On the Sidelines

Sometimes we may feel as if God set us on the sidelines to watch others work for him,  while our labor goes unnoticed. We may feel as if our contributions don’t matter as much as the contributions of those who are recognized.

If those thoughts ever flit through our brains, perhaps looking at the story of Uriah the Hittite might put things into better perspective.

Uriah was a loyal soldier in King David’s army. The Bible tells us in the spring, at the time kings went off to war, David sent out his men and the whole Israelite army. The whole army, that is, except King David. (2 Samuel 11)

We are also told once David learned Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, was pregnant with David’s child while her husband was at war, the king sent for Uriah. David hoped the soldier would go home to his wife. But loyal Uriah slept outside the king’s door instead.

Realizing Uriah would not go to Bathsheba, David sent him back to the front lines. The king gave orders to withdrew his men during the battle. Leaving Uriah unprotected. Uriah died on the battlefield. After a time of mourning, David took Bathsheba as his wife.

Although Uriah was not an Israelite, his life was devoted to Yahweh, the one true God. It appears God rewarded Uriah by mentioning his name in Jesus Christ’s genealogy. Bathsheba, however, is listed as the woman who had been Uriah’s wife in many Bible translations and versions.

It may appear to us Uriah was on the sidelines, but God knew exactly where the man was. God honored Uriah’s devotion and service to him. God chose Uriah’s wife to be the mother of King Solomon. She was one of the women through whom Christ would enter this world.

At the same time, God made sure Uriah’s name would not be forgotten.

We may never see our name listed in a Who’s Who of Great Deeds Done for God. And that’s okay. What matters is when we commit our lives to serve God through accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, even the least thing we do for him is seen by God and listed in His Book.

Like Uriah, each of us has a part to play in the story God is writing, whether we realize it or not.

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This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar…Nahshon the father of Salmon,  Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse,  and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife. Matthew 1:2-3a, 5-6 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Trust God in the Hard Times

Last month I re-posted a Woven and Spun post from the archives on coping with adversity. Today I post another from October 11, 2015 which I pray offers hope during this difficult time of COVID-19.

October 11, 2015

We live in a world that often tells us those who follow Christ should not experience times of trouble and hardship. To that I would ask the question, if Jesus said in this world his followers will have trouble, who are we to act as if what he said isn’t true by pretending everything in our life is perfect?

Perhaps the key is to trust God in the hard times instead of acting like we don’t have any troubles and hardships.

When we acknowledge God is our hope and comfort, if we let it, our pain and trouble can draw us closer to him. Our difficulties often show us we aren’t the ones in control. God is.

There are things God brought me through I wish I didn’t go through. Experiences I hope I never go through again. I’m sure many of you could say the same thing.

But you know what? If God didn’t allow us to go through those difficult experiences, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to see his hand at work in those dreadful, horrid places.

I don’t eagerly look forward to more difficult times so I can experience more of God. No, sir. But I am trying to remember when I find myself in the middle of those hard places, Jesus hasn’t left the building. He’s still right here beside me. Now and forever. And he’s right there beside you as well.

Do you think if we never had a worry or care we’d start to feel pretty good about ourselves? Maybe to the point of feeling self-sufficient?

And maybe, just maybe, we’d start to feel like we are okay and don’t need God?

Perhaps God allows us to go through the tough stuff to make sure we don’t start to believe we’re all that and a bag of chips.

What do you think?

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So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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

When The Way Is Steep

When the way is steep in front of us, do we concentrate on the incline, believing it insurmountable, or do we take the climb one step at a time?

During a hike Pilot and I took in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the climb was STEEP. He was familiar with the trail and led the way. Because the trail wound through the trees, it was difficult for me to tell just how steep the climb would be until we were already on it. The higher we climbed, the steeper the incline.

At one point, I stopped to catch my breath and gazed upward. The path seemed insurmountable to my exhausted legs. And lungs. I told Pilot I didn’t know if I could make it. He said to take it one step at a time.

Well, the higher the climb, the closer together I placed my feet, until they were barely one in front of the other.

