When we ask God for a King

In my personal quiet time, I’ve been reading through the Old Testament. When I reached 1 Samuel last week it was hard to turn a page without being overcome with conviction.

I’ve always known the story of David and Goliath and heard how inconsistent the Israelites were in their faithfulness toward God. But reading the account straight through and watching how God responded… it was pretty powerful.

In 1 Samuel 7, the Israelites were in the midst of consistent battles with the Philistines. The Lord had just forgiven the Israelites for worshiping foreign gods. They repented of their idolatry, so God prevented the Philistines from taking over Israel’s land.

Verses 5-9 of that chapter say:

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them…Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

“They have rejected Me.” Wow. How gracious is our God? Despite the hurt/anger caused from being rejected by His own people, His own creation, God tells Samuel to warn the Israelites of the consequences of their decision first.

Samuel warned the Israelites, and in verse 19 it says:

“But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

The word that comes to my mind is defiance. God knew the truth; He is the truth.  He knows all things. He sees all things and in Him all things hold together. And yet, when He warns His people, they have the audacity to look at Him, and say, “No!” … like somehow they knew better than God what they needed. How often are we guilty of this?

there shall be a king over us, that we may also be like all the nations.”

So, that’s where their defiance came from? They wanted to be just like everyone else? The God of the universe was fighting the Israelites’ battles for them, and yet they wanted a flawed, human king instead. How often do we compare our lives to the people around us and think we’re missing out on something? How often do we look to the left or to the right and convince ourselves that we need someone/something besides the Lord to fight our battles for us?

The story continues. 1 Samuel 12:8 says:

“But they forgot the LORD their God. And He sold them into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab. And they fought against them. And they cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD our God.”

Along with their new king, the leader they thought they needed, came defeat. The Israelites quickly remembered that God was the One in command. God was the One fighting their battles for them… and they realized that what they’d wanted wasn’t at all what they needed.

Even after their huge mistake, the Israelites called out to the Lord for help, and He heard them and delivered them.

In verses 20-24, Samuel encouraged the Israelites and said to them:

“Do not be afraid; though you have done all this evil. Do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for Himself…Only fear the LORD and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.”

I don’t know where you find yourself reading this; Maybe you’ve recently asked God for a “king.” Maybe you’ve given into the lie that God alone was not enough for you.

It’s mind-blowing how easily we can “forget the LORD our God” and look for something or someone else to bring us victory. How often do we “turn to the right or left and pursue empty things”? Things like vanity, success, wealth, or human approval? It’s amazing how patient God is through those times and how He reveals His glory and power in our lives. And if we repent, He graciously forgives us.

“the LORD will not forsake His people…it pleased the LORD to make you a people for Himself.” It pleased Him to make us His own. That will never stop amazing me!  When we ask for forgiveness, He hears us!

“Only fear the LORD and serve Him faithfully with all your heart.” – THIS is our call. That’s all we have to do. We don’t have to figure out every single detail or attempt to manipulate the crazy circumstances in our lives. All we have to do is fear and faithfully serve the Lord, and He will take care of the rest.

“For consider what great things He has done for you.” Tears come to my eyes as I reflect on that verse. Oh, what great things He has done for me! Our God is so faithful, despite our unfaithfulness. We all have different stories to tell, different accounts of what great things He has done…how He has redeemed us.

If you’re currently at war within yourself, believing that worldly things, such as beauty, fame, success, wealth or human approval, will grant you victory…remember these things are powerless! The LORD is your Deliverer. He is your Redeemer. He is your King.

“For the Lord your God is He who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’” ~ Deuteronomy 20:4

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will shape the desires of your heart.” ~ Psalm 37:4

 

 

 

 

 

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When I see You

So often when problems and struggles come my way, the pain of it consumes me. I have a hard time finding perspective and context when I’m overwhelmed with circumstances present in my life in the moment. But, then I remember to look to Jesus.

I’ve been learning that when my eyes are fixed on Jesus, the pain and struggle that I am experiencing fades in comparison to the glory and compassion of Jesus. I’m reminded of the old hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glorious grace.”

