Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

27
Jan
10

I’ll get ya with my oxgoad!

To kick off the new year, my small group started a study the book of Judges.  As of last night, we’ve studied through the 3rd chapter and learned about just a few of the judges that led the rebellious Israelites after Joshua died.  Click here if you want to brief overview of Judges.

Something really stood out to me in Judges 3. This guy: Shamgar.

He is the third judge over Israel.  In the entire 3rd chapter of Judges, he gets ONE verse (nevermind that the two judges before him got several verses, Otheniel comes in at 5 and Ehud comes in at 15+).

Here is the shout out to Sharmgar3 (Judges 3:1)….

After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.

I read vs. 31 and thought, “That’s it?  What else?”  It’s like Shamgar is almost an afterthought…I know his dad, how many he killed, and he used an oxgoad…and oh by the way, he saved the Israelites.

So I did a little digging.  And the first place I started…what exactly is an oxgoad?

Trusty Wikipedia explains:

The goad is a traditional farming implement, used to spur or guide lifestock, usually oxen, which are pulling a plough or a cart; used also to round up cattle.

Wow.  Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with a cattle prod?!?!  Seriously?

And why is this so shocking?  The Philistines were warriors, skilled and trained killing machines.  And the Israelites were barely farmers, they didn’t know how to fight.  Judges 3:2 points out, “he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience.”

It didn’t make worldly sense.  It didn’t make human sense.

But God is above all of this. He isn’t of this world, He isn’t human.  He is divine, all knowing, all powerful.  He is able to take farmers with cattle prods and give them victory over stronger, more powerful warriors…all because HE CAN.

How does this look in your own life?  Do you feel like all you have is a an oxgoad in your hand?  Are you wondering how it’s all going to work out?  Don’t fret.  I pray that you can cling to the word of God, start with the promises from Isaiah…

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

For I am the LORD, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

Isaiah 41: 10, 13

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01
Dec
09

blessings: no waste here

Sometimes I wonder…why does God withhold blessings?  Why does He “wait” to bless me with something?  Why does it seem like His timing doesn’t always align with what I think should happen?

Maybe you feel this way?

I’ve been studying Joshua and I am so blessed to gain some understanding of 1) God’s timing and 2) God’s blessings.  What I’ve learned: the Lord doesn’t waste blessings and He knows just the right time to give us our blessings.

Listening to a sermon Todd gave back in ’06, he explained,

Joshua got a promise from God that he would receive the blessing of being the only one of his generation to go into the Promised Land, right?  How long did that take.  Forty years. FORTY years!  Who at Frontline tonight would like to wait forty years for a blessing, raise your hand?  That’s more than a lifetime!  Forty years he waited for a blessing, but do you know that it took forty years for Joshua to receive that blessing.

Do you know that God doesn’t waste blessings on anyone?  He knows you.  He knows your heart.  He knows your maturity.  He knows where you are in life.  He’s not going to waste a blessing that you can’t keep. That’s not part of His economy.  God is about giving you blessings that you can hold onto. We need to understand that.  God is not going to waste something on you.  Listen, Joshua was not prepared to be the leader of Israel until he lived forty years in the desert. He wasn’t prepared to receive that blessing, understand it, and lead the Israelite nation in light of that blessing until he went through the desert for forty years.

The blessing that Todd refers to comes from Numbers 14:30 when God tells Moses, “Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneth and Joshua son of Nun.”

But Joshua still had to journey through the desert for forty years with the Israelites…and during that time Joshua established a record of obedience & devotion with the Lord. And when Moses prayed to the Lord, “May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd,” (Numbers 27:16-17)– the Lord choose Joshua as the shepherd to lead the people to the Promised Land, Numbers 27: 18-21:

18 So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the LORD. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

The Lord couldn’t bless Joshua with leading the Israelites to the Promised Land any sooner or later because as Todd pointed out– God is about giving us blessings that we can hold onto.  Joshua’s time in the desert refined him to be a strong and courageous leader for the Israelites– he led them in crossing the Jordan, he led them in conquering the land the Lord promised and he led them in dividing the inheritance among the tribes.  Joshua was blessed abundantly by God’s timing.

Do you feel like you’ve been wandering in a desert for forty years? Do you wonder when the Lord will make good on His promised blessings?  Is there a time in your life that the Lord led you through a “desert” but later (maybe it was much later!), He blessed you abundantly?

Do you trust the Lord (like Joshua did) that you will be blessed in God’s timing?

27
Oct
09

showing up….empty handed

Ever hear something several times, and then one time, you hear it again…and it just clicks?  I have moments like this all the time.  Growing up, my mother said my little sister and I had “selective hearing”– we would only hear what we wanted to hear (i.e., “yes, you can do x,y, and z“) and we would ignore the rest  (i.e., “clean your room, do your homework…“).

Some of us don’t change much beyond our child-like “selective hearing” with God. We listen to the things we want to hear and sift out the things we want to ignore.

