God is Still the King of the Jungle

Recently, a friend and I lamented the craziness of the current world we live in. The conversation reminded me of a similar conversation I had with a different friend in the nineties where we lamented the craziness of the world at that time.

Seems no matter how far back we go, this world’s been one wild and crazy place, inhabited by a bunch of wild and crazy people. I’m sure I’m not the only one with memories of times you shook your head and wondered what in the world was going on.

So what to do?

In 1994, Steven Curtis Chapman wrote the song, King of the Jungle. Guess he was looking at the state of the world and doing some head shaking of his own. Wonder if he’d add any additional verses today?

Maybe not, because it seems his message is no matter how crazy, no matter how much of a jungle our world appears, the truth is God is still God. He is still on his throne. He is still in control. He’s still the King of the Jungle.

Feel like things are spinning wildly out of control? Take heart, my friend. God’s got it. He’s the Lord of the gentle breeze as well as the rough and tumble. It’s all under his command.

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God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble. And so we need not fear even if the world blows up and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam; let the mountains tremble! Psalm 46:1-3 (TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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This post first appeared on this blog May 8, 2014.

The Trees Chose a King

One of the worst eras in Israel’s history was the time of judges. It was during this time everyone did what was right in his or her own eyes. A quizzical story in the ninth chapter of the book of Judges tells of the time the trees chose a king.

The story comes after Gideon’s death. Finding a successor among Gideon’s seventy sons was no easy task. To solve this problem, Abimelech, the son Gideon had with a concubine from Shechem, went to his uncles and asked them to go to the leaders of Shechem. Abimelech wanted his uncles to convince the leaders he should become the next king since his mother was from Shechem.

The leaders agreed. They gave Abimelech money from the temple treasury to do as he pleased to make it so. The future king used the treasury money and hired some worthless loafers, as The Living Bible translation calls them. These hired guns slaughtered sixty-nine of Abimelech’s half-brothers. Only the youngest, Jotham, escaped.

When Jotham heard the citizens of Shechem declared Abimelech king of Israel, he stood at the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted across to the men of Shechem. There he told the tale of how the trees chose a king. In his tale, the trees who sought a king represented Shechem. The king the trees selected represented Abimelech.

Jotham’s story follows.

The trees sought a king, but the most important and productive trees refused to accept the position. The olive tree was busy producing oil and couldn’t be bothered to rule over unproductive trees that simply waved their branches in the wind.

Next, the fig tree said it would rather produce sweet fruit than rule as king over useless trees.

The grapevine refused asking, “Should I give up producing wine to hold sway over trees?”

In desperation the trees pleaded with the prickly volatile thorn bush to be their king. The thorn bush agreed. With conditions.

“If you want me as your king, come and take refuge in my shade.” (Rather ironic since thorn bushes produce limited shade.) “But if you won’t choose me as your king, then let fire come out of the thorn bush and consume you.”

Three years after making Abimelech king, the Shechemites revolted against him. As was predicted in Jotham’s story, Abimelech destroyed them with fire. (9:47-49)

The people got what they asked for. A prickly volatile thorn bush who destroyed them. In the end, however, the actions of a woman with a millstone standing on a rooftop put an end to the thorn bush king.

Perhaps something we can gain from the inclusion of Jotham’s story of how the trees chose a king is when God’s people abandon him, and do whatever is right in their own eyes, the consequences of their decisions lead to disaster.

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 “Go and talk to the leaders of Shechem,” he requested, “and ask them whether they want to be ruled by seventy kings—Gideon’s seventy sons—or by one man—meaning me, your own flesh and blood!” (Judges 9:2 TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Dave Peever is taking a break from writing his “I Am” series which posted here the last Tuesdays of the month.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Good Shepherd

A random gust of wind, courtesy of Hurricane Delta, blew over a section of our fence. This side of fence borders our neighbors who own two dogs. The friendly dogs loved the new found freedom of exploring our backyard until the fence was repaired.

One day as I sat outside in the early morning silence listening to birds sing and watching flocks fly overhead, Scout and Gadget burst from their backdoor and bolted straight into our yard.

After some time, their owner called for them. Even though she called them by name, they ignored her.

In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t entice them to stay. I simply sat in my chair and watched what they would do. Scout stood by my chair, looked in the direction of her owner’s voice, then looked at me. Gadget ignored her owner’s voice and continued exploring our yard.

After several more calls, Scout took one final look at me, turned toward her yard, and went home. Gadget looked toward home, yet didn’t budge. Several more calls. Nothing.

I stood, walked toward Gadget, called, clapped my hands, and told her to go on home. She came to me, paused, then walked into her yard.

Again, no. I’m not some irresistible dog whisperer, and our neighbors love and take care of their dog babies. So no reason to avoid going home.

But this interaction between owner and dog got my mind thinking about the interaction between the Good Shepherd and his sheep. When Jesus calls us, who are we more like? Scout or Gadget? Do we recognize our Shepherd’s voice and go to him? Or do we hear his voice but ignore him altogether?

