#252: You Can Run, but You Cannot Really Hide

I was 7 or 8 years old when I was down on the farm for the summer helping my grandfather.

Run Hide

We had to move the cows into the barn to be fed. One of the young calves was being stubborn. Grandpa said to leave her in the pen while he took the rest of the cows up to the barn. But I decided I would be helpful and move the calf for him.

It’s surprising how strong a young calf can be! She got away from me running all over the barnyard. I knew I was in trouble for disobeying grandpa.

I left the calf and ran into the house, past my grandmother cooking dinner, into my bedroom and under the covers I went.

When Grandpa finished his chores, he came inside wondering where I was. I’m pretty sure he could see the lump under the covers and knew where I was.

He never said a word about that calf or my disobeying him.

He loved me, and I suspect he knew I had learned my lesson.

Sometimes we do the same thing with God. We disobey and run away thinking we can hide from God. But can we really?

Adam and Eve Hid

Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Remember the “don’t eat the apple” instruction (Genesis 3)? After they ate the apple, Adam and Eve were ashamed, and they tried to hide in the Garden of Eden. God called out to them, “Where are you.” Just like my Grandpa, God already knew where they were. He knew they were hiding because they were ashamed.

Jonah Hid

Trying to hide didn’t work out well for Jonah either (Jonah 1). God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach a message of repentance to the Ninevites. Jonah didn’t like the Ninevites, so he didn’t want to do what God told him to do. Instead, he ran the opposite direction and jumped on the nearest ship sailing as far away from Nineveh as he could get.

You know what happened to Jonah. Jonah had to spend three days in the belly of a fish before he finally repented and did what God asked him to do.

We Can Run but Can We Really Hide?

I thought I was hiding under the covers. Adam and Eve thought they were hiding in the Garden. Jonah thought he was hiding in the ship.

We think we are hiding but can we really hide from God? God is both omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time).

David wrote about our all-knowing, ever-present God in Psalm 139.

1 LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2  You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away.
3  You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways.
4  Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, LORD.
5  You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me.
6  ⌊This⌋ extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to ⌊reach⌋ it.
7  Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?
8  If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.
9  If I live at the eastern horizon ⌊or⌋ settle at the western limits,
10  even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me.
11  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”—
12  even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You.
13  For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14  I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know ⌊this⌋ very well. Psalm 139:1-14 (HCSB)

God knows where we are. He knows our thoughts. He knows what we are going to say before we even say it. There is nowhere we can go that we can escape the spirit of God. From the heights of heaven to the depths of hell. God is there.

Where Are You Hiding?

You and I are too old to hide under the covers. The forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden is gone. No ships are sailing away from Nineveh.

But, there are still plenty of ways we try to hide from God today.

  • We try to hide at work. We avoid doing what God has called us to do because we are too busy advancing our careers.
  • We try to hide in our families. We use our families as an excuse not to make time for God.
  • We try to hide in our leisure time. We work hard, so we convince ourselves we deserve this extra leisure time. Surely God doesn’t want me to stress out and work ALL the time!
  • We try to hide doing ministry work. Yes, we are super busy doing ministry work, but are we doing the work God has called us to do?

Leaders, let’s examine our lives to ensure we are not hiding from God. God specifically called each and every one of us to do a specific work in the Kingdom. We might try to run, but we cannot really hide from God.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you hiding from God in some area of your life?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

#251: Do Real Leaders Emerge in the Midst of a Crisis?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Do real leaders emerge in the midst of a crisis? Well, if your definition of leadership includes courage and zeal, then yes, many real leaders emerge during a crisis.

Crisis Leader

In this month’s Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known, let’s look at Phinehas (aka Phineas), a leader of courage and zeal who saved the nation of Israel from God’s wrath (Numbers 25).

Israel’s Exodus Fall

During their march to the Promised Land, the Israelites camped at the border of Moab. Eventually, the men of Israel started to have sex with the women of Moab. The Israelite men turned away from God and followed the false gods of the Moabite women.

