The Lord is able to give you much more than this

Then Amaziah assembled the men of Judah and set them by fathers’ houses under commanders of thousands and of hundreds for all Judah and Benjamin. He mustered those twenty years old and upward, and found that they were 300,000 choice men, fit for war, able to handle spear and shield. He hired also 100,000 mighty men of valor from Israel for 100 talents of silver. But a man of God came to him and said, “O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the LORD is not with Israel, with all these Ephraimites. But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down.” And Amaziah said to the man of God, “But what shall we do about the hundred talents that I have given to the army of Israel?” The man of God answered, “The LORD is able to give you much more than this.” Then Amaziah discharged the army that had come to him from Ephraim to go home again. And they became very angry with Judah and returned home in fierce anger.
(2 Chronicles 25:5-10)

King Amaziah is said by the Scripture to have done “what was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart” (2 Chronicles 25:2).

As we see in the above passage, Amaziah tried to hire 100,000 soldiers from their evil neighbors to the north, the nation of Israel. God sent a prophet (a man of God) to tell him, “Don’t do that!”

An interesting exchange happened between King Amaziah and the man of God. The King asked, “But what about the money I’ve just invested?” What is the response of God through the prophet?

“The Lord is able to give you much more than this!”

What a powerful statement. Amaziah was concerned about money and what he would lose. God is concerned with obedience and trust in His provision.

King Amaziah had invested cash in soldiers from a wicked nation. Clearly he had not asked God’s advice on this prior to taking this action. So, now he has a choice, doesn’t he?

Do I follow my current course because I do not want to lose out on my investment? What will happen when I tell those Israelite soldiers to go back home? Will they get angry?

Or do I trust that if I follow God, He will more than provide for anything I have lost in investing in the ways of sin?

This is not to say that if we walk away from our sinful path that God is going to send piles of cash and prosperity our way as a reward. But He has certainly promised to provide for us abundantly if we forsake the ways of the world to follow Him. That provision most likely will have little to do with material wealth, but God’s provision (in whatever form that takes) is of infinitely better value than any temporary payoff here on earth (Hebrews 11:24-26).

So, what happens if:

  • We as a congregation have invested lots of time, money and energy into a program, course of action, or “ministry” that we later find out through study has no Biblical authority? Walk away from it, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!”
  • We as individuals have devoted our lives and resources into a pathway that has taken us away from God? What about the things we will lose when we walk away? “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!”

Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
(Luke 18:28-30)

Plumbing Depth of God’s Love–Hold the Line

6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You, In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters, They shall not come near him. 7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. 9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:6-11 NKJV)

Today our discussion comes to a conclusion. We have covered a lot of ground and I am thankful to God that He provides us His word to study, discuss, and apply to our lives through reading it, studying it, meditating on it, discussing it and praying it. Here is a synopsis and checklist of sorts concerning the last verses of Psalm 32.

  • Pray: Seek the Lord! That means you must be talking to God at all times. Those conversations you are having in your own head…have them with God. Those conversations you wish you could have with those who mean the most to you…have them with God. Your groaning from physical, emotional, spiritual pain…give it to God. He is listening, reaching and waiting to lift off that what burdens you.
  • Now: Our days and lives are made up of individual moments. Though the moments might pile up on us and move so fast we don’t think there is time to take a pause…don’t be fooled. Now is the moment to seek out God. Have a sense of urgency in your prayer and service to God…remember He is who you need most.
  • Be secure: God will protect you. David is not saying you won’t have troubles but that God can get you through those troubles. Your pain and suffering is an ever-present reminder you need God, He will help you and you cannot hide or try to fix your sins, relationships, lives…alone.
  • God will not forsake you: We see this throughout scripture. In the verses above, God is speaking in 8-11 and He has an awesome way of encouraging us…just read, listen and hide His words in your heart.
  • God will lead you: What an awesome Shephard we have…follow Jesus and you will be able to shepherd those in your life. God promises to counsel you with His eye always on you. What a beautiful promise from the mouth of the Lord! God is watching you. He has his eye on you.
  • Trust in Him and Let Go: Don’t be stubborn like horses and mules who need to be driven in the right direction. It will not work. God does not force us to go the way we ought to go. God is a God of freedom…not limits…He doesn’t want you to be bridled and driven…but to be freed from your sins so you can be free to love others…God will point to the proper path and you must choose to follow His direction.
  • He will immerse you in His mercy!
  • You will be blessed and rejoice!
  • Be righteous!
  • Be upright!
  • Praise God!

