Showing posts from May, 2012



Relax, God's Already "Shown Up"

This is a test.

We can identify with Saul. On the eve of battle, with his troops getting restless and ready to run for home, Saul is feeling the pressure. Samuel is expected to come to put God's "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" on the enterprise. At the end of the seven days, the waiting period designated by Samuel, there is no prophet appearing over the nearest hill.

If his troops were "quaking with fear" before (I Samuel 13:7, NIV), they are paralyzed with it now. If he doesn't act, what men are left to him will take off for the hills.

Saul acts. He offers the required sacrifices to God (vss. 9, 10). He takes on a role that isn't his to assume. He doesn't trust God and doesn't inspire that same trust in his men.

If he'd only waited a little while longer. His impatience cost him his kingdom (vss. 13, 14).

Most of us are not anticipating leading men into battle, but most of us can relate to the weight of the pressure on Saul's shoulders…

A Job Description Set In Stone

The aged prophet has just delivered a stinging rebuke. He was against the request that Israel had made to imitate their neighbours and have a king. But God had directed him to do as the people had asked. Samuel did as he was told, albeit reluctantly.

Now, after the fact, he reminds Israel that they have made a big mistake. Oddly enough, and despite the fact that Saul has just had a decisive victory against the Ammonites, the people realize what they hadn’t understood earlier—they had made a mistake.

We all make mistakes. Some are bigger than others and bring corresponding consequences.We often gloat a little (or a lot) when others get caught. We wiggle on the end of our own hook when we get caught, ably assisted by those who twist the line a little as they gloat over our mistakes.

We might have expected Samuel to gloat a little at a remorseful Israel, but he doesn’t.While he doesn’t excuse them, he does offer them words of encouragement (1 Samuel 12:20-25).

He tells them not to be afrai…

Dropping Words

Another one of those things I never noticed before—

"The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground" (1 Samuel 3:19, NIV).

It's a little awkward grammatically but the following two verses clear up which "he" is who!

"And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. And Samuel's word came to all Israel" (3:20-4:1a, NIV).

I love that phrase, "…he let none of his words fall to the ground." This boy to whom God spoke, this youth, this man, heard the voice of God, he listened (once he got over that initial confusion of who was speaking to him) and he didn't forget or neglect one single word of what God told him.

What a beautiful example of what our attitude should be to the Word of God. We sometimes pick and choose from among the things we hear from God. W…

A Faithful Priest

Last night, our congregation took an historic vote that will change the process the church has traditionally followed in looking for a pastor. A new chapter has begun and new chapters bring challenges with them.

Which was why I decided this morning to stay in 1 Samuel 2 instead of moving on to the next chapter. As I opened my Bible this morning, my eye caught a verse I had underlined at the end of the chapter. It SO spoke to me.

The boy Samuel is now in residence in the Tabernacle. God is unhappy with Israel's spiritual leadership. Eli is an old man who can't control his sons. Those two men are abusing their mandate as priests and God has warned Eli that He will not tolerate His name and reputation being trampled underfoot. He makes this announcement:

"I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always" (1 Samuel 2:35, NIV).

Now, I don&…

They Said It Was Like Hell

They said it was like hell. Of course, they've never been to hell, but I imagine it was a reasonable facsimile.

Yesterday I woke up to the smell of bush burning. I couldn't see anything but as the day wore on I became aware that forest fires were burning all around the town. Some 25,000 hectares (almost 62 thousand acres) out around Gogama resulted in mass evacuations of the town and the cottages in that area. Highways were closed and on the last day of a holiday weekend, life probably got complicated for those trying to get home.

The cause of the fires hasn't been reported yet. There has been a fire ban on, though that doesn't mean someone wasn't careless. But we have had thunder storms so it could have easily been lightning. Regardless of the cause, yesterday rain was welcome.

I remember seeing the mountains around Caracas lit up from fires. Dry weather, lightning, carelessness and arson all came into play there, much as they do here in Canada. We wonder at the…

Just One Request Away

The famous vow that Ruth made to her mother-in-law, Naomi, has been repeated in countless wedding ceremonies—though not a single one, I'm sure, where the bride has actually made the vows to her new mother-in-law!

"Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God…" (Ruth 1:16, NIV).

But the words Ruth spoke to Boaz are of much greater significance that what she said to Noami.

Ruth has been working in the fields of one of Naomi's relatives, Boaz. She has been protected and provided for as she has worked. But she is not safe.

In the night, at the end of harvest, Ruth goes to Boaz and, as he sleeps, she lies down at his feet. When the man perceives that someone is lying there, she says to him: "'I am your servant Ruth," she said. "Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer'" (Ruth 3:9, NIV).

Ruth would never enjoy the security of the family inheritance unle…

Every Child

Over the last few decades, doctors have warned expectant moms about all the things they should, and should not, do when they discover they are pregnant.

