God Does His Best Work in Caves

Posted July 24th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam—1 Samuel 22:1

Discouragement is a common emotion to us and is one of the great enemies of the Christ-following experience. It is an enemy of personal drive and vision. It is a cancer that will pull enthusiasm and joy right out of you. But it is also a test, because how you respond to discouragement when things are not going well is one of the most important challenges that you will ever face as a person who loves and follows Jesus.
During the reign of King Saul, a prophet of God, Samuel, anointed young David as king. Even before he served as king, the people of the kingdom immediately fell in love with David. Everything he touched turned to gold. He was victorious over one of Israel’s most feared enemies, Goliath. When King Saul struggled with emotional issues, David was there to comfort him. If there was ever a guy who was on a roll, it was David. It appeared that nothing could go wrong for him. Then, one by one, the tables turned. Look over this litany of loss on David’s part:

  • He lost his job. He went from shepherd boy to acclaimed warrior to fugitive.
  • He lost his popularity, status and income.
  • He lost his wife when King Saul gave her to another man.
  • He lost his mentor when Samuel died.
  • He lost his best friend Jonathan.
  • He lost his home. The Bible tells us that he eventually ran to Gath, the land of Israel’s enemies.
  • After all that David went through, he ended up in the cave of Adullam. He expected a palace but got a cave! Devastating!

    Does a cave sound like a place you’ve visited before? The Cave is where you go when all the props, crutches, and all that hold you up gives way; when suddenly, things don’t work out as you’ve envisioned. Maybe you’ve lost a job, financial security, spouse, dream of family life, mentor, friend or health. We’ve all been there. The truth is, sooner or later, everybody logs some serious time in The Cave.

    But, The Cave is where God does some of His best work. God molds and shapes us in The Cave like nowhere else. When you end up in The Cave, I encourage you to welcome it. Why? Because when all you’ve got is God, you quickly come to the realization, that He is enough. Mother Teresa once said, “You’ll never know Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you’ve got.” He is able to transform discouragement into encouragement. He transforms fear into confidence. He is able to bring new life out of the most desperate of circumstances. Are you in The Cave? Look for Jesus.

    by Robin Dugall

    Nevertheless

    Posted July 20th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

    And the king and his men… spoke to David, saying, “You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,” …Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).
    - 2 Sam. 5:6–7

    Did you see it? Most hurry past it. Let’s not. Pull out a pen and underline this twelve-letter masterpiece.

    Nevertheless.

    “Nevertheless David took the stronghold…”

    Wouldn’t you love God to write a nevertheless in your biography? Born to alcoholics, nevertheless she led a sober life. Never went to college, nevertheless he mastered a trade. Didn’t read the Bible until retirement age, nevertheless he came to a deep and abiding faith.

    We all need a nevertheless. And God has plenty to go around. Strongholds mean nothing to him. Remember Paul’s words? “We use God’s mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil’s strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4 NLT).

    You and I fight with toothpicks; God comes with battering rams and cannons. What he did for David, he can do for us. The question is, will we do what David did? The king models much here.

    Two types of thoughts continually vie for your attention. One proclaims God’s strengths; the other lists your failures. One longs to build you up; the other seeks to tear you down. And here’s the great news: you select the voice you hear. Why listen to the mockers? Why heed their voices? Why give ear to pea-brains and scoffers when you can, with the same ear, listen to the voice of God?

    Do what David did.
    Turn a deaf ear to the old voices.
    Open a wide eye to the new choices.
    Who knows, you may be a prayer away from a nevertheless. God loves to give them.
    Peter stuck his foot in his mouth.
    Joseph was imprisoned in Egypt.
    The Samaritan woman had been married five times.
    Jesus was dead in the grave …

    Nevertheless, Peter preached, Joseph ruled, the woman shared, Jesus rose — and you?

    You fill in the blank. Your nevertheless awaits you.

    by Max Lucado

    God's Double-Talk

    Posted July 20th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

    Exodus 4:21
    The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.”

    Have you ever had a boss tell you to do something only to have him sabotage your ability to complete the task? Nothing is more frustrating than to begin to carry out a task and have your superior thwart your effort to do what he asked you to do.

    Moses must have felt this way after God told him to go to Pharaoh and tell him to release the people of Israel. He said, “I am going to give you the power to release the children of Israel by the miracles I will do through you.” Yet at the same time, He told Moses they would not be released because He was going to put a hard heart in Pharaoh. How do we reconcile this?

    In my own life, I knew God called me to certain endeavors. Yet every time I turned around, a roadblock stood in my way. It took years of plodding along before the light came on as to why there was such a distance between what God called me to do and the manifestation of that calling. When David was anointed king of Israel, it was years before he realized the manifestation of that calling. There were a number of reasons for these delays.

    In the case of Moses and Israel, God wanted to demonstrate His power in such a way that generations would be able to hear the story of their deliverance from their ancestors. God wanted greater glory from the situation. God also wanted to deal with Egypt by sending specific plagues. Finally, the very process built character in Moses and tested Moses to see if he would stay the course.

