Lay Down Your Expectations

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us.” – Exodus 32:1

400 years. That’s how long the Israelites waited for God to deliver them from slavery. But after they left Egypt, God didn’t take them directly to Canaan. Instead, they camped at the base of a mountain while God instructed Moses. 

But after 40 days, the Israelites grew frustrated. Their delayed expectations led to poor decisions: they rejected God and pursued whatever pleased them. 

If you’ve ever felt frustrated by an uncertain season that lasts longer than you anticipated, you’re not alone. We can become so focused on our disappointments that we forget God is still in control. That’s why it’s important to remember that your waiting is never wasted.

Even though the Israelites couldn’t see it at the time, God wasn’t withholding His promises from them—He was preparing them for it.

So, if you find yourself weary from waiting, do what the Israelites forgot to do: look for evidence of God’s presence, and look back on what He’s already done. God’s timeline may be different than yours, but His faithfulness doesn’t waver. Your waiting might be preparing you for the plans and purposes God has for you. 

The more we trust God, the more freedom we will experience in our lives.

Saul becomes increasingly desperate to get rid of David. He is watching this young man succeed in everything he does and it terrifies him. However, an opportunity arises.

Saul’s daughter Michal loves David. And it’s clear that David has feelings for her as well. Saul plans to use David’s feelings against him and kill him in the process.

In this ancient context there was a bride-price associated with marriage. This was a sort of fee the man would pay to the woman’s family in order to marry her, like a reverse dowry. Furthermore, the price was usually set by the status of the woman’s family. This is why David feels Michal is out of reach for him since he is “only a poor man and little known.”

This is where Saul originates his plan. Instead of a monetary gift, he asks David to kill one hundred Philistines for him. To a normal man, this would have certainly meant death. But the Lord was with David, and he didn’t only fulfill Saul’s tall order – he doubled it, killing two hundred Philistines!

Saul saw David’s victory and gave Michal to him as promised. The opportunity he thought would solve his problem only worked to add to his fears.

As servants of God we are undoubtedly going to face trials. People are going to want to watch us fall and cause us to get angry at God on the way down. However, we serve the same God as David.

I can’t tell you that you will be protected from everything because life doesn’t work like that (and growth does not come that way). What I can do is encourage you to live like David.

David set out against the Philistines without an ounce of doubt that he would be successful. It never crossed his mind that if God told him to do something, it might not be possible. How incredible could our journeys be if we believe in the same way?

What if we took God at His word and acted before we had all the details or covered all the bases? What would our lives look like if they were completely directed by the grace and power of God?

Trust God’s Promises

I can honestly say that one of the hardest things to learn in life is to trust. I would even dare to say that the more we know people, the more we tend not to trust. However, if we were to analyze the core of the problem, it does not have to do with the act of trusting in itself. The real issue has to do with the one in whom confidence is placed. When we trust, we rely on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. 

Trusting requires only one action: to stand still and do nothing but wait for the one in whom we placed our confidence to operate. It is so simple and yet so difficult! The only thing we have to do is wait and allow the person we have trusted to do what they have said they will do, but our instinct is to try to take the matter into our own hands. Nevertheless, when we are facing battles we know that we do not have the power to do what is needed. The only thing we can do is to trust and wait for the One who does have the strength required, to step in and perform.

The amazing story we have been focusing on in these few days shows us a crucial lesson we must learn. God told Joshua not to be afraid because not one of them (the enemies) were going to be able to withstand him (Joshua). God made a promise, and Joshua believed and trusted in God’s Word. The result: the Lord fought for Israel! Joshua did not have the ability nor the strength to win this battle. The first and only thing Joshua could do was to trust God. God does not forsake those who seek Him.

In the Bible, we have thousands of promises that we can grasp. When the enemy surrounds your life, threatens to destroy you, and you cannot act, the first thing that you should do is set your mind on God’s promises! Trust in God’s power to deliver you from evil. It is your choice whether to focus on your ability or on God’s. All of life is a chance to learn to trust Him more, to get to know Him, to really know Him.

All of life is a chance to trust Him more. Trust in His promises, in His ability, strength, power, and character. God does not forsake those who seek Him.

Cathey Lynn

Expectations

What do you expect to happen when you pray? Do you expect God to answer? Do you expect to get exactly what you asked for? Or if you’re brutally honest, do you expect nothing much to happen? Do you approach prayer more like a wishing well—it’d be cool if you got your wish, but you know you probably just wasted a penny? 

