The morning walk was painful today. As we traveled our usual path, we came upon a home that had their door wide open. When we got close, the owner’s dog came flying out of the doorway. My dogs pulled on the double leash in such a way that my previously injured hand had pain shoot through. This caused me to scream so loud, I’m sure some of my neighbor’s awoke. It was so loud, it frightened the approaching dog, who turned tail and ran home. If I myself wasn’t screaming, I would have likely jumped in the air hearing such a loud scream.
I was frustrated, not only because my hand and wrist were once again feeling serious pain, but also because I had previous discussions with the home owner. The owner said, “My dog won’t do anything bad.” I guess the owner means their dog won’t bite my dogs. Nonetheless, dogs are unpredictable when approaching other dogs and people. There is never a guarantee. Just like humans, not all dogs like every dog they meet. As well, the owner was only thinking of themselves and their dogs. What about my dogs? Max was very anxious for the rest of the walk. What about my hand?!? It still is bothering me as I type. We rarely see the other side of things.
Sadly, we are all self-centered. We look out for ourselves. We never consider how our actions could affect others. When we make choices, we make choices considering what is best for us. Today, remember that we are commanded to look out for the best interests of others. We are supposed to want the best for our brothers and sisters. Be intentional with your focus today. Ask how your actions will affect those around you. Seek out what is best for those God brings along your path. Watch how God moves when you intentionally focus on the best interest of others.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”. – Philippians 2:4 [NLT]
When someone does something wrong to you, there is usually this desire for justice and even revenge. Over the years I have heard many stories about how people have gotten even with others who did something bad to them. We all have this need for retribution but God doesn’t want us to “get even” with people by repaying them with evil.
Too many people take the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” concept the wrong way. God is a God of justice and He will judge. He is fair. He is right. He is faithful. Our retaliation, our revenge attempts only bring us a moment of temporary satisfaction for getting someone back. But does it really do something good for us? Does it really make us feel better?
God wants us to pay people back with a blessing. Has someone done something mean to you? Has someone hurt you? Has someone stolen from you? Has someone spoken badly about you? Pray for them. Pay them back with a blessing. Don’t stoop down a level for retribution. Trust God will handle it all. Be a blessing.
“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.” – 1 Peter 3:9 [NLT]
Saul was awaiting the arrival of Samuel so that he could consult with the Lord for battle. Samuel was late in arriving so Saul decided to take things into his own hands. His men were starting to get antsy so he felt he needed to do something. Instead of waiting for Samuel to present to the Lord the burnt offering, Saul offered it up. This was not something he was supposed to do – he disobeyed the Lord’s commands.
When Samuel arrived later, he asked what Saul had done. Saul painted a portrait of some of his men leaving and said he felt “compelled” to offer the burnt offering. Compelled means “forced.” He broke the Lord’s command (disobedience) so as to present a sacrifice to seek the Lord’s favor. Saul did not understand that God desires obedience over sacrifice. We should do both; however, if you are not obeying then is your heart really in the sacrifice?
Obedience is not a word we enjoy. It requires that we follow commands. There are some commands that are to protect us, to help us, etc. There are some commands that we are given to guide us in treating the Lord God as holy. Today is a good day to remember that God is holy. We serve a holy God. Our God desires obedience before sacrifice.
“He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, ‘Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.’ And Saul offered up the burnt offering.” – 1 Samuel 13:8-9 [NLT]
When I took Max for a walk, I noticed a cicada sitting on the sidewalk. I saw Max looking in the direction of the cicada and told him to let it alone. Max decided instead to look more closely at the cicada. The cicada made the familiar noise it is known for and Max jumped in the air in fear.
Max did not listen to me though I told him not to look further. I told him it was bad. He did not listen. Instead, he continued to look at the cicada and got even closer to it, allowing it to touch and frighten him. This reminded me of how we find ourselves not listening to God’s Word and the Spirit’s promptings, and instead we decide to continue down a path we were not supposed to travel. We do not realize the harm until we are up against the cicada.
Today consider what God is saying to you and trust Him when He is telling you not to do something. God is not watching to stop us from having joy and happiness in life. He wants us to have joy and happiness and so much more. He is not trying to prohibit us but to enable us.
“God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” – Psalm 18:30 [NLT]
We all have issues with understanding the sacrifice of Isaac that was asked of God. We cannot imagine what was going through Abraham’s mind or how we would react in such a situation. Many of us cannot fathom the command.
