Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tilla’s “Tail” or an Angel named Anna by Dr. Christy Lee

Everyone is wanting to know what happened, so here's the story!  About 1 o’clock today, I had a call with a local number. I’ve had so many false alarms about Tilla that I was scared it would be another.  Immediately, I sensed this would be different. This lady named Anna said she was in the car with her 6 year-old daughter about 6 blocks from my house in one of the “busier” sections of Big Stone Gap.  A dog was in the road trying to cross traffic (she would have been headed right in the direction towards my house).  She saw the dog and watched her get startled by traffic, then run back towards a more quiet area.  This is a bushy and brushy area behind some dumpsters.  

Angel Anna said she recognized the dog and remembered the Facebook post she had seen about Tilla, so she pulled off the road and followed her.  She quickly pulled up the Facebook post and called me, describing Tilla perfectly even down to the tag she has on her collar.  Anna and her daughter waited for me to arrive and pointed me in the direction where Tilla had gone hiding.  I crawled back in the bush as best as I could and called Tilla. The most amazing thing happened! Within 30 seconds or so, Tilla came leaping out of the brush, full of wiggles and squirms!  There were tears all around.   We’ll never know exactly what happened to Tilla.  All that matters is she’s home safe and sound after 12 days missing!   My faith in humanity is restored by the wonderful kindness of Angel Anna, the diligent postings of Elissa Powers, and the many loving thoughts and prayers of friends and strangers. Tilla's home! 

Thank you all!!

Waiting for Jesus, part 3: Jairus

And there came a man named Jairus, and he was an official of the synagogue; and he fell at Jesus' feet, and began to implore Him to come to his house; for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. But as He went, the crowds were pressing against Him. (Luke 8:41-42 NASB)

Jairus was one of the people who had been waiting for Jesus. His name means "whom God enlightens" and that was exactly what had happened. He was a synagogue official, a part of the religious  bureaucracy, most of whom had opposed Jesus as a heretic. The word translated as official indicates that he was likely a chief official. He was part of the religious hierarchy.  Coming to Jesus would not be popular with his fellow officials. Falling at His feet would be shocking to them, and could well put his position of authority in jeopardy. 

Jairus, however, had an urgent need and realized that Jesus was the only one who could meet it. He didn't care who was shocked. His twelve year old daughter was gravely ill and near death. No one could save her. No one, that is, but Jesus.  When He returned from the Gerasenes, Jairus was quick to meet Him. Falling at the feet of Jesus, Jairus began to beg Him to come to his house to help his daughter. Jesus, ever compassionate and kind, did not refuse this heartsick father. He headed out. 

We will soon see the exciting events that surrounded Jairus and his daughter but, for today, let's look at Jairus and his request. He had a need, only Jesus could meet it, and in his desperation, he laid on the ground, in the dirt, and gave his need to Jesus. He begged Jesus for help. There is no indication that he ever doubted whether Jesus could help, nor that he ever doubted if Jesus would help. 

Jairus did not have a shopping list of interventions he recommended to Jesus. All he did was state his need (the ailing daughter) and invite Jesus into that need. (to go to his house).  He left the choice of intervention to Jesus, and it was a good thing he did. When Jairus approached Jesus, he wanted healing for his daughter. By the time Jesus arrived, what he needed was resuscitation for her. Jesus wisely gave him what he needed, not what he thought he wanted. In the end, Jairus would receive so much more by leaving the choice to Jesus. 

When we have situations beyond our control, is this what we do? Do we get on the floor at Jesus' feet and invite Him in to our situation, abandoning ourselves to His intervention? Do we leave the choice of intervention to Him or offer a list of things He needs to get done on our behalf?  There is a place for specific requests, but perhaps we could see even greater miracles if we left the choice of intervention to Jesus. 