The steadfast love of the Lord surrounds those who trust in the Him. Which would you rather have in life: the many sorrows of the wicked or the steadfast love of the Lord? The answer is obvious, but to have the steadfast love of the Lord then we must put our trust in Him. We must completely submit our lives to God. In the context of this Psalm, we must openly confess our sins to God and thank the Lord that our transgressions are forgiven, our sins are covered, and our iniquities are not counted.

Those most important to us as men are counting on that…need that. No other man can fulfill the role given to you and no other man can do for your wife, children, friends, co-workers, etc. what they most need from you. Hold the line brothers!

The God Whose Plans Don’t Fit In A Sitcom

On a personal note: Thank you to all for your encouragement, prayers, and overwhelming support of my family as we walk through the recovery and healing process after our barn fire. God is good, all the time.

The God Whose Plans Don’t Fit In A Sitcom by Jason Hardin

I want to share with you a sermon that I watched this morning that I really needed. This sermon is by Jason Hardin, and it is called “The God Whose Plans Don’t Fit in a Sitcom.”

At the end of Jason’s sermon, he spoke of 4 conclusions that we can build our lives upon, and they were a blessing to me for sure.

  1. At pivotal moments in life, the people of God had no idea WHAT God was doing; some times neither will we.
  2. At many points in life, we won’t understand WHY God is allowing certain things to happen.
  3. And yet, the clear testimony of Scripture is that He knows perfectly what He is doing.
  4. Therefore, rather than being anxious about things we cannot change…let’s make sure to seek Him while He may be found.

I would add, I don’t know the what nor the why, but I know the WHO. Like the old song sings, “I don’t know about tomorrow, but I know Who holds my hand.”

Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand

The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master (Potiphar) saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field. Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate… (Genesis 39:2-6).

This morning, take time to think of Joseph’s character as a servant to Potiphar. Also, consider how Joseph’s behavior created the environment of trust within Potiphar. Joseph was made the “overseer” of all Potiphar’s house. He was given “authority” over all that Potiphar had.

In order for a man to put everything he had under the oversight of another, what kind of trust had to exist? If you are going to hand the keys to your house and the account numbers to your bank over to another, you would completely trust that person’s character first.

That is what we see in the relationship between Joseph and Potiphar here.

Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand

I want to consider two questions and directly relate this to our relationship with the church family.

Am I like Joseph?

Can the leadership in our congregation completely trust me to follow through with the responsibilities given to me? When I say I will do something, do I keep my word? Do the elders/shepherds in our congregations see this quality of Joseph within us? This is the same kind of mindset that Paul saw within Timothy; Paul knew without a doubt he could count on him (Philippians 2:19-23).

Am I like Potiphar?

I know the focus of this passage is on Joseph, but I see a great quality in Potiphar here as well. He was willing to delegate and completely hand over the reins of certain matters to Joseph. He did not micromanage Joseph. If we are in a leadership position, are we looking for those Joseph-minded people in our congregations?

Are we willing to let loose of some control in order to let others oversee certain affairs? This relationship is a two-way street. Joseph could have all the greatest character in the world, but if Potiphar was not willing to let go of control, Joseph would never shine in his new given responsibilities. Letting go of control is very hard for us, isn’t it?

Take a lesson from Potiphar here, and look for the Joseph’s in your church. Let them thrive and grow and be challenged. This is the same thing we see of the apostles in Acts 6:1-7. The apostles appointed seven Joseph-like men to take care of the widows and gave them “oversight” in this matter.

Let’s be a Joseph in our work, but let’s also be a Potiphar in how we delegate responsibility to others.

I Will

I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3). 