I am guilty of doing this…but God doesn’t leave me alone just because I try to ignore.  He speaks to me when I’m reading the Word.  He speaks when I am singing praise and worship.  He speaks through sisters in Christ.  He pursues me, despite my selective hearing.

Over the past several weeks, I questioned where the Lord had me planted in ministry….doubting what He was doing and how He was using me because I felt unprepared.  I prayed about it, asking the Lord for direction and wisdom…and He has more than provided.  The heart of my prayer, “Lead me Lord, wherever you want me; I have no idea how to do this…I am empty handed, so it’s ALL You.”

I opened myself up to God’s grace leading– and put aside childish ways of selective hearing.

And then one night, while doing my Bible study, I read Paul’s letter to Timothy and this struck me, “And of this gospel I was appointed a hearld and an apostle and a teacher” (2 Timothy 1:11).  The Lord more than provided when He asked Paul to be obedient as a herald, apostle and teacher— I could be confident that He would provide for me in the same way.   Paul instructs Timothy– and the Lord instructs all– “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline So do not be ashamed to testify about out Lord, or ashamed of me His prisoner” (2 Timothy 1: 7-8).

And if this wasn’t enough to shore up my confidence…this past Sunday, during worship I got another dose of reassurance.  We sang, Majesty (Here I Am)…my heart broke again to the promises of God:

Majesty, Majesty
Your grace has found me just as I am
Empty handed, but alive in your hands

Majesty, Majesty
Forever I am changed by your love
In the presence of your Majesty

I pray that today you will go confidently, empty handed…broken for obedience…allow the Lord to fill you with His grace, understanding and provision.

21
Oct
09

pearl of great price

Almost everyday, I wear a pair of pearl earrings– a gift a couple years ago from my mother.  They are simple, straighforward, classic.

But they are more than that.  They are a reminder of so much more…

Jesus tells a series of parables explaining the immense value of the kingdom of heaven– and one includes the story of a merchant searching for pearls, Matthew 13: 44-46,

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

But what does this mean?  I’m not a merchant or a fine jeweler, so what application does this have to my life….or to yours?

This is a parable of total surrender.  The fine pearl is Jesus Christ Himself, and upon knowing Him, the merchant goes and sells everything else.  It comes back to a blog I wrote last week with verses from Philippians 3:7-9.

But as we see this merchant give everything up to go and follow Jesus, there is a different story in Mark 10,

vs.17: As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?

and then vs. 19, Jesus replies, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'”

vs. 20, the man replies: “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

vs. 21, Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

…and finally in vs. 22, “At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

This man wanted eternal life– he wanted the blessings of Jesus without enduring the process of dying of to  self (Colossians 3:9-10, Ephesians 4: 21-25, Romans 6: 6-8).  As Lon said in a sermon a few weeks ago, “Everyone wants the product, but nobody wants the process.”

How we desire to be like the merchant who sold everything once he found the precious pearl— but we often fall short and we are more like the rich man— clinging to the comforts of this world, clinging to relationships, clinging to materials possessions….clinging to everything else except Jesus Christ.

Yet, we want the final product.  Prayer time is often when the Lord convicts me of falling into this, “Kim, are you trying to fit me into your decisions, asking me to bless them after you’ve made them without my counsel?  Or are you conforming you decisions within the protection of  the precepts of my Word?  Are you seeking my counsel first and with the utmost and highest regard?”

In closing, GotQuestions .org wraps up the meaning of the Pearl of Great Price parable,

Matthew 13:11-17 and 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, 14 make it clear that the mysteries of the kingdom are hidden from some who are unable to hear, see, and comprehend these truths. The disobedient reap the natural consequences of their unbelief—spiritual blindness. Those whose eyes are opened by the Spirit do discern spiritual truth and they, like the men in the parable, understand its great value.

Notice that the merchant stopped seeking pearls when he found the pearl of great price. Eternal life, the incorruptible inheritance, and the love of God through Christ constitute the pearl which, once found, makes further searching unnecessary. Christ fulfills our greatest needs, satisfies our longings, makes us whole and clean before God, calms and quiets our hearts, and gives us hope for the future. The ‘great price’ of course is that which was paid by Christ for our redemption. He emptied Himself of His glory, came to earth in the form of a lowly man and shed His precious blood on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

The kingdom of heavenmore valuable than anything this fallen world can give. Don’t just understand it, respond to it. This makes me fall on my knees in surrender…and in thanksgiving for the Precious Pearl.  I pray the same for you.

19
Oct
09

not greater than the master

This past weekend, I had the privilege of my nephew (Alex) visiting.  Alex is three (as of today! Happy Birthday 🙂 Alex!) and a ball of energy…so I spent most of my weekend keeping up with him and finding fun things for us to do together.  What a joy to spend so much time with my nephew…and unknown to me, God had a lesson for me this weekend…

It’s not about me.

Having full responsibility for Alex this weekend opened my eyes to just how selfless you must be when caring for children.  If I didn’t feed Alex, how would he eat and get the proper nutrition to help him grow?  If I didn’t stop him from running in the street, how would he stay safe from the busy traffic?  He is completely dependent on someone else to take care of him and look out for his best interests.