I think this is an unfortunate trap we can fall into when it comes to prayer. If you go through a rough season, or a prayer that didn’t go your way, or maybe you’ve been trying to hear from God for a while, and He just doesn’t seem to be answering, it can sometimes shake our expectations of what God might do. But, God is always working in our lives, always answering prayer—even if it’s not in the way or the timing we would like. He is alive and active in our lives. We just need to re-frame what we expect God to do.

If I can be really transparent with you, I fall into seasons where I stop seeing God at work in my life. It feels like He’s not hearing me. It seems like all my prayers come back with a big “no”—or at least a “not right now”. It gets discouraging, but eventually I snap out of it and start praying, “God, show me what You’re doing in my life right now.” I’ll then commit to writing down everything I see God doing—every time I notice Him at work in my life. Instantly, these lists fill up. I find myself filling pages of a journal with lots of little things—and sometimes big things—that I see God doing. 

Did God suddenly kick His activity into high gear because I prayed? No. He’s been working like this the whole time. The problem was me and my expectations. I either expected Him to do exactly what I asked for in the exact timing I wanted it, or I let my faith get shaky, and I honestly didn’t expect Him to do anything. Both responses are a mistake. If you expect God to work in your life you will absolutely see Him working in your life. You just have to keep in mind that He is God and you are not. His actions may not be what you would have wished for, but they will always be with your best interests in mind. 

Write down everything you see God doing or hear Him speaking to you. I’m confident you’ll have more written in just a few days than you ever thought possible.

Compassionate Jesus

Devotional

All of us have been through trials that left us feeling like we’ve been stripped bare. At times our prayers are nothing more than weak whispers of, “I love you.” Jesus doesn’t reject us when the storms of life leave us exhausted. He doesn’t shake his head in disappointment when our eyes of faith won’t focus. Instead, with matchless compassion, he climbs into the boat to be with us.

When you’re in the midst of the storm and can scarcely turn your heart to the Lord, but do so anyway, he sees. With tenderness he rushes to your side, wraps himself around you, and becomes your strength. He creates hope out of hopelessness and stills the storm. With patience he breathes faith into your heart until you can see clearly once again. His love lifts you above the storm in a hurricane of grace. Victory becomes your song.

Jesus, all I can do is sit and wait for you in total dependence. I feel you here, breathing hope and igniting faith. I will not yield to despair. Instead, as you hold me in your arms, this storm will become a foundation for us to dance upon. With every breath, I will praise you.

Why Would God Allow Covid~19



The whole world seems to be asking this question, a fact that actually gives the biggest part of the answer. More on that shortly.

COVID-19, or coronavirus disease 2019, is a respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The effect of the illness can range from mild to severe. First identified in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, the virus quickly spread to other countries. On March 11, 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

Only a liar or a true prophet can claim to know God’s reasons for bringing about COVID-19 or any other specific calamity. That’s partly because God’s purpose extends to every individual involved, from the beginning of time to the end of the world. Understanding every possible factor goes far beyond human ability, but God has within His complete knowledge and control every facet of every situation (Romans 8:28–30). The Bible reveals some insights about God’s use of deadly disasters in general, but we must apply relevant Scripture and the principles of faith in order to gain wisdom about any specific disaster.

As with any mystery, to solve it we must go from the known to the unknown in our search. So we’ll put question of why God would allow COVID-19 into the context of what we already know from the Bible and from personal experience: we know that life is a gift from the Creator (Isaiah 42:5; Acts 17:25). We know that God alone has the right and power to give life and take it away according to His own wisdom and plans (Job 2:10). We know that life is short and includes some degree of suffering, ending in death and judgment for how we lived our lives—only one life with no “do-overs” (Hebrews 9:27). Short or long, our lifespan and date of death are set and controlled by God (Matthew 10:29). Even the longest human lives are “like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow” (Psalm 144:4).

Moses described God’s sovereignty over life and death, and this could have been written about today’s COVID-19 pandemic:
“You turn people back to dust,
saying, ‘Return to dust, you mortals.’
A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered”
(Psalm 90:3–6).

