Enjoy the Lord

King David had just witnessed the successful delivery of the Ark of the Covenant. (2 Samuel 6:12-15). This was certainly cause for celebration, because earlier in this same chapter, Uzzah had been unsuccessful in his delivery of the Ark.

Have you ever been so full of joy that you couldn’t contain it?
If so, you can identify with David. He was excited that he began to dance with abandon in gratitude of God’s goodness. “Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets” (2 Samuel 6:14-15 NIV).

He was happy!
He was celebrating.
His dancing reflected the praise within his heart.

 

One commentary defines David’s dancing in this way:
“He danced with all his might—violent efforts of leaping—but it was unquestionably done as an act of religious homage, thankfulness and devotion.”

 

David’s wife Michael (daughter of the former King Saul) watched her husband dance from the window of their home. She was not only embarrassed; she was also angry with him.

 

“As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart” (2 Samuel 6:16 NIV).

 

Did you catch the last part? She despised him.
Ooooh.
We need to be careful not to criticize other people’s style of worship.
If worship is genuine, God loves it!

 

Michal berated David when he returned home, and he turned away from her for good. The last verse of this chapter says, “And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.” God didn’t bless her. But He did bless David.

 

When was the last time you truly ENJOYED God . . . and showed it?

 

Thoughts?

 

I’m speaking in Lubbock, TX this weekend—and as always—I appreciate your prayers!

You’re the One!

Last week we chatted about King David’s sin with Bathsheba. It all began with being in the wrong place at the wrong time. His defenses were down. He wasn’t guarding his heart.

 

After Bathsheba became pregnant, David had her husband (Uriah) killed. We can’t be certain how much time passed, but eventually Nathan the prophet confronted King David. He told him a parable that outlined his sin.

 

David was angry at the guilty man in the parable and didn’t realize it was him until Nathan pointed at him and said, “You’re the one!”

(See 2 Samuel 12:7).

 

David repented, God forgave him and used him in a mighty way.

David was a man of virtue and vice . . . and this tells us something about the complexity of God’s work. God has the ability to transform the sinner into someone special.

 

He makes beauty out of ashes.

He sees the potential in each one of us to fully become who He created us to be!

 

God could constantly point His finger at us and say, “You’re the one!” But instead, He vividly shows us His Cross. He reminds us of His sacrifice for our sins.

 

Instead of accusing, He offers grace, forgiveness and mercy—if we’ll seek His forgiveness and turn away from our sin.

 

What a God!

 

 

Thoughts?

I’m speaking in New Mexico this week. Thanks so much for your prayers. God is so faithful!

A Wrong Place, Wrong Time

King David, though, a mighty warrior, sinned when he lusted after Bathsheba. That sin led to another sin—sleeping with her—and when she became pregnant, David simply continued to dig himself deeper into a pit of sin.

 

You may recall that he brought her husband in from war to sleep with her, so he could deceive Uriah and make him think that Bathsheba became pregnant from her husband.

 

But when Uriah refused the comfort of being with his wife while his men were risking their lives in battle, David had him killed.

 

One sin led to another and another and another.

And it all began with being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Let’s look at Scripture:

 

“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war . . . David remained in Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 11:1 NIV).

 

Why wasn’t David where he should have been?

Why wasn’t he at war with the rest of his men?

Failing to be where he should have been, got him in trouble.

This is where his downward spiral begins.

 

“One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her” (2 Samuel 11:2-3 NIV).

 

Wrong move, David!

Sometimes we can’t help what we see.

We live in a fallen world.

But we can determine how long we continue to view it.

David lingered too long.

 

“The man said, ‘She is Bathsheba . . . then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her”

(2 Samuel 11:3-4 NIV).

 

Right now would be a great time for David to seek forgiveness and repent. (Repent means to walk away from sin; to turn completely away from it.)

 

He knew what he did was wrong. But when he received the news that she was pregnant, he continued to sin by ordering her husband be placed on the front line of battle where he knew Uriah would be killed.

 

And it all began with being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Holy Spirit is faithful to guide us on the right path.

 

“Show me the path where I should go, O Lord; point out the right road for me to walk. Lead me; teach me; for you are the God who gives me salvation” (Psalm 25:4-5 LB).

 

Being on the right path—and staying on the right path—begins with asking God to SHOW us and LEAD us.

 

Let’s commit to asking God each morning to show us the right path and empower us to remain on it.