In the face of temptation, look to Jesus. When experiencing loss, look to Jesus. In the midst of physical pain, look to Jesus. When you don’t know what the future holds, look to Jesus. When fear assails and darkness falls, look to Jesus.

 He is our hope.

I wrote and recorded this song about three years ago after a season of truly understanding what it means to look to Jesus.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~ Hebrews 12:2-3

A great place to find devotionals is shereadstruth.com, and they wrote a great article on what it means to fix our eyes on Jesus. I recommend checking it out!

Trust Fall

Trust is defined as “a firm belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing; the condition and resulting obligation of having confidence placed in one.”

Lately I have heard so many people say that they find it difficult to trust people. I even found myself saying that to a friend lately. I decided to explore this idea a little further. It didn’t take long for me to realize that there’s no wonder why it’s hard for us to put our trust in people. People are human. We should obviously trust people to a degree- that is normal for all relationships. But I think too often we are looking for people to fill a place that only God can.

One reason people find themselves absolutely devastated in the midst of heartbreak, betrayal, and drama is that expectations and faith have been misplaced. Yes, leaders, preachers, parents, and friends may let us down, and it will hurt, but that should never shatter our world or make us question our beliefs. Christ must be our constant. He must have our full trust.

Without trust in Christ, we will be lost as to His will for our lives.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6

I love how trusting in the Lord automatically leads us to finding His will for our lives. When we surrender every moment, every thought, and every action to the Lord, when we offer ourselves as a sacrifice to Him, He will direct our paths. He will show us His will. If you’ve been scared to trust fall into the Lord’s hands, don’t wait! He will prove Himself trustworthy before you know it.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~ Romans 12:2

Fearless

“I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ~ Nelson Mandella

Fear effects your decisions. Fear hinders your abilities. Fear does not accomplish anything helpful or useful.

So, why do we hold on to it?

A few years ago, I battled with fear on a daily basis. I struggled with fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and fear of being rejected.  I minimized those fears as much as possible, and pushed them down deep inside, but there was one place that I just couldn’t hide from it all.

Every moment I stepped on a platform to lead in worship, I froze. I felt the weight of every gaze, and the glance of every eye in that auditorium. I wanted to run for my life. All eyes were on me, and I couldn’t hide.

For weeks I struggled with this developing fear.  I told myself to “woman up” and just step confidently on that stage, but moments later my mouth was dry, my hands were shaking, and I was reminded how weak I truly was.

Completely frustrated, I sat down in front of my piano at home and prayed. I poured my heart out to God, asking Him question after question. Why am I struggling with this? Why am I afraid? Why do I feel this way?

It was then that God whispered to my heart.

“It’s not about you.”

Wait, what? I’m telling You that I’m afraid, and I’m struggling! How could this be Your answer?

“It’s not about you.”

And then, I understood. The root of all of my fears came from worrying about other people’s opinions, of failing, of not being good enough, and not trusting God to work through me.

So what if I hit a wrong note? Who cares if a few people in the audience didn’t like my voice? I wasn’t the point of getting up on that stage, and if I thought I was, then I’d better find a different way to express my worship.

That moment, my fingers hit the keys, and I wrote this song.

Are you struggling with fear today? I want to encourage you to surrender those fears to the Lord. He is trustworthy! He is faithful! We are safe and secure in His hands.

“I sought the Lord and He answered me. He delivered me from all of my fears.”~ Psalm 34:4

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Photography by Ryan Arrington. https://typingphotography.wordpress.com/

Without love, what’s left?

As I look around the coffee shop I’m sitting in right now, I can’t help but wonder about the stories that fill up this room. Where there are people, there are stories. There are dreams, hurts, challenges, hopes, fears, and needs.

I’m also thinking about the fact that there are 7 billion people in the world, and I will never get the chance to know all of them. It’s hard to comprehend that there are 7 billion completely different people, unique in personality, appearance, and interests. God’s creativity astounds me.

So, maybe I won’t meet all 7 billion people, but what about the ones I come in contact with today?

     

Will I get to hear their stories? Will I get to tell them about the God who can heal their hurts, bring them hope, deliver them from their fears, and meet their every every need?

