Tag Archive | failure

The Most Powerful God, 1 Samuel 5:1-6

Buddy.Dagn.WP.5.2.18

Buddy depends upon me to take are of him. It would be foolish for him to run off and take his chances on moving into a stranger’s home. The stranger doesn’t love him and hasn’t sacrificed for him over the years like I, who love him dearly, has.

One of my favorite stories from the Old Testament (Tanak) is from the time period before kings ruled over ancient Israel, when the nation was ruled by a series of judges appointed by God. When Samuel the prophet was a youth, the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant of the Lord and brought this holy seat of God Almighty into the house of their god, Dagon. Dagon was considered the “Lord of Many Cities” according to Wikipedia, or a god over many gods. Some archeologists believe it was a fish-god, or Merman, or, most likely, an agricultural god of grain.

By capturing the ark, the Philistines thought that their god, Dagon, had defeated the god of the Hebrews. But they  quickly discovered that they were very wrong.

“When the Ashdodites arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set him in his place again. But when they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him…Now the hand of the Lord was heavy on the Ashdodites, and He ravaged them and smote them with tumors, both Ashdod and their territories. When the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, ‘The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is severe on us and on Dagon our god.'”–1 Samuel 5:1-6

The Philistines thought they had defeated the God of Israel because they had defeated His people. But God had permitted it, one reason being, because the sons of the head priest, Eli, had taken the ark into battle and they had disgraced themselves with ungodly conduct as God’s representatives. God Almighty demonstrated which god had the real power.

This actually wasn’t my original point in writing this blog, but there are some who think that because Christians fail, morally or intellectually or in some other personal habit, that means that God Himself is flawed or not real. Nonbelievers judge God Almighty by the behavior of imperfect persons. No, it means that a mighty God has chosen to love and appoint as His ambassadors people who are totally incapable of meeting or living up to His holy standards 24/7. Just because God’s people are defeated doesn’t mean that God is any less totally holy or omnipotent. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

What amazes me is that God Almighty, the Lord of Hosts, who created the universe and exists outside of time, space and His creation, would even bother with us. Yet, He extends His grace and mercy to every person every day. He sustains life on the planet and allows people the freedom to choose Him or not to. Every breath is a gift from Him. And everything we use in our daily lives originates from this planet that we did not create, but He created and allows us to rule over and utilize its resources.

I could go on but you get the point.

The failure of God’s people doesn’t mean God has failed; it means that God chooses to call Christians His children and extend His love to people who are totally unworthy of it, people totally incapable of being as holy, good and kind as He is.

God bless you. Dawn and Buddy

***

Jesus provided a way for unholy people to approach a holy God. He is the “merciful and faithful high priest” (Hebrews 2:17) who intercedes for us with the Father. Because God cannot tolerate evil and must punish it, yet loves us, Jesus took on human form and accepted humankind’s punishment for our sin. All we have to do is admit we’re sinners who require Christ’s sin sacrifice to pay for our sinfulness and ask Him to govern our lives. When we give our lives to God, the Holy Spirit enters into us, which makes us “born again”. We become new creations by the presence of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17) and our trespasses are no longer counted against us (2 Corinthians 5:19). God is so holy that we can never meet his standard of perfection to be granted eternal life. (Matthew 5:47). It’s totally impossible. We cannot work for our salvation or earn the right to enter God’s presence.

If you haven’t, please invite Him into your life.

And if you do know Christ, please remember that you are also imperfect before you’re tempted to judge someone harshly. I also have to remind myself to be kind because I also fall short of God’s standards every day and need His grace too.

 

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Strength From Joy, Nehemiah 8:9-10

Happy Buddy

I tried to give Buddy a walk earlier today, but the construction noise across from the park frightened him and he made a mad dash back to my car. He gave me a happy smile when he managed to claim the driver’s seat. Because he felt safe in my car, he could abandon fear and smile again.

Nehemiah was the cup bearer for King Artaxerxes of the ancient Medo-Persian empire. The great king allowed Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem in 445 BC to rebuild the city wall that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had destroyed. Inspired by God, pagan King Artaxerxes also provided the funds and supplies for the project. During those times cities were usually encircled by walls to protect them from their enemies. Because of Nehemiah’s leadership skills, the motley and varied group of Jewish inhabitants of the city rebuilt the wall in 52 days. What was particularly amazing is that these people were not professional builders: women, perfumers, goldsmiths, and all sorts of persons lugged stones for the walls and hung doors for the gates.

After the great project was completed, all the people gathered to hear Ezra the scribe bless them. He also read from the Book of the Law (Old Testament) and explained it in a way that was understandable. The people wept bitterly when they realized they fell far short of God’s requirements.

“Then Nehemiah who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep….Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'”–Nehemiah 8:9-10

When we’re focused on our works and failures, rather than on God’s goodness and might, we can be self-preoccupied, cranky, bitter and miserable. But what does God say?

“For You have cast all my sins behind your back.”–Isaiah 38:17

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He moved our transgressions from us.”–Psalm 103:12

After we’ve confessed our sins, God doesn’t continue to hold them against us. He doesn’t want us walking around with long, pious faces. I really think Jesus wasn’t like the movies portray him: serious-looking all the time. I believe he was full of joy, radiating abundant health, because people were drawn to Him and wanted to be near Him. No one is drawn toward a sour puss.

When we are focused on our sin and unworthiness, we’re self-preoccupied rather than God-occupied. Most people are unhappy. If they see Christians who are joyful, even despite adverse circumstances, they will be drawn to you and will listen to your testimony because you clearly have something they lack: joy.

And from personal experience, I feel healthier when I’m focused on God’s goodness, the beauty of nature and positive things in life, rather than where I’m failing or where others are falling short. I feel more pep in my step when I’m focused on the positive instead of being self-preoccupied.

Folks, be God-occupied and rejoice! God is good, thinks about you a lot, and He loves you. You can trust Him to “guide (you) in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). And “Who always leads us to triumph in Christ,” (2nd Corinthians 2:14).

You can relax in Jesus. He’ll continue to guide you. “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 1:6

End note: If you are not born-again, you can still find temporary joy in nature but without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, you are not being guided into triumph in Christ. Please consider saying this prayer: “Father, I admit that I have a sinful heart, have offended you and cannot live up to Your righteous standards. I accept that Jesus died on the Cross to take the punishment I deserve for my sin. Please forgive me and enter into my heart. I trust that on the third day after the Crucifixion Jesus was resurrected bodily, an acceptable sin sacrifice, to give me eternal life. Be my Lord and teach me to walk in your ways.” If you’ve said this prayer, God promises to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him”–Luke 11:13 ¬†God bless you and guide you to a Biblically-based church fellowship.

Quotes from the NASB version of the Bible