What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Hills and Valleys

Where are my keys? Did I take my medicines this morning? What was I supposed to get at the grocery store? Do I have to make dinner? Do I have to make that phone call to the doctor’s office? Do I have to deal with the insurance company? Can I wait until tomorrow to work on the book? Can I wait until tomorrow to write a blog article? Can I just take a nap? Why am I so distracted? Why do we have to decorate for Christmas? Do I have to wrap presents? Do I have to feel these feelings?
Those are the questions flying around my head recently. I haven’t felt like doing any of those things – except the nap – and I know I have to anyway. There are other things I’m having trouble enjoying that I usually get great pleasure from. Everything is beginning to feel like a chore. Ever been in this place?
For me these questions are warning signs. Bright flashing yellow lights. They are the signs that a valley is approaching in my life. I’ve been enjoying a mountaintop with the beautiful sights and closeness to God. Now, I realize that I’m sliding down the side of the mountain and have some choices to make. I may not be able to prevent the sliding (my bipolar disorder will cause me to make swings in moods – often without my being able to do anything psychologically, physically, emotionally and, even, spiritually to prevent them).
My pastor recently shared from the book of Habakkuk in the Bible. Habakkuk experienced the let downs of feeling distant and alone, separated from God. Habakkuk felt God was letting the whole nation of Israel down. He felt God was letting wickedness to prevail. And he railed at God to do something about it.
Then God says, in verse 5, “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days – You would not believe if you were told.” The point for me is that even in the midst of what seem like terrible times, God is at work. I just can’t see everything He’s doing. I can’t see how He’s going to use the current situation for His glory. I need to rest assured that He is at work carrying out His promises. I also need to be praising Him and thanking Him for what is to come. This is where my hope comes from each and every day.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Spirit of the Law

In 1 Samuel 21 we see several acts of deception. David misleads Ahimelech, the high priest, by telling Ahimelech that he is on a mission from Saul when he was really fleeing Saul. The high priest was suspicious of David’s actions and motives for coming to the temple, and David lies to him in several ways. Later in chapter 21, David feigns madness to mislead Achish the king of Gath (Goliath’s hometown).
Is telling lies okay with God? Tom Bradford, a commentator, indicates that there is a place for lying, although it is still sin to do so. There are several times in Scripture and throughout history where sinning seems to be okay, however, it is not an example we should follow on a regular basis. Bradford gives the example of Corrie Ten Boom who hid Jews and lied to the Nazi’s in order to save lives. She was disobeying the authorities God had placed over her instead of serving the political policies of her government. Was Corrie wrong to do that? Bradford says that we must not go against the spirit of the Law to fulfill the letter of the Law. Obeying authorities is the letter of the Law. Loving people is the spirit of the Law.
Another commentator, Matthew Henry, put it this way: “Mercy is to be preferred to sacrifice.” He also shared a passage in Matthew 12 where Jesus uses David’s act of deceiving Ahimelech as acceptable because, “I [Jesus] desire compassion, and not a sacrifice” (Matthew 12:7). Henry points out that ritual observance must give way to moral duties.
Knowing this, we must not deceive ourselves into thinking that it’s okay to sin if we think we are doing it for the greater good. David’s deception with Ahimelech led to disastrous consequences. 1 Samuel 22:21-22 tells us what happened: “And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. Then David said to Abiathar, ‘I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have brought about the death of every person in your father’s household.’” All the priests in Nob were killed by Saul and his men for entertaining David.
Whatever the reason for our sin, as noble as we think it might be, it may lead to terrible results. Only God can know what the greater good is, and it’s only by earnestly seeking Him that we have a chance of making the right decisions. Let us not fool ourselves and excuse our sin as being the right thing to do without consulting God and His Word for guidance. Whether it’s telling a “little white lie” or disobeying government authorities, we need to seek out God’s will.