So what is God’s purpose in allowing COVID-19? Without being too dogmatic, we know that, generally speaking, one of God’s purposes in trials is to get the world’s attention off themselves and onto Him, their Creator and Savior—which is the biggest part of the answer to the question at hand. “Why would God allow COVID-19?” Millions are suddenly asking that question right now, believers and non-believers alike, which means that God is on their minds. God desires for all people to earnestly seek Him and find Him, discovering that He is actually close to us (Jeremiah 29:13; Acts 17:26–28). God desires us to sense our own weakness and neediness so that we put our trust in Him (2 Corinthians 12:9). God desires people to fear Him with proper reverence and awe (Proverbs 9:10); to love Him more than their own lives (Matthew 10:37; John 12:25); and to show love and gratitude for the Savior by loving and helping fellow humans, especially the suffering (Romans 15:1; James 2:14–17). God desires to shift our focus and affection away from this temporary, troubled world to our eternal, heavenly home (Colossians 3:1–2; Hebrews 12:1–2).

Times of trouble are a prime motivation for us to store up treasures in heaven rather than cling to treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19–20; Colossians 3:1–3), and to be good stewards of those blessings God gives us in this life (Luke 16:11; Matthew 25:14–30). God wants us to trust Him absolutely, knowing that our times are in His hand (Psalm 31:15).

Ultimately, it is the poor and hurting who seek God, not the rich and comfortable. It is danger and calamity that turn men to their Savior, not health and wealth (see Mark 2:17). It is suffering that wakes us to our true need. C. S. Lewis put it this way: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (The Problem of Pain, HarperCollins, 1996, p. 91).

Life for all people means facing suffering, death, and their eternal destiny. Even if we develop immunity to COVID-19, we can’t escape the fact of trouble in the world. What’s best for us, in any situation, is to seek God: “Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart” (Psalm 119:2).

Countenance

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace. — Galatians 5:22

The evidence of Spirit-filled living will not be in what we say or even in what we do. It will be written on our faces in our countenance of love, joy, and peace.

The first proof is found in love. The Greeks had three primary words that translate into our English vernacular as love. One is a fleshly, sensual, or passionate kind of love. Another is a fondness or affection, a kind of brotherly love. And then there is God’s love, agape. This is a selfless love that seeks only the highest good for others — no matter what they may do to insult, injure, or humiliate us. Agape is the word Paul used here in Galatians 5:22. All the other manifestations of the fruit are simply different expressions of this agape love.

In addition to love, joy will also be evident on the face of a Spirit-controlled believer. This is not the sort of joy that comes from defeating an opponent or escaping some trouble. Instead, it is a joy that only God can give, a joy that persists and endures even when the shadows of life come our way.

And then there is peace, that blessed inner tranquility that the Spirit-filled believer is able to draw on when circumstances are anything but peaceful. It is the very peace Jesus promised when He said,
 

My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.
— John 14:27


For the believer, love, joy, and peace join together to shine on our faces — and give glorious proof of the presence of the One who lives within us.

CODE WORD: COUNTENANCE

When you look in the mirror, what do you see in your face? Ask the Spirit to grow His fruit within you so that it shines on your countenance for all to see.
 

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:7


Lord, on my own, I can’t love everyone, or be joyful in all things, or have peace in the midst of troubles. It is only through Your Spirit within me that I can be filled with Your love, Your joy, Your peace. Live through me to touch someone today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Trust God’s Promises

I can honestly say that one of the hardest things to learn in life is to trust. I would even dare to say that the more we know people, the more we tend not to trust. However, if we were to analyze the core of the problem, it does not have to do with the act of trusting in itself. The real issue has to do with the one in whom confidence is placed. When we trust, we rely on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. 

Trusting requires only one action: to stand still and do nothing but wait for the one in whom we placed our confidence to operate. It is so simple and yet so difficult! The only thing we have to do is wait and allow the person we have trusted to do what they have said they will do, but our instinct is to try to take the matter into our own hands. Nevertheless, when we are facing battles we know that we do not have the power to do what is needed. The only thing we can do is to trust and wait for the One who does have the strength required, to step in and perform.

The amazing story we have been focusing on in these few days shows us a crucial lesson we must learn. God told Joshua not to be afraid because not one of them (the enemies) were going to be able to withstand him (Joshua). God made a promise, and Joshua believed and trusted in God’s Word. The result: the Lord fought for Israel! Joshua did not have the ability nor the strength to win this battle. The first and only thing Joshua could do was to trust God. God does not forsake those who seek Him.