Not surprisingly, God was furious. He told Moses to have all these men executed to purify the camp. Moses then told the judges to have all the men who had turned away from God killed.

Before the order was carried out, Zimri, a high-ranking Israelite, defied Moses by bringing a Moabite princess into the camp. Zimri brought her right past Moses and the Tent of Meeting (where God met Moses) and into his tent where he planned to have sex with her.

Phinehas Takes Action

Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, the high priest, saw what Zimri had done. Phinehas jumped up, grabbed his spear, followed Zimri into his tent, and killed Zimri and the Moabite woman.

Phinehas’ quick action, courage, and zeal for God appeased God’s wrath. A plague that had settled over the camp of Israel stopped, but not before 24,000 Israelites died.

God made a covenant of peace with Phinehas and Phinehas became the third high priest in Israel, all because he had appeased God’s wrath.

4 Lessons for Leaders in a Crisis

1. Beware the temptation. Israel had camped right on the border with the Moabites who worshipped foreign gods. The Moabites plotted against the Israelites and were able to cause many to turn away from God by appealing to the carnal nature of the men.

The lesson for us. As leaders, we need to be particularly aware of areas of temptation for us and those whom we lead. You can’t expect to live next to temptation and not be tempted.

2. The leaders saw it and did not respond. Moses, Aaron, and the Israelite leaders saw what the men were doing with the Moabite women. They knew the men were turning away from God and worshipping the gods of the Moabites. Yet, they did nothing!

The lesson for us. As leaders when we see folks being tempted we need to take whatever measures are necessary to remove the temptation.

3. There is a time to act! The Bible says after God gave Moses the instructions and as the plague was taking lives, Moses, Aaron, and the Israelite leaders were sitting in an assembly outside the Tent of Meeting crying. Moses delegated the authority to act to the judges, but no one had acted on God’s instructions.

The lesson for us. When God gives us instructions, whether in prayer or through His Word, we need to act. The time for sitting around in a meeting bemoaning our fate is over. As leaders, we are responsible for the people we lead, so act! Now!

4. Be courageous. Leaders do not sit idly by while people turn away from God in sin. Godly leaders move with the courage and zeal of God.

The lesson for us. If the appointed leaders don’t take action, then we must. As leaders, we must take action to save our brothers and sisters from the sin that causes them to turn away from God.

We have the same kinds of temptations surrounding us today as the people of Israel did then. The appeal to our carnal sin nature is just as strong. The temptation to turn away from God and into sin is just as prevalent.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to care for the flocks that God has entrusted to us.  We need to be leaders filled with courage and zeal for the Lord.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What did you take away from the actions of Phinehas in response to this crisis that you can apply to your life?

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Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

#235: Will God Still Use Me If I Mess Up?

Have you ever encountered someone doing something dumb during a crisis and you thought to yourself, “What in the World Was He/She Thinking?”

Jonah Mess Up

Sadly, as I look back on my life I can remember too many situations where I didn’t do what I should, and afterward said to myself, “What in the world was I thinking?”

When I became a Christian at 33-years old, these “What in the world was I thinking?” situations took on even more meaning. I thought, “Boy, I really messed up this time! Will God still use me?”

It turns out there are quite a few people whose story of messing up is recorded in the Bible.

One of the big mess up’s is Jonah.

Jonah’s Big Mess Up

Jonah was a prophet of God. His job was to bring God’s messages to whomever God told him. God spoke directly to Jonah and directed him to go to Nineveh to preach a message of repentance to the Ninevites.

God said, “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because their wickedness has confronted Me” (Jonah 1:2). There is no ambiguity in this command. Jonah, get up and go preach to the Ninevites.

What does Jonah do? He thumbs his nose at God and jumps on the closest ship headed in the opposite direction. Jonah rebelled against God.

How often does God call us and we rebel, and head off in the opposite direction?

