I recently attended a men’s gathering in Estes Park, Colorado where door prizes were being raffled off. I was one among 250 men whose number was called.
I heard, “262!”
“That’s me! I won, ”I exclaimed as my buddies cheered me on.
I strutted. I pranced and I gave the victory sign as I made my way to the front to seize my prize in front of the energized crowd of men.
As I went to pick up my bounty, the facilitator sought to confirm my ticket.
My reply, “262!”
His response, “262? That number is on every ticket. Sorry man, you aren’t a winner.”
I was in shock, embarrassed and wanted to crawl under anything that would spare me the joy of walking back to my seat empty-handed.
It was an honest mistake that was founded in the idea that I simply heard what I wanted to hear.
I thought one thing but the facts revealed reality. Not everyone is a winner. Not everyone gets the prize. Ignorance isn’t always bliss.
Here is the truth. I didn’t need a blue raffle ticket to inform me that I had won. Truth is, I had already won. I had taken a private jet to the mountains of Colorado, slept with the coolness of the mountain air dancing at my toes, viewed amazing wildlife within a stones throw, and enjoyed time with a group of guys who desired to get back to nature and get closer to God. I was a winner and so were they.
I’m going to keep this coupon. The number 262 will forever remind me that sometimes in life we need simple reminders that we have already won even when we lose, especially when walking through life with a Band of Brothers!
Who walks through life with you and cheers you on even when you come back empty-handed looking like a fool?
In those days messages from the Lord were rare and visions were quite uncommon.
Can you relate?
Have you ever been found anxiously awaiting for direction from the Lord?
The silence is sometimes all too deafening!
Have you ever said,“ Say something Lord! Anything! The quiet is killing me!”
And then out of no where, suddenly, the Lord called out! Such was the case for young prophet to be, Samuel.
He was so surprised when the Lord spoke that the Lord had to repeat himself not once but four times!
Let’s agree on one thing. The Lord is never late. He is always on time. But that doesn’t mean we still aren’t a bunch of nervous Nellies!
What can we learn from Samuel?
1. There is a big difference in hearing and listening.
Samuel heard the Lord but he wasn’t listening. His mentor, Eli, shared an important principle with Samuel. It is the second lesson.
2. Be still! Lie down. Quit running around. Slow down and put yourself in the position to listen. Psalm 46:10 is great advice. Be still and know!
It is hard to know, when you are always on the go. You have to be still in order to be filled!
3. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. The passage indicates that a word from the Lord was rare.
Was God not speaking or were the people not listening?
Either way, we have to have eyes to see and ears to hear in order for the Lord’s message to come through.
The Lord is known to speak in at least three ways.
1. WORD. Most of what we need to know is already found in the scriptures. The Lord often speaks to us through his word. We need to seek him there. It is there that he can be found.
2. WORSHIP. In the stillness of prayer and praise the Lord often speaks to our hearts by the Spirit. All to often we are so rushed that the Lord can’t get a word in edgewise. Slow down. Whisper a prayer and he is there!
3. WORLD. The scripture assures us that wisdom cries out in the streets. Sometimes we put God in a box and limit his communication by applying a supposed formula for success. If God wants to speak to you, be ready. He may use a billboard, a song, the mountains or a blue jay. Whatever it is, be prepared to discern when the Lord is doing his best to get your attention.
The real bonus is when all of the “W’s” speak in unison. One thing we do know for certain. The Lord will never ask us to do anything that goes against his Word.
Let us take a cue from Samuel when he said, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
It is in that setting and attitude of heart where the Lord is known to speak.
Be still. I think I hear something. Are you listening?
It is up to you. Are you continuing down the same path again and again getting the same results? Or are you gaining ground in the direction you want your life to go?
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting things to change is a sure sign of insanity.
Stop! Get real with yourself. It’s not working! It is time to gain control not fall into a rut with a routine that falls short again and again!
We change for one reason. We decide to. It is not enough to know we should or want to change. We have to decide to and make the break from our old way of thinking. Our routine is ruining us! Kick the rut in the butt!
2. Take action
3. Go with a buddy
4. Expect God to give you victory
Quit living accidentally by just going with the flow. Buck the system. Turn into the wind. Swim up current. Kick the habit! Make up your mind and go for it. But when you do, don’t go at it alone.
We succeed when we have the encouragement and accountability of a likeminded comrade. We are better together!
Finally, include the creator in your creativity. He is an innovator. He is the ultimate change agent. Listen to his instructions. Follow his ways and expect, anticipate and count on the victory!
Yes! Get ready! Things are about to change.
I gain and you gain when we stop doing the same old tried and true lousy strategies again and again!
Change requires change. What changes is up to you!
Jericho was a crucial city in the journey to the land of Canaan. It became the site of a beachhead battle to enter the Promised Land.
Joshua had been chosen to lead the charge to victory.
It is interesting to note that “Joshua” is the same as the name “Jesus.” Joshua is the Hebrew form, and Jesus is the Greek form. The name Joshua means “Yahweh saves or delivers.
Joshua told two spies to go view the land, especially Jericho, so “they went, and came into a harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there” (Joshua 2:1).
The spies seemed to dress a little differently and talked to each other in low tones with a foreign accent. Evidently, some other customers recognized them as Israelites and made a beeline to warn the king.
Notice, the devil knows when God’s messengers are invading his domain.
When the two spies came through, Rahab believed it was a divine opportunity, and she began to demonstrate her faith by action. She was ready to lay her life on the line.
When she received the messengers from Joshua into her house, she was taking a tremendous risk.
When Rahab realized that her king intended to harm the spies, she found a perfect hiding place for them. “She had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof” (Joshua 2:6).