 

 

Thoughts?

I’ll be speaking in New Mexico August 1-6. Please pray for me.

Snakes and Storms

I just returned from my annual two-week missions trip.

We were in Costa Rica this summer.

327 people accepted Christ through our ministry.

Wow! God is so very faithful!

How He blessed blessed!

What an amazing ministry-adventure.

We’re going to Peru next summer.

Email me if you’re interesting in coming. (susieshell@comcast.net)

Right now I’m now in Michigan—speaking at a family camp for a week, and here’s what’s rattling around inside my head . . .

We know that the book of Acts chronicles the apostle Paul’s adventures, trials, blessings and setbacks.

 

At one point, God tells Paul to make the trip to Rome so he can preach the gospel there. The Lord also promises that no storm or snake would stop him. But in Acts 28:5, we notice that a snake attacks Paul. And we also know that the book of Acts is filled with accounts of Paul’s troubled sea voyages and shipwrecks.

 

What gives?

 

God never breaks His Word.

He always keeps His promises.

Yes, He DID promise that no snake or storm would stop Paul, but He didn’t keep Paul from the snake or storm.

 

While God didn’t provide an easy road for Paul, He did continually create amazing opportunities out of Paul’s setbacks.

 

And in Acts 28:5, we see Paul simply shake the snake off.

 

I often fret about a “snake”—something that has bitten me or gets in my way or frustrates me. But with God’s power within me, maybe I should be “shaking it off”—knowing that God will enable me to continue on the path He has led me.

 

Been bitten by any snakes lately?

Weathered any storms?

God has promised these things won’t stop us!

 

Thoughts?

Spiritual Deception, Part 3 (Conclusion)

If you didn’t catch the last two weeks of this, please go back and read them. This is a continuation and conclusion.

 

RECAP:

We’ve been discussing an obscure little story found in 1 Kings 13.

God instructed the true prophet to enter the idol-infested city of Bethel and warn King Jeroboam of his sin. God told the true prophet not to eat or drink while there and to return a different way than he’d come.

An old prophet who lived in Bethel invited the true prophet to come home and eat with him. “Oh no, I can’t do that,” the true prophet explained. “God has given me specific instructions.”

But the old prophet convinced him it was OK.

So the true prophet went.

During dinner, however, the old prophet said, “This is what the Lord says: You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command He gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where He told you not to eat or drink. Therefore you’re going to die far from home.”

We can learn several things from this story through the red flags that are given.


First Red Flag:
• The true prophet of God stopped to rest under a tree (1 Kings 13:14). When researching this passage, I discovered that the Hebrew language reveals that he wasn’t simply sitting under a tree. He had built a temporary home. He knew to flee—and to flee immediately—but he didn’t. He rationalized it would be OK to rest a while.

• Second Red Flag:
The old prophet deceived this young prophet. When the old prophet said, “God spoke to me through an angel,” the young prophet accepted it as God’s word and went with him.

But God has already specifically spoken to the young prophet. So when does the voice of an angel trump the voice of God Himself?

• Third Red Flag:
The old prophet was living in Bethel. This tells us a lot!
The fact that he had chosen to live in the forbidden city of idols shows us he wasn’t living in God’s will.

 

Conclusion:

The young prophet was killed by a lion when he left the old prophet’s home. The young prophet tried to get back to where he should be, but he would never get home again. His ministry was over, and in fact, his walk with God in this world had come to an end. That seems pretty harsh to us, but remember, God isn’t playing games. Though He is long-suffering, there will come a point when He will no longer tolerate sin and disobedience.

The young prophet of God was very sincere, but he made the mistake of believing the wrong message which he was told was from God. But it wasn’t. He knew for a fact what God had told him—he didn’t know for a fact what God had told the old prophet.

We must be guarded and stick like glue to the message of the Bible. Don’t let anyone or anything draw you away—even someone you deeply love. If you do get drawn away, you’ll be deceived and deception can be deadly.

The young prophet of God was a good man who was deceived into disobedience. We don’t need to look for external voices and supernatural encounters with audible voices. We just need to know God’s Word. That’s how Jesus rebuked and refuted the devil during His temptation in the wilderness. Without being anchored on the Word of God, we’ll easily be deceived.

You are battling for eternity.
Be very guarded and test everything.