Are you facing a difficult situation? Is a loved one in a desperate situation? Perhaps what is needed is a Jairus-type encounter with Jesus. Put your need at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to intervene as He sees fit. You, like Jairus, will be glad you did. 
Link to last night's post:
Please continue to pray about the atrocities being committed around the world by radical jihadists and for those who face persecution and death on a daily basis. Pray for those who will be forced to recant their faith or die today. Pray, too, that, when that same persecution comes to our country, (and it will) we will be as brave and faithful as our brothers and sisters around the world. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Night with Friends: Checking the Numbers by Pastor David Foreman

David Foreman is pastor of First Christian Church in Aberdeen.  He wrote the following article for his church newsletter just before Eight Days of Hope - Tupelo.  It was so very good that I asked for permission to share it.  Prepare to be challenged and convicted.

This next week is going to be a "big" week for Tupelo.  They are expecting around three thousand volunteers from forty-three states to converge on Tupelo.  These people are all spending their time to help others who are in need.

Let us look at a few calculations.
     1.  Man Hours per day - 3,000 x 8 = 24,000 man hours
     2.  Man Hours in eight days - 24,000 x 8 = 192,000 man hours

Think about how many lives can be touched in some way in just a week.  This is only one event where people help others in need.  Just think of how much time each year is spent volunteering to help others.
Think of how many lives are touched each year by these efforts.

Daniel, our son, and others volunteer with AMBUCS in Illinois.  AMBUCS is an organization that helps mentally challenged individuals.  For the last three summers, Daniel has helped with the softball "season".  He told me lat week that he was looking forward to next year.  It is usually the same people volunteering every year.

These are just two instances of volunteering.  Just imagine the number of man hours that are freely given for "good" causes.

Let me get personal for the rest of this article.  How many hours do we give to God weekly, monthly, and yearly?  Dr. Ray Trantham hinted towards this in his sermon.  He talked about the mission field and what has happened and is happening there.  These missionaries and their families given many man-hours to God.

Let me do some calculations.
     1.  Sunday Morning - 2 hours
     2.  Sunday Evening - 1 hour
     3.  Wednesday Evening - 1 hour

These are the normal amounts of time many people, which is what I am going to call "average", give God in a week.  So the "average" person will give God four hours a week, at the most.
     1.  4 x 4 = 16 hours per month
     2.  16 x 12 = 192 hours a year

So, how many weeks would it take "average" people, giving the "minimum" amount of time to God, to equal the 192,000 hours given in one week through Eight Days of Hope?  There are a couple of ways to look at this.
One is by the number of people.  192,000/4 = 48,000
It takes 48,000 people each Sunday to equal what 3,000 people will do in a week.

Another way to look at it is in years.  How many years would it take a church of 100 to give God 192,000 hours if they only did the minimum?
1.  100 x 4 = 400 hours per week
2.  192,000/400 = 480 weeks
3.  480/52 = 9.23 years
It would take almost ten years for a church of 100 "average" people to give the amount of time that will be given in one week.

What if we look at how long it would take one person to given 192,000 hours to God if they only spent 4 hours a week with Him?
192,000/192=1,000 years
I know I will not live that long.  How about you?

Now let us look at how many hours God invested in us in a year.
1.  24 x 7 = 168 hours per week
2.  168 x 4 = 672 hours per month
3.  672 x 12 = 8064 hours in a year.
Let's say that you live to be 70.  How much time does God have invested in you?
8,064 x 70 = 564,480 hours

We can never "outdo" God, but let us not be the "average" either.  Let us give of ourselves with the same generosity that God does.

Waiting for Jesus, part 2: waiting and expecting

And as Jesus returned, the people welcomed Him, for they had all been waiting for Him. (Luke 8:40 NASB)

The people had been waiting for Jesus. That sounds a little like a bored crowd just milling about. The original language makes it sound a little different, though. The word translated as "waiting" is prosdokaō and it can also be translated as "expecting".  The crowd was not just milling aimlessly about. They were waiting with expectation because they knew without doubt that, when Jesus arrived, He would do something. 

They were not waiting for nothing. They were waiting for the Son of God who always "did something".  The crowd knew that He had the words of life that could help them face the trials of life, but they also knew that He had the power to intervene in those trials. Jesus could make a difference, and that was what they were expecting as they waited. 