In the tenth chapter of John, Jesus tells us he is the Good Shepherd. He is the Gate through which his sheep are saved. He is the Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. He knows his sheep and calls them by name.

When he calls, his sheep recognize his voice and come to him. His sheep follow him because they know his voice and know they can trust him. The sheep won’t follow a stranger, because they don’t know his voice.

Although I could have enticed Scout and Gadget to stay with me instead of going to their owner by offering them treats or belly rubs, I didn’t. Even though they know me, are comfortable with me, and know I won’t hurt them, they aren’t my dogs. They aren’t my sheep. They belong to someone else.

There are those in the world who take advantage of their position. They try to entice Jesus’ followers away from him with falsehoods, offers of influence, power, financial gain, any number of things. They want Christ’s sheep to follow them. They don’t want Christ’s sheep following the only true Good Shepherd.

As sheep who belong to the Good Shepherd, we need to shut our ears to false shepherds and open them to the voice of the One who knows us by name and loves us with an everlasting love. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus’ love for us is so great he willingly laid down his life in death so we would never face separation from him.

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The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice and come to him; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3 (TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Listening To The Voice That Matters

Noise. Confusion. Doubt. Chaos. So much bombards our life making it difficult to know which way to go sometimes. A devotion from Streams in the Desert says we are to be still and listen for God’s clear direction when our path seems uncertain.

“When we are in doubt or difficulty, when many voices urge this course or the other, when prudence utters one advice and faith another, then let us be still, hushing each intruder, calming ourselves in the sacred hush of God’s presence; let us study His Word in the attitude of devout attention; let us lift up our nature into the pure light of His face, eager only to know what God the Lord shall determine—and ere long a very distinct impression will be made, the unmistakable forth-telling of His secret counsel.”

This devotion tells us to take our questions to God. It says if we will get alone with God where the lights and shadows of earth cannot interfere, where human opinions fail to reach, and wait there silent and expectant, even though all around us insists we make an immediate decision or action, the will of God will be made clear.

The world clamors for our attention in light and shadow. Everyone has an opinion and advice they aren’t afraid to share, whether the sharing is done in a healthy way or not.

The world works hard to pull us away from following closely after Jesus. Voices all around us tell us what we should do and how we should do it, often against what God’s Holy Word tells us we should do. At those times, as the Streams in the Desert devotion writer suggests, we are to shut out the intruders, and calm ourselves in God’s truths.

God doesn’t shout to be heard. He doesn’t rush us toward a decision. He doesn’t keep us so active or agitated we can’t hear from him. He doesn’t frighten or push us. Those are the deceiver’s tactics, not God’s.

Just as the sheep know the shepherd’s voice by being still and listening to it, we can know Jesus’ voice in the same way. But first, we must shut out the imposter’s voice.

“STAND STILL,” my soul, for so thy Lord commands: 
E’en when thy way seems blocked, leave it in His wise hands; 
His arm is mighty to divide the wave. 
“Stand still,” my soul, “stand still” and thou shalt see 
How God can work the “impossible” for thee, 
For with a great deliverance He doth save.

Be not impatient, but in stillness stand, 
Even when compassed ’round on every hand, 
In ways thy spirit does not comprehend. 
God cannot clear thy way till thou art still, 
That He may work in thee His blessed will, 
And all thy heart and will to Him do bend.

“BE STILL,” my soul, for just as thou art still, 
Can God reveal Himself to thee; until 
Through thee His love and light and life can freely flow; 
In stillness God can work through thee and reach 
The souls around thee. He then through thee can teach 
His lessons, and His power in weakness show.

“BE STILL”—a deeper step in faith and rest. 
“Be still and know” thy Father knoweth best 
The way to lead His child to that fair land, 
A “summer” land, where quiet waters flow; 
Where longing souls are satisfied, and “know 
Their God,” and praise for all that He has planned.
—Selected

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And if you leave God’s paths and go astray, you will hear a voice behind you say, “No, this is the way; walk here.” Isaiah 30:21 (TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry – I Laid it Down in Silence

I Laid it Down in Silence

Frances Ridley Havergal

Selected from Streams in the Desert

I laid it down in silence,

This work of mine,

And took what had been sent me–

A resting time.

The Master’s voice had called me

To rest apart;

“Apart with Jesus only,”

Echoed my heart.

I took the rest and stillness

From His own hand,

And felt this present illness

Was what He planned.

How often we choose labor,

When He says “Rest”–

Our ways are blind and crooked;

His way is best.

Work He Himself has given,

He will complete.

There may be other errands

For tired feet;

There may be other duties

For tired hands,

The present, is obedience

To His commands.

There is a blessed resting

In lying still,

In letting His hand mold us,

Just as He will.

His work must be completed.

His lesson set;

He is the Master Workman:

Do not forget!

It is not only “working.”

We must be trained;

And Jesus “learned” obedience,

Through suffering gained.

For us, His yoke is easy,

His burden light.

His discipline most needful,

And all is right.

We are to be His servants;

We never choose

If this tool or if that one

Our hands will use.

In working or in waiting

May we fulfill

Not ours at all, but only

The Master’s will!

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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