Lean not on your own understanding

Have you found that some scriptures are quoted so much that they almost become cliche? One such scripture for me is a childhood favorite:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Prov 3:5-6 KJV

I get the general concept of that scripture. It seems self-explanatory until you try to operationalize it! What does it mean to trust in God with all your heart and not lean on your understanding in a practical way? This week God showed me an example of this from a story in the bible. Let me paraphrase it for you:

So Solomon was married to 700 wives and had 300 concubines and almost all of these brought their foreign and detestable gods into the marriage. They gradually turned Solomon’s heart from serving God  and so God told him that the kingdom of Israel will be divided and his son would rule one tribe. On the flip side of the coin a man named Jeroboam was minding his business one day strutting about in his new robe and a prophet approached him and ripped his coat into 11 pieces representing the tribes of Israel, gave him 10  of the pieces and told him God had chosen him to rule over 10 of the tribes of Israel. God promised to make his kingship a lasting dynasty like he had promised David. What an honor it must have been! This position however came with  a warning from God; that he walked in obedience to God and did what was right by obeying God. But after he became king he got insecure. He forgot the promise of God. He forgot about his incredible appointment to kingship through a series of God-orchestrated events and he did the one thing which no one should do when feeling insecure or afraid: he thought to himself.

Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam. After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other. 1 Kings 12:26-30 NIV

He did not trust that God who had brought him that far was capable of sustaining him in that position but rather he leaned into his own knowledge and schemes. He devised ways he could keep himself secure in that kingship forever and in the process he lost it all.

This week I am reminded that trust in God means having unshakable confidence in the One who has promised that He will fulfill His word to the letter. In these times as the world goes through turmoil, I have so many uncertainties and insecurities about my future. But God is faithful. It is very important for me to lean more into him and farther away from my own understanding and schemes or plans. I need to fully trust that the promises God has made regarding my health, my family, my job, my career, my finances, the totality of my existence will surely come to pass and my expectations will not be cut be cut short.

So my encouragement to you today is “what has God said concerning you? What assurances do you have from His word?” Lean in to Him fully trusting and not on your own understanding.

Yours Truly.

God will give you everything you need

Last year I did a series on Psalm 23 and the teachings on  …I shall not want radically changed my life. My most important take away way the fact that if God is my shepherd then at any point in time, regardless of what the circumstances appear to be, I have ALL I need.

This week something I read from the bible reinforced this. David had written this psalm long before he became king and so he understood the concept of God being a shepherd and providing for his every need. But one day he lost sight of this and got greedy. He coveted the wife of Uriah when he could have had any woman he wanted and even killed Uriah so he could have his wife. Now see what God said about this:

…’I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more… 2 Sam 12: 7-8 NIV

God knows what you need to be comfortable in this life. He knows exactly how much food you need to survive (as in the case of the Israelites in the desert and Elijah being fed by ravens). He knows exactly how much money you need to settle your debtors (as in the case of  Peter paying his taxes from the coin in the fish’s mouth). He knows you need clothes (as in the case of Adam and Eve). There isn’t a single need of yours that God does not know about and is not prepared to meet. In fact, if what he has given you is too little, he is prepared to give you more.

So why do we sometimes feel the need to be crooked and shrewd or find other ways to meet our own needs or sort ourselves out? Why do some Christians feel the need to steal or embezzle funds or take bribes so that they can meet their needs?  Is God not our shepherd? Does he not promise to supply all our needs according to his riches?

See the story of Achan in Joshua 7. God asked them to destroy everything in battle and he saw some of the battle spoils and coveted them so he took them (vs. 21). This resulted in his death and that of his entire lineage. David’s covetousness led to a curse on his family.

As the year wears on, my encouragement is to trust God for your every need. He is your shepherd and so you have access to everything you need. Just ask.

Yours  Truly.

Pick up stones along the way

Seems like an odd topic right? Well, it will make sense in a minute. This year one of my resolutions was to pray every night with my kids and teach them how to pray. A few days ago my son wanted to go to bed and so he came and reminded us that we had not prayed yet and I felt a wave of emotions wash over me. I felt pride in my boy for recognizing that this had become a nightly routine and in the same breath I felt guilty for all the times I had reluctantly dragged myself to pray with the kids.

In church last week, a scripture was read to a couple dedicating their baby that really got me thinking about how we live in front of the scrutinizing eyes of our kids:

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and command them: ‘Take up for yourselves twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan where the priests were standing, carry them with you, and set them down in the place where you spend the night.’”… Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ you are to tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ Joshua 4: 1-3, 21-22 BSB

This scripture encourages me that as I go along in life, I need to be intentional about picking up metaphorical stones that will spark conversations with my kids about Jesus. Following Jesus will not come spontaneously to my kids without effort. I need to actively share my faith with them, pray with them (regardless of how tired I am) and talk about the good things that Jesus is doing in our lives. This way when they are old enough they will know why they are choosing to follow Jesus and it will not only be because they “grew up in a christian household” but because they encountered Jesus on a daily basis and fell in love with Him because there were always stories of Him in abundance in our home.

Yours Truly.


In conformity to His plan

We left off our last series on Your future is within you with these two questions: how can we ensure that we come to the expected end and future God has laid out for us? What if we mess up along the way or deviate from the plan, then what? Well… lets explore these questions.

John 15: 1-8 answers the first question beautifully.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…” John 15:5 NIV

If we remain in Christ who is the true vine, then we will bear fruits. The future that is embedded within us will flourish and come to fruition. Remember in the last post we discussed how God knows the plans He has for is and he knows what the way to that expected end us but he does not necessarily tell us? Well… Jesus assures us that He is the way (John 14:6) and if we will but follow Him and not turn to the left or the right He will lead us right into the future God envisioned for us.

But what about people like me who have not stayed the course and have gone our own way only to realize that that was just a dead end? Truth is there is hope if the person repents and turns away from the wrong path. This is the key; God works everything out in conformity to his will.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Eph 1:11 NIV

So what does this mean? It means if you for example went your own way and ended up getting pregnant out of wedlock  or becoming a drug addict but turn around and come back, God conforms that story to the plan. An example of this is David. He not only stole Uriah’s wife and slept with her, but tried to hide the ensuing pregnancy and when that failed, he killed Uriah. When God convicted him of this grievous sin, he was immediately filled with remorse  and he repented. But the story did not end there… God conformed this ugly story to the plan for David  by accepting the next child of David and Bathsheba. After the baby was born, they named him Solomon but God sent word to David to call him Jedidiah which means loved by God (2 Sam 12:25 NIV). In fact God did not stop there; he used Solomon to fulfill the future he had mapped out  for David to have an everlasting throne by establishing Solomon as the next king of Israel. And we all know that Solomon was unparalleled in wisdom, wealth, and greatness of all the kings Israel had ever had and perhaps will ever have and Jesus Christ the everlasting King came from that lineage of David.

You see, God conforms those messes when we go astray to become a part of our testimony so that when we get to our expected end, our journey becomes an encouragement to others. Never forget God’s assurance:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer 29:11 NIV

Yours Truly.