Is that the way we wait?  Do we take the trials of life to our Lord with the expectation that He will move? Do we pray with the firm assurance that our Lord will move in our situation or just hope that "maybe he might"?  There is a vast difference, and the difference is a question of faith. Do we believe that Jesus will "do something" or not?  The answer to that question is critical and reveals much about our relationship with God. 

If we believe what we say we do, then we must also believe that God can intervene in miraculous ways. We must also believe that He who knows the number of hairs on our head cares about more than our hair. He cares about us, and about what affects us. Dear ones, take the burdens, the fears, the trials of life to Jesus, and leave them there with prosdokaō, trusting that He can help and He will help. 

Wait for Jesus, and do it with great anticipation!
Link to last night's post is here:
Please continue to pray about the atrocities being committed around the world by radical jihadists and for those who face persecution and death on a daily basis. Pray for those who will be forced to recant their faith or die today. Pray, too, that, when that same persecution comes to our country, (and it will) we will be as brave and faithful as our brothers and sisters around the world. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lessons from the battlefield, part 7: Young Hezekiah

2 Chronicles 29:1 - 28


Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old.  His father Ahaz had been king for sixteen years.  His was an ungodly rule, during which he burned his sons (Hezekiah’s brothers) as sacrifices to idols.  Almost certainly, the ungodly rule of his father affected Hezekiah’s choices as leader, but perhaps Hezekiah also remembered his grandfather King Jotham, who was a godly king.  Although Jotham died when Hezekiah was only a boyhis grandfather Jotham had become mighty because he ordered his way before the Lord.  (1 Chr. 27:6)

Hezekiah must have remembered the more peaceful, prosperous time when his grandfather was king, and perhaps he longed to restore peace to his homeland.  During the first month of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors to the temple which his father had shut, began the repairs, and called the priests and Levites to consecrate themselves and cleanse the temple.  He set the tone and direction for his administration.  Hbegan his reign by making his first alliance, not with the Arameans or the Philistines, but with Jehovah.

At last, the temple was ready and the time of sacrifice could begin.  Hezekiah provided the animals for sin offering for all of Israel, perhaps as a way of acknowledging the responsibility of his family in leading the people astray.  When the offering was completed, he filled the temple with music.  Praise!Can you imagine how relieved the people must have been for evil to be replaced by righteousness, turmoil to give way to peace, chaos to flee before order?  

What characterizes your life?  As you begin each day, you have the opportunity for a fresh start.  Each day, you can choose how you will order the rest of your life. Choose well. 

Waiting for Jesus, part 1: The Happy Crowd

And as Jesus returned, the people welcomed Him, for they had all been waiting for Him. (Luke 8:40 NASB)

In the preceding passage, Jesus had taken an exciting boat ride with His disciples, had encountered a terrifying and near-deadly storm, which He had quieted with a word, and had set the Gerasene demoniac free. Along the way, it appears, the disciples had quietly left Jesus to His work and headed back home. 

At last, He returned from his journey to find a crowd of people who had been waiting and watching for Him. We will soon see that some of those people were in desperate straits. A father was waiting for a miracle for his daughter, who was near death. A woman was gravely ill, and she too was quietly but desperately waiting for a miracle. What is clear is that both the father and the sick woman, despite their great need, were waiting for Jesus. They were not running around the countryside seeking any possible solution. They were waiting for the only One who could help. 

What faith they must have had! In the midst of their need, they recognized the One who could help, understood that there was no point at which their situation would become too difficult for Jesus, and they ceased striving and waited for God to move. The approach of the boat in which Jesus was traveling must have been a joyous sight! Jesus was almost there!

How easy it is to recognize our need for divine intervention but how difficult to wait for that intervention to come!  Our natural tendency is to take some kind of action, to "do something". In our fast-food, instant gratification culture, a willingness to wait has become rare, but it is a precious virtue. 

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31 NASB)

It is the ones who are willing to wait who gain new strength, not those who rush about with despair. 