I guess that part is all up to me.

God is love. He commands us to “love one another” eleven times in the New Testament. Love is powerful. 1 John says that perfect love casts out fear. 1 Peter 4:8 states that love covers over a multitude of sins. In John 13:35 it says that the way we love one another distinguishes us as Christians and sets us apart from the rest of world.

“Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kind of things that love does is something most people plan to do, but along the way they just kind of forget. Their dreams become one of those “we’ll go there next time” deferrals. The sad thing is, for many there is no “next time” because passing on the chance to cross over is an overall attitude toward life rather than a single decision.” ~ Bob Goff (Love Does)

I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to become a more loving person. Love requires action. Love requires being present. It’s noticing a struggling classmate, engaging in real conversation with a waiter, listening to friends and family but noticing what is really going on beneath the surface. Love is intentional and requires energy, but the joy it brings is an amazing fuel to love even more.

Loving people, showing them Jesus, and bringing glory to Christ are the reasons we live.

Are we taking that seriously?

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Nobody Said it was Easy

Recently I was reading through some journals that I’d written over the past five years. I was blown away by all the times that I had been concerned with something, but the Lord saved me and delivered me beyond what I could have hoped.

Those problems felt like my whole world at the time. I can still remember the nights I prayed over those situations and poured out my heart to God, asking for His deliverance.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the context of our lives. Every trial and every situation that comes up may seem new and daunting, but if we remember the places that God has brought us out of in the past, we should never falter in our trust for Him!

Our God is so good and so faithful. There are things in life that we will never completely understand until we see Jesus face to face. But I do know from experience that there are also many situations where God has answered and shown me reasons for a trial.

I don’t want to be the kind of person who dreads or fears a challenge ahead with a complaining spirit. I want to be the person who grabs a hold of my Savior’s hand with unconditional trust. I want to follow the Lord, praising Him all the way.

It may not be easy, but I’d rather embrace life for the ups and downs instead of running from what’s hard.

Is anybody else up for the challenge?
“I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” ~Psalm 34:1-4♥

Blogger Interview

I interviewed Sunny Murthy, a blog writer for welldressedstudent.com. First, I asked him what motivated him to start a blog and how he decided the topic of his blog. He said that his motivation came from seeing others do it. He wanted to give the fashion world a twist by giving everyone a view of male students’ fashion from the perspective of male students.

He said that he personally enjoys fashion, so he naturally thought “Why not take pictures and write about my fashion choices?” I asked him how often he likes to post and if he ever re-blogs or has other people post for him. He said he shares the blog with one of his friends and they both write together. He said they either do a shoot when they want or when a brand asks them to, but there is no particular pattern. He said their latest blog post picked apart different parts of an outfit and gave examples of what and what not to do.

The next thing I asked him was whether or not he researched how to promote and tag his blog and what his methods are. He said that they did research on what was the best site to create their blog, and they decided to use wordpress. He says that they pretty much tag everything that they can think of. He said the goals for the blog are to help influence fashion from a student’s perspective and maybe even incorporate more aspects of student’s life.

He hopes to monetize his blog, ideally through brands sponsoring them or through ads on the blog. For them, money is not an initial concern because they do it for fun and as a hobby, and just enjoy writing and taking photos about what they love. I asked him if he uses social media at all, and he said that Well Dressed Student started out on instagram. At first, they would just post pictures of outfits and detail what was being worn, but they wanted to expand and create their own blog. Their blog links to instagram, but that is the only social media tool they use right now. Soon they hope to incorporate Twitter.

What I concluded from this interview is that it is extremely important to love what you do. If you are passionate about fashion, music, photography, sports, or whatever it is, find a way to do what you love and share it with the world. No one needs to end up doing something they hate just to earn money. The Lord gave us passions and talents for a reason, and the ideal thing is to figure out how to monetize doing what you love.

Sunny’s blog right now is purely his hobby and isn’t being used to make money, but he is on his way to being able to do that. I love the ability blogs give people to go after their dreams. It was great talking with Sunny and I loved hearing his perspective and writing techniques.