God caused a big storm on the sea that threatened to sink the ship. Jonah realized the storm was his fault, so the sailors on the ship ended up throwing Jonah overboard.

How often do storms come into our life after we rebel against God?

But here is the amazing thing. Despite his rebellion against God, God hasn’t abandoned Jonah. God is watching out for him. God has a large fish swallow Jonah, and Jonah has an uncomfortable three days in the belly of the fish to think about what his rebellion has cost him.

Jonah’s Redemption

Jonah finally prays to God asking to be saved and forgiven. He repents of his rebellion.

Immediately God forgives him and has the fish vomit Jonah up on the shore. Hopefully, Jonah grabs a shower somewhere and puts on a clean set of clothes because God is not done with Jonah yet!

God speaks to Jonah a second time saying,Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you” (Jonah 3:2).

With this command, God has restored Jonah to his previous mission, to go and preach to the people of Nineveh.

This time Jonah does what God has told him to do. Jonah puts on his big boy pants and heads off to preach against the dreaded Ninevites.

Jonah rebelled against God. He refused to do the one thing God had called him to do.

Jonah repented of his rebellion against God and prayed for a second chance.

God restored Jonah.

I have rebelled against God. At times, I have refused to do what I feel He has called me to do. But I take comfort knowing that if I repent of my rebellion, like Jonah, God in His mercy will restore me. He will give me a second chance to do His will.

I take great comfort knowing that those future “What in the world was I thinking?” mess ups don’t mean that God is done with me or that He won’t use me. It just means I need to get back to Him as quickly as I can!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you had, “What in the world was I thinking?” mess ups in your life? Have you repented of your rebellion and been restored by God?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

#217: What a Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice to Deceive

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Shakespeare was right. What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. Not only do we get caught up in the web of deceit but so do innocent bystanders.

Web Deceive

In this month’s, Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known we’ll examine the story of a man named Achan (Joshua7).

The Backstory

Moses had just transferred responsibility for leading the people of Israel over to Joshua. The Lord commanded Joshua to circumcise all the people, renewing His covenant to take them into the Promised Land if they would only obey Him.

The first city in the Promised Land they were to conquer was the city of Jericho. The Lord commanded the people of Israel saying all the silver, gold, articles of bronze and iron were to be brought to the Lord’s treasury, and everything else in the entire city itself was devoted to destruction.

The Deception

When the Israelites advanced on Jericho, Achan helped himself to a cloak, 200 shekels of silver, and a gold bar weighing 50 shekels and hid them in his tent.

Achan thought he got away with stealing the things that were to be given to the Lord’s treasury, but God knew what Achan had done. He may have deceived everyone else, but he hadn’t deceived God.

The Repercussions

Achan’s stupid mistake had repercussions far beyond his own decision to steal from God.

The very next battle Joshua sent the Israelites into they were driven back and 36 men died because God was not with them.

When Joshua cried out to God, he learned that someone had violated the covenant to obey God already by stealing things devoted to the Lord’s treasury. The people were brought before the Lord to be judged, and the judgment fell against Achan.

Achan finally admitted his deception saying he did it because the cloak was beautiful and he coveted the silver and gold.

Achan, his family, and all his animals were stoned to death as punishment, and they were all burned along with everything else he owned.

The Lessons

There are four important leadership lessons we learn from Achan’s story of disobedience and deceit.

1) Temptation to Sin. Even in the midst of victory, we can be tempted to sin. In Achan’s case, he valued the treasures of man more than he valued obedience to God.

2) Sin Impacts Others. We think our decisions have no consequences or perhaps only affect us but most often others are also affected. Achan’s sin cost the lives of fellow Israelites in battle and the lives of his family.

3) Sin Brings Defeat. Achan knew what was right, but he deliberately disobeyed. His disobedience cause the army to be defeated, it brought disgrace to God, and Joshua, their commander, was disheartened.