What about you? Do you have a need that only God can meet? Give it to the only One who can help and wait for His answer. Wait patiently for Him. 
Link to last night's post:
The intent was to have a different terrorist group for which to pray this week, however the ongoing atrocities from ISIS/ISIL/IS demand that we continue to pray for divine intervention. There is not only an urgent need for transformation for them, but also an urgent need to pray for protection of those targeted by these radical jihadists and an end to their reign of terror.
 Their leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To learn more about them and their goal of spreading radical jihad and sharia rule throughout the world, click here:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lessons from the battlefield, part 7: Failed Father

2 Chronicles 28:1-19                        Failed Father


Jotham was a righteous king who lived his faith.  God prospered him and blessed him; however, the nation did not follow his example.  The people “continued acting corruptly.”  Jotham died at forty-one years of age after reigning as king for sixteen years.

His son Ahaz became king when he was twenty years old after spending most of his life as heir-apparent.  Hefollowed the example of the world around him as well asthe king of Israel.  He not only actively practiced idolatry;he practiced the worst form of idolatry.  He burned his sons alive as a sacrifice to idols.  As a result of his idolatry, God delivered him into the hands of his enemies, not just once but repeatedly.

To make matters worse, Ahaz turned to the king of Assyria for help rather than to the Lord.  Verse 19 sums up the legacy of Ahaz.  “The Lord humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, because he brought about a lack of restraint.”  

Being a godly father was not enough to ensure the welfare of Jotham’s children.  All that he had built was eclipsed by his failure to pass his faith on to his son.  How critical it is to invest in the hearts of our children!  Oh, that the hearts of our children might be drawn to Christ and to a lifetime of faithful service! 

Excitement in the boat, part 30: seeing is believing

The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened. (Luke 8:35 NASB)

Jesus had cast the demons out of the man, they had gone into the pigs, the herd had plummeted over the cliff into the sea, and drowned. The astonished pig herders ran away as fast as they could. They wanted no part of this, and reported the events to everyone who would listen. Of course, the story was so wild that, like we are prone to do, the hearers wanted to see for themselves and headed out. 

What they saw was so dramatic and so incredible that they were frightened. The former wild man was sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, sane, and learning to be a disciple. They had never seen anything so dramatic, so convincing. There was no doubt in their minds that Jesus was responsible for these events. 

When people look at us, especially in light of recent time spent with Jesus, what do they see?  Do they see a heart and life that is radically different because of Him? Does our life leave no doubt that Jesus is our Redeemer? Does the power of our unspoken testimony leave people amazed at the power of God at work in our lives?

Pray today for such abandon to our Lord that all will see the evidence of His work in our lives, as well as those of our loved ones, that they will be drawn to the Lord. 
Link to last night's post:
The intent was to have a different terrorist group for which to pray this week, however the ongoing atrocities from ISIS/ISIL/IS demand that we continue to pray for divine intervention. There is not only an urgent need for transformation for them, but also an urgent need to pray for protection of those targeted by these radical jihadists. 
 Their leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To learn more about them and their goal of spreading radical jihad and sharia rule throughout the world, click here:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lessons from the Battlefield, part 6: Jotham - not just his daddy's boy

2 Chronicles 27:1-6


Jotham, Uzziah’s son, became king after the death of Uzziah and reigned for sixteen years.  He did right in the sight of the Lord according to all that his father Uzziah had done.  He was faithful all the days of his life.  Jotham, however, did not become so prideful that he became presumptuous, as his father had done.


What was it that Uzziah had done?

Sought the Lord
Fought with God’s help
Built towers in the wilderness and kept a sharp lookout for danger
Kept the army equipped and ready for danger
Delegated authority to capable people
Made engines of war invented by skillful men


In addition, to what Uzziah did, Jotham built the upper gate of the house of the Lord, built extensively the wall of Ophel, built cities in the hill country, built fortresses and towers, fought with the Ammonites and prevailed.


The summary of Jotham’s life is this:


He became mighty because he ordered his ways before the Lord.