As I was reading through Genesis, I noticed how many times the words “I will” were used, especially in connection to God’s promises. These words, “I will,” are joined with God’s promises to provide, to bless, to protect, and to punish. God made such promises to Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Sometimes we see those men struggling to trust in those promises. There were times that they tried to fulfill God’s promises in their own ways. Ishmael was born because of Abram (Abraham) trying to fulfill God’s promise in his own way (Gen. 16). Another example is when both Abraham and Isaac lied about their wives being their sisters because they were afraid of being killed. They didn’t need to lie, God promised these men offspring and blessings, so they weren’t going to die. These men grew in faith, but that growth process involves learning to trust God’s promises exactly as He said them.

The Lord uses the same words of promise toward Christians.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:10-12)

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels (Revelation 3:5).

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:3).

I will.

We have the incredible treasure of God’s promises as Christian men. He promised to forgive us, to teach us, to provide for us, to be with us always, and to come one day to take us home. Let us learn to trust in God’s promises, exactly as He said them. If God promised to forgive you, He meant it. When Jesus promised to return, count on it. The Lord promised He would always be with us, trust it. God cannot lie (Titus 1:3).

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

Habakkuk was deeply distressed about the immoral state of his nation. He was certainly justified in these feelings. In his distress he cried out to the Lord, but the answers he received from the Lord were not comforting at first. God would deal with the sin of Judah, but he would use the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to do it. “Wait a minute,” Habakkuk thinks, “how can a righteous and holy God use such a wicked and violent nation to punish His own people?” That is not the answer he was expecting…at all!

Through his conversation with God, we see the true character of Habakkuk shine as he is refined by God.

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD

Question: How can a man rejoice in the midst of wickedness, chaos and pending doom?

Habakkuk was told by the Lord that the righteous man “shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). “Trust Me,” God is saying. Trust His nature, His motives and His promises. Know and assume that God will always do the right thing, even if it doesn’t make sense to you and me.

Regardless of what happens around me, Habakkuk had to wait quietly for the day of distress (Habakkuk 3:16). There is a value to silence. The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him (Habakkuk 2:10). You know, this time of judgment was going to come whether or not Habakkuk had the right attitude! God was going to bring punishment upon Judah by Babylon and then He would destroy Babylon.

The purposes of God will be accomplished, so let us trust that God will always do the right thing. Let us also quiet our minds knowing that God will always take care of His people. We are “sealed” and “marked,” God knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19). If you are a follower of God, you won’t get lost in the sauce.

So if the economy tanks and the nation crumbles (no produce, flocks and herds lost), yet we will rejoice in the Lord. The Lord and only the Lord is our strength. If my focus is on the material, then I will never develop true joy.

What Habakkuk learned long ago is what we as God’s men today must get straight in our heads. Especially now in America.

Anatomy of Trust, part 3

In last Friday’s article, we began to develop the components of the Anatomy of Trust: common ground, humility, vulnerability, accountability, and consistency. Today’s article will focus on the last two items: accountability and consistency.

Trust is vital to any relationship, what do we have without it?

Accountability

Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). 

I can have all the best intentions in the world, and can make goals and pray for God to help me accomplish those goals. But unless I make myself completely vulnerable and transparent to a godly and trusted friend, then my plans will simply be plans and wishes. I must commit these things that are in my heart to a trusted friend who can lovingly hold my feet to the fire, and then the goals and intentions will begin to translate into real action and effective change.

You need a friend who will ask you the questions you don’t want him to ask. If the person you have chosen to hold you accountable doesn’t have the fortitude to probe into those uncomfortable places, then you need to find someone else…it is as simple as that. Flip that around, if you want to be a true friend to your brothers in Christ, then you have to sometimes make them uncomfortable. We are to “consider how to stimulate” each other to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)5). If they are truly seeking Christ, they will thank you for it (Proverbs 1:5; 9:9).

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27:6).

Consistency

How do you build a reputation? Consistent, repeated behavior over time. How do you develop a reputation for being on time? How do you build a reputation for being a calm person in the midst of chaos? Consistent, repeated behavior over time.  Reflect on the following statement of the apostle Paul regarding Timothy.

Philippians 2:19-22 – But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.

Timothy had “proven” character (Phil. 2:22). The men appointed by the apostles to care for the widows were to be of “good reputation” (Acts 6:3). Those who serve as elders (shepherds, overseers) in the churches were to be of “good reputation” (1 Timothy 3:7). Likewise, the men who are appointed as deacons in the churches must first be “tested,” according to Paul (1 Tim. 3:10). Kobe Bryant or LeBron James did not become the legends they are by making one lucky shot. There really is no substitute for demonstrating over time that your behavior matches your claim.

