Thursday, February 27, 2014

Where Does Success Come From…?

There is a great story in 2 Chronicles 13. As the setting, recently the northern kingdom of Israel and southern kingdom of Judah have split into two. Jeroboam is over the north (Israel) and Abijah, son of Rehoboam, is king of Judah. Jeroboam mobilizes Israel for war; over 800,000 choice men. Abijah rallies 400,000 from Judah in battle formation against them. Abijah calls out a challenge and says that Judah will win the war because they are depending on God and have not forsaken Him.

The battle ensues and Judah, by the grace of God, routs Israel and Jeroboam. Even though Judah was well outnumber and outmanned, the victory went to Judah and Abijah. Then the writer of the book makes the conclusion…

"The Judahites succeeded because they depended on the Lord, the God of their ancestors." (2 Chronicles 13:18)

Where does our success come from? Does is come from our natural, inborn talents? Is it a result of our own design and cunning? Is it because you and I have some sort of special favor?

Likewise, where does the success come from for the impoverished, hurting and hopeless families and communities we are called to work with? Does is come from our remarkable ability to lead and inspire people? Does it come from our lofty knowledge of community development techniques and tools? Or is it something else?

As a person called and working with an organization that seeks to help those in poverty, hunger and seemingly hopeless situations, I am always constantly amazed at the small successes that come. And if I am truthful to myself and others, those successes are best realized when I totally depend upon the Lord. They usually are not a part of one of my grand schemes or carefully planned efforts but they seem to come more out of faithfulness than even my best best efforts.

Moreover, when we help a poor family or community have better access to food, a better income, or a better chance at life, we can claim a bit of "success". But when we help a family or community to know and learn to depend upon God, we have a greater chance at not only a temporal but eternal success.

Where does my true success come from? I pray that I succeed today by depending on the Lord.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I Will Never Lift My Hand Against the Lord's Anointed...

You have to love the story of David in the Bible. He is a man after God's own heart but yet shows his humanity in falling for Bathsheba. He is one of the greatest kings ever in Israel's history but starts his career with a band of discontented and disillusioned men. He is the shepherd boy who slays the giant Goliath and yet takes time to compose songs and praises to God.

One of my favorite passages regarding David, however, is when he gets a couple of chances to seize the kingdom of Israel and wrest it from Saul by force. He is (in King Saul's estimation) already more popular than Saul himself but he chooses to flee and even go into hiding with the enemies of Israel instead of taking opportunity into his own hands. During his time of fleeing from Saul, he actually is given at least two chances to strike Saul down. It would have been easy. The nation would have followed him. But in each of these cases, when given the chance to run Saul through with a simple sword thrust, David refused and said…

"I will never do such a thing…I will never lift my hand against him, since he is the Lord's anointed."

I don't know about you but I am one to quickly lean to my own understanding and my own interpretation of things, people and situations. I am fast to evaluate as judge and jury people's characters which actually are subtle ways that I tend to justify my own actions, promote my own goals and place me (at least in my own mind) looking pretty good. I am much slower to look and try to see things, people and situations from God's eyes. I tend to miss the things and people that God has anointed being content to simply interpret from a self-centered perspective.

I wonder what would be if I were to slow down a bit and try to understand before judging? I wonder if there would be times and places that my decisions and judgements would be altered if I believed that God had anointed that particular moment, place or person? I wonder how many "Sauls" I have put to death when God had grand designs and plans for accomplishing a greater purpose?

More importantly, I wonder what God could have or would have done through me if I had at critical times refused to lift my hand against His anointing, simply trusting Him in confusing situations that I could not understand?

God is in control. Let me say it again (more for my sake than yours). God is in control…in everything.

"I will not (and dare not) lift my hand against the Lord's anointed."