4) Sin Cannot Be Hidden. Regardless of how well we might hide our sin from man, nothing is hidden from God. He knows our every sin. Achan managed to steal the cloak, the silver, and the gold and get it all the way back to his tent. Then he hid it in his tent thinking he had gotten away with his theft. But nothing is hidden from God.

As leaders, we are susceptible to the very same kind of temptations as Achan. We are tempted to sin; valuing man’s treasure over God even when we are winning. We deceive ourselves thinking our actions affect no one else. Ultimately, our sin against God brings judgment because no sin against God remains hidden.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of the four leadership lessons from Achan’s story resonates most with you? Which do you think is most common in the business world today?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

 

 

#216: What Does It Take to Live the Greatest Life?

It May Not be What You Think!

I asked a few people this past week if they thought they were living the greatest life possible. Most said, “No.” A few said, “Yes.” I followed up by asking, “What does it take to live the greatest life possible?”

Greatest Life

The answers I got were mostly a variation of the happiness theme. From the “no’s” it was:

  • I am unhappy with my job.
  • I am unhappy with my income.
  • I am unhappy with my spouse/family.

From the “yes’s” it was:

  • I am happy with my job.
  • I am happy with my income.
  • I am happy with my spouse/family.

You get the idea.

These answers are flat-out wrong! If you think for a minute that the greatest life possible derives from some measure of happiness brought on by a good job, a nice income, or even great in-laws you are in for a massive disappointment in life.

Good jobs can disappear overnight. And that great income? Poof! An unfaithful spouse? There goes your happiness and your great life.

The reality is, all these things can be taken away or disappear in your next breath. If you are relying on anyone or anything in this world for your happiness you will be disappointed.

The one and only way you can live the greatest life possible is to build your life on God and His Word.

Why? Because God designed us, He created us, He knows what is best for us, and He has promised that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39).

The Greatest Life Possible

So, if happiness is not a measure of a great life, what then, is the secret to living the greatest life possible?

Jesus told us exactly what it takes when he gave the disciples two commandments:

Jesus answered, “The most important [commandment] is…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

Love God

The first and most important element of living the greatest life possible is to love the Lord your God. This is what we are commanded to do.

But how do we do it?

Jesus told us how when He said, with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength.

  • Our heart is the center of our emotional control center.
  • Our soul is our will, our self-conscious life.
  • Our mind is our thoughts and the way we think.
  • Our strength is our bodily strength.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I think about whether I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I feel ashamed because I could do so much better.

Love Your Neighbor

The second element for living the greatest life possible is to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Who is Jesus referring to when He says to love our neighbors? We know from Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:33-34) that everyone is our neighbor. We also learn from this parable that we limit our love because people are different than us or because of our fears.

Jesus taught how we are to love our neighbors when He said, “…love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).

Jesus loves everyone, and He loves us unconditionally. In this commandment, Jesus is telling us to love everyone, unconditionally just as He loves us. That includes people of the other political party, people who have a different worldview, even people who disagree with us and would do us harm. We are to love them all.

Nothing, said Jesus, is more important than to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. That, folks, is how we can live the greatest life possible!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. On a scale of 1-10 are you living the greatest life possible? If not, what do you need to change in your life?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

 

 

#210: Are Ordinary People Made Extraordinary by Following God’s Purpose?

Is it true that ordinary people are made extraordinary by following God’s purpose? The Bible is full of examples of God calling ordinary people who accomplished great things for the Kingdom.

Gideon, Ordinary

Take Gideon for example.

Gideon, the Poor Farmer

When God called Gideon, he was threshing wheat for his father. The Lord told Gideon to conquer the Midianites, but Gideon protested saying his family was the weakest in the entire land of Manasseh and he was the youngest in his family.

In faith, Gideon sent messengers throughout the land calling all the Israelites to battle, and 32,000 men showed up to fight. God reduced the size of Gideon’s army to only 300 men. Those 300 men plus God defeated the Midianite army of 135,000 soldiers.

The Israelites enjoyed 40 years of peace during the lifetime of Gideon.