In the Bible, we have thousands of promises that we can grasp. When the enemy surrounds your life, threatens to destroy you, and you cannot act, the first thing that you should do is set your mind on God’s promises! Trust in God’s power to deliver you from evil. It is your choice whether to focus on your ability or on God’s. All of life is a chance to learn to trust Him more, to get to know Him, to really know Him.

All of life is a chance to trust Him more. Trust in His promises, in His ability, strength, power, and character. God does not forsake those who seek Him.

Justice and Freedom

Contrary to how some people feel, the aim of Biblical justice is freedom. Freedom can be defined as a release from illegitimate bondage in order to make the choice to exercise responsibility in actualizing and maximizing all that you were created to be. Biblical justice encourages freedom through affirming accountability, equality and responsibility by linking the spiritual to the social realm. That is, freedom and biblical justice must be founded upon spiritual truth from our vertical relationship with God and expressed in our horizontal relationship with each other. In other words, biblical justice is all about loving God and loving others. 

Jesus links our attitude towards God (the spiritual) with our attitude towards others (the social). Love is not merely a feeling, but rather, an action. Love is compassionately and righteously pursuing the well-being of another. So since loving others is all about pursuing their best interest, then we should seek to free any person from oppression and inequity. We see this in Jesus’ earthly ministry. He preached the kingdom (the spiritual), but He also addressed people’s physical needs (the social).

As we fight for biblical justice and freedom, we need a balanced approach. We must confront sin and spread the gospel. But equally important, we must also stand against injustices, whether they be racial, socio-economical, political or criminal. If the gospel has changed your life, then praise God. If you are doing well and God has blessed you, then praise God. But understand, God doesn’t grant us freedom solely for ourselves. He wants to use us to help others gain their freedom. This is where biblical justice comes into play, and this is why God tells us to fight for the weak, speak up for those without a voice, and defend the rights of the oppressed and marginalized.

Better not to vow than to vow and not pay

Ecclesiastes 5:5


How few men have any adequate idea of the extent of the sin of breaking vows! We should be astounded if we knew all that can be said respecting this iniquity. The immorality of nominal Christians in this particular is simply prodigious; so much so that a signature is of no value, a promise is but idle breath, a vow is but a word spoken in heat and allowed to cool into a lie. The Bible insists upon every vow being performed, even though, in some instances, the purpose of it may be to the hurt of the man who is bound by its terms. “That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt vow and perform.” “I will pay thee my vows, which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.” “Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.” If all the vows which we have spoken could be now fulfilled, how great would be the result! Life should be rich with vows: they throw a glad solemnity over us; they come before us as hindrances when we would go in forbidden directions; they are voices that whisper in the wind; they are appeals to our best strength. It is after all but a mean thing to say that we will refrain from making vows; such a condition is not the joy of liberty, it is not the dignity of discipline; it is looseness, license, wildness, selfishness. Throw the discipline of a vow upon passion: build altars all along the line of life’s journey, and let those who come after us see how we have prayed, and how we have turned our vows into holy deeds. “If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.” This was Old Testament morality in the matter of words. Is there any righteousness superior to that in all the writings of subsequent revelation? Words are not mere sounds or terms or symbols; they are pledges, vows, oaths, unwritten obligations, and no man is to be trusted who can make light of his own word, or speak so lightly as really not to convey the meaning of his heart. “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a free will offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.” There is one vow which every soul is called upon to make, and that is to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. If we do not vow in one direction it may be because we are anxious to vow in another—that is to say, if we do not vow in prayer it may be that we may take larger license to sin. A very careful distinction should be made here by the spiritual student. Not to vow may be not to incur responsibility; at the same time, abstinence from vowing in an upward and heavenly direction may be a kind of negative vow to enjoy larger moral freedom from religious restraint. Let a man examine himself and be honest in his decisions upon this great subject. Coheleth says, in this fourth verse, God “hath no pleasure in fools,” nor ought we to have. Fools are the burdens of society; fools have no right in the sanctuary. It does not follow that a man who is merely ignorant is a fool; this is a folly of the heart; it is moral lunacy; many a man who is almost a genius in mere intellect is the veriest fool in conscience, in sensibility, and in honour of soul. A vow is a bond upon the soul , by which we solemnly oblige ourselves, not only, in general, to do that which we are already bound to do, but, in some particular instances, to do that to do which we were not under any antecedent obligation, whether it respects honouring God or serving the interests of his kingdom among men. When, under the sense of some affliction.