But I ask: Did they[Israel] not hear? Of course, they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth their words to the ends of the world.”
And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” - Rom 10:18 & 20-21
In our daily struggle to live a life for Christ are we following and understanding His teachings or are we just trying to blindly obey? God does not call for blind obedience, He tells Israel in Amos 5:21, “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.” Do I just want to do good things and not sin or do I want to have faith and love the Lord?
It comes down to the motivation of the heart. To follow in obedience only means that I am doing this because I am told to and because I receive gain from it. To follow in faith is to be obedient not because I have to but because I understand what obedience brings and that is salvation to someone other than myself. My gain is purely from the grace and mercy of God and whether I receive gain or not I will obey.
As a Christian when I am in faith, I follow out of love and devotion to my creator. When I seek only to be obedient without understanding then I will lose sight and fall into the trap of sin. Faith brings about obedience not the other way around. For if Israel could have been saved by their obedience, there would have been no need for Christ.
As you reflect today, ask yourself, am I merely being obedient or is my obedience a result of the faith I have in the One who never lets me down. Is my faith the reason why I get up and breath every day or is it what I have left over at the end of the day. Faith will bring about a life that is lived in peace no matter the circumstance. And as my faith matures in Christ, obedience no longer becomes something difficult but the natural result of how I am living my life.
Today, take the step toward faith and see how it makes a difference in you life. Step out and let God guide your situations today. Do not do anything out of a need to be obedient, instead allow your faith to fill you and let your love of God sway you. Let your faith lead you to prayer and to reading the Scripture. Let your faith and love of God lead you to treat others with respect and share the Gospel with them. See if living by faith instead of blind obedience doesn’t make a difference in your life today.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. – Col 4:2-3
Praying for each other is such an essential part of our daily faith. We must pray for each other in all aspects of our ministries. Whether we pray for strength to get through some sins or whether we are praying for the Gospel to be proclaimed clearly through our words and lives, we must pray for each other.
Prayer is power! Prayer will always be the first thing I do in life. I must start with prayer, if I am not starting with prayer then I am already off on the wrong foot. So, in life I must start each day with prayer. I must start each act of kindness with prayer. I must start each mission in Christ with prayer. If I initiate all I do with prayer, then the Lord has the opportunity to work in these situations regardless of what I do.
Then, I must start each friendship with prayer. And I must prayer for my brothers and sisters that their lives will be filled daily with the Spirit’s call and protection. Starting with prayer is the best place to start no matter what. Prayer should never be a last resort, but needs to always be the first option. For what can I do that God cannot.
Too many times in life, trouble has started because I did not start in prayer and tried to rely upon my own strength and wisdom. So, today, let’s begin with prayer. We will begin in prayer for each other and our mission and our Gospel. We will begin in prayer that sin would not find us today and that we would be strong in the Lord. Pray that we see His will and can have full and clear Gospel.
To God is the Glory,
What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. – Rom 9:30-32
Here Paul is speaking about the difference between the Jew and the Gentile and between faith and works. The Jews still believe that it is by works alone they are saved by the Law through Righteousness. They have forsaken the Savior and have made their hearts hard against Him. They are stubborn and refuse to change.
Am I trying to serve God through works or by faith? One of my favorite sayings in life is that we are not saved by works but saved to work. Is my work a result of my belief in what Jesus has done for me or a religious duty because I believe that I am saved and this is what keeps me saved? When I view my faith in God as a religious duty then I am saying that I have to keep working in order to stay saved.
This is not the case at all. Faith, which is belief in action, is a result of what Jesus has done for me. I am not active for the Lord because I have to be or because there is some rule that says I must be. No, it is because of my love for God, which only comes after His love for me, that I work for the Lord. I work because I want to work not because I have to work.
It is the same with sin. I try my best to recognize and steer clear of sin in my life. Not because of the guilt or shame that it brings, but because of the obedience in love that I want to bring to my Savior. I do not want to sin because it takes me further away from the one I love, not because there is any kind of eternal consequence for sin.
Our faith is a matter of our motivation. Do we want to be saved because we don’t want to go to hell or is it because we love the Savior who first loved me? What is our motivation to show up on Sunday morning to be with the family? I want to be there because I want to love and serve each family member not because somehow it gives me some kind of credit in heaven or prevents me from going to hell. Let our hearts be motivated by love, the love of each other, the love of God’s word and the love of Christ, which is truly where our salvation come from.
When the time of mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house and she became his wife; then she bore him a son. But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord. – 2 Sam 11:27
David’s first fall into the darkness seems to begin when he did not go with his men to war. He did not lead the way into battle, the same as he had before now. Then he catches a glance of a woman, that turns into a stare and gives birth to temptation. He does not relent as he brings Bathsheba to the king’s house. This may seem innocent at first, but he knew the motives of his heart and gives way to sin of adultery which then gives way to the sin of murder.