Gideon was an ordinary young man, the son of an ordinary man, with an ordinary family.

Ordinary Family

Gideon described his family as the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh. His parents had turned away from God and worshipped the idols Baal and Asherah. There were no nobles or powerful leaders in his family to show him the way.

Ordinary Trials

The first action the Lord demanded of Gideon was to tear down his parent’s altar to Baal and their Asherah pole. He was to replace them with an altar to the Lord. Gideon did exactly as the Lord commanded.

Ordinary Fears

Gideon was so afraid of what his father and the men of the city would do when they found the altar to Baal destroyed, and the Asherah pole cut down; he did it at night. Gideon was afraid to attack the Midianite army, so God arranged for Gideon to overhear a Midianite’s dream of being conquered.

Ordinary Difficulties

The Israelites had no army to wage war. Gideon sent messengers throughout the land calling Israelites from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Naphtali, and Zebulun, to join him in the battle.

Ordinary Doubts

To say Gideon had doubts about God’s call on his life is putting it mildly. He asked God to confirm His call to attack the Midianites not once, but twice.

Ordinary People are made Extraordinary

There is a little bit of Gideon in all of us isn’t there?

We view ourselves as ordinary. We come from quite ordinary families and are leading quite ordinary lives. Perhaps even the weakest, least qualified person we know to be called by God.

Yet God calls us to serve the Kingdom.

Perhaps the initial call on our life is a small step, like Gideon removing the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole.

Even so, we experience fear. What might happen if I step out in faith? Will I fail? Will I look foolish? What will others think of me?

Then we imagine the difficulties that may lie ahead if we follow God’s call. The task seems insurmountable to us. We cannot possibly do what God is asking us to do. We forget that one plus God is always a majority.

Even with God’s assurances, we doubt we can do what God has called us to do.

This is Why God Calls the Ordinary

It is because we are ordinary that God calls us to do the extraordinary. It is when we act in faith despite our insecurities, our fears, and our doubts that we demonstrate God’s strength and His glory.

So, the next time you feel God’s call on your life consider young Gideon, the youngest and weakest of his tribe. Who, despite his insecurities, fear, and doubts followed God’s call on his life and became an extraordinary man of God.

Our world needs ordinary men and women to say “yes” to God and become extraordinary in the process!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you ready to move from ordinary to extraordinary as you heed God’s call on your life? If not, what is holding you back?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

 

 

#208: What is the Cause of our Deepening Cultural Divide?

There is a deepening cultural divide that exists around the world. Protests, riots, and wars are being fought over these political differences.

Cultural Divide

The disagreements run the gamut from annoyance to vehement disagreement. Some even live in fear of what action those with different views will take to advance their agenda.

This tension certainly exists between our government and the populace. It existed long before I was born, and has existed throughout all thirteen presidents who have served during my lifetime.

We have become a people who, for the most part, look to the president and the rest of our government to direct our affairs. When they do what we want, we like them, when they don’t, well, we hate them.

Many of the international, domestic, economic, and social issues that divide us have been around for a very long time. For example,

  • Some people want secure borders; others want open borders.
  • Some people want tight controls on drugs and guns, while others don’t.
  • Some people believe in limited government, while others see the government as the solution to most of the problems we face as a society.
  • Some people believe abortion is a woman’s right, while others believe in the rights of the unborn.

Secular versus Biblical Worldview

In every case, the various opinions are an expression of the differences in people’s worldview; either secular or Biblical.

A secular (or humanist) worldview places humanity at the center. The secularist rejects the idea of a supernatural being (God), preferring to explain the cosmos in terms of science. Morals are derived from human experience. Ethics are relative since there is no higher being (moral relativism).

A Biblical worldview places God at the center. The Biblical worldview accepts God as the Creator of all things. Morals and ethics are derived from God. God created man; man sinned against God, and God has a redemptive plan in His Son Jesus Christ.