Bottom line:

The Word of God doesn’t change.
Man may alter it,
lie about it,
and add to it,
but God’s Word will endure forever.
So . . . how well do you know God’s Word?
Do you read the Bible consistently?

I’d love to hear from you!

Spiritual Deception, Part 2

If you didn’t catch last week’s blog, please go back and read it. This is a continuation.

 

RECAP:

We’re diving inside an obscure little story found in 1 Kings 13.
The two main characters we’re looking at are simply known as “the true prophet of God” and “the old prophet.”

You’ll remember from last week that God instructed the true prophet to enter the idol-infested city of Bethel and warn King Jeroboam of his sin. God told the true prophet not to eat or drink while there and to return a different way than he’d come.

An old prophet who lived in Bethel (the city of idols) invited the true prophet to come home and eat with him. “Oh no, I can’t do that,” the true prophet explained. “God has given me specific instructions.”

But the old prophet said, “I, too, am a prophet and God told me through an angel that it’s OK if you come home with me.”

So the true prophet went.
During dinner, however, the old prophet said, “This is what the Lord says: You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command He gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where He told you not to eat or drink. Therefore you’re going to die far from home.”

We can learn several things from this story through the red flags that are given.
• First Red Flag:
The true prophet of God stopped to rest under a tree (1 Kings 13:14). He was actually doing much more than resting. He had built a temporary home and had made himself comfortable right outside the city of idols instead of fleeing. Bad move!

• Second Red Flag:
This young prophet was deceived by the old prophet. When the old prophet said, “God spoke to me through an angel,” the young prophet accepted it as God’s word and went with him.

But God had already specifically spoken to the young prophet. So when does the voice of an angel trump the voice of God Himself?
The old prophet was actually lying to the young prophet, but the younger one failed to discern.

If God wanted the young prophet to accompany the old prophet, God Himself would have told him.

Simply because someone says he has heard from God, doesn’t always mean he actually has, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s a message for YOU.

Paul told Timothy that in the last days it would be easy to be deceived by people in the church who have stopped listening to the Truth.
• Third Red Flag:
The old prophet was living in Bethel. This tells us a lot!

Maybe at one time He was obediently prophesying in God’s name, but the fact that he had chosen to live in the forbidden city of idols shows us he wasn’t living in God’s will.

I wish the young prophet had recognized this. When the old prophet said, “I, too, am a prophet of the Lord,” why didn’t the young prophet question his actions. “Really? Then why are you living where God has forbidden us to live?” would have been a great question!

And when the old prophet said, “God spoke to me through an angel,” I wish the young prophet had questioned that as well. “Really? That’s interesting, because God doesn’t need to use an angel to speak to us. He speaks directly to us. I’ve already been given specific instructions from Him, and they’re the exact opposite of what you’re telling me.”
I’ll conclude this next week, but meanwhile, here are a few questions to chew on:

—Do you find yourself easily deceived?

—Oftentimes we simply accept what we hear as truth if it comes from one who claims to be a Christian. But God never contradicts Himself. So if His Word can’t back up what you’re hearing, it’s not truth. Do you struggle with this?

—Like the old prophet, do you sometimes find yourself living in a place where God has instructed you to leave?

—Is it easier for you to believe that God speaks to other Christians more than He speaks to you?

Spiritual Deception, Part 1

It’s an obscure little story tucked inside of 1 Kings 13.

Jeroboam was on the throne, and he was deeply involved in idol worship. God sent a prophet to warn the king. It’s interesting that this prophet is only known as “a true prophet of God.”

I’d love to know his actual name.
What he looked like.
A little more about him.

But we do know is that he’s a young adult, he’s serving God and God is greatly blessing his ministry.

God gave him specific instructions:
“When you prophesy to King Jeroboam, don’t eat or drink, and return home on a different route from which you went.”

The true prophet of God prophesied to Jeroboam, and the king stretched out his hand in anger and yelled, “Seize him!” But as he did this, his hand immediately shriveled up and he couldn’t retrieve it.

Jeroboam begged the prophet to seek healing from God. And God moved through the prophet to immediately restore the king’s hand.

In gratitude, Jeroboam invited the prophet to dinner and revealed that he wanted to reward him. But the prophet told him he was not to eat or drink, and he left on a different route from which he’d entered the city.

This is where the story takes an interesting turn!
There was an old prophet living in Bethel who had heard what happened and found the true prophet of God sitting under a tree. “Come home with me and let me feed you,” he invited.

