5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
— Proverbs 3:5 NLT
This may well be one of the best known and most repeated verses in the Bible. What exactly does God want each of us to take away from this verse? Does it mean that we should realize that God is much more intelligent than we are? He is, of course, but is there more here in this verse? Could it be a rebuke to all of those self-help programs that people spend so much time, effort and money on only to find that when they have finished those programs nothing has really changed? Is this verse a directive that says, you can’t help yourself, you need Jesus? Could it be the first step in our coming to salvation? After all, if we could help ourselves, if we could clean ourselves up, then it would have been totally unnecessary for Jesus to die. Jesus died on the cross to accomplish for us what we can never do for ourselves. The natural, carnal mind will never understand this. We must be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us to have faith in God and to trust Him with all of our hearts. Without the Holy Spirit’s guidance we will never understand the depth nor the width of what God wants to do for us and through us. Our understanding is a broken reed that will support little or no weight. God’s wisdom is a staff of strength that will bear up under any burden. Learn to lean on Him, His wisdom and His understanding in the good times as well as the rough patches.
27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.
28 If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.” — Proverbs 3:27, 28 NLT
Have you ever had this happen to you? You are in a public place and you see someone and suddenly you have this strange notion that you should speak to them. You don’t know this person, you may or may not have seen them somewhere before. You think about speaking but you turn and walk away. But minutes later, you come face to face with this same person and you feel that nudge to speak to them. Looking at them, you can discern no particular need, but the urge to speak to them lingers. No, I just don’t have time to engage anyone in conversation right now or he/she probably doesn’t have time or doesn’t want to be bothered is what we think. So, we turn and we walk away. If this should happen to you today or at anytime in the future, let me encourage you to just stop and simply say “Hello, how are you doing today?” and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit from that point on. You might well be surprised at the blessing both of you will receive from that simple start. We have to understand that the command to “go and make disciples” is a constant command and Jesus would not have told us to “go and make” if He wasn’t going to give each of us an opportunity to do just that. Going and making disciples starts with our next encounter with any person. Just follow the example of Jesus who “went about doing good”.
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.
— 1 Cor. 12:12 NLT
According to the latest polls and surveys, the percentage of people attending church on a regular basis is still declining year after year. “So, what has that got to do with me?”, you ask. Well, let’s continue Paul’s comparison of the body of Christ to the human body. Let’s say that in the church you attend, the thumbs don’t show up when they should. Let’s further say that we have a lot of things that need to be picked up and moved to a different spot in the building. Not having thumbs makes this job a lot more difficult, if not impossible. Let’s say that we plan a Wednesday night visitation program, but the feet don’t show up, going door to door is still possible but much more difficult. The head of the church wants to do an outreach program but the arms don’t show up. How can we reach out without our arms? The head of the church wants to start an elderly care program but the heart is missing. Because the heart is missing, no one cares enough to help each other or anyone else. A human body can’t survive without a heart beat and neither can the body of Christ. Are we willing to take the chance that we are not each a part of the heart?
13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! — 1 Kings 3:13 NLT
It has been said that when we get to heaven, if we should ask God why He didn’t answer our prayers, He will show us a list of all the prayers we have ever prayed and His answer to each one. Then, He will show us a list of all the prayers we should have prayed but didn’t and His answer to all of those. The list that we prayed will be in the thousands and the list we should have prayed will be in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Why are we so hesitant to ask God for everything that we need? No, He isn’t some heavenly Santa needing a list of our needs, but He does want us to ask. We need to realize that every breath we take is an answer to prayer. God owes us nothing, but He wants to give us everythng. The old expression that “God helps those who help themselves” is not Biblical. God wants us to be totally dependent on Him for our needs. As long as we think that we can do it ourselves, He will allow us to struggle. We must reach the same point that Solomon reached and admit to God, that we can’t. As Solomon asked, “how can one man do this?”, we need to admit to God that we can do nothing without Him and that we believe with all of our hearts that we can do all things through Him. It is at this point of need and full realization that we are helpless, that God can move in and use the full force of heaven to accomplish what needs to be done. When we feel that God has not answered our prayers, He has either said “No” or “Wait for my timing”. That is the two answers we don’t want to hear, so we just say that God hasn’t answered. Instead of rebeling and complaining, we need to use that time of waiting to prepare for what God is going to give us that we didn’t ask for. After all, He gave us the most precious and expensive gift He could give when He gave us His Son, why would He withhold anything else?
32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? — Romans 8:32 NLT
Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.[a]
He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord
has helped us!” — 1 Samuel 7:12 NLT
When the Philistines were attacking Israel, they were defeating them in every battle. The people called for Samuel and asked him to sacrifice to the Lord and pray for their deliverance. Samuel told the leaders to gather all the people and meet him at Mizpah. The people met Samuel there where they fasted all day and confessed their sins before God. Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. Because of their fasting and praying, God relented and caused the Philistines to be so completely confused that the Israelites were able to defeat them and chase them away. To show their appreciation for the deliverance and the answer to their prayers, Samuel raised up a stone in that location and called it Ebenezer which means “a stone of help”. Each evening, we should look back over our lives and recognize those areas where God has given us victory over satan and his dominions. Then, we should take the time to symbolically “raise our Ebenezer” by taking time to praise God and thank Him for his great mercies. We should bow our heads and our knees in honor of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords because it is only by His help that we have come this far and only by His help will we make it home to spend eternity with Him. There is victory and joy in Jesus and there is failure and defeat without Him. Give Him the glory that He so richly deserves for all of our victories. Sing praises to His Name and marinate yourself in His goodness.
47 All the men between thirty and fifty years of age who were eligible for service in the Tabernacle and for its transportation 48 numbered 8,580. 49 When their names were recorded, as the Lord had commanded through Moses, each man was assigned his task and told what to carry. — Numbers 4:47-49 NLT
When it was time for the Israelis to leave a place in the desert and move forward, the Tabernacle had to be completely disassembled. Moses and Aaron would assign each membmer of the Levite tribe a particular task to achieve this, The things that were in the Holy of Holies could not be touched by anyone but Aaron and his sons. If anyone else touched these things or even looked at them for a moment they would die or be put to death. Each person had a specific job to do and a specific way to do it. Some carried the Holy objects and others carried the poles and skin coverings. Aaron and his family were chosen by God to be the priests and the Levite tribe was chosen by God to be their helpers. If the move was to be successful, each person chosen by God must accomplish his task in the manner prescribed by God. God never changes. He has the same plan in place today and if the Church, His body, is going to move forward, each of us must do our job. Just as Israel was called out of Egypt and Aaron was chosen to be the priest and the Levites were chosen to carry the Tabernacle, we are called out of darkness and chosen to be priests and a holy nation. We may not feel a calling to be pastors, missionaries, choir directors or teachers in the congregation where we worship God. But in the Church, the body of Christ, each of us has a speicifc task to do. Just as the Levites were chosen to help Aaron and Moses, we have been chosen to help our local pastors and the Church staff. God has a specific plan and purpose for our lives. The Holy Spirit abides in each of us so we are not restricted as the Levites were. We can touch every area of our world with the Word of God. Ask the Holy Spirit what task God has assigned you and do it diligently.