There is no problem with temptation other that it gives way to sin because in most cases instead of walking away I want to see just how close to the fire I can stand without getting burnt. If David had gone to war with his men, the temptation would not have even arose in him. Therefore, when I am about the Lord’s work, there is no room for the temptation to give birth to sin.
Secondly, when there is temptation, I must turn from it. James tell us in chapter 4:7, “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” Now we must be in the confidence of the Lord for this to work. It means we must truly want to resist, otherwise, sin will win at the end. There are no temptations that cannot be overcome by the Lord if we let Him.
This means I must rule not only my mind, but my heart, soul and body as well. I have to ensure that I keep it all in the Lord’s will and doing the Lord’s work. This is how temptation is defeated and how sin is not given a chance. Remember what it says in Genesis 4, “If you would just do right, wouldn’t it be acceptable with you. For sin is crouching at your door, like a lion, looking to devour you.”
So then, do not give sin a chance. Let God lead you by doing His will and His work. Keeping our hearts, bodies and minds in the work of the Lord so that sin and temptation do not stand a chance at ensnaring me. Let God guide my path away from the temptations of life and let me, dear Lord, resist him when he does come. Be my strength and my light so that my path will be straight and sin will be defeated.
To God be the Glory,
And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet. – 2 Sam 9:13
Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. So even after the king tried hard to murder David, he takes in his enemy’s family and treats them as his own. And even more than that, the man was lame in the both feet and it still did not matter to David. David was not afraid to associate with any kind of person as long as it was right in the Lord’s eyes.
How many times have I passed by the drunkard or the lame because I was too embarrassed to associate with them. What if people see who I hang out with or who I am talking to? Is my mind about the Lord or is it purely on myself? All great questions to ask myself as I go throughout my day. I cannot be afraid to associate with anyone, but everyone is worthy of the love of Jesus.
When I do not consider someone has being worthy or the Lord because of their position or because of their health, then what I have done is to pass condemnation upon that person because I felt them not worthy of the Gospel. And who am I to pass such a sentence on another person? For am I not infirmed and am I not a drunkard?
We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. Therefore, there is not a man, woman or child alive that has earned the grace of God. However, it has been freely given through Jesus blood so that I no longer can judge who is worthy and who is not. That judgement belongs solely to the one who condemns, God himself.
So therefore, I will go out into the world and I will give to any who has an ear to hear. I will spread the gospel like wild seeds into a field. I care not for a person’s status or their influence, I care only for their soul and their eternity. I cannot just give to the one who can give back but must give twice as much to the one who cannot give anything. Do not be afraid to associate with anyone today but give the Gospel to any who would hear.
And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, “The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!” And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight. – 2 Sam 7:25-26
In this chapter of 2 Samuel we see David offering up great praise to the Lord for revealing that his family and name will live on. Eventually even the Savior comes through the line of David. And David is thankful because he realizes that God did not have to reveal this to him but does. And then call on the Lord to keep His promise so that God’s name will be great.
What a great example of thanksgiving. The focus remains solely on God and what He has done. David realizes that all he has and has been through is nothing of his own doing, but it has been the Lord working for and through him to get the job done. David remain humble in his success and allows God to have the glory.
I want my life to be like this! I want to realize that it is God that provides the good things in life. While I have to do the work of the Lord, He makes it a success or failure not me. When I get too involved with it, wanting to do it my own way or trying to do it through my own strength, I fail or at the very least, I come up short of great.
However, when I realize that God makes things great and allows me to succeed, then I am standing on solid ground. And when I realize it is His strength, then I must be thankful for the great blessings He pours out on my head. Without God, I would be nothing and would have never made it this far.
Thank you, Lord, for your blessings and love, which have been poured out upon me. May I always return the blessing by passing it forward to the next one in line who needs it. May I always see your face in all that I do; your strength in all of my wins. And may you now use your strength to fulfill your promise through me to save all who seek you Lord.
To God be the Glory,
When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore, God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God. 2 Sam 5:6-7
It seems that God has just gone overboard on a guy who was just trying to help and prevent catastrophe. However, this is not the full story because Uzzah was a priest and would have understand the rules and the blatant disregard for the sanctity of God by touching the Ark. While Uzzah’s motivations are in the right place, his mind was not because he reached out either without thinking or without regard for the Lord, in either case was a disaster.
When I come before the Lord in my own prayer time or when I approach the very Word of God, do I do so having prepared to come before Him with reverence and thought? Or do I disregard the Lord by coming before Him in frivolity and no regard for who He is? I must come before God with a sober mind and an open loving heart.
