Archives For faith

iStock_000043385558SmallImagine being woken up during the middle of the night and being hauled off by a foreign army to a foreign country. How would you feel? What would be going through your mind?

Especially if you are a believer. I mean, wouldn’t you begin to question God? Where is He? How could He allow this to happen?

I’m not sure Daniel was awakened from his sleep. He may have been taken during the daytime. But he was captured along with three of his friends and taken to Babylon, the ruling power of the day.

No matter how you cut it, they were teenagers! You will need to read the story in Daniel 1. As you are reading ask the following questions.

* So where is God?

* Has God lost control?

* Couldn’t He have kept this from happening?

* Now what?

What I find fascinating about Daniel 1 is that God is the chief actor! Specifically God does three things.

1. God is the one pulling the strings when the Babylonian army invades Jerusalem.

2. God is the one pulling the strings when Daniel receives a special exemption.

3. God is the one pulling the strings when Daniel and his three friends outshine their classmates.

And just think. Many were thinking, “Where is God?” And He was right there all along. Right in the middle of the action. In fact, God was the main actor.

In your own life have you found yourself questioning where God is? Perhaps one day you will realize that He was there all along, right in the middle of it all!

iStockRabbitfootWe have all done it. Somewhere in the back of our minds we start thinking that if we do such and such God is then obligated to answer our prayer or come through for us.

In short, if we do our part, then God cannot let us down. Otherwise He will not look so good.

Over the years I have prayed and I have seen unanswered prayers and answered prayers. But some of the most remarkable answers to prayer have occurred when I also fasted.

In fact, I have written in my journal consecutive answers to consecutive fastings. Also, once I prayed and fasted for three days and had three incredible answers to prayer.

So guess what enters my mind if I am not careful?

If I desperately need an answer to prayer all I need to do is fast. In other words, fasting becomes my rabbit foot. Now I am slipping into magic and superstition rather than faith.

And let’s understand. God knows our hearts.

In 1 Samuel there is a story about Rabbit-Foot Theology. It’s found in chapter 4. Israel is at war with the Philistines. Israel was defeated in a battle and lost four thousand men.

Why the defeat? Great question, but they came up with the wrong answer. They went back and got the Ark of the Covenant. That became their rabbit’s foot. After all, if they lost now God would not look so good. And all the press reports that evening would focus on God’s defeat.

But God wants a genuine relationship with us, not a manipulative one.

To be quite honest whenever I fast now I am confronted with this reality. Am I fasting out of a genuine relationship with God or I am thinking that my fasting will force Him to grant my request?

What drives my devotion to God? Do I see Him as a ticket to the better life, whatever that might be?

If I get up at 5am to read my Bible is God obligated to bless me the rest of the day?

If I give up a Sunday morning on the golf course in order to go to church (just an illustration since I teach every Sunday morning), knowing that I can play later, am I expecting God to help me pick up a few extra birdies later on? After all, I sort of earned a little extra favor didn’t I?

Isn’t amazing how easy it is to fall for Rabbit-Foot Theology? None of us are immune to it.

Let’s focus on our heart, and not our rabbit’s foot.

GUEST POST

This is a guest post by my 17-year-old son, Gabe Henderson. 
He's in 11th grade and wrote this article for a school assignment.  
His interests include skiing and golf, and he runs a Minecraft server in his spare time.

David defeats GoliathHave you ever wanted to do something big, but all you get are little jobs?  Frustration is understandable.  We love doing the big things because we get more recognition that way.  And of course, we love recognition, so the big, important things are typically what we strive to do.

If you find yourself suffering from a lack of recognition, then you should meet David.
The Israelites had a major problem:  a group called the Philistines who lived nearby.  They were a cruel, barbaric faction that seemed to enjoy attacking them. Eventually, King Saul of Israel took his army out to fight the Philistines, but the Philistines had a secret weapon —  a giant man named Goliath.  Goliath fought the terrified Israelites single-handedly.

King Saul himself was scared, but who wouldn’t be?  Goliath was so terrifying that he could only be described as monstrous.  The reward for killing the giant was great.  So great in fact, that anyone would be after it, right?  Wrong.  Everyone in Saul’s army was afraid after watching many others be defeated by the giant.  It wasn’t just Goliath’s monstrous strength, but his stature.  Goliath stood over nine feet tall, and he wore the best armor that the Philistines could offer.  No Israelite had enough confidence to volunteer…until David came along.

David was not a soldier.  He just took care sheep, all day, every day.  As a shepherd, he spent his days out in fields protecting his sheep from harm and from wild animals.  While that may sound exciting, it wasn’t an everyday thing for sheep to be attacked.  It was more likely that they would wander off, and he would have to retrieve them.

David’s brothers, however, were on the battlefront, where David thought they were fighting for the good of Israel.  Unfortunately, the giant Goliath stopped all progress in that area.  This was unknown to David’s father, who instructed him to take some food rations out to his brothers.  Upon arrival, David heard the shouts of Goliath.  Of course, the shouts were not very friendly.  They were mostly taunts toward Israel, mocking everything from their manhood to God himself.

David was outraged.  It was because of his lowly job of shepherding that David had the confidence to say, “I will stop this giant.  My God and I will do it!”  After all, several times in his career as a shepherd, David was protected by God from animals like lions or bears.  This gave David  the confidence that God would protect him.

That’s exactly what happened.  David went to a stream, and found five, perfect stones.  He took one of the stones, put it into his slingshot, and met Goliath on the battlefield.  Goliath roared with scorn when he saw the puny David approaching.  David took no notice of the taunts, and simply hurled his stone at the giant.  A soft “plunk” was heard, and then Goliath was no longer boasting, but falling.  Falling face forward into the dirt and showing no signs of getting back up.  David had won.

What about you?  Do you feel like God only wants you to do small things that nobody notices?  It just may be that God is using these small jobs to prepare you for something great.  1 Corinthians 10 says “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  It worked for David, and it’s the best way for you to live your life, too.