Tribulations? You got this! (Or at least God does)

I am trying to make it through the Old Testament.  I have read Genesis many times, but usually get bored after Noah.  This time I have made it to Deuteronomy, which is a first for me.  It has been a lot of Moses since Genesis and I find myself waiting for Moses to die.  I am getting tired of the people whining, God and Moses getting mad, the people turning back and then, within a chapter, the people are doubting or failing once again.  I did not realize how much of the Bible is taken up with Moses.

It is very easy for me to judge these early Israelites.  Don’t they realize how much God has done for them?  He brought them out of slavery in Egypt.  What more do they want?  But then again, I don’t know how positive or trusting I would be wandering in the desert.  It’s not always easy to see the good that God is leading us to.  And although I am becoming bored with the repetitive nature of the people’s shortcomings.  It is comforting to know that no matter how many times they fail, the Lord God is still there.  Today Moses reminds them, that they can always turn back:

But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice, for the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not fail you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers which he swore to them.

Deuteronomy 4:29-31

This is a wonderfully repetitive message in the Bible.  And one I should turn to every day.  There is no promise that there won’t be tribulation.  Indeed, Moses tells them “when you are in tribulation” not “if”.  There will be tribulation.  We all face it.  Sometimes we go from one tribulation to the next.  The Israelites went from slavery to the desert and, yet I am reading it thinking “suck it up.”  “Don’t you know that God is bringing you to the Promised Land?”   It is so easy to judge thousands of years later when we know the outcome.  And thousands of years from now, people will look back at us and think the same thing.  God is leading us to the Promised Land.  There will be tribulations along the way.  We will be challenged, physically, mentally, spiritually.  We will fall along the way.  We will fail to trust and be led astray.  But God will not fail us.  When we search with our whole heart and whole soul (in other words, when we really want to find Him), we will find Him.  When we turn to Him, no many how many times we have failed before, when we turn back and obey Him, He will show us mercy.

My God, My God,

I know you will never forsake me.  I know the tribulations bring us closer.  But sometimes I need the reminder.  Thank you for being merciful.  Thank you for loving us through our darkest times.  My heart and my soul seek you.  I feel your love and your strength.  May my struggle through every tribulation and my rejoicing at every mountain top honor you.

 

Battle cry

I am anxious, nervous, excited and certainly on edge.  Tomorrow will be a big day.  My son’s team is preparing for a big game.  It is all I have thought about today, actually most of the week.  The game… and God.  I want this victory.  I want it bad.  Our team is the underdog.  But I don’t have any say in who wins.  I can’t play.  All I can do is cheer on the sidelines… and pray.

This verse from Deuteronomy gives me comfort:

When you go out to war against your enemies and you see horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD, your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, will be with you.

When you are drawing near to battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the army, and say to them, “Hear, O Israel! Today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies. Do not be weakhearted or afraid, alarmed or frightened by them. For it is the LORD, your God, who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies and give you victory.”

Deuteronomy 20:1-4

I may not be able to be on the field with them, but God will be.

No matter what our challenge of the day may be, God is with us.

Sometimes life seems like it is full of battles.  Some are much bigger than others.  We battle in athletic competitions, we battle in politics, we battle in the workplace, we battle against ourselves.  Sometimes we battle just to get up.  It can be frightening, it can be exhausting, it can be stressful.  We can feel like we are all alone.  But there is no need to be anxious, no need to be nervous, no need to be on edge.  God is with us.  And He is fighting for us. He is not just sitting on the sidelines.  And that is freeing, that is empowering, that is comforting.  He is my battle cry.

So I am excited to see what tomorrow brings. I am excited to see how this battle is won.  I pray to God for a victory, and I am comforted to know that God is with me.  God’s got this — even when I don’t.

Lord,

I know that you are with us everyday, in whatever battle or challenge we face.  I am not afraid.  Help me to stand strong in whatever battle comes my way.  I pray for victory.  The victory that you have in store for us.  (And if it is your will, I pray for victory for my son’s team tomorrow.)

 

Whole Heart

Today I did not randomly open the Bible — instead the Bible verse (actually verses) was thrust upon me on the radio this morning.  I heard an interview with Brandon Heath where he talked about the reason for his song Whole Heart.  He talked about the Bible telling us to seek God with our whole heart, trust God with our whole heart and love God with our whole heart.  He spoke of 3 bible verses.  I was driving so I could not write them down, but these are the ones I found tonight:

Seek God With Your Whole Heart:

Yet when you seek the LORD, your God, from there, you shall indeed find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul.  In your distress, when all these things shall have come upon you, you shall finally return to the LORD, your God, and listen to his voice.  Since the LORD, your God, is a merciful God, he will not abandon or destroy you, nor forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them.

Deuteronomy 4:29-31

When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you.  When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me—oracle of the LORD—and I will change your lot.

Jeremiah 29: 12-14

Until I heard the radio interview this morning, I never thought about whether I am seeking God with my whole heart.  Instead, I am afraid most times I go about it half heartedly.  If I am not busy with something else, if it’s not too difficult, if it’s Sunday morning or there is a religious event that can do the work for me.  I am not sure I am doing it with my whole heart, with my whole being.

Trust God With Your Whole Heart

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

This is probably my hardest of the three.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  My mind overpowers my heart and tries to rely on its own intelligence.  I find it hard to let go.  I think more often than not I reach for God, but with one hand I still hold on to the edge of the pool.  Trust with all your heart.  I need to make my other hand let go.  I need to trust that God will keep me afloat.  He has never given me any reason to doubt.

Love God With Your Whole Heart

Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.  Take to heart these words which I command you today.  Keep repeating them to your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.  Bind them on your arm as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.  Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”  He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”

Luke 10:25-28

Love God with all your heart, all your being, all your strength and all your mind.   I love the instructions in Deuteronomy:  Take to heart these words which I command you today.  Keep repeating them to your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.  Bind them on your arm as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.  Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.

There is no one more deserving of our love than God — this one shouldn’t be hard, but sometimes I know I still put myself first.  Sometimes I still put false idols, electronics, tv shows, candy crush, football games and even chicken wings first.  I do not want to do that, but as I think about it now, I allow this to happen because I am not approaching God with my whole heart.  Too often I am approaching Him with only my Sunday heart — just 1/7 of my heart.

The Bible tells us:

  1.  Seek God with all of your heart — and you will find Him, He will return you to Him and He will change your lot.
  2. Trust God with all your heart and he will make straight your paths.
  3. Love God with all your heart and you shall live.

Wow!  As it was this morning when I heard these three together, my mind is blown.  My heart is stretching.  The instructions are simple.  Following them is hard, unless we do it with our whole heart, so there isn’t room for distraction.  If we only do it half heartedly — we leave room in our heart and in our being to be led astray.  We need to fill it up with God.

I am up for the challenge.  I am ready to let go of the pool’s edge.  Let go with me!

Lord, help us!