Friday, May 20, 2022

Empty Bag

"Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine."  (1 Samuel 17:40)

I am an organizer. I'd like to prepare in advance, arrive early and be ready. It's the administrator in me.

David, a young man, was sent on an errand to bring lunch to his brothers at the front line of a battle. This young man had no fear and it seemed like no concern about delivering food to the frontline.

I wonder how I would have prepared. Perhaps I would have packed my own lunch just in case I was delayed. Take plenty of water and have my camo gear on!

David is on a mission from the Lord, and he doesn't even know it. His lunch delivery will be intercepted, and David will be used by God to bring victory to Israel and glory to the Lord!

Preparation and planning is a great quality to have nevertheless when God is doing something in us and through us we must remember he will accomplish what he started. He will do it with our empty hands and everything at his disposal.

David had a lunchbox not a sword.

God will accomplish what he wants even if it seems we are unprepared. King Saul tried to help him and offered his armor. But the armor was too big. David rejected the armor.

David was a young worshipper and a psalmist. We know he was anointed by God because Saul himself called for him when he was tormented by an evil spirit, and the evil spirit left.

He honored God and acknowledged God’s authority as he spoke to the Philistines. “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:45-47)

He was a humble shepherd. He verbally recited his resume to King Saul. “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”          (1 Samuel 17:34b-37a)

So, when thrusted into life’s difficulties, why worry? I don’t have to be concerned whether I have planned all things out. Truly I never can.

“Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:40)

David’s reliance on the Lord is noted here. His pouch, the shepherd's bag, was empty. He really was on a lunch delivery run. Nevertheless, he was ready to be used by the Lord.

I guess it was no strange thing for David to go to the brook and grab a few stones and put them in his bag. David picks up 5 stones. But, all he needed was one.

Whatever situation we are in or the one we might face tomorrow, we must in humility acknowledge God in all our ways. He makes the way for us.

For David the enemy was conquered with a stone from the brook. For us it may look a little different.

The battle for us may be won if we keep our tongue in check.

The enemy may be overcome as we quietly pray through our pain and tears. God brings the victory.

Like David the worshiper, the sacrifice of praise brings breakthrough. Though sorrow may last for the night joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) And sometimes God will use a stone.

God will accomplish victory for himself. We must be willing vessels. He will use frogs, locusts, turn the sky dark, part bodies of water, bring down walls as we shout in praise, 'cause the sun to turn back and provide daylight, and on and on.

We have nothing to fear. Indeed, my God owns the whole earth. (Psalm 24:1) If he wants to use a stone from the river to bring victory for himself, let his name be praised!

Our armor consists of prayer and submission. The victory is his and he provides the weaponry.

Listen, can you hear the river bubbling. Incline your ear as David splashes through the water. No fear. He is listening to the Lord’s instruction. His sandals are wet, his legs are sturdy. He bends down to pick up 5 stones. Perhaps from the distance he can still hear the taunting from the enemy.  He is determined. He takes one stone at a time and places them in his shepherd’s empty bag. He walks away from the brook with his garment wet. He is focused. He marches right back to the front line. His confidence was not in the size of the stone or how many stones his bag could hold. His trust was not in his skill. His faith was in the Lord!

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.” (1 Samuel 17:45-46a)

God bless you!~Liz  

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Deep calls to Deep

“Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping?
Why don’t you eat? Why are
you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8)

A woman in distress. Her longing cannot be met with physical things. Food won’t satisfy; her brokenness comes from a place that only God can mend, and it’s for his glory.

Elkanah meant well. Her husband tried to bring comfort to his wife. She wanted a child. This was something the Lord had to do to bring glory to himself.

Her longing was deep. Indeed, deep calling out to deep.

“The deep of man’s need calleth unto the deep of God’s fulness; and the deep of God’s fulness calleth unto the deep of man’s need. Between our emptiness and His all-sufficiency there is a great gulf. . . . Deep calleth unto deep. The deep mercy of God needs our emptiness, into which it might pour itself. . . . Nothing can fully meet the depth of our need but the depth of His Almighty fulness” (SMITH, JAMES AND LEE, ROBERT, HANDFULS ON PURPOSE FOR CHRISTIAN WORKERS AND BIBLE STUDENTS, EERDMANS, 1971, VOL. 8, P. 11.)

God’s desires cannot be satisfied with earthly or material stuff. It can’t be satisfied with emotions, a temporary “joy-fix”. Other people can't appease the emptiness that only God can satiate. It must be birth from God for God's purposes and use. Elkanah’s questions missed the vast emptiness that God was trying to satisfy.

Are you waiting on God? Then wait. Man cannot fulfill the purpose that God his birthing within us. God does all things well in his perfect timing. Yes we must continue to cry out to him for he put the desire within us and he alone well satisfy it.