These two Israelites had to trust their deliverance to a pagan prostitute who believed in their God. The Lord often uses humble instruments to do great things.
Rahab lowered a red rope out the window, a scarlet cord, from which the men would safely descend from the high roof to the ground outside the city.
Unless the red rope was hanging from her window when the Israelites returned to conqueror the city, no one in her house would be saved.
The rope by which she delivered the messengers would be the same rope that delivered Rahab and her loved ones.
Joshua and his troops marched around Jericho 13 times. Then they blew the trumpets, shouted, and the walls fell down flat.
It was crucial to be in Rahab’s house with the red rope in the window when the walls came down.
We need faith for today and tomorrow.
Do you sometimes get discouraged and fainthearted?
When we lose heart, we lose the battle. But as Believers, our faith not only gets us to heaven, but also helps us get through each day on this earth.
We must not give up on God, no matter how bleak the circumstances may look.
“You belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4
Hang on, have faith and enjoy the ride!
Back in 1937 the Germans made an enormous airship called the Hindenburg. It was 804 feet long!
One time they were getting ready to launch it, and they had about 100 men on the ground hanging onto ropes, trying to maneuver the Hindenburg into its hanger.
They don’t know exactly what happened, but suddenly this enormous airship rose up with tremendous force.
As soon as it started shooting up, some of the men let go of the ropes, dropped to the ground, and didn’t get hurt.
Others waited until they were 50 or more feet off the ground before they let go, and when they fell they broke their ankles and legs.
A few others panicked and instinctively tightened their grip. They kept going up with the balloon until soon they couldn’t hang on any more, let go, and fell to their deaths.
Soon the Hindenburg began to hover and drift with the breeze several hundred feet up.
One man remained. The people on the ground wondered how long he could last. They chased the airship for about three hours, and it eventually lost altitude until the man was able to let go and walk away.
The stunned onlookers asked. “How did you hang on for so long?”
He said; “Once the blimp took off, I tightened my grip. Eventually I realized that I couldn’t hold on forever. So I held on with one arm while I took my free arm and wrapped the remaining rope around my waste and tied a basic knot. For the last three hours I was just hanging up there, trusting the rope, and enjoying the view!”
Rahab’s red rope is ultimately a symbol of faith. We must tie a knot in the promises of God and hang on.
Don’t let your ideals squelch God’s ideas.
If the Lord wants to provide a way of escape through a window, instead of a door, there must be a reason.
Had the spies taken the obvious route they could have been captured.
Further, a rope hanging from an interior door would have never signaled Rahab’s location to those attacking from the outside.
We need to be careful that we don’t put God’s means of provision in a box.
He is the provider. How he provides is according to His plans and purpose. We simply need to be prepared to act in faith and not be too picky about how the promises are fulfilled.
Inspired by the book of Joshua. Adapted with excerpts from AmazingFacts.org
The walls and worries are falling in all around you?
Habakkuk can relate.
Habakkuk had a beef with God and he used a formal complaint to make his case.
Habakkuk didn’t just have a funny name, he was a prophet and considered to be a man of great literary talent. Said another way, he was articulate and had the ability to drive his point home.
Habakkuk was worn out with all the bad guys winning. He was fed up with injustice. The crooks, manipulators, deceivers, robbers, extortionist, liars, cheats and fakes all had the high ground and he hated it!
Perhaps you share in Habakkuk’s sentiments, “Will you let them get away with this forever? Will they succeed in their heartless conquest? Will you wink at their treachery? Justice has become perverted!”
Yes! Tell it like it is Habakkuk! Don’t hold back. Expose the passive aggressive, back stabbing, smiling, self serving, betrayers of friendship and trust! Hang them by their toes!
It is notable that God doesn’t disagree or even make light of the complaint. What he does do is ask Habakkuk to hang tight.
The Lord affirms that the complaint is warranted. They are deeply guilty. What has happened in the dark will be revealed by the light. Sneaks can’t hide forever. They rely on their own strength and it won’t last. Their day is coming.
God assures Habakkuk that he is on it. That he is orchestrating things that Habakkuk wouldn’t believe even if someone revealed the plan. It may seem slow in coming, but be patient, it is about to get real!
Sorrow awaits those who build big houses with money gained through dishonesty, corruption and extortion. Those who do, will be exposed and disgraced. Their glory will turn to shame! They may appear as tall oaks , but they will be cut down!
The Lord encourages Habakkuk to take a good look around. To recognize what God is doing, remember and to rejoice in what God is about to do!
Habakkuk calms down, takes a breath and re-centers his faith.
He respectfully reiterates that there is deep need, yet, he will recognize, remember and rejoice even though circumstances don’t currently give cause for celebration.
His response sounds like the lyrics of a good country song as he indicates that the blooms have withered, the grapes have disappeared, the crops have failed, the fields are empty the flocks have died and the barns are empty, nonetheless we will rejoice and be joyful.
How is Habakkuk’s attitude possible even when things look so rough?
Habakkuk laid it out for us.
When things are bad and you have been betrayed, abused and used, wait quietly, be patient, take a look around, recognize, remember and rejoice knowing that the God you serve is at work, he is just and he never wastes pain or suffering. And never ever forget that the Lord is your strength!
We can count on the Lord even when we can’t count on ourselves or others.
Hard times, troubles and injustices are certain to come. When they do, like Habakkuk, we need to pause, take a look around and rest assured that God’s got this. He is doing something we won’t believe even if someone told us what he was up to.
Even though, we don’t know, we must trust him.
He is working ALL things together for the good of those who are called according to his purpose!
It may seem slow in coming, but it will surely take place.
(Inspired by the book of Habakkuk and Romans 8:28)