There is no Biblical provision for a separation between the “religious” and “secular” life of a believer. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Jesus did not say, “I am the way on Sunday, but anything goes at work on Monday.” So, in the Biblical worldview, all aspects of the believer’s life, has at its core, a belief in God and His plan for humanity.

The Cause of the Cultural Divide

The cause of our cultural divide traces directly back to a difference in worldview.

Secularists, or in today’s nomenclature, progressives, espouse a worldview in direct opposition to a Biblical worldview.

What is difficult for me to reconcile is that many secularists I know say they believe in God, yet support secular beliefs. This inconsistency baffles me. How can someone say they believe in God and reject what He says?

Sadly, there are just as many who claim a Biblical worldview as Christians who manage to divide their lives between Biblical and secular life. This inconsistency also baffles me.

Christian Leaders and a Biblical Worldview

A worldview is comprehensive. It informs every area of our lives from work to finances, family, marriage, politics, and everything in-between. Inconsistency in the expression of our worldview weakens the testimony of the Christian leader. There must be no inconsistency in the expression of our worldview.

Writing to the church in Laodicea the Spirit said, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot” (Revelation 3:15 HCSB)” The last thing a Christian leader should be is “lukewarm.”

A Christian leader who holds firmly to their Biblical worldview becomes spiritually mature and Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:13).

If you are a Christian leader, who holds firmly to a Biblical worldview, congratulations! Be strong and courageous.

If you are a Christian leader who recognizes some inconsistency in the expression of your worldview then pray for direction from the Holy Spirit, spend time in God’s Word, and seek out other Christian leaders with whom you can share your struggles.

No matter what, do not remain lukewarm!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How does your worldview influence your life? What role does your worldview play in decisions you make?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

 

#199: Can Tremendous Results Stem from Small Acts of Faith and Prayer?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Can tremendous results stem from small acts of faith? Do the little things we do in faith really make a difference?

Eliezer and Rebekah Faith

The Bible includes countless examples of men and women who relied on God’s promises and stepped out in faith in a big way. But what about those little acts of faith? Can they have big consequences as well?

One of my favorite Bible stories of small acts of faith having enormous consequences is the story of Abraham and his chief servant, Eliezer (Genesis 15:2).

Thanks to Barbara P. for suggesting this month’s character for “Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known!”

The scene opens in Genesis 24. Abraham is 140-years old and has been blessed materially by the Lord. However, his son, Isaac, still does not have a wife to carry on the family name as God had promised (Genesis 15:18-21).

Abraham believed God’s promise to make his descendants into a great nation, so he called for Eliezer. He had Eliezer swear an oath by God that he would not take a wife for Isaac from the local Canaanites but from Abraham’s extended family.

The trouble is, Abraham’s relatives lived 500 miles away, and the journey was treacherous. Abraham promised Eliezer that one of God’s angels would accompany him on the trip. So Eliezer packed up ten camels with presents to pay a bride price for Issacs’s bride and set off.

In the second scene, Eliezer had made it all the way to where Nahor, Abraham’s brother, lived. Eliezer arrived outside the town by the water well in the evening. He prayed that God would grant him success in finding a bride for Isaac. He also asked God for a confirming sign that he had found the right young woman.

Before Eliezer had even finished praying, Rebekah, granddaughter of Nahor, arrived at the well. Her actions confirmed the sign Eliezer had asked of the Lord, proving she was the woman the Lord had sent. When he realized his journey was a success, Eliezer bowed down and worshiped the Lord, thanking God for His kindness to his master Abraham.

In the third and final scene, Eliezer met Rebekah’s family, recounted how the Lord had protected him on the journey, his meeting with Rebekah, and Abraham’s desire for a wife for his son Isaac.

Rebekah’s family gave her permission to leave and marry Isaac. Immediately Eliezer bowed down and worshiped God. He gave gifts to Rebekah and her family, and they arranged to leave to return to Abraham’s land.

