or to stop by for a visit.
I see a lot of images on Facebook depicting a cell phone screen shot showing God calling or sending a text message. The image is accompanied with the question on whether a person would answer and respond or not. I like that image because it makes a statement about society– that we are very much into technology– but that God meets us where we are at in life. At the same time, I believe He also would stop by and visit. He would sit with you and spend the afternoon together. He would call and send a text message. God wants to be connected to you. In John 15, Jesus speaks about the need for the disciples to stay connected to the vine. If the branches are unattached, they will not bear fruit.
Today you might be busy, overwhelmed with a list of things to do that surely will take you most of the day. You may not think you have the time to visit or call anyone. Perhaps you are tired and simply don’t feel like taking the initiative. I challenge you to make some time, visit or call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile, and simply enjoy their company. You may need the call more than they do. Also, spend time with God. Remember the branch cannot do much when unattached to the vine. He’s always available!
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12:9-10 [NLT]
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 [NASB]
Life is filled with changes. We experience change every day. Sometimes change can be good and sometimes it is not so well received. I know when it is unexpected, change can make one feel like the ground is shaking beneath them. It can be overwhelming and very unsettling.
Those who have graduated and proceeded forward with the journey through adulthood may be quite familiar with the class reunions. For some people, these meetings are grueling and they choose to stay away so that no one can detect their thinning hair or expanding waistline. Then there are others who want to go show everyone all that they have accomplished in the past.
This past week I had the opportunity to see someone who I have not seen in many years. Before the meeting, I honestly wondered if the person had changed at all. I have changed a lot these past years. To my surprise, the person did not change one bit. It was as if nothing at all happened in all those years.
After the meeting, I started thinking about how I have changed over the years. I also thought about the many new things I am embarking on at the present moment. Change can be scary. At times there is this feeling of uncertainty because of the unfamiliar ground we tread upon. Change can also hurt because quite possibly it is not what we expected or what we desired. Change can be so great and welcomed like the birth of newborn child. Change can also be something we wish we could refuse because we feel let down or failed.
This got me thinking about God and how He never changes. Our God is the same yesterday and today, and He will be the same tomorrow. I understand with all the changes that are happening around me and in my life, that He is always there through it all. Through each obstacle, He carries me through– He is always faithful. Through all the wrong turns, He is there to show me grace– He is always forgiving. Through every heartbreak, He is right by my side to comfort me– His love is never-ending.
Perhaps life is unfolding in a way you never imagined. Perhaps the road doesn’t look as smooth as it once did. There is no certainty of what can be expected for tomorrow. Nonetheless, I know one thing. I know that God will be there. He always is. And so, I accept whatever changes come my way, because in the end, I know He will be by my side.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8 [NASB]