The true prophet refused and explained God’s instructions.
The old prophet said, “But I’m also a prophet of God! And God spoke through an angel to me—telling me to invite you into my home.”

So the true prophet of God went home with the old prophet.
They ate together, and during dinner the old prophet said, “This is what the Lord says: You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command He gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where He told you not to eat or drink. Therefore you’re going to die far from home.”

The true prophet left immediately but was killed by a lion.

HUH??!!?!?

Are you thinking this is kind of a weird story?
And what can we learn from it?

We can actually learn several things! There are a lot of red flags in this event. Allow me to mention one now, and I’ll continue with next week’s blog, OK?


First Red Flag:

• The true prophet of God stopped to rest under a tree (1 Kings 13:14). When researching this passage, I discovered that the Hebrew meaning for sitting under the tree is a lot more than simply stopping for a breather.

He had actually stopped long enough to build shelter under the tree. In other words, he set up camp. He stayed a while—like a couple of months. He had constructed a temporary home.

He was in a place that wasn’t pleasing to God. He was still near the city of idols—the very place God sent him to prophecy against. He was to FLEE this wicked area. But instead, he stopped just outside the city and set up camp. He became comfortable living close to sin.

There’s nothing wrong with resting!

We NEED rest.

But when we rest in the wrong place, we’re setting ourselves up for trouble.

So think about it:

—Are you getting adequate rest? The better rested you are, the better equipped you are for doing what God has called you to do!

—Are you resting in the right place . . . or do you sometimes find yourself falling asleep too close to what God has forbidden?

Thoughts?

How Much Does Sin Cost?

When reading 1 Kings 13, we find Jeroboam on the throne.

He was a ruler deeply involved in idol worship. Because of his evil deeds, he was quickly destroying the nation of Israel. God sent him several warnings, but Jeroboam’s hard heart refused to heed them.
Jeroboam even manufactured his own system of worship in defiance of God’s law. God eventually destroyed the house of Jeroboam from the face of the earth. This is a tenacious warning that sin will not be tolerated.
You may remember the story of Joshua. God empowered the children of Israel—under Joshua’s leadership—to conquer the huge city of Jericho. But afterward, when they attempted to conquer the tiny little city of Ai, they were unsuccessful. Joshua couldn’t figure it out.

“I don’t understand, God,” he said. “Why would You bring us this close to the Promised Land—and give us victory in Jericho but not in Ai? What’s happening?”
God revealed to Joshua that someone in the group had broken His commands and stolen some articles. Joshua tore his clothes in anguish. God helped him discover the guilty man—Achan—and he was immediately killed.
Joshua and the children of Israel continued on their journey into the land that God had promised.
How much does sin cost?

The price is high.

Romans 6:23 displays the price tag: “The wages of sin is death.”

Wow.

Sin is serious.

It distances us from God and will eventually destroy us.
BUT . . .

we serve a God of hope!

That same Scripture (Romans 6:23) not only shows us sin’s price tag, it also announces: “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Someone has to pay for your sin—

it’s either you . . . or Jesus Christ.
Father, help us never to take Your precious gift of forgiveness, mercy and grace for granted.
A little more to chew on:

Not only will Christ forgive our sin, but when we surrender all to Him and make Him truly LORD of our lives, His Holy Spirit can give us continual victory over sin.
Are you living in victory?

Not Always as it Seems

You’ve heard the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Oftentimes I do.

A great cover says everything.

When I’m browsing in Barnes & Noble, I don’t even pick up a book that doesn’t have a great cover.

I’m being close-minded, aren’t I?

There are probably fantastic books with lousy covers, and I’m the one losing out because I’ve refrained from going beyond the cover.

While reading in 1 Kings today, something caught my attention. I plowed through the minute details of preparation and the laborious specifications in building the Temple in chapters 5 and 6. When I got to the end of chapter six, I read that it took King Solomon seven years to build the Temple.

Then in 1 Kings 7:1, I read this:

“It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace” (NIV).

What?

He spent almost TWICE as much time on his own home than he did with God’s Temple?

I couldn’t believe it!

Were his priorities out of line?

This seems completely unbalanced!

The more I read, however, the more I understood:

Things aren’t always as they seem.

You really can’t judge a book by its cover.

Solomon can be commended for putting the Temple first.

He determined to put God first and built the Temple before he focused on his own needs.