Rebekah married Isaac and bore him children. Abraham’s descendants became a great nation just as the Lord had promised, tracing all the way to the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1).

Small acts of faith and prayer had eternal consequences!

It began with Abraham’s faith in God’s promise. I doubt Eliezer had any sense of the role he played in the unfolding of God’s plan.

  • Believed. Abraham believed God’s promise to make him into a mighty nation and acted on that belief. Eliezer demonstrated his faith by loading ten camels with presents, assuming the Lord would bring him success.
  • Obeyed. Eliezer swore and oath to the Lord and obeyed his master, Abraham in faith.
  • Prayed. Eliezer prayed for God to give him success in his duties and even prayed for a sign of confirmation to be sure he was speaking to the right woman.
  • Worshiped. As soon as Eliezer realized God had granted him success and Rebekah was the right woman, he bowed down and worshiped the Lord. When all the arrangements were made, Eliezer bowed down and worshiped God again.

What could we accomplish as leaders in God’s kingdom if we believed and held onto God’s promises? If we obeyed Him in faith. If we prayed to the Lord for success and direction? And if we worshiped the Lord thanking Him for His grace in our lives?!

Small acts of faith and prayer will have eternal consequences in our lives as well. We may never know what difference a small act of faith and obedience will make this side of heaven. But let us be faithful in the small things so one day we will be rewarded with much!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you seen the results of small acts of faith play out in your life or the lives of others?

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Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

#197: Who Does God Call to do Great Things?

Who was Noah before God called him? He was a simple, good man who lived among an increasingly evil people. God called Noah to build an ark when Noah was 600 years old, and God promised to bless him.

God's Call

Who was Abraham before God called him? Abraham was living in the land of the Chaldees when God called him at 75-years old to take his family and travel to Canaan where God promised to bless Abraham.

Who was Esther before God called her? Esther was an orphan child being raised by her cousin, Mordecai. They were Jews living in the capital city of the Persian Empire when God placed Esther in a position to save the entire nation of Israel from extermination.

Who was Ruth before God called her? Ruth was a Moabite widow who left her homeland and followed Naomi, her mother-in-law to Bethlehem. Ruth became a lowly fieldhand gleaning grain from the edges of a field to survive. It was only then that God placed Ruth in a position to meet and marry Boaz and become the great-grandmother of David.

Who was David before God called him? David was the youngest of seven boys. He was a simple shepherd, only 15-years old when God sent Samuel to anoint him as king over the people of Israel.

Who were the brothers Peter and Andrew, and James and John when Jesus called them? All four were probably only teenagers under 18-years old, and they were all lowly fishermen tending their nets when Jesus called them to be His disciples.

Who Does God Call?

God calls people of all ages. You are never too young or too old to be called by God.

God calls both men and women. Look around. God is calling men and women all around the world.

God calls people without regard to their vocation. It doesn’t matter to God if you are a street sweeper or a CEO. He calls people from all walks of life.

God calls people without regard to their standing in society. Don’t think for a minute that God only calls people at the top of the society ladder. He calls simple shepherds as well as kings.

Here’s why God calls people without regard to their sex, age, vocation, or standing in society. God looks not on the outward person but our hearts!

The prophet Samuel explained God’s choice in calling David to be a future king over the people of Israel saying,

“People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

God sees the heart of the person He calls. He sees their willingness to follow Him.

God told Noah to build an ark and promised to bless him, but the blessing didn’t come until long after Noah followed God’s instructions to build the ark.

God told Abraham to gather his belongings and his family and travel to an unknown land where God would then bless them. The blessing to Abraham came after he followed God’s instructions.

God directed Mordecai to give instructions to his young cousin Esther, and because they both followed God’s direction, Esther saved the Israelite nation from annihilation.

God directed Samuel to anoint young David king over Israel. Luke records God’s description of David as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).

Jesus called Peter and Andrew and James and John to be His disciples when they were fishing. They immediately put down their nets and followed him.

