Job title: National leader ~~~ Job experience: shepherd

There’s something great about someone who does great things. A person who has an important job or completes a crucial task. We sit back and say, “If they never did that, then I don’t know what we’d be doing.” All of us humans are often impressed by what a person does in their life, but it seems that God’s emphasis is often on how a person does in their life.

 When the great prophet Samuel was anointing the next king, he was told not to anoint Jesse’s firstborn. God said, “I have refused him.” The candidate for king was David, a shepherd boy. Taking care of the sheep is, I’m sure, a crucial task, but it’s not very noteworthy. It doesn’t represent greatness.

 Moses, the great leader of Israel, spent decades keeping flocks in the desert. Yeah, wonderful. Do you think he was really racking up the qualifications for a national leader and diplomat? I’m sure the world didn’t think so. But apparently God did, and God used that time of preparation to mold Moses into the man God needed him to be.

 There are countless examples of someone doing something small in a great way.  I’m sure at some point Nehemiah felt that his cupbearing wasn’t doing much good for God, but when God used that position to allow Nehemiah to go rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, it was clear.

I’m sure Joseph felt that his sitting in prison wasn’t doing much good for God, but the Bible tells us that in prison, Joseph had a change of character. You see, God isn’t always focused on our changing the world for Him. Sometimes He wants to change us for Him. Sometimes the “pointlessness” of a task is designed to change us. Once we are changed, then God can use us to change the world.

 So next time you are getting ready to sweep the floor, or do that Algebra you think you will never use, remember, sometimes God will use the menial tasks to change you. But He doesn’t call every faithful person to the stage.  You may sweep the floor faithfully, and do your algebra without fail, but never get recognition. Are you willing to do that which is little, for Him? Will you be one to do the small things in a great way?

 Whatever God’s will is, be open to it. Be faithful and diligent to do what God called you to do.  You’ll be doing God’s will, you may never lead a nation, or who knows? Maybe you will.

 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” – Colossians 3:23

 “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: ” – Luke 16:10

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“Behold to me” vs. “Look to the stars”

Our lives are often fraught with trying situations. Impossible odds and formidable difficulties. Many times, God’s promises to us seem faint and distant in light of our present circumstances. Such was the situation Abram found himself in thousands of years ago.

Abram was faithfully serving God. God had promised Him that his descendants would be a great nation. There was however, an apparent wrench in the works, as it were. Abraham was old. His wife was old. They were past childbearing years. From a human’s perspective, it was impossible to have a child.

This situation is played out in the discourse found in Genesis 15:1-6. Abram is simply asking God about His promise. In Abram’s speech, he says, "Behold to me thou hast given no seed." It looks impossible, in fact, Abram even suggests that his steward be his heir. Think about that for a moment. Think of Abram’s situation. He’s old. It looks like it’s past time. Did he miss out? Did he mess up? Did he misunderstand? What’s going on? Why doesn’t he have a son? Has God forgotten?

Have you ever felt that way? Perhaps you applied for a job and didn’t get it. Or a relationship didn’t work out. Have you ever felt discouraged because of your "impossible" situations? I know I’ve felt that way many times. There is only one solution. You must go to God.

Just like Abram, we must take our eyes off our surroundings and fix them on our all-powerful God. In this account, Abram asks God for reassurance and God answers. God tells Abram that his heir will be his own son and then God pretty much tells him to take a walk.

After they had gone a little ways, God says, "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be." That’s a pretty amazing promise for a childless man with a barren wife.

The next verse tells us that Abram believed God, and God reckoned Him righteous. I’d like to ask you a question. Is the Word enough for you? If you were Abram, would you simply believe God? Abram did. We don’t see any further conversation. God says it, and Abram believes it. That’s how our walk with God should be.

Do you believe the promises in God’s Word? Do you claim them as your own or have you forgotten His goodness? When we stray from God, we forget Him, and we forget His goodness. I would challenge you, stay close to God, trust in His Word. Remember how good of a God He is. He’s watching out for you, He’s taking care of you, and everything will be alright in the end. Don’t look down at the world around you, look to the stars, and remember his promises.

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." – Hebrews 11:6

If your pride helps you do good, is it still wrong?

Pride is an interesting thing. Do you know that pride can actually motivate you to good works? It can! It’s happened in my life several times. Let me explain . . .