I learned this Sunday morning.  I woke up (with what I hoped thought was enough time to get ready) but Alex had different plans.  While trying to flat iron my hair, I worked on feeding him breakfast.  Then I had to get him dressed….something that does not happen quickly because he has no sense of time…and really what’s the rush at his age?  Then my phone started ringing– Allysen arrived at my apartment and was ready to go…and I have a half dressed toddler that is more interested in playing with his truck than getting dressed.

But none of this was his fault, it was poor planning on my end.  So I did something that violates one of my rules: I left my apartment without make-up.  That morning, I needed to put myself aside and attend to him first.  Next time, I’ll wake up earlier.

And as the weekend came to a close, I thought about the graciousness of God over the whole weekend…and in my life.  I thought about how Alex modeled complete dependence on me for the weekend– he had to trust me to provide and protect him.  Isn’t that what God asks of us? — He desires us to solely depend on Him.

I reflected on the eternal Father God that disciplines me to lean on Him (Proverbs 3:11-12).  At the Air & Space Museum, Alex tried to make his case as to why he needed to climb into the displays and get on the airplanes.  He was very persistent in his urging– even pushing half his body over the barriers to show that he could reach the planes.  Too often, I am like my nephew– pushing the boundaries, trying to explain to my heavenly Father why He needs to let me do something.

I thought about how often I say I trust God, but then live a life absent of leaning on the Lord to come through for me.  Instead of dependence on God, I try to reason Him into interdependence with me.  I imagine He laughs at these attempts (maybe after He squashes them?) because…

Acts 17:25

And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

Despite God not needing us and us not being equal to God (John 15:20), He invites us to the serve, John 12:26,

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.  My Father will honor the one who serves me.

So in closing, Psalm 16:5-6 is my prayer for myself…and for you,

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.   The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

16
Oct
09

i’ll stickwitu Jesus

Ryan shared this story with me….so I’m sharing with you 🙂

One of his pastors back home in Kentucky gave a sermon a couple months after one of the congregation members passed away.  The pastor explained….at funerals, it seems the standard of whether someone was a good person is based on one thing: Does anyone speak ill or bad of them? Especially in a small town, if no one had anything against you, it could be decided that you were basically a ‘good person’.

The pastor continued…”Boy, that sure wouldn’t apply to Jesus– people said all types of bad things, especially the religious leaders.”

The question of the sermon:

Do you want to obey men or God? Sometimes to do the work of God, you’re gonna ruffle a few feathers.

Paul questions who we are striving to please– God or man–, Galatians 1:10,

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

What holds you back from being a faithful servant of Christ?  FearDoubts about what others will think?  I know the enemy uses fears and doubts to play on my ability to faithfully serve Christ… but take heart!  Jesus has overcome the world and He guides us in our walk with Him…

1.) The sword of truth– God’s Word– provides the tool to discern, test and approve using His standards and invites the Holy Spirit to work through you (Ephesians 6: 10-12; Colossians 4:6),
2.) Seek Godly counsel from wiser Christians, rooted in the precepts of the Bible (Proverbs 13:20; Titus 2: 1, 12, 15),
3.) And….be ready to love sacrificially as Jesus loved us, not just in words but with actions AND truth (1 John 3: 16-22; James 5:19-20).

Last, we have a very small understanding of what it means to “love sacrificially.”  Love as Christ loved us first….
4.) Be ready to extend forgiveness and mercy…Luke 23:34, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'”

He never said it would be easy…only that it would be worth it.  We are called to a high standard as Followers of Jesus.

16
Oct
09

unfailing love…all other things are rubbish

How long, O LORD?  Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day I have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

These are the words of David from Psalm 13, but sometimes these are the very words and thoughts that I have.  I wonder how David said these words aloud…did he say it in his best Ben Stein, monotone voice?  I don’t imagine he did…I imagine him on his knees, perhaps pleading with God and crying out: How long, O LORD!– will you forget me in this situation?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts of what to do?  When will you show up, LORD?? I ask these questions of God and often the response is………..

….nothing.

He is silent.

But God, I NEED to know what’s next. I like certain answers.  God doesn’t always give answers.  I like to make decisions with guarantees.  God doesn’t always give guarantees about life.  In fact, the only guarantee He DOES give are based on His character: He can be trusted because He is holy, He is in control and He demonstrated His love for me by sacrificing His Son so that I could have eternal life with Him.  Everything else– job, friends, family, where I live– that’s all open ended.

David didn’t get answers in Psalm 13, yet he ends with,

But I trust in your unfailing love,
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

His unfailing love.  I rejoice in salvation. This truth is a reminder that my joy comes from the strength of the LORD.

And Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi counsels further on what to expect, Philippians 3:7-9:

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ [.]

Do I really consider all things a loss and rubbish compared to knowing the greatness of Christ?  What are you afraid to lose for the sake of gaining Christ?

rejoice in the LORD. always.




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