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:11)

Hannah waited and God delivered. She gave birth to Samuel who became a prophet unto God. Samuel anointed King Saul and King David; two men, one after the flesh and the other after God’s heart. King David in all his frailty, mistakes and sin was used by God mightily. He is in the lineage of Jesus Christ the only begotten son of the Father who brought salvation to all mankind.

If you wonder why the struggle is big, that’s because what we do not see is even bigger.

Father glorify yourself in us. We wait on You!

God Bless You!~Liz

Saturday, February 26, 2022

"When you have money no one is ever really your friend" - Death on the Nile

Quote from "Death on the Nile."

”When you have money no one is ever really your friend.”

In today's world money is a god. It has always been a god.

If God owns everything, can I be trusted? Will my greedy heart go after all that God owns? Can my love for him be skewed by what I can get from him?

“The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1)

Many have sought God for what they can get from him. What's in it for me? 

What if the life-saving gift that he is offering is rejected? What if what we're looking for is achieved as we humble ourselves?

Everyone desires peace, love and joy. We want to discover and attain all that life has to offer. Unfortunately, in our search, if left to our own devices, we may obtain what we want and miss what we need.
"What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?" (Matthew 16:26)

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” (1 John 2:16 NLT)

God the Father in his great love for us sent his son Jesus to earth that we indeed may live life to its fullest. Jesus came to give us life but the war that was waged continues to operate. It steals, kills and destroys everything around us. (John 10:10)

If God owns everything, can I be trusted? Will my greedy heart go after all that God owns? Can my love for him be skewed by what I can get from him? Will I miss the bigger picture?

The Lord who formed me, (Psalm 139) and knows me well is interested in lavishing me with his love! Yes, even his resources for life. 

Can I really be called God’s friend?

God has looked upon me. He knows my brokenness and need. He knows that I can easily be tricked into a downward spiral of depravity.

So, what does the Creator of Heaven, who owns everything do? He sends his Son Jesus to earth. He takes a world of chaos and turns it right side up.

He reminds me of the new life he offered Nicodemus. It’s available for me too! “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:7-8)

Will the God who owns everything trust me? Jeremiah reminds us that our hearts are desperately sick. Who can know this heart and fix it? (Jeremiah 17:9) Only the Lord!

Hollywood says, ”When you have money no one is ever really your friend.”

Yet, God has called me his friend and he owns everything!

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

In humility and need. I surrendered to the Lord for new life and forgiveness of sin. What did I get in return? New life! Eternal life and sins washed away.

What does the Creator of the world say about me? 

 As his son walked on earth, this is the message to his followers, to his disciples, to his children. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:13-15)

He calls me friend. He reveals the Father’s plan to me.

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’” (Jeremiah 33:2-3)

All who call upon my name shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

It seems no matter where I search in his Book, there is a call for me to come to him. The Owner and Creator of everything wants me! He remembers that I am but dust and bids me to come.

He desires to lavish me with his great love! (1 John 3:1) Salvation is the gift for the far off, the broken, the greedy, the swindler, idolater, rebellious, the confused, the cheater and the cheated, the sinner who thinks there is no hope.  We are not beyond his reach.  He is the Restorer to the broken and crushed in spirit.

He has come to give us life and everything we need in this world and beyond. Will you trust him today?

The gift is free! “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

God owns everything and wants me and you! Salvation establishes our relationship with the Creator.  He calls us friends and loves us!

He can't stop thinking about us and died for the re-establishment of our relation with the Father.  Noah was given the olive branch, delivered by a bird.  We have been given the new life delivered by the Son!

God bless you!~ Liz

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Quick Decisions

 I recently placed an online order. This is a very common activity for me. I'm savvy and know how to look for a good deal.

With the cold weather and the wintry mix that we've been getting I placed an order for some rock salt. I want to be prepared. My eyes caught a good deal on some ice melt so I proceeded to order this bucket that would carry me through the rest of the winter.

What keeps me and holds me together as I live my life? I am a believer. What does that mean? I have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. I trust Jesus. He came to save my life. I believe that he died on the cross and on the third day rose again. When he left the earth, he sent what he promised, the Holy Spirit, which guides me daily.

And she lived happily ever after.

There are forces, a spiritual war that believers are caught in. My life is redeemed and belongs to the Lord. Yet there are entities trying to diminish my effectiveness.

Everything is not what it seems to be! Read the fine print!

The warning - stay on the alert! I'm an excellent shopper yet I got caught off guard in my recent purchase.

I’m savvy, I was confident.  As I shop online I often ask the Lord to show me what I need because often my shopping cart is filled with what I want.  That is a discipline that I continue to learn daily.

