Check-up

1 Samuel 7: 2

During that time all Israel mourned because it seemed the LORD had abandoned them.

Have you ever been in this same situation where it feels like the Lord has abandoned you? I suppose there are few people who have not had a time when it felt like God was not listening. We know in our minds it is not true, that He will never leave nor forsake us but there are those times; times when you feel like you are in the middle of a desert with no food or water, no sustaining presence. Where is God, you wonder.

Listen to Samuel’s response to Israel. Verse three reads, “Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” It wasn’t that the Lord had abandoned them. It was that they had abandoned the Lord. They did not seem to realize they had turned aside from him.

It is so easy to end up in the same place. It doesn’t seem like we have turned from the Lord but then, all of a sudden, something happens, maybe someone happens, someone like Samuel, and then you realize you don’t do the things you did and you don’t feel the way you did. There has been a subtle shift. So subtle, in fact, that you didn’t even notice. This isn’t criticism and it sure isn’t condemnation. It is just an opportunity to check yourself. Is your heart where it was? Do you still sing your songs to the Lord? Do you talk with Him as much as you did? Where did you put your Bible?

If this is you, don’t fret. God is as close as your next breath and He is not mad at you. He loves you and He understands. He knows we get distracted by all the things going on in our world. It happens sometimes. Today is a good day though. You can right that ship in a moment. Just talk to Him and tell Him what you feel and how you want things to be with Him. He is just awaiting an invitation.

If you feel like God has withdrawn, take a moment to reconnect. The Israelites had idols fashioned by hands. We shift idols onto our altar too, but we don’t always realize what we are doing. Our idols tend to be our jobs, social life, projects and even TV or the internet. We can become so distracted by those things and place such a priority on them that we supplant God. We don’t mean to, but it happens. Then one day we turn around and realize we aren’t where we were. We no longer have the Father firmly enshrined on the altar of our heart. The busyness of life has pushed out everything which threatens to get in its way.

Take a little check-up today. Are you where you want to be with God? Has your relationship slipped a little? Maybe it has not but you are just ready for a closer walk with Him. Today is the day ordained for just such a query. Perform your spiritual check-up and make sure there are no shrines to other Gods. Make sure nothing has enshrined itself in God’s place.

Alone and Afraid

Deuteronomy 31: 6

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

This is one of those verses we want to be true. It is also a good verse upon which to test your resolve. Are you a believer? Do you believe this verse is an actual promise from God to you? Can you stand on it? Well, that is the question, isn’t it?

Face it, there are times that despite our spirituality, we just feel alone. Intellectually, we know better. At least we know that the Bible says that God will never leave nor forsake us. Sometimes, though, you look into your spirit, you try to quiet yourself and all you hear is silence. It is in those times we must preach to ourselves and that is exactly what Father told me to do recently in my journaling. He said, “Preach to yourself what you would say to someone else.” That advice and the idea that He is with us all the time has stayed with me a lot lately.

The whole truth is that God cannot leave us even if He wanted to. Of course, you know He wants to be with you 24/7. He said to me, “That has been the point of this whole thing. It’s the reason I sent Jesus to earth.” This brings to my remembrance the promise in John 14: 23, “If anyone loves Me . . . My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” God’s purpose in sending Jesus to earth was so that we could again come into communion with Him. He wanted to establish a community of believers for Himself where He could set up His home within our hearts and be with us forever. Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit said, “. . . but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you,” (John 14:16). If He abides in us and with us, how can we ever be apart from Him? Those verses account for the abiding presence of the Father, Jesus and the Spirit. That’s pretty good company.

This should give us GREAT comfort and confidence. Today’s verse is from the Old Testament. How much greater is the good news since Jesus graced the earth. Even back then it is said, “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed,” (Deuteronomy 31: 8). Why should we be fearful or forlorn? Why should we be depressed or lonely? Our Father, our beloved, is with us every minute of every day. He and His heavenly host even watch over us while we sleep. God gave up Jesus whom He loves so that He can be with us night and day. He is not about to abandon us now after all the work He did to make His home with us.

Jesus said he left his peace here for us (John 14: 27). This verse is only four verses after Jesus said that he and the Father would make their abode with us. Part of that peace, it seems to me, is in knowing that the Holy Trinity is with you all of the time, day and night, at work at home. Whatever you do, wherever you go, they are there, with you. I write this hoping it will help you create more of a “God with me” identity. We need not be afraid or tremble. We can be strong and courageous of whatever tomorrow brings for our Lord and God is with us and goes before us. He will never, for one minute, leave us nor will He ever forsake us. You have a friend, a permanent friend, who, if you will let Him, will be your best friend for all time.

The Prophet Speaks

2 Chronicles 15: 2

Listen to me . . . the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.