The climb was daunting. It was arduous. I doubted I would make it. I wanted to quit.

But I didn’t.

When I arrived huffing and puffing at the top of the trail, I looked back. I’d conquered the climb I feared insurmountable.

Life can be a lot like that climb. The way is steep. It looks insurmountable. And we don’t believe we can possible take one more step forward. We’re weary. We’re tired. We want to quit.

We cry out to God.

He tells us to keep our eyes on him, not on the steepness of the incline. He’s familiar with the trail. He’ll lead the way. He tells us to take it one step at time.

Even if that one step barely inches us forward, forward motion no matter how slow or difficult, eventually leads to the summit. After we reach the summit and look back, we’ll realize with God’s help we conquered the climb we feared insurmountable.

When the way is steep and life events seem insurmountable with inclines which leave us gasping for air, let’s keep our eyes on God. Taking life one step at a time.

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Give strength to hands that are tired and to knees that tremble with weakness. Tell everyone who is discouraged, “Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue… Isaiah 35:3-4a (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Guest Post – I Am Ananias and Sapphira

Today’s guest post, I Am Ananias and Sapphira, written by Dave Peever first appeared on Live 4 Him.

I Am Ananias and Sapphira

For those of you who have not been following my “I Am ______” series; I know I am Dave Peever. I have not had some sort of disconnect from reality, I know that I am not three people, Ananias, Sapphira and Dave Peever. While my awareness of reality and mental stability is hopefully reassuring let me give you a real scare; I am Ananias and Sapphira!

Every day I am Ananias and Sapphira.

Every day I am given the opportunity to present myself as the real me. Every day I am tempted to embellish the reality of who I really am. Every day I am given the opportunity to sacrifice for what I believe in. Every day I am tempted to make myself look more sacrificial than I am willing to be. Every day I am given the opportunity to do what is right. Every day I am tempted to do what furthers my agenda whether is right or not.

Every day as a pastor I am Ananias and Sapphira.

There is a pressure that is the constant enemy of pastors. While some of it is real, most of it is a deception that Satan uses to distort how we view our position.

Every day I struggle with the belief that others expect their pastor to be closer to perfection than they are. Every day I am tempted to cover up my failings. Every day I struggle with the belief that others expect me to know more about the Bible than they do. Every day I am tempted to make myself look smarter than I am. Every day I struggle with the belief that I don’t matter because my job as pastor is not a job that receives praise from secular society. Every day I am tempted to try to make myself look like I have a job that fits into the world’s view of success.

As a pastor he is Ananias and Sapphira.

His pulpit has become a place to brag about his morality. Sometimes he throws in statements like, “I am just like you” or “I struggle with things” but his continuous attempts to make himself look great expose the fact that whether he is speaking truth or not he is seeking to make himself look good.

His time at the front of the church often includes a reference to his mentors. Even if he doesn’t use names it is still obvious that he is referring to those who are considered greats in the Christian world. Careful thought would cause anyone listening to realize that his mentorship could have been a face to face meeting but more likely was a simulcast or live training session or maybe a study of one of this person’s books. He uses carefully chosen words of self-promotion to create the illusion of importance.

He calls a day of prayer for the leaders of the community. Once they are at the Sunday service he tells stories of times they have interacted as if they were great friends. The church service turns into a time of “look at me I know the town leaders, I’ve met them in person and hang out with them. Once he tells everyone about who he knows and how he knows them he squeezes in a short prayer, after all, it is a church service.

He introduces the guest speaker by suggesting that he was hard at work on his sermon when he got a call from this person telling him that they were in town and begging him for the opportunity to speak at the service. When the guest speaker stands up they tell a different story. They tell the congregation that they called to see how the pastor was doing and that the pastor begged them to speak. His version of the truth had him working hard on his sermon like a pastor who is living out their calling should, the speaker’s version would suggest that wasn’t true.

Ananias and Sapphire died because of what they did. This pastor has seen his church decline considerably and his reputation destroyed because he has yet to repent or see a need to repent for this behaviour. This is not a physical death but it is a death of sorts.