Consistent, repeated behavior over time. That solidifies trust.

Anatomy of Trust, part 2

In yesterday’s article, we introduced the concept of the Anatomy of Trust. Today we will begin to develop the components of trust: common ground, humility, vulnerability, accountability, and consistency.

Common ground

In order to have trust, we have to have a starting point. Now you and I don’t have to be Christians in order for us to trust each other. We have friends, co-workers, etc, that we fully trust even though we do not share the same belief systems. But I’m sure that in all of those relationships there is some common ground we share. God asked a great question in Amos, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?”

As Christians, that foundation has already been laid down for us. We are all to be rooted in Christ and take His very mindset as our own (Phil. 2:2). With that as our starting point, we then can look at each other through the same lenses and begin to build trust for each other. We are all sinners in need of the grace and mercy of Jesus.

Humility

This mindset of Christ is saturated with humility, because that is the attitude He displayed coming to earth (Phil. 2:5). Jesus, being God, humbled Himself and became a slave to others, even to the point of crucifixion.

But how does that apply to trust? If I think I’m above you, I will expect you to trust me no matter what I do or say. If I am lifted up with pride, I will get loud and defensive if you dare to question me. Do you want people to trust you? Then you must “with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).

Vulnerability

Jesus made Himself of no reputation (Phil. 2:7). I don’t think you can get more vulnerable and exposed than Jesus did hanging on the cross.

My good friend, Andy Harrison, shared the following observation with me. Think of how the Bible was written; we have the most embarrassing details and failures of people recorded on paper for billions of people to read for thousands of years! Noah got drunk and naked, Lot slept with his own daughters, Moses committed murder, and David broke most of the 10 commandments! So really, you think you have something to hide?

Why do we fail to build trust? Because we do not want to open our hearts to others for a number of reasons. It may be that we just don’t want someone to discover all our skeletons in the closet. It may be that we want to maintain our “perfect image.” It may be that we have opened our hearts to people before and we got burned.

But without being vulnerable and transparent, then you and I cannot build a relationship of trust. Paul told the Corinthians that his heart was “wide open” to them, and he asked them to do the same thing for him (2 Cor. 6:11-13; 7:2). He wrote to the Thessalonians that he not only imparted the gospel to them, but he imparted his life to them also (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Pray for God to lead you to a fellow Christian man to whom you can bare your soul and develop a strong bond of trust.

Next Friday, we will cover the final two parts of the Anatomy of Trust:

Accountability and Consistency

 

Anatomy of Trust, part 1

What is the anatomy of trust? If you were to take trust and look at the internal organs, nervous system and skeletal framework, what would you discover? What makes up trust? What items are absolutely essential to trust?

Take a minute to meditate upon these 2 statements and finish them with whatever comes to mind:

  1. If I trust you…
  2. If I do not trust you…

So, contemplating these two statements, how vital is trust to any relationship? Since this is Thursday, we will focus our thoughts on trust in our relationships with people at work, school and in the community, but obviously trust is critical to any relationship.  Think about it, what kind of relationship do you have with anyone without trust?

“Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot out of joint” (Proverbs 25:19).

A bad tooth causes continual pain and misery, you can’t bite or chew food on that side of your mouth because it kills you to put pressure on it. The same with the foot out of joint, you can’t put pressure on it, because it will not hold the weight of your body and you will collapse. This simple word picture by Solomon perfectly illustrates that trust must be in a relationship, especially in “time of trouble.” Who do you want beside you in time of trouble? Who do you want as your partner, fellow worker or teammate when the pressure is on? You know it…somebody you can count on.

So, turn this thought internally and reflect upon whether you are the person who can be counted on in time of trouble. Are you that man others can trust? Do you come on time? Do you finish what you start? Do you give your all to the task at hand? Do you keep your word when you commit to something? Do you stick with it even when the pressure is on?

Finally, if I want people to trust me, what would be necessary for me to build that trust in others? Here are the bones and organs that I believe are the anatomy of trust: common ground, humility, vulnerability, accountability, and consistency.

These will be developed further in tomorrow’s article.