The backstory here is that Asa, the king of Judah, called upon the Lord when Judah was confronted by a million man Ethiopian army. Judah had only 300,00 soldiers. God hearkened to the voice of Asa and routed Ethiopia. It was after this event that the prophet Azariah spoke to Asa.

Azariah knew the history of the people. When they sought God, they prevailed, but time and time again, the people turned away from God. When they did, disaster resulted. Azariah went to Asa with a word from the Lord. In effect, this was a heads-up. Asa had just experienced the victory that belongs to those who continually seek the Lord. The word of warning to him, and ultimately to us, is to maintain that which made you successful. Do not cease to seek the Lord daily.

When things are bad, most of us find it easy to call upon God. We are in deep need, that need drives us to His throne room. After the battle is over, we need to heed this word of caution because sometimes we slip away a little. We begin to enjoy the peace and forget who it is who is still at work providing that peace. After awhile we can even begin to think we had something to do with our success. That is when things really go badly for us, so we must continue to search God’s heart and mind for daily life.

Another thing that is note worthy in this verse is the idea that God will forsake you if you forsake Him. Isn’t that contrary to what you have heard before. Hebrews 13: 5 reads, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” I also love these words from Nehemiah 9: 31, “In Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, for You are a gracious and compassionate God.” So, what gives?

It really turns out to be quite simple. You are in command of your relationship with God. The Almighty God whom we think of as sovereign in everything has actually relinquished His power to you in this regard. Therefore, you can think of these verses as saying, He will not forsake you as long as you don’t kick Him out. Of His own volition, God will never leave you nor forsake you, but you have the power to turn Him out. Then, He has no choice.

Big Promise

Psalm 9: 10

For Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee.

There are thousands of promises in the Bible. However, they aren’t numbered so that you can go look them up one by one. Here is one though, which perhaps you should mark with a tab and some highlighting so that you can always find your way back to it. What great assurance and grounding for our soul we find in these few simple words.
God has never and will never forsake those who seek Him. Even when people kept sinning, they would run back to God and He was always awaiting their return. He was always keeping a vigil watching for them. He will not forsake us, even when we deserve it.

In truth, all of the power over your relationship with God is in your hands. He has given you His Word. He has taken His position. He says, “I am here. I make Myself available to you and furthermore, I will never, ever forsake you.” We are the ones in control. We choose to seek Him or not. Do we let the world, work, our social lives and all of the other distractions supersede our seeking? Sure we do. I do. Sometimes I awaken myself to the truth and realize that I have not been seeking Him as I should, even as I once did. Then I start again because I have the power over my relationship with God, even as you do.

The question, then, becomes, “How does one seek Yahweh?” The two principle ways to seek Him are prayer and The Word. I wouldn’t suggest you omit either one. You will find Him if you believe you will and you honestly search for Him in the Word. Just talk with Him about scripture. Ask Him what He was thinking when He had those words you just read penned. Ask Him why it was important to Him that those words find their way into our Bible. Ask Him what further revelation He can show you from that scripture. You will be amazed how many messages He can speak to your heart from one short scripture. Talk to Him about today’s verse. Go read the verses before and after it. Find out the context in which it was written. And listen. Look out your window at the trees blowing in the wind and let His thoughts gently float across your mind. I will promise you this, if you seek Him, honestly seek Him, you absolutely will find Him.

Never Forsaken

Hebrews 13: 5 – 6                 Index Card 6

He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”

This verse speaks about confidence and I find myself thinking, “Yes, this is the kind of confidence I need.” I want to be unafraid. I want to abound in radical trust in the Lord. Life will certainly take on a different flavor when we trust the Lord that extensively. We will answer His call on our lives. We will believe we can do what he says we can do because he is our helper. We are not alone. He will not abandon us.

I used to often feel lonely. Now I almost never do. I have grown in my awareness of God with me, Jesus in me and the Holy Spirit leading me. I certainly am not in the full radical trust in the Lord Jesus that I would like to live but I have learned that he is always with us and thus, we never have to feel alone or lonely. His word is good and it is true. He will never leave us nor forsake us. You will never be abandoned or left to fend on your own. Amen.

Hope Prevails

Isaiah 42: 3

A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.

The forty-second chapter of Isaiah is a prophetic foretelling of the coming of Jesus. This passage reveals the gentleness of Jesus. He came that we might all come to the Father. He will not foreclose anyone’s opportunity to come into the Kingdom of God. No matter how dimly the light is burning Jesus will stay there and fan that flame. No matter how weak or damaged a person is, she is never too far gone for Jesus. He will bring forth justice for that person and they will receive their salvation and all of the other gifts the Father has provided. Never give up and never give up on anyone else. Neither Jesus nor the Father has forsaken them or you for God has promised us that he will never leave nor forsake us.