Do you see the pattern here? It doesn’t matter who you are in the world’s eye. It only matters who you are in God’s eye! What matters is if we are ready and willing to answer God’s call.

When the Lord described to Isaiah the terrible situation Israel had gotten themselves into God asked the question, “Whom shall I send” to save them? And Isaiah answered, “Here I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

Isaiah was willing and ready to answer God’s call to serve Him and His people.

I must ask myself, “Am I willing and ready to answer God’s call whenever it comes?”

I pray that I am.

Are you willing and ready?

I pray that you are as well.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you willing and ready to answer God’s call on your life?

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Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

#191: It Takes Character & Courage to be Used by God

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Have you ever wondered why God uses some people in a mighty way and not others? It seems like God grabs the most obscure, least qualified person He can find to save the Israelites from impending doom. All the while the well-known, talented guy sits out the game on the bench.

Shamgar, oxgoad, oxen

We can learn a lot by studying the men and women God uses. In my case, I especially enjoy studying the obscure Bible characters. In the grand scheme of things, I can identify more with the obscure characters in the Bible because they seem more like me. Sometimes they are full of doubts, fear, and skepticism. Sometimes they are wholly unprepared for the task God has given them.

God Raised Up Judges

The Israelites had settled in the Promised Land but had failed to drive out the pagans completely as the Lord had commanded. Worse, the Israelites abandoned the Lord and worshipped foreign gods. God allowed marauders to come against the Israelites to test them; to see if they would return to Him. But they did not.

The people cried out to the Lord in their oppression and the Lord raised up a series of judges to save the people. Each of these judges led the Israelites to victory against their enemies. They would have peace for a time but eventually they would fall away from God again.

Shamgar: The Obscure Warrior Judge

Among the most obscure Bible characters is Shamgar. Shamgar comes on the scene suddenly. He is mentioned directly in only one verse of the Bible; Judges 3:31, and then is referred to in one other verse; Judges 5:6. Despite his fleeting appearance in the pages of Scripture, there is much we can learn from Shamgar who was used in a mighty way by God.

Shamgar was the third judge God raised up over the Israelites. Judges 3:31 records Shamgar’s military victory over the Philistines:

“After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath became judge. He delivered Israel by striking down 600 Philistines with an oxgoad” (Judges 3:31 HCSB).

Note: An oxgoad was a pole 8-10′ in length with a sharp point on one end to prod the oxen, and a flat spade on the other end to clean dirt from the plow.

That’s it. That’s all we know about Shamgar. But in this single verse we see a man of character and courage. Here are four important things to note about Shamgar:

  • Shamgar was busy working. Shamgar was a farmer with oxen for plowing. When God looks around for someone He can use, He always looks for someone who is already busy working. God does not call the lazy man to serve.
  • Shamgar stood his ground. The Israelites stayed off of the main highways and stuck to the side trails for fear of the Philistines (see Judges 5:6). When the Philistines attacked, most of the Israelites ran to hide in the hills or caves but Shamgar stood his ground, despite the danger.
  • Shamgar used what he had. The Philistines had confiscated the Israelite’s weapons, so the only weapon Shamgar had was his oxgoad. He didn’t let the lack of traditional weapons keep him from answering God’s call to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines!
  • Shamgar was called by God. Only God’s anointing and power enabled Shamgar to secure victory over hundreds of Philistines. Where God leads, God provides His anointing.

Shamgar was a man of character and courage who set aside his daily activities to answer God’s call on his life. He stood his ground against their enemy. He offered no excuses for his lack of equipment but used what he had at hand.

God is still raising up warriors who are willing to answer His call. Who will put God’s plans before their own? Who will stand their ground in faith knowing that where God leads, God provides?

What is there in your life worth fighting for? Your marriage? Your children? Your freedom to worship God and follow His commands? Those who don’t yet know the Lord?

If there is something in your life worth fighting for, if you are a warrior, be prepared to answer God’s call.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What traits do you think are most important for someone to be used by God?

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Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God