What does it mean to "order your ways before the Lord"? Jotham looked at his father's life, saw his successes and his failure, and recognized the source of both. He chose, every day for his entire reign as king, to do things God's way, every time. He did more great deeds than his father had done. Pride was likely a temptation, but he knew firsthand what the price would be, and he chose humility. He chose obedience. He chose discipleship. 

If we want the kind of life Jotham had, one that pleases God, we need to do what he did. 

Choose humility

Choose obedience. 

Choose discipleship. 

Every single time. 

Excitement in the Boat, part 29: The Name

And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. (Luke 8:30 NASB)

When the demoniac met Jesus, he fell at His feet. Jesus looked down and said, "What is your name?"  The man answered, "Legion".  Of course, that wasn't the name his parents had given him. It wasn't the name by which God called him. It was actually a word that described his demon-controlled life. He had lived that life for so many years that he had become known by it. He identified with it. It was "who he was" in a terrible, sad sense, at least in his own mind. 

One of the unfortunate things about being held captive by forces other than our Lord is that we find it so hard to break free. Our failure to break free is often interpreted as an inability to be free, and that translates (in our minds) into the idea that we cannot be free. Before we realize what is happening, we begin to identify with our bondage and think, "This is who I am."  What we so often forget is that the things we do are not necessarily the things God intended for us, nor how He sees us. It is not necessarily how He intends to leave us, either. 

On this blessed day, Jesus looked down at this man and said, in essence, "Legion? No that's not who you are. I'm going to remove that and you will be a brand new man. You are about to be the man you were born to be." And so it was. With a word, the Legion was gone, the man was freed, and he was, in a spiritual sense, reborn. He had much to learn about staying free and serving his Redeener, but he was free indeed. 

How does this translate to our lives?  Look at your own life for a moment. What is the thing to which you go back, over and over? For some, it will be bigotry, a critical spirit, gossip. For others, it will be anything from gluttony to sexual sin to fiscal irresponsibility. Just because you do not have the power to break free from that which controls you, from that which is killing you, does not mean that our God lacks power to set you free. He does not. 

Even in his demon-controlled state, this man was able to take the first vital step to freedom, and so can we. He fell at the feet of Jesus, and let Him take it from there. It was an act of absolute surrender, and it was the one thing that had been missing. Neither chains nor shackles could contain him, but one word from God could set him free, and it can do the same for you.  

Today, pray that we and our loved ones will fall at the feet of Jesus in total surrender of who we have become and allow Him to transform us into who we were created to be. 
Link to last night's post:
Our terrorist/terror group of the week is the former ISIS, now the Islamic State. Their leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To learn more about them and their goal of spreading radical jihad and sharia rule throughout the world, click here:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lessons from the Battlefield, part 5: Uzziah

2 Chronicles 26:1-23


Uzziah was a good and much loved king.  He was careful to follow the Lord and, Scripture tells us, “Uzziah was marvelously helped by God until he was strong.”  (2 Chronicles 26:15c)  He made many improvements in the land and innovations in infrastructure.  In addition, he built a huge army and equipped them with the best weapons of war.  In fact, he became famous for the war machines he made.  

God blessed him with wealth, success, and fame, however, when he became strong, he also became proud and acted unfaithfully.  He wanted the power of the priests, and he took it upon himself to burn incense in the temple.  Although it sounds as if Uzziah was simply serving God by offering a sacrifice, this act was off limits for the king.  Uzziah was acting in direct opposition to God.  He thought he could get away with it because he was king, but he found out differently.  

God had called someone else to be the priest; Uzziah’s job was simply to be king.  From that moment of defiance and disobedience, he was a leper.  

It is amazing that a king as beloved as Uzziah could do such a dumb thing, but aren’t we just like him?  Don’t we seek God’s face diligently when we encounter battles that are too much for us, then try to handle things on our own when we are strong?  It is easy to venture into territory God never intended for us.

It is vitally important that we choose to be content with the tasks God has given to us.  He has not called us to be a one-man (or woman) show.  He has called us to work in the body of Christ as a team with each one having specific tasks.  We need to be careful to follow His plan for us, and careful to remain humble even when He strengthens us. 