I never realized the length that Abraham had to go to comply with the command of God to sacrifice his son. There is much focus on the command itself and the end result; however, there are about fifty miles equal probably to about 3 days of travel that separated the area where the command was given and the actual place of sacrifice. This means that Abraham continued to press forward on a journey that lasted miles and miles—days of travel time.
Do you have fifty miles of faith? God doesn’t always call us to simply do something right where we are at, something that is simply said and done. Sometimes we are called to journey fifty miles to trust that He will provide and that He has a great plan. Are you ready for the fifty miles?
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” – 1 Peter 1:7 [NLT]
“Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’” – Mark 6:36-37 [NIV]
As I was reading the Book of Mark last night, it was very confrontational. The disciples were with Jesus and a large crowd of people. It’s estimated that there were five thousand men so there were most likely at least ten thousand people if counting women and children. It was getting about the time to eat and the disciples suggested that the large crowd get sent away so they could find themselves some food. In all fairness, the disciples were considering this because they wanted the people to have the time to get food. But Jesus saw things differently because God sees a much bigger picture. While the disciples saw the large crowd and limited food and thought logically that the people would need to leave and hunt for food, Jesus saw what was lacking and did what only He could do to fill the need.
Sometimes we like to send people away because we don’t want to help. Helping might require a sacrifice and time we aren’t willing to lose. Sometimes we see what we are lacking and immediately want to turn in the other direction. But Jesus said to the disciples “YOU give them something to eat” and sometimes He tells us that WE are to do something—not send people away in need, figuring they will find what they need elsewhere.
Today, if God is calling you to do something—do it. Trust He will make the way. Trust He has a bigger picture. You never know what He may do through you unless you allow Him to use you like only He can.
Sample excerpt: “The hardest item to overcome when thinking about having faith is fear. Fear is certainly difficult to cope with at times. Fear and worry can be scary. When we are afraid, it changes how we cope with everything else in life. It is vital to understand that our God is big enough. It’s also important to understand that God gives us everything we need in life to get through each obstacle. We need to have our ears and eyes open to see and to hear. We must have faith that He has it covered, because whether we admit it or not, He has it covered.”
“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’”– Matthew 2:13-15 [NIV]
Joseph was told to “Get up” in 2:13 and we read a verse later, “So he got up.” We don’t read of excuses. We don’t read of Joseph doing anything else other than obeying the word of God. Again in verse 20, he is told to “Get up.” Once again in verse 21, it says, “He got up.” Again there is no discussion about Joseph making excuses or doing anything else other than obeying the word of God.
Joseph is a great example of a man who walked in faithful obedience. After a visit from an angel, he married Mary despite considering the possibility of sending her away quietly because of her pregnancy. Now we see him not once, but twice, relocating at the snap of a finger.
Is God calling you to “Get up”? Is God pointing you in a particular direction? If so, is your response to follow? Are you sitting and constructing a list of excuses and other alternatives? Are you dragging your feet? Today, consider what God is calling you to do right now. It might not be something simple or something welcomed—but perhaps there’s something God is working out within His big picture of life that we cannot grasp.
When reading Exodus 3-4, we find God calling Moses. Most people can remember the burning bush. Like all of us, God created Moses for a purpose. Moses was to lead God’s chosen people out of Egypt. In 3:10, after Moses answers God with “Here I am” and hears of God’s concern for His people and their suffering, and the promise of rescue and “a land flowing with milk and honey,” God tells Moses , “So now, go.” Yet, Moses does not go. There is excuse after excuse given. Who am I? What is Your name? What if they don’t believe me? I cannot speak so well. In 4:12, again God says, “Now go” and He promises to help Moses. Still, Moses says, “Please send someone else” (v. 13).
It is interesting to see the exchange between God and Moses. When we see dozens of verses later that God is still trying to get Moses to go do what He asked, it is safe to say that we all have been in that same position. We all have a pile of excuses that we have given God. It could be something like, “Well I didn’t have enough time to read my Bible today” or “I was too tired to pray last night before bed.” Maybe it sounds something like this: “You want me to go back to school but I’m making good money at the job I have now.” Perhaps it is “I have too much on my plate now. There is no way I can serve the church.” There are likely millions of excuses I could list here. We all make them.
When Moses finally moves forward as God commanded, it is easily seen that God is with him. Everything God said is true. God is faithful. Moses gave excuses to God on being used as a vessel for God’s glory to accomplish God’s plan. We give the same excuses. But remember, it is God’s plan. He is faithful. If He has given you something to do, He has given you everything you need to get it done. His plans will not be thwarted. As you go through your day today, if you feel God leading you, don’t give an excuse. Show up for duty. When you show up for duty, you find that He already has done the hard part.