Since my travel route has changed a few months ago, I needed a new shortcut. I tried out this shortcut many people are probably familiar with; however, I’m not good with shortcuts. A few times I missed the right turn and my shortcut turned into a longcut. After a few misses, I focused on my surroundings to find something that would help me remember where to turn. It was then I saw the two lions.
When I saw the two lions, I was in the middle of a worship session, singing along with the radio to “Lion and the Lamb” by Big Daddy Weave as I navigated the route. I considered the Lion as I saw the lions. Then I thought of a series we were doing about chasing a lion—meaning chasing the dream God has placed in our hearts, just as Benaiah chased a lion into a pit. Two lions. The Lion of Judah and the dream He has for you.
Nearly every day this week, I have passed those two lions at least twice a day. I continued to think about the Lion and the path He placed before me, the dream He placed in my heart. I considered the intensity I chase Jesus and the intensity I chase where He leads. We are called to be fierce. We are called to jump into pits. We are called to chase after God. He’s not running from us. He’s not hiding. The chase is all about the heart. It’s all about wanting nothing more than Him. It’s about God being your everything. If He’s your everything, you run toward Him will intensity. You run with full force. You run uninhibited. You run focused. You run, not looking back. Today, consider what or who you are chasing. If you are pursing God, are you doing so with passion, with intensity?
“It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.” – Hebrews 11:27 [NLT]
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1 [NIV]
During one of our evening walks, Marci started to bark like crazy. She saw something dark moving at a nearby house. She went into barking dog mode and it was hard to get her to calm down. Funny enough, she was barking at a black plastic trash bag that was blowing because of the great winds passing through the area. It did not matter how many times I tried to tell her it was fine, she continued fixated on what she thought was an attack.
I see a lot of “little dogs” going crazy at things observed—many times misconceptions, many times judgmentally rooted. The “little dogs” are those people in a church who point out what everyone is doing wrong. A big spoon of legalism is dished out. Oftentimes this is seen between people who have grown up in the church. A person from one denomination, raised with certain traditions, barks at someone else who has been taught that other traditions were more important, or that their traditions are the “right way to do things.” Possibly the barking dog syndrome is a result of someone becoming puffed up.
The Bible talks a lot about unity of the Body. The reason so much time is spent on this topic is because the devil will use anything to try to plant and promote division. The church can often get off course when Jesus is not the most important focus. Whether we are at church, at home, at work, at school—wherever we are at—Jesus should be the main thing. As well, if Jesus is the main thing, we should do whatever we can to promote the unity of the Body. This means the little dog syndrome should stop. Instead, let us love God and love others. May we build up instead of tearing down. The bag in the wind is not something on which to fixate.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3 [NIV]
When there was a rebellion against Moses, the response was that the Lord would show them who belonged to Him. Moses didn’t brag about the position God had given him. He didn’t take any personal jabs at Korah. His response was all about God. He told them it was “against the Lord” that they gathered, and reminded them that God separated them for His service. He kept it all about God.
Too often we take things too personal. When we allow things to be about ourselves instead of the focus being on God, we can get ourselves caught in a personal trap, a trap that focuses on self. It is easy for pride to take up residence. It is important to remember that each of us is valuable to God and each of us has a different role in the Kingdom. Everyone is important but everyone is to shine for God—everyone is to bring glory to Him. The problem is when the focus is taken from God and placed on a person.
Let us remember that it is a blessing to have the opportunity to serve the Lord. It is a blessing that He allows us to be used for His Kingdom. May we respond with humility and with gratitude. May we keep it all about God.
“Then he said to Korah and his followers, ‘Tomorrow morning the LORD will show us who belongs to him and who is holy. The LORD will allow only those whom he selects to enter his own presence.’” – Numbers 16:5 [NLT]
We had a great time at the Joyce Meyer Conference but good things much eventually end. We went into the parking lot and we were stuck. It took an hour to just leave the parking lot. With all that time to fill, my sister and were singing some worship songs. But we also decided to remove her worn steering wheel cover. I tried to pull it and it would not budge. My sister helped. With the two of us, it still would not pop off of the steering wheel. Finally I let out a war cry, which I’ll admit sounded like a sad dog growl. Just at that moment there was a group of people passing by and a fellow heard my sad sound. He said, “Don’t worry. I haven’t seen a thing. No one has seen it happen” and kept walking.
I’ll admit I got a bit flushed with embarrassment but then I was reminded of the need for transparency and realness in this world. We spend so much time trying to pretend we don’t make certain noises, we don’t do particular things, we don’t watch “those shows,” we don’t listen to “that music.” We spend a lot of time trying to pretend we are “good Christians” or “good people” or “happy” or that we have it all together.
Guess what?!? I make weird screaming sounds as I remove steering wheel covers. Sometimes I think bad things. Sometimes I don’t make the best choice because I don’t listen and I want what I want. Sometimes I get angry at other drivers. Sometimes I spill coffee on my shirt and don’t change my shirt because it blends in. Stop trying to appear perfect. Stop trying to appear that you have everything together. God sees you when no one else can see you and God can see your heart. Don’t worry about what others think about you or how you appear—ask God to give you eyes for Him. Ask God to help you focus on Him and not on the world. Through your transparency and your desire to please God and God alone, there will be a testimony to others. It will be a much better story than anything you could pretend to tell. It will be the truth and it will point to the Truth.
“Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.” – Luke 16:15 [NLT]
When a danger is called “huge” it should not be taken lightly. In this case, the people were being warned of the danger of associating with a country that worshiped false gods. The concern was that by living closely with these people, the people of Israel would begin to accept some of the practices and culture that was against the Word of God.
Jesus ate with sinners. He spent time with many people who were not pure. However as we read the Gospel, it is clear that Jesus did not spend all of His time with these people. He spent a lot of time with His Father in prayer. He spent a lot of time teaching and preaching as He traveled along with His disciples. He was so engrossed with His mission and He spent much time with the Word as was demonstrated during His time in the wilderness and while teaching. He often recited Scripture. It was written on His heart. It was at the core of His being.
If we do not go out in the world to share the Gospel, then the Gospel won’t get shared. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world to stay safe from temptation. Even in isolation, you will be tempted. Temptation is everywhere. But you can be cautious and keep yourself from spending too much time around “huge danger.” Paul wrote about focusing on what is worthy of praise. You can opt to take in a lot of negative and find out that what you take in will eventually come out. Or you can opt to focus on Him and the right, the pure, the lovely and find that it begins to pour from you.
“Don’t make any deals with them or their gods. They are not to stay in the same country with you lest they get you to sin by worshiping their gods. Beware. That’s a huge danger.”
– Exodus 23:32-33 [MSG]
I love to cook. When I have the time, I will search for new recipes and walk in uncharted territory. I love to pull out old recipes that are favorites to enjoy again. Sometimes I will pull from my Pennsylvania Dutch roots. Whenever I am cooking, utensils are needed—and for some things I have a special utensil used for a particular usage. I will look deep in the utensil drawer to grab that one, no matter how long it takes to find it. To me, it is the only one that can do the particular job.
In 2 Timothy we read about keeping ourselves pure. Today’s verse speaks of a “special utensil for honorable use.” We might think about the special utensils we have in our kitchens; however, we also are special utensils. Each one of us was created by God and chosen for honorable use. He has a great plan and purpose for YOUR life.
You will be a special utensil for God. You need only “keep yourself pure.” Focus on Him. Focus on His Word. Focus on what is good, pure, holy—and watch how God uses you for His glory. This is a great promise. YOU will be a SPECIAL UTENSIL for HONORABLE USE. Yes, you!
“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 2:21 [NLT]