Becoming a disciple: forgiving in the valley

Scripture – Job 42:10

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.

Observation

Job’s final challenge. After tons of chapters of his friends chastising him, judging him, putting him down and thinking they were better than he, they now get told by God to take bulls and rams to Job and have him pray for them – something they could never imagine.

But this isn’t the most interesting thing that’s about to happen. There has been no talk from God about restoring anything (people or stuff) to Job. Job is faced with the choice of praying for his friends, forgiving them truly in his heart, with the expectation that he would still be left with his kids killed, his animals stolen, his land destroyed.

God said that he was angry with his friends and that it was in his hands to save them from what they deserved – forgiving and praying for their salvation when he had literally nothing to his name and no future hope.

So what did he do? Job did pray for them and forgive them.

Then what happened? God blessed Job and not only restored to him everything he had lost but a double measure. This only happened after he prayed for his friends.

Application

When I feel at my worst, at my most vulnerable, at my poorest and weakest, I don’t feel like forgiving and praying for those who caused me grief. Yet, the lesson from this interaction between Job and God, is profound. To forgive and pray for those who have been against me, not once I have recovered, but at the depth of my suffering, is key – and just watch if God doesn’t honor that in ways beyond understanding.

Prayer

Father, you are so good. Thank you for Job and his story. Thank you for showing him how to live in complete humility. Thank you for redeeming him and thank you for redeeming me. I pray I will be ready to forgive and pray for those who cause me grief while I am still at my worst and not waiting until I am at my best. You really do look at the heart. I pray you would find in me a pure heart. Grateful for your word and your encouragement today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Scripture – Luke 21:34-35

But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose;

For it will come upon all who live upon the face of the entire earth.

Observation

There is a real need to be on our guard. Not so much to be guarded of other people but rather of the anxiety and worries of this world. Jesus wants us to take this seriously because “it will come upon all who live upon the face of the earth“. There is no escape from  self-indulgence, drunkenness (giving over control to something else) and the cares pertaining to the business of this life. No matter if you are a an upper-class Belgian aristocrat, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, or a farmer in Iowa, these worries will come upon you.

Application

I must be on my guard. I must not live in naïvety that I am immune or hidden from these worries. But in Jesus I am able to withstand these worries, to lay them at his feet and in so doing keep my heart from being overburdened or depressed by their weight.

Sometimes I do feel overwhelmed. And if I think about the root cause, it is from the worries and cares of the business of this life. The sky and the earth will pass away but the Words of God will never pass away. I know if I begin to feel overwhelmed, I need to guard my heart and my mind, to put back on the helmet of salvation and refocus my attention on Jesus who is by nature a Savior, who can lift me up above any worry or care lest my heart become overburdened and depressed.

Prayer

Father, thank you for your timely words today. It is so good to be in your presence and in your word. I pray for wisdom today that I might see in advance the potential threat of my heart becoming overwhelmed by the cares of this life. I love you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Becoming a disciple: Heart surgery is good

Scripture – Ezekiel 11:19

“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them.”

Observation

I believe this is a prophetic word for our church. God himself is giving us, the whole body as a unit, a new heart, and he is putting a new spirit within us. We as a church family are becoming a people. The Father is gathering his kids together and is giving us one heart, one vision, one faith, one spirit. It’s hugely exciting yet with any surgery there are always painful moments. I am so blessed to be a part of what God is doing at Evergreen.

Application

Nothing can quench the adventure of being remade and remodeled by God. Being abandoned to his purposes, not fearful of tomorrow and not regretful about yesterday. He is faithful and his promise can be stood upon as solid rock. If we would just turn around and see who is standing beside us, we would be filled with the zeal and the confidence that can only come from God.

Prayer

Father, I am so grateful to you today. Thank you for giving me and the people of Evergreen a new heart and a new spirit. I pray you would find soft and ready hearts to dive into you 100%. You are not an accessory. You are not a seasonal character. You are not a crutch. You are the Almighty God, the Living Savior and the only One with the power to rescue. I declare myself needing rescue today as I did yesterday. I lean on you. Be glorified in my life and in the lives of everyone not only in the Evergreen family now, but in everyone who you are drawing to be a part of the family over the next 6 months. You are worthy. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Becoming a disciple: Leading with others of the same heart

Scripture – 2 Kings 10:15

And he greeted him and said to him, “Is your heart true to my heart as mine is to yours?” And Jehonadab answered, “It is.”

Observation

Jehu and Jehonadab had the same heart for the LORD. There is something powerful when you have a brother in Christ who thinks the same way – having hearts true to each other. There is trust when there is unity. Jehu invited his friend to join him in his chariot, to ride with him, to lead with him at his right hand. They shared the same zeal for God and that provided the backdrop for their friendship.

Application

In friends and people who I invite into the chariot of leadership with me, let me look for kindred spirits, people with the same passion and zeal for God. This is what can be counted on in hard times.

Prayer

Father, you know my heart. Let me be drawn to those who share the same heart, the same passion for you. Let them be drawn to me. As I pray for specific leaders to rise to the surface to take on areas of ministry, let their hearts glow so that I might recognize them. For your glory, in the name of Jesus, amen.

Becoming a disciple: After God’s own heart

Scripture – 1 Samuel 14:52

There was hard fighting against the Philistines all the days of Saul. And when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he attached him to himself.

Observation

Saul was a scared leader. He was scared because he knew his time as king could come to an end at any moment – because the Lord had found someone after his own heart and would make them king.

Saul assumed it would be a strong and courageous man, so whenever he met on, he invited them to work for him. The saying goes, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.

It’s easy to see how Saul’s fear and worry became the center of his life over time. He was trying to hold onto the kingdom for himself, which was already destined for David, a poetry-writing, harp-playing, sheep-herding teenager.

Application

Jesus teaches us to pray – “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. Sometimes its easy to say those words but what we’re hoping for is – “I hope the stuff you want to do is exactly the stuff I want to do”.

There is freedom in focusing on God’s heart and allowing him to bend our hearts around his, and there is fear and anxiety when we try to squeeze God into our own thoughts and dreams of what could be.

In my life, I want to be known as a man who lives in the freedom of trusting in the will of God – never trying to gather around me people or systems or things that I could naïvely believe could help keep God’s will from being done.

Prayer

Dad, I ask that your will to be done today. Soften my heart to more clearly hear your voice and trust you. In Jesus’ name, amen.