Does this mean we have to be staunch and serious all of the time, no. God is the God of humor as much as anything else. However, we must have seriously considered Him and His Word before making light of anything. God wants us to approach Him as a friend and a Father, but also for us to remember that He is the Lord of all creation and deserves respect and admiration.
So today as we put ourselves before the Creator, let us remember that He IS the Creator of all things and a God with infinite power. What He does is just and glorious. And He does love us and wants us to be full of peace and love in life. However, we must also respect the Lord and respect the covenant we have made with Him to follow and obey His ways.
To God Goes all Honor,
Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so, David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?” The Lord answered him, ‘Go, for I will surely deliver the philistines into your hands.” – 2 Sam 5:18
David has been anointed king over Israel. He has been given the City of David and a new palace has been built for him. David has amassed all the power and wealth of Israel under one banner and the people are united under him. Yet even with all this power, he is humble and “Inquires of the Lord,” unlike his predecessor Saul, who decided he didn’t need the Lord’s counsel.
The true test in life comes not when we are down or when things are going wrong in our lives. It is not when we get bad medical reports or even lose a child. No, the greatest test comes when we are strong and things are going right. The test comes when we have amassed a family and wealth; when we have “Made it.”
It is in these times I must pray the hardest and read the most in the Scripture. It is in these times that I have to take the time to grow our relationship with Christ. I must ensure that my relationship to God hasn’t changed and that I remain humble in heart, because in the good times it is easier to forget God and our need for Him.
God grants times of good things when I am faithful to Him. Times of rest and relative wealth; times of peace without the storm constantly raging. These times are used to reflect and grow in His goodness and grace. It is in this time I must be thankful and remember all that He has done for me, because I did not get to where I am at all on my own.
It is in times like this that Colossians 3:15-16 become so important, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” and “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly,” “And be thankful.” I must remember that all good things come from my Father in heaven who richly rewards those who are faithful to Him. It may not be with money, but with something far more valuable, peace and rest. God bless you all and may the Peace of the Lord be with you today.
To the Glory of God,
Then the king said to his men, “Do you not realize that a commander and a great man has fallen in Israel this day? And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!”
Israel had just been at war with itself. Most of the death that had occurred was due to their own wicked deeds and hate they developed for each other by all the killing. Here we see David turn his wrath and anger and give it all to the Lord. He knows that he cannot take revenge for these deaths but leaves it to God to deal with.
In Rom 12:9 Paul quotes the Old Testament, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. We are not to hold grudges or hold on to hate when wrong has been done to us. God sees what has happened and will dole out punishments and wrath as necessary. But why?
First, God does not want our hearts to be hardened against anyone. What we find is that all can come to the Lord in repentance, we see this in Saul who becomes Paul. God also does not want us to carry the burden of revenge and wrath in our hearts. He wants these chains to be lifted off from our hearts. In Colossians 3:13 it says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Secondly, forgiveness brings about healing and grace. Forgiveness when it is least expected, begs the person to ask why? Then we can point that person to the Lord and perhaps to salvation itself. Furthermore, when we forgive each other in the Church, that shows those who are not apart that the Lord is with us and the Lord’s love guides us in our lives. It is a different way of life and a different way of living.
Finally, it reminds me that I am not perfect; that I too have sinned and my sin is against the Lord. Therefore, I will forgive and not seek vengeance because God did not seek his vengeance upon me but poured out his grace upon me. Thank you, Lord, for the grace I did not have to earn and praise be to Jesus that I have not received my just punishment.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Rom 8:26-27
Paul is bringing to close the discussion on doing what we don’t want to do and serving the Spirit and not the flesh. He is encouraging the reader that the Spirit intercedes for the believer so that, even in the times when we cannot put into words what we want to say, the Spirit sends the message of our heart to God.
The Spirit play a critical role in the prayer life of the believer, especially in those times when it is so hard to pray. I have had many times when my heart has been low and the words would not come. At these times, the Spirit sends forth the desires of my heart, even without speaking.
What I have come to realize about prayer is this; it matters little about the words but is focused on the heart. Is our heart in line with God’s will and if not, I pray that God restores my hearts desires back to Him. Prayer is about being real with God and sometimes that means that the words just will not come forth. It is OK, to sit in silent meditation before God because I have the Spirit that intercedes on my behalf.
The fact that that Spirit is going to communicate the desires of my heart for me is so awesome. The Spirit ensures that God’s will is alive in my heart and that my heart through prayer stays aligned with God’s will. He sets forth my groaning for my broken state and ensures that I know God hears my requests. And then He places the will and peace of God upon my heart and I find rest. Blessed be the God who loves me enough to not only hear my prayers but answers them as well, what a great God we serve.
To God be the Glory,