Saturday, July 26, 2014

Waiting for the Throne

by Andrew Cromwell

The Bible is full of amazing stories that were “written to teach us” (Romans 15:4). One such story is found in the life of King David. David is one of the central characters in Scripture. This incredible piece of history about a shepherd boy who became king happened about about 1,000 years before the time of Christ. 

David was a powerful warrior, a wise king, a faithful friend, and a man who worshipped God with his whole heart. And for all of his wonderful qualities, the Bible also unflinchingly tells the truth about his lesser qualities as well. Among other things, he committed murder, cheated with another man’s wife, disobeyed God, and was a lousy father. There are many lessons to draw from David’s life and if you are not familiar with him, you can read more in the book of 1 Samuel.

The very first time we meet David in Scripture was the day that he was anointed king over Israel. The fly in the ointment of this amazing day was that there was already another king on the throne — King Saul. And so when David is anointed king, it happens secretly. 

It is very clear that God had chosen David to be the next king. He sends a messenger, a prophet named Samuel, to go and anoint David because the current king, Saul, was on his way out.

So as the story goes, they call David in from the fields where he would tend his father’s sheep and goats. Samuel anoints him with oil (which is how you prepared kings for the throne in that day) and the Spirit of the Lord rests upon David. But then instead of taking David to the capital and actually placing him on the throne, Samuel leaves and David heads back to tend the flock.

And for the next 15 years, David waits to become king. 

Fifteen years is a long time between being anointed king and actually taking the throne! If I were David I would be tempted to doubt whether it was really God who had directed Samuel in the first place. I would have given up on the dream of ruling the nation of Israel after maybe year three. But David waits faithfully and he stays close to God and trusts that He is in control. Oh, there are plenty of twists and turns in the story during those years, but it is clear that David made the decision to stay faithful to God through it all.

What lesson can we learn from this? Well, I believe that part of what God does in everyone’s life is to make him or her wait. God has a destiny for each and every person on the planet and He also has great gifts and blessings He wants to pour out on all of His children. But there is always a period of waiting between the time when He reveals what He is going to do in your life (David’s anointing) and Him fulfilling what He promised (David’s taking the throne).

The problem is we don’t like to wait. We push and we pull. We moan and we cry. We throw a fit. We try to force God’s hand and try to make it happen. We get mad at God and complain about our circumstances. And we forget that God is actually at work preparing us to receive the promises He has prepared for us. We want it all right now, but God knows that if He gave it all to us, the blessing would actually be a curse because we aren’t ready for it.

So the next time you have to wait a little while (or fifteen years), don’t forget that God is at work. Remember what Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who is at work in order to fulfill His good purpose.” 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Staying in Touch

by Tim Howard

Unless I am out of the country visiting a developing nation or located in some remote place without Internet or phone access, I communicate with my wife virtually every day. I value my conversations with her and have a strong desire to stay in touch.

Sometimes we misunderstand what the other is saying which comes with the territory when you are trying to communicate. Like the other day: My wife and I were sitting at a very busy intersection. I asked her if it was clear in her direction and could I proceed? She spoke one word and it was ‘GO.’ In response to her statement I stepped on the gas, quickly moved into oncoming traffic and nearly caused an accident. Out of frustration I questioned her about her statement. She responded to me with a piercing question; “What didn’t you understand about the word ‘NO?’

If you are going to communicate clearly you must talk and listen.

God really wants to talk with you but He also wants to be understood! Staying in touch with God on a regular basis – talking and listening – will help in your ability to hear correctly on a more consistent basis.

Some time ago we spent a weekend on the coast with some good friends. One of them was a pilot so we flew on his small aircraft and I noticed something interesting. While in flight he never took his headphones off. I learned something new that day.

During an airplane flight, there is constant communication that involves your plane. The air traffic controllers clear the plane for take-off and later at another tower, they will clear the pilot for landing. They stay in touch the whole time between the takeoff and the landing. Why? Because there is more to the flight than just the beginning and the end! The pilot needs to know if there are other planes nearby or of bad weather that demands a course change. It's good for the pilot not to turn off communication with the tower after he takes off. In Revelation 22:13 Jesus says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega the first and the last, the Beginning and the End.” But He’s also everything in between.

Here’s the problem. We allow ourselves to get very busy. We check in with the tower when we take off in the morning, and then we take off our headsets until it’s time to land in bed at the end of our flight.

In doing so, we set our selves up to make hundreds of little decisions on our own without consulting the Lord. No wonder we experience turbulence, get off course and sometimes we even crash.

In the Old Testament a man of God named Nehemiah was very busy serving his King but not too busy to check in with God. One day in the midst of a high priority conversation that would alter the course of his life, he took time to consult with God. His prayer only lasted a few moments but those few moments proved to be life changing.

From the very beginning God reveals Himself as one who wants to communicate regularly. He didn’t create things and then leave on vacation – never to be heard from again. He wants to stay in touch.
Staying in touch with the Air Traffic Controller will guide your plane but staying in tough with your Creator will guide your life.

If you want the safest route to the best destination, keep your headset on from takeoff to landing every day. Stay in touch with your Creator!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Price of Freedom

by Tim Howard

If you are a citizen of the United States of America you have every reason to celebrate this weekend. We are a nation built upon freedom and if you understand our history – you appreciate everything that word ‘freedom’ represents.

Many things that seem to be free, have in reality been paid for by others. When that happens – it really isn’t free – it’s just at ‘no expense to you.’ If you want to gather a large crowd around you, simply shout the word ‘FREE!’  People from every nook and cranny will come running because the very term itself suggests you will get something for nothing. Most people like a good sale but everyone loves to get something for free.

Freedom costs, however, and we must not forget that. The celebration this weekend would not be possible without those who chose to sacrifice their wants, their feelings, their thoughts and their lives.

The cost of freedom and the high price that was paid demands we use it wisely. Paul the Apostle said: Gal. 5:13 “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.” MSG
 Having freedom is one thing but using freedom in the right way is another.

True freedom involves a cost but also a choice. If you wrongly assume that freedom means to indulge yourself and a means of getting what will benefit you regardless of others then all your choices will be selfish. Freedom is then held in jeopardy.

For ongoing freedom to remain, we must choose to use our freedom correctly and for the benefit of the whole. President John F. Kennedy said: "...ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Freedom, when used properly will choose what is right and best for the whole. Freedom is not just about YOU!

Freedom is not unique to America nor did it have its origin in this country’s beginning. God has always had a desire for every boy and girl, every man and women to experience freedom. When people proclaim their dependency ‘upon’ God rather than their independence ‘from’ God, Heaven rules on earth. But when people proclaim their independence ‘from’ God rather than depending ‘upon’ God, Hell breaks loose everywhere.

Here are a few things we must never forget about freedom:

1. The call to freedom is a privilege – not a right. It has been provided for us, by others and must be honored by those of us who have been entrusted with it.

2. We are free to choose but not free from the consequences of our choices. We are responsible for the choices we make. 

3. True freedom is not the right to choose but the privilege to choose what is right.

As we celebrate the freedom allotted to us on July 4, 1776 may we all use our liberties wisely.