Not surprisingly God has had that one covered since the beginning of history.

Take the case of Samson's mother in Judges 13. An angel appears to this sterile woman. No sooner than he announces that she is going to conceive, he tells her: "Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean" (13:4, NIV). Samson would become a Nazirite and hold to certain rules in keeping with that calling, but why should his mother be restricted? Could it be that there is a correlation between what a pregnant woman does with her body and the tendencies her child will show after he or she is born? Science has since proven that to be true.

The woman repeated the instructions to her husband. Manoah immediately asked God: "O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to…

Don't Leave Home Without Him

Gideon is threshing wheat, trying his best to keep his activities secret. If the Midianite oppressors discover what he is doing, they will destroy the crop and quite possibly punish his impudence.

The Israelites have cried out to God because of the seven years of suffering they have endured under the harsh hand of Midian. He heard those cries, sent a prophet to remind them that they brought all this on themselves because they had assimilated the local gods into their daily worship (Judges 6:10).

When the angel appears to Gideon, he greets the farmer with "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior" to which Gideon responds, "If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us…" (6:13, NIV).

I guess Gideon must have missed the sermon delivered by the prophet, or he hadn't received the memo. His own father had an image of Baal and an Asherah pole (6:25).

All that aside, when the angel tells Gideon to go and rescue Israel from her oppressors, there begins a lengthy …

Tomorrow's Hill

"The Lord gave them rest on every side…Not one of all the Lord's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled" (Joshua 21:43, 45, NIV).

Israel had to take the journey before she saw the reward. Giants to be conquered, enemies to be fought, obedience to be tested, defeats to be turned into victories—it was only at the end when the battles were over that God's people would be able to look back and realize that God had never failed them.

That's easy to forget when the enemy has a knife at your throat.

The good thing about a journey with the Lord, this battle to take another "hill," is that we can always look back at the last "hill" He took for us. While conquering the land of Canaan, Israel could look back at Egypt, and the wilderness. God took her over those "hills" and none of His promises failed.

Now, as Israel looks back on this new "hill" that has tested, and proven, God's faithfulness to His Wor…

A Tribute to Margaret

My connection with Margaret Haines goes back to my childhood. My mother used to do light housework at Margaret’s place during a period in her life when she was still working and looking after her aunt and uncle in her home.
Margaret loved children—I won’t say “kids” because Margaret would not have approved—and she loved books. The teenagers who remember her will tell you that she was good to them. She was the driving force behind The Northland Bible Bookroom in our church and was absolutely dogged about getting people to buy good books—even to writing articles for The Timmins Daily Press promoting the books and the bookroom. If people didn’t come into the bookroom, or even if they did, she’d take the books she thought were appropriate for them and pursue them until she could catch them long enough to explain why they urgently needed to read that book. It was not a matter of sales, it was always a matter of people and what might be meaningful to those people. In fact, just yesterday a f…

Time Management—God Style

Okay, Lord, I could use an extra day so could you do another "Joshua" and make the sun stand still?

What's that you say? There is time enough to do everything You intended me to do in the amount of time You've already allotted? Are You sure?

No, I don't mean to doubt You, Lord, it's just that, well, there's just so much to do.

You mean to tell me that I might be doing stuff that isn't on Your agenda?

Oh, yes, I did see that quote on FACEBOOK. You mean it's true?

So the deal is if I concentrate on Your plans rather than mine, there will be enough time and the success rate is 100% AND, the sun WILL stand still if necessary?

Yes, I noticed that: "Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you" (Joshua 10:8, NSV). I noticed that Joshua marched all night to get to where he needed to be.

It was the night of a harvest moon so they could find their way? And You gave them enough strength in spit…

Kodak Moments

"He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God" (Joshua 4:24, NIV).

The context?

After the Israelites crossed over the Jordan and stepped into the land God had promised to give them, they were instructed to build a memorial made of stones taken from the river. The memorial was to be a permanent reminder of how God's hand had worked to bring them to this point in their history.

As I looked at this phrase, I wondered what life would be like if every "happening" was viewed as a "God did this to show me Who He is" moment.

Life becomes a series a photographs that tell His story as it relates to our lives. We open the album (or the file on our computer) and "show and tell." We say, "this was when God…"

A week ago I had the opportunity to tell my story, the condensed version, to a friend. As I answered her questions I realized again how ma…

Point of Decision

Normally, time dims memory or sharpens it to the point of exaggeration.

The inhabitants of Jericho didn't need to exaggerate the stories they had heard about the God of Israel—even forty years after the fact. When news came that Israel was parked on their doorstep, panic set in.

In an inn of sorts, perched on the walls of the city, a woman was given the opportunity to make a choice based on what she had heard. She chose to believe the stories.

"I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt…When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below" (Joshua 2:9, 10, 11, NIV).

The choice whether or not to believe God faces all of us continually. Whether it be in th…