In the past, I’ve realized that I have a problem. (such as laziness) Then, instead of repenting with "sackcloth and ashes" and asking God to help me, I decide, "I’m gonna fix this problem!" I set up standards. I make decisions. I enforce resolutions on myself. I will work hard. I will not procrastinate. I will . . .

You see, I decided to fix the problem, without God’s help. It’s not on purpose, but in my heart, I think that I can handle this. Pretty soon, I’m failing at life. I’m no longer procrastinating, but I’m not finding much joy in anything either, and I’m not growing closer to God. In reality, I decided to change, not because I wanted to serve God, but because I wanted to have a good opinion of myself. My actions are feeding my pride and not glorifying God. When I get the sense that God isn’t fully pleased, I’m like, "What’s wrong God? I fixed the problem! I’m trying to serve you! I’m working hard. Why do I feel like I don’t have your blessing?"

I’ve used my fleshly pride to work against my fleshly action of laziness and in the end, I’ve effectively just traded sins. That’s not gonna please God. I’m still in sin. Serving God out of pride is sin just like any other sin.

Have you ever wondered how the Pharisees managed to obey so many of their made up rules? They served God out of pride.

In Luke 18, God tells a story of a Pharisee and a publican. The Pharisee served God according to the outward showing of obedience, but in his heart he was prideful. The publican was humble about his faults. In verse 14, God says of the publican, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

How about you? Do you serve God out of pride? Are you "proud" of all the holy things you do? Or are you humbly seeking a true relationship with your Savior?

I would submit to you, God is not interested in righteous acts that come from an unrighteous heart.

Humble yourself. Ask God to help you. Seek to know God and grow close to Him. He is the one that can change you so that your life will please Him.

After all, It’s God that works in us, both to will and to do, of His good pleasure. (Phil 2:13)

Praying to be persecuted?

As Christians, we often like to think things of our God that are not really correct. For instance, most Christians around the world do not consider religious persecution a good thing. But in fact, the Christians enduring persecution around the world often consider persecution a blessing. They ask for prayer, not to stop the persecution, but that God would give them strength to endure. Sometimes, they even pray that God would send persecution to places such as America so that the apathetic church would be purified.

You see, our perspective is not always right. Our thoughts, are not God’s thoughts. He is higher. He is greater. His understanding is so vastly greater that we can’t always fathom what goes on in the mind of God. Sometimes, we think that a worldly perspective of an "easy" time is a good idea. This isn’t exactly right.

Psalm 34:19 says, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous." We might look at that verse and be taken aback. Aren’t the righteous those who are serving God? Why would God allow them to have affliction? Doesn’t that sound inconsistent with God’s love for His people? From our perspective perhaps, but we don’t have the full picture. In fact, I didn’t even quote the whole verse.

The rest of the verse says, "But the Lord delivereth him out of them all." God will not leave His people in affliction. He won’t forget them. He’s right there with them. He allows it for a purpose. When God allows affliction in our lives, and then delivers us out of it, we get to see his kindness. Imagine how much affliction He protects us from! Also, The troubles of this life act like a refiners fire to make us stronger.

Like Paul said in Romans, "We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;" – Romans 5:3

There’s no substitute for . . .

Many years ago, a famous American general, Douglas MacArthur spoke. He said over and over again, "There is no substitute for victory." He was speaking about how someone should wage war. In the Christian life, we are in a war against the world, our flesh, and the devil. Our warfare is not carnal, but it is just as real.

In our Christian lives, there is no substitute for truth.

In John 17, Jesus is praying to the Father. He is praying for us! He prays that we would remain in the world, but that we would be separate from them. His plan is revealed in the plea to the Father in verse 17, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."

In short, Jesus prayed that we would remain in the world, but that His Holy Word, would continue to cleanse us and set us apart for service. That truth He was speaking of is the Bible. God’s Word is essential to the Christian life.

We need God’s Word to permeate our lives, and cleanse us and make us new. God’s Word is our lifeline. Fellow Christian, I would challenge you, realize that there is no substitute for truth. There is no substitute for God’s Word. If we are to succeed in our lives, we need God’s Word. As a Christian, you cannot substitute God’s Word with people’s advice, psychology, or even Godly devotionals. God’s Word is the only thing that can sanctify us for His service.

Won’t you spend time in God’s truth today?