We all are Ananias and Sapphira.

We all are tempted to make ourselves look good even if it involves carefully chosen not quite true words of self-promotion. We have all wanted to elevate ourselves in the eyes of others by embellishing what we have done or who we know.

The problem is compounded for Ananias and Sapphira and us when lies are created to make ourselves look more godly, more holy, more sacrificial. Lies are sinful but this type of lie goes further. This type of lie uses God, the community of believers and a platform created to point toward the great things God is doing to promote one’s self. You may be able to fool the people but God, who you say you are serving, will not be used as a tool for personal gain or advancement of status.

I am Ananias and Sapphira.

I must struggle to avoid doing what they did even though I can’t avoid what caused them to do it. Every day I am tempted as a follower of Christ and a pastor to promote myself. Every time I enter the pulpit I want to look good. I want every person I meet to think I am smart. To lie to people about who I am and what I do as a follower of Christ so that they think better of me is the path toward death. It is the beginning of spiritual death and possibly a physical one too.

Click here for the story of Ananias and Sapphira

Who is Dave Peever? I am a follower of Jesus the Christ. My specific call is to creatively present various aspects of life as a Christ follower and as a member of a collective of Christ followers I use my background as an actor, director and playwright/writer as well as my music, preaching and leadership skills to assist churches in transition (between pastors) with their desire to be more effective. I have been married for 31 years. We have 3 sons and 4 grandchildren all who currently reside in central Ontario Canada. I have been in ministry for 22 years.

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I wish you well.

Sandy

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

The Flying Fortress

In honor of Memorial Day here in the states, I am shining a spotlight on the B-17 Flying Fortress of World War II.

Over the years Pilot and I have visited museums and air shows with static displays of these magnificent airplanes. Several years ago, however, we had the amazingly cool experience of flying in a B-17 Flying Fortress.

Let me tell you, walking on the ground looking up at a B-17 is nothing like flying in one.

The B-17 Flying Fortress was an Army Air Corps heavy-duty bomber. Armed with .50 caliber machine guns and five thousand pounds of bombs, these four-engine aircraft flew strategic bombing missions over Europe. 13,000 B-17s were produced over the course of the war. Only 13 airworthy B-17s remain today.

The first B-17s saw combat in 1941 when the British Royal Air Force took delivery of several B-17s for high-altitude missions. As World War II intensified, the bombers needed additional armament and armor.

In the Pacific, the planes earned a deadly reputation with the Japanese who dubbed them “four-engine fighters”. The Fortresses were also legendary for their ability to stay in the air after taking heavy artillery attacks. These planes sometimes limped back to their bases with large chunks of the fuselage shot off. If you saw movies like Memphis Belle, you get the idea of what these planes went through.

Sitting inside that bomber and flying over south Texas, gave me a greater appreciation for what the men who flew those birds dealt with in a very small way. While it was totally impressive to sit in the bombardier seat at the nose of the plane and watch the ground sail passed, I was not facing enemy fire. I flew in an uncluttered sky with no threat of artillery fire heading my way.

I truly cannot imagine what it was like to be in that plane during wartime. I especially cannot imagine what it was like to fight from the ball turret. My hat is off to all the brave men who flew their missions, and to the support crews who kept them flying.

So, I’m thinking…is there any spiritual application to all this B-17 business? Yep.

Just as the Flying Fortress was heavily armed, fought many a battle, was often beat up by the enemy, and limped back to base, life can be the same with us.

Every day we go out to battle the Enemy. We face flak and ack-ack from all sides. We take some costly hits, and end up with chunks taken out of us. Exhausted, we limp back home.

Our plane is patched up, and we live to fight another day. We get back inside our plane and go back at it until the day Christ returns, our enemy is thrown into darkness, and the Great War is over.

The only way we are able to win the battle is if God goes before us. God is not our co-pilot. He is the pilot in command. He is our Strength. He is our Shield. He is our Rock of Salvation. God alone is our Mighty Fortress.

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I look to the mountains;where will my help come from? My help will come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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