    There is a time for everything. If God has called you to some endeavor and you are frustrated that it has not manifested, know that times of preparation and simmering are required before the vision can be achieved. Seldom does God call and manifest something at the same time. There is preparation. There is testing. There is relationship building between you and God that must take place. Once this is complete, you will see the vision materialize.

    by Oz Hillman

    How to Be a Refuge for Your Children

    Posted July 19th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

    If Daddy is afraid, where can a little child turn? Daddies are supposed to be safe. They are supposed to know what to do and how to solve problems and fix things and, most of all, protect the children from harm. But what happens if a child sees fear in Daddy’s face? What if Daddy is as scared as the child, and doesn’t know what to do? Then the child is utterly distraught and feels panic. He feels that the one strong and good and reliable place of safety is no longer safe.

    But if Daddy is confident, then the children have a refuge. If Daddy is not panicking, but calm and steady, all the walls can come tumbling down, and all the waves can break, and all the snakes can hiss and the lions roar and the wind blow, and there will still be a safe place in Daddy’s arms. Daddy is a refuge, as long as Daddy is confident.

    That’s why Proverbs 14:26 says that “his children will have a refuge,” if Daddy has a “strong confidence.” Daddy’s confidence is the refuge of his children. Dads, the battle to be confident is not just about us, it is about the security of our children. It is about their sense of security and happiness. It’s about whether they grow up fretful or firm in faith. Until children can know God in a deep personal way, we are the image and the embodiment of God in their lives. If we are confident and reliable and safe for them, they will be much more likely to cleave to God as their refuge when the storms break over them later.

    So how shall we have “strong confidence”? After all, we, too, are little children, clay pots, weak and broken and battling anxieties and doubts. Is the solution to put on the best show we can and hide our true selves? That will lead to ulcers at best, and God-dishonoring teenager-repelling duplicity at worst. That is not the answer.

    Proverbs 14:26 gives another answer: “In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence.” This is very strange. It says that the solution to fear is fear. The solution to timidity is fear. The solution to uncertainty is fear. The solution to doubt is fear.

    How can this be?

    Part of the answer is that the “fear of the Lord” means fearing to dishonor the Lord. Which means fearing to distrust the Lord. Which means fearing to fear anything that the Lord has promised to help you overcome. In other words the fear of the Lord is the great fear destroyer.

    If the Lord says, “Fear not, I am with you, be not dismayed, I will help you,” (Isaiah 41:10), then it is a fearful thing to worry about the problem he says he will help you with. Fearing that problem when he says, “Fear not, I will help you, is a vote of no confidence against God’s word, and that is a great dishonor to God. And the fear of the Lord trembles at such dishonoring God.

    If the Lord says, “I will never fail you nor forsake you,” so you can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6) – if the Lord says that to you, then not to be confident in the Lord’s promised presence and help is a kind of pride. It puts our reckoning of the trouble above God’s. That is why we read the amazing words of the Lord in Isaiah 51:12, “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass?” Who are you to fear man, when God has promised to help you? So it is pride to fear man. And pride is the exact opposite of the fear of God.

    So, yes, the Proverb is true and a great help to us. Fear God, dads. Fear God. Fear dishonoring him. Fear distrusting him. Fear putting your assessment of the problem above his. He says he can help. He is smarter. He is stronger. He is more generous. Trust him. Fear not to trust him.

    Why? He works for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4). He will solve the problem. He will rescue the family. He will take care of the little ones. He will meet your needs. Fear not believing that. Then your children will have a refuge. They will have a Daddy who “has strong confidence” – not in himself, but in the promises of God, which he trembles not to trust.

    Learning to fear the Lord for the sake of my children,

    by Pastor John Piper

    Demonstrating What We Believe

    Posted July 18th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

    Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
    -James 2:17

    Faith is an action word. We cannot passively respond to God. You may have heard the story of the circus performer who strung a wire over a river and proceeded to ride across it on a unicycle. When he returned, everyone applauded. Then he asked, “Who believes I can do that with a man on my shoulders?” Everyone responded in affirmation. He said, “All right, who will hop on?” The person who hops on is the person who really believes. Faith is not just giving credence to something or someone. Faith is demonstrated reliance upon something or someone.

    Faith has the same operating dynamic as agape love. When we refer to love as a noun, we’re talking about character: patience, kindness, etc. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). When we say that God is love, we are describing His character. Paul says the goal of our instruction is love (1 Timothy 1:5); therefore, the goal of Christian education is character transformation.

    When love is used as a verb, it is expressed by action: “For God so loved the world that He gave . . .” (John 3:16). If we say we love someone and do nothing on their behalf, it’s only sentimentality and not agape love. True love is expressed by meeting the needs of others.

    Faith has a similar dynamic. When using faith as a noun, we’re talking about what we believe. But if we’re talking about faith as a verb, then it is expressed in the way we live. James says it like this: “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, ‘You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:17-19).

    The devil believes in the existence of Jesus and knows that God’s Word is true. But he doesn’t seek to glorify Jesus or to obey Him. He seeks his own glory, being a rebel at heart (Romans 1:25).

    We demonstrate what we believe by how we live our lives. If we believe it, we will do it. If we don’t, then what we believe is just wishful thinking.

    Prayer:

    Lord, help me put feet to my faith every day and not rely on past accomplishments.

    by Neil Anderson