For the rest of Uzziah’s life, when people looked at him, they saw his leprosy.  The mark of his disobedience became the most striking part of his appearance.  Let's be sure that, when people look at us, they do not see the scars of disobedience and rebellion, but the peacefulness of a life filled with obedience and faithfulness. 

Excitement in the boat, part 28: the boat ride home

And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat and returned. (Luke 8:37 NASB)

"And He got into a boat and returned."  This little phrase might not seem momentous, but it contains a vital lesson for us. At the beginning of the passage, Jesus had invited the disciples to go for a boat ride. Jesus was the most exciting thing happening in their day, and they were up for anything.  They climbed into the boat and headed out. 

While Jesus was napping in the back, a deadly storm arose and nearly sunk the boat. The disciples, some of whom were professional fishermen, were scared out of their minds. When they awakened Jesus, He commanded the storm to stop, and it did, which frightened them even more. By this time, they were likely exhausted by emotion and the physical effort of trying to save the boat. 

Those disciples may have been ready to head back to shore, but Jesus had a destination in mind and a divine appointment to keep. They sailed on. 

When they arrived at the country of the Garasenes, the narrative changes. Until that point, the disciples were clearly along for the ride. After that, Scripture tells us that Jesus got out of the boat, the demon-possessed man met Jesus, the herdsmen saw Jesus, the townspeople sent Jesus away. There is not another mention of the disciples in this story, nor any indication that they were still there. When Jesus was ready to go home, He "got into a boat", the implication being that this was a different boat than the one in which He arrived. There is no mention of the disciples again until Jesus was enroute to Jairus' house. 

It appears that the disciples, for whatever reason, "dropped Jesus off" at the shore and left him there. Can't you just imagine that conversation? "Hey Jesus, we are just exhausted by the storm. We need to get home, get cleaned up, and get some sleep."  "Jesus, we have had all we can take. We need a break."  We don't know what they said, but Jesus probably said something like, "No problem. I've got this. Catch you later." He let them go, and headed toward the demoniac. 

Jesus didn't need the disciples to handle that legion of demons, but the disciples needed to see Him do it. If they had, perhaps they would have understood His power in the face of evil a little better. Perhaps they'd have had an easier time of it when the crucifixion rolled around. It might have helped them to be faithful. It might have prevented betrayal. Of course, we will never know about those "what-ifs", but you can be sure some things would have been different if they had stayed with Jesus. 

It's easy to look at this story and think that we would never have left Jesus. We would have been so impressed by the calming of the storm that we would have wanted the full experience. Really? Exhausted and battered, possibly injured, we would have wanted to wade into yet another battle? Probably not. 

There is a tendency to think that, once we have survived one of those horrific storms of life, we are done. Maybe that's how the disciples felt. Sometimes the storm is simply a teachable moment that brings us to an oasis of smooth sailing. Sometimes, however, the storm is a teachable moment on the path toward another huge battle (like the one Jesus had with the legion of demons) that will bring a tremendous and decisive victory. Staying the course can take us to something so momentous that it will change our lives completely. Unfortunately, stopping on the other side of the storm will have a life-altering impact, as well. 

There was no way the disciples could have known what would happen, but there is one thing they could have done, and it would have changed everything. They could have stayed with Jesus. They could have waited for Him. 

This waiting and staying is hard. There is no doubt about that. If we want all that Jesus has for us, however, it is not optional. Are you in the midst of a storm? Have you just gotten through a life-storm?  Don't become complacent, thinking the lesson is over at the end of the storm. Don't "take a break" when the storm dies down. Maybe that storm was just a stopping point on the way to something much bigger, something life-changing. The only way to know is to stay close to Jesus, all the way through. 
Link to last night's post:
Our terrorist/terror group of the week is the former ISIS, now the Islamic State. Their leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To learn more about them and their goal of spreading radical jihad and sharia rule throughout the world, click here:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lessons from the Battlefield, part 4: Amaziah the Half-Hearted

2 Chronicles 25:1-28


Amaziah was Uzziah’s father.  When he became king, he “did right in the eyes of the Lord, but not with a whole heart.”  He was willing to serve God on his schedule, but holding back a part of his heart eventually cost him dearly. 