You see, there was an immediate need to provide a place of worship for the Israelites, and Solomon was wise enough to know that his personal needs could wait.

Also, there were no previous preparations for his house as there were for the Temple. And when the Temple was being built, Solomon and the people were quickened by God’s express command to complete it. The palace was merely for personal convenience. God’s house was a necessity.

Solomon showed greater glory by focusing on the honor of God than he did his own comforts . . . and that’s a lesson for all of us.

Hmmm.

Things aren’t always as they seem.

 

 

Can you relate?

Doesn’t Make Sense!

We will never fully understand God until we’re in heaven with Him. Let’s stop trying to make sense of His ways—because sometimes they just don’t make sense!

The first shall be last?

The last shall be first?

If you want to be great, head to back of the line and start serving?

Let’s make it our goal to simply OBEY God . . .

whether we understand His commands or not.

If only Saul had known this truth!

Maybe you remember the story. If not, you can find it in 1 Samuel 15.

God sent Samuel the prophet to instruct King Saul to kill the Amalekites. Who were they? The Amalekites were an evil and brutal tribe who attacked God’s people, the Israelites, as they traveled through the wilderness to the Promised Land.

The Amalekites had no reverence of fear of God. They had a reputation for especially attacking the weaker members—women and children and elderly people who couldn’t always keep pace with the rest of the Israelites.

God’s word to Samuel was to instruct King Saul to kill every living being among the Amalekite tribe—every man, woman, child and animal. So Saul gathered 210,000 soldiers and destroyed the Amalekites.

Maybe you’re familiar with what happened next.

Saul and his troops were returning home from battle when Samuel met them on the road. “Glory be to God!” Saul shouted. “He has given us victory in battle because of our obedience.”

“Seriously?” Samuel asked. “Your obedience? Then how come I’m looking at a bunch of fat sheep and oxen? You were supposed to kill every living thing!”

“Well . . . you’re gonna love this, Samuel! I decided to keep the fattest sheep and the strongest oxen so we can offer them as a sacrifice to the Lord when we get back to hometown. That way all the people can come out and celebrate WITH us as we praise God for this victory! Great plan, huh!”

Samuel was disgusted. “No! It’s a horrible plan. You’ve acted in direct disobedience to God. What you have done is as bad as satan worship. God desires your obedience over sacrifice any time and every time! And because you’ve disobeyed, God will remove you from the throne. That’s right—you nor any of your family will continue to rule over Israel! And by the way . . . who’s he?”

“This is King Agag. We didn’t kill him, because when we return home, we’ll have a giant victory parade so everyone can see him as our trophy—and as we give thanks to God, we’ll kill him THEN.”

Samuel was so horrified at Saul’s blatant disobedience, he grabbed Saul’s sword and immediately annihilated Agag.

Seems pretty harsh, you may be thinking.

What’s the big deal with some animals and killing the king now or later?

It kind of makes sense.

It DOES kind of make sense, doesn’t it?

Why wouldn’t God want the sacrifice of all these animals?

Again, we don’t understand God’s ways. If we try hard enough, we can make anything make sense. We can rationalize and rationalize until it seems right.

But it’s not our job to make God make sense. It’s only our job to obey Him.

OK on the animals. God didn’t want them as a sacrifice. But what’s the big deal about killing Agag then or in a giant victory parade? Isn’t the bottom line that he’s killed? Does it really matter when?

Every detail of God’s will always matters.

Let’s push the fast-forward button on this story. It’s 20 years in the future, and Saul is down in battle on Mount Gilboa. His enemy has the sword at Saul’s neck, so Saul is unable to turn around and identify him. So Saul asks: “Who are you?”

The response of his enemy?

“I . . . am . . . an Amalakite.”

Gasp.

What?!?!?!

How can this be? Saul killed all the Amalikites. He wiped them out.

Yes, but he didn’t do it God’s way.

From the time Saul took King Agag into captivity from the time he met up with Samuel was less than a week. But it was just enough time for Agag to escape, father a son and be taken captive by Saul again before meeting Samuel.

And now . . . 20 years later . . . the son of Agag is out to destroy Saul.

The son of Agag HATES you!

He will do everything in his power to destroy you.

That’s why a God who loves you more than you can comprehend says, “If there’s anything in your life that’s keeping you from obeying Me wholeheartedly, annihilate it.”

 

Anything you need to annihilate?