As a believer I must remain vigilant.  It's more than an online shopping experience. The repercussions are costly.

Everything must be filtered through the Word of God.  My emotions may be easily fooled.  The heart must be examined by the Lord.   A constant dialogue with the Holy Spirit must be my daily pursuit.  My heart might try to trick me. My emotions can be easily fooled. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Everything must be tested.

The apostle Paul spoke to the Corinthians and warned them! The enemy of our soul is a great deceiver. He lies, he deceives, he tricks, and if we’re not careful his influence can lead us astray.

Many have been led astray by false teachers and doctrine. (2 Corinthians 11) This is not a pit that the people of old fell in. This hole exists and consumes people today.

It's beautifully decorated. The road is wide, lined with trees.  If you listen carefully, you might hear the conversation. It is not the birds chirping and praising the Lord early in the morning. The rustle of the tree leaves speak of danger.

It's the same conversation that Adam and Eve had with the serpent. A little twist here and a little change of language and mankind was deceived and fell.  Disobedience left a terrible imprint.

The Bible says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

God’s Word reminds us, that he who delights in the Lord, “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 3)

Pick up the sword! It is the Word of God. Pray and ask the Spirit of God to give direction. He can open our eyes to really see and cause our ears to hear correctly. Pride can come in and begin to tell us that we are secure. But we must consult with our heavenly Father. Fight to remain!

My online order status said it would take a little longer for delivery, so I cancelled the order. 

A few days later I received a package in my mailbox. I don't have a big mailbox.  The item was wrapped in plastic. I looked at the package and I was baffled.  I had no recent orders. I began the unwrapping process.  I'm still unsure. What could this possibly be? As I removed all the packaging, inside this plastic bag was an item the size of a handball.

Lo and behold, there was a tiny little mini bucket of rock salt. Now if you are as confused as I was  - now we can laugh! The item that I ordered (in my savvy shopping excursion) was not a big bucket of rock salt. The small print under the item description read that this was a miniature rock salt bucket to be used as a Christmas tree ornament! It’s January!!

Oh, the lesson isn't finished. This tiny replica cost me $23. Praise the Lord I got a refund!

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

It can happen that quickly. Deception, trickery, accusation, pride, a world wind of confusion, anger, misrepresentation, lying, stealing, a whisper laced in gossip – be on the alert!  There is a battle waging!

I'm not as savvy as I thought I was.

I'm thankful that as a believer I have a great Counselor to give me advice and direction. He teaches me about what I need, not what I want.

Lord, I am your child. Lead me and I will follow.

The Lord does not use fine print. He makes it very clear to all who will listen. He loves us.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The quickest decision we can make that leads to life is to say yes to Jesus! That's NO DECEPTION - it is life!

God bless you!~Liz

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Witness Has A Ripple Effect

Ever wonder who's listening to you? When was the last time the Lord sent you to minister the gospel to

someone? Did you accomplish the mission?

In the book of Acts chapter 8, Phillip is sent to an Ethiopian eunuch with a message.

It takes place right after the apostles are scattered shortly after the death of Stephen. Phillip heads to Samaria and there he ministers the gospel. People are delivered from evil spirits and the sick are healed! Then the Holy Spirit instructs him to go to Gaza, another town in Samaria.

The story of the eunuch unfolds. We know that the eunuch is reading the book of Isaiah and Phillip begins to share the meaning of this prophetic writing. As they are driving in the chariot the Ethiopian eunuch sees a body of water and asks to be baptized.

The part of the story that I want to focus on today is the fact that this Ethiopian man was not alone. He gave orders to stop his chariot so that he may be baptized. (Acts 8:38)  

My question.  Was there a ripple effect to Phillip's act of faith and obedience?  The scriptures do not mention anyone else being baptized or for that matter anyone else engaging in conversation with Phillip. Nevertheless there they were listening to the God changing message of the Gospel.

Often when we have to deliver a message the Lord gives us, our view is so narrow. The message transforms lives!  Our obedience in delivering the message can cause multiple lives and families to be changed.  

Is it possible that others are listening? When we bring the message in the public square -  the public is listening.  It's no longer just the one person we are speaking with.  

The word of God is so powerful, and God’s love is so immense that he wants everyone to be saved. God's desire is a none would perish but that everyone would come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Sarah’s eavesdropping caused her to laugh when the angel of the Lord spoke to Abraham. At first she did not believe but indeed God’s word came to pass.

The witness has a ripple effect! The next time God dispatches us on a mission let’s remember it's more than what we see. We are messengers that God is using to bring the world to himself. What a privilege to be used by him!

"He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15)

May the Spirit of the Lord use you to expand his Kingdom; to bring many from darkness to light! (1 Peter 2:9)

God bless you!~Liz

Empty Bag

"Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with hi...