Amaziah assembled a large army in Judah, but the strength God had given him didn’t seem enough.  He hired 100,000 valiant warriors from Israel to assist his army.  It seemed like a good idea.  He needed to enlarge his army and the men he hired were proven soldiers, known for being both brave and fierce.  A man of God, however, brought word that the soldiers of Israel were not to accompany Judah’s army.  “God is not with them,” he said.  If Amaziah allowed them to fight with him, he would be defeated.  Amaziah’s unholy alliance would cost him dearly if he did not abandon it.    

Amaziah was worried about his investment, and argued that he had already paid them a substantial amount of money.  “Let it go,” the man of God said.  “God has more to give you than 100,000 talents of silver.”  He implied that, unless Amaziah obeyed, he would forfeit all the blessings God had planned.  Amaziah did exactly what the prophet said.  He dismissed the soldiers and sent them home.  

God did give him the victory he needed, but, unbelievably, although Amaziah had thoroughly defeated the army of Seir, he took the idols/gods of Seir and set them up as his own.  He abandoned the Lord and began to worship the foreign idols. A prophet came to him.  “Amaziah, can’t you tell that these ‘gods’ couldn’t save their own people?  How can they help you?” he asked.  “Shut up!” he replied.  “I didn’t ask you for your advice!”  “God will destroy you for this,” the prophet warned.  

Amaziah was determined to do things his way, and he wanted a fight.  He eventually talked Joab of Israel into fighting and, as he was warned, Amaziah was defeated.  He was taken hostage, Jerusalem was looted, and the wealth of the temple was taken as spoil.  

Amaziah spent the rest of his life as a captive rather than in the luxury of his palace.  The king became a prisoner, not because of chance events but because he wanted to go his own way.  The part of his heart held back from God eventually cost him dearly.  

Are you following God with your “whole heart” or, like Amaziah, are you holding back part of your life, your heart?  Is there an area in your life that is “off limits” to God?  Amaziah found that the “off limits” area was far too costly.  What will your “off limits area” cost you?  Why not surrender to our Lord and let Him have His way with your life?

Excitement in the boat, part 27: The assignment

But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying, "Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:38-39 NASB)

We might well imagine that the newly freed man was eager to stay free. He had been in bondage long enough. His immediate response was to beg to stay with Jesus. He might have thought that Jesus could handle the demons again if they tried to come back, but certainly a part of his desire to stay with Jesus was pure gratitude. 

It may surprise us, but Jesus would not let the man accompany Him on the remainder of the journey. The problem this man had in the past was that, even if his demons were subdued, there was nothing to fill the void when they left. Now, he had Jesus, and Jesus was all he would need to stay free. 

It turned out Jesus had a plan for him that did not involve a boat ride. He was to go home and describe for his family the great things God had done for him. He was to share his testimony with anyone who would listen. In recounting his testimony for everyone at home, he would have repeated reminders of what God had done. 

So he went. Those three words indicate a lifetime of future faithfulness. Jesus said to go, and so he went. Oh that we would be as obedient! Oh that we would do that great work Christ has given us! His parting words were to go into all the world and make disciples, yet we are often hesitant to go to our neighbors and share the good news of Christ. It is sometimes more attractive to go around the world to serve God than to stay home and obey, isn't it?  

This redeemed man proclaimed his good news to everyone, throughout the city. He did not limit himself to the affluent sections of town, nor to the people with comfortable homes and nice children. He went everywhere. That "everywhere" included the nice parts of town as well as the "seamier side" of town. He went to the people who needed Christ the most, and to those who thought they needed Him the least, and so should we. 

How faithful are we in sharing what God has done for us? How quick are we to share His saving work with those we meet?

Pray today that we and our loved ones would be transparent and obedient in sharing Christ with all those He brings our way. 
Our terrorist/terror group of the week is the former ISIS, now the Islamic State. Their leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To learn more about them and their goal of spreading radical jihad and sharia rule throughout the world, click here: