On Winning Battles

In Judges 6-7, the Israelites are in trouble, once again. They’ve turned their back on God and have disobeyed his commands. They’ve been under the control of the evil Midianites for seven years, and they’ve had enough. At least, that’s what they say. But the Midianites are very evil and are so cruel, that the Israelites hide from them in mountains, caves and other strongholds. When the Israelites plant their crops, their enemies attack them and destroy their crops. Their oppressors leave them with nothing to eat. They’re reduced to starvation. So they cry to the Lord for help.

The problem isn’t that their enemies are strong. It’s that the Israelites have again disobeyed God. Trouble always finds them when they turn their backs on God’s commands.

One man, who is basically afraid of his own shadow, threshes his wheat at the bottom of a winepress in hopes that his enemies can’t find his food and steal it. Gideon says he is the lowliest person in the lowliest tribe of Israel, and he’s scared of everything.  But God sees him and comes to him in his hiding place. 

When the Lord finds him deep in that winepress, he calls Gideon a mighty hero. But Gideon asks God why he has allowed his people to endure such hardships. He asks why God has abandoned them. God knows Gideon has many fears, but he also knows Gideon’s heart.  He hears Gideon when he asks why God has allowed all the evil to take place.  He hears Gideon’s cries about his people starving and struggling to survive.

God doesn’t rebuke him for questioning.  God doesn’t chastise him for being fearful.  Instead, God empowers him to fight.  He enables Gideon to assemble a small army.  God says a large army would indicate that they won by their own power.  A small army shows that God is the one who led them to victory.  Because there are times in life, we can’t do everything.  We need God to guide us, and the victory is all his.


It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Zechariah 4:6


God didn’t give him attaboys or you got this, man.  No.  God wanted the praise.  God wanted the adoration and commitment. Gideon needed to depend on God’s strength to fight this battle and win.  God led Gideon to defeat the enemies, but it was with God’s power. Not Gideon’s. The victory was not through human strength but from God’s favor and power. After all, God whittled down Gideon’s army from three thousand to only three hundred men. And those few men defeated an army of thousands with the help of God.

Gideon doubted God. He thought his people were in such a bad way because God wasn’t doing his job. But when God showed him that his people’s deliberate disobedience had caused this oppression, Gideon had a change of heart. He saw his countrymen for the sinners they were. In spite of his fears, he saw God’s mighty hand upon him and his small army.

Too many times we try to fight our own battles. We imagine victory at the sound of our sharp words or brute force. But we are weak. We are inadequate. We are fearful. We are human. We can’t fight our own battles. We need God’s help. If we claim to be a child of God, we need God’s strength to fight our battles. And he says he will fight for us.

We don’t have it all together. And God sees our weakness. But he also sees our hearts. And if our hearts are seeking to obey and honor God, he will work with our weakness. He will be our strength. He will be our guide. He will lead us to victory. Oh. The victory may not look as we expect. But victory will be look the way God intended. God ordains all our steps. All our battles. All our losses and victories. They are his. If we are his, we know that obedience is much better than elaborate victories.

Proving Ground

So the Israelites moved into the land God had promised their parents forty years earlier. He had commanded them to destroy all the people living in the land. They did not. Oh. They fought a lot of battles and killed a lot of people. But they didn’t kill all the people. And this would come back to haunt them.

God had specifically told them to destroy everyone in their new homeland, because the people living in Canaan were wicked. They were not followers of God, and they would lead the Israelites astray. If left alive, the Israelites would befriend their enemies. They would work together. They would play together. They were marry each other. They would learn to worship the false gods of their enemies. That’s exactly what God didn’t want. And that’s exactly what happened.

I’m sure it was easier to not kill everyone, because killing is hard business. But it was God’s command. And they disobeyed. So God let some of the nations of Canaan remain alive. This was a proving ground for the Israelites. The people who had sworn to always follow and obey God were put to the test. He wanted to test his chosen people to see if they would remain faithful to him while living with the enemy. We can already guess how the story goes.

Oh. God could have destroyed all those remaining nations of Canaan on his own. He didn’t need the help of the Israelites. This was a test. And as we know, we tend to rely more on God when faced with tests than when life is easy.

God allowed their enemies to live, because he wanted his people to learn to know war. Sounds a little odd. Why would God want his people to learn about war? Because this generation had never known war. After all, they had abandoned the God who had brought their ancestors out of Egypt. They worshipped idols and did evil in the sight of God. They angered God. That meant that neighboring nations would war against them. They must become acquainted with war.

To read more of this story, read Judges 2-3.


You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13


The tower of Babel was built by people who had everything. They wanted to build a city and a tower that reached toward heaven, so they could make a name for themselves. When God saw their hearts, he confused their languages so they couldn’t understand each other. Then he scattered them throughout the earth, and they stopped building the city. 

God knew they didn’t trust him and that their plans were evil. He saw their rebellious hearts and separated them. He knew there was great potential for these people to commit evil atrocities, so he put a stop to it.

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. Genesis 6:5

Our country was founded on Christian principles. Our founding fathers fashioned the words of the documents declaring independence and the formation of the nation on biblical principles. Yet look where we are today. Our nation is far removed from biblical principles. And we wonder why we’re experiencing troubling times. Godless leaders. Extortion. Bribery. Lies. Corruption. Mandates. Killing of unborn babies. Gender identity issues. Liberal agendas that mock God.

Our country is much younger than the nation of Israel. We’ve only been a nation for two hundred forty six years. We hear of wars and rumors of wars. Devastating weapons are at the ready for evil leaders if they wanted to wreak havoc on the world. Famine is predicted. Inflation is at an all-time high. Shortages of food and fuel may be on the horizon. And it doesn’t have to be this way. But we as a nation have rejected the commands of God. We flaunt our defiance and liberalism in his face. It’s no wonder we’re in this moral decline. We’ve pushed God away from our nation.

I wonder how many times God doesn’t remove evil from our path to see if we’ll remain faithful to him. It’s obvious how that test is going. Oh. How the mighty have fallen. It’s time for a revival in our country. We have an opportunity to turn this nation around and serve God once again. Will our leaders repent? Can we get godly leaders elected who will stand for biblical truths? Our time may be running out, but we can still repent today.

Be Blameless

I think of the times when I’ve started a new job. I don’t know whether the experience will be good or bad. I don’t know if I’ll be successful or a complete failure. I have no idea if my boss will be considerate or a control freak. Will I make friends? Will I like the job, or will I live to regret my decision? Will I stand up for my faith, or will I be silent? Only time will tell.

As I walked in the door on the first day of my new job, I wondered what my new co-workers would be like. Would we get along? Would I build strong relationships with them? What would we talk about? What would they teach me? Would they learn anything from me? Would this be a good experience? Only time will tell.

We all have times when we get a fresh start. We start a new job. We move across the country or to a new neighborhood. We go away to college. We begin a new relationship. And with each new start, we will have new experiences. New conversations. New opportunities. New learnings. New blessings. New temptations. New memories. And we must make a decision about how we will approach each new situation. Will we live in obedience to God? Or will we choose to disobey?

The people of Israel were getting ready to move into the land that had been promised to them forty years earlier. Oh. It was promised to their parents, but they didn’t live to see it after they had disobeyed God. Their punishment was that they would die before reaching the promised land. Now it was to be awarded to their children. And it was time to move in.

Moses gave the Israelites a long list of instructions to live by once they were in their new land. He warned them of the trouble they would face if these new laws were broken. He also spoke of the benefits they would experience if they obeyed the laws. God would bless them and multiply their nation if they were faithful to him.

But in his message, Moses warned the people that they would disobey God. He told them that they would turn their backs on God and follow their own ways. He warned of the trouble they would face when this happened. God had also commanded them to destroy all the towns and all the people in them. This was because the people they were displacing were evil. And God didn’t want his people to be tempted to turn from him by living with people who dishonored God.


You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy. Leviticus 19:2


God was commanding the people of Israel to live holy lives. They must be blameless, because the people they’re about to displace are not holy people. They must be prepared for that. And they were to avoid all the pagan practices that they were going to encounter. They were not to imitate the detestable customs of the people living in those places.

As followers of Christ living in a post-Christian culture today, we must be blameless. We must avoid the pagan practices of those we encounter each day. We are not to imitate evil customs. We are to avoid anything that God hates. God calls us to be in the world but not of it. We must live above the evils that surround us. We must stand for truth and not tolerate the lies that are being told. We must not bow down to any other gods.

When we’re starting fresh, we will come face to face with many new situations. Some will be great opportunities, and others will be temptations to disobey God. We always have a choice. In the middle of the warning to the Israelites, Moses commanded the people to be blameless before the Lord. Just as the Israelites were to be blameless, we too are called to be blameless.

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord . It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the Lord your God will drive them out ahead of you. But you must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you are about to displace consult sorcerers and fortune-tellers, but the Lord your God forbids you to do such things. Deuteronomy 18:9-14

Enemies Abound

Our culture teaches us to avoid trouble. We’re supposed to be kind and good. We should treat others in the way we want to be treated. Be honest, but don’t hurt the other person’s feelings. We want an easy life, so we try to blend in. Don’t make waves. We’re told that we’ll get further in life if we agree with what we’re told. And just keep quiet. Don’t cause trouble. These days, we haven’t developed the toughness we need when hard times come. We aren’t prepared for adversity or struggles.

But where does that get us? Oh sure. We should avoid trouble if it’s uncalled for. But sometimes trouble comes looking for us. Sometimes trouble is the instigator, and we’re the target. Do we stand still and let it overtake us? Or do we push back? Which is better? Fight or flight?

Jesus told us that we would have trouble in this world. He said we would have many trials and sorrows. It should be of no surprise to God’s children when we face hurdles and obstacles. We will face seasons of unrest and instability. We may be the target of attempts to discredit or defame us. The enemy is a monster who wants our souls. And when we are facing battles, we must commit them to God. Our confidence must be in his power. Not our own. We must know that, as children of God, his presence and power are with us.

Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God. Psalms 20:7

As followers of Christ, we must live strong. We must put on the armor of God each day before we meet our adversaries. Oh. You may think you don’t have enemies, but most likely your enemies aren’t visible. We do fight against principalities. Against unseen powers of the darkness. We are not fighting flesh and blood. We are in spiritual warfare in this world.

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12


Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11


And God tells us that we should not be afraid when we fight our enemies. He doesn’t say if we fight our enemies. Oh no. He says when we fight. We will fight. There will be warfare. And we’re not to be afraid, because he is with us. He will fight for us. He will give us victory.

We also must realize that the army we fight may be bigger than us. So we must commit our situation to God. Because he also said that he has overcome the world. Our confidence must be in God and God alone. Oh. He says he will fight for us, but there’s no doubt that we must prepare for battle. We can’t go in without plans and preparation. God fights for us and through us.

We must surround ourselves with likeminded people.  Brave people. People who will stand for the cause of Christ.  People who will do hard things and fight for truth and liberty. We need friends who will encourage us and pray for us.  If we spend too much time with weak, frightened people, we will become like them.  We must know our enemy. Because he masquerades as an angel of light looking for someone to devour. He makes good look evil and evil look good. It’s easy to be tricked if we don’t know what he’s capable of.

When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you! When you prepare for battle, the priest must come forward to speak to the troops. He will say to them, ‘Listen to me, all you men of Israel! Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today! Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them. For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!’ Deuteronomy 20:1-4

Uncertain Times

I had just finished shopping and was pushing my cart to the car. I assumed the woman walking toward me was planning to do some shopping. So when she stopped and spoke to me, I was a little surprised. She asked if I had some spare change so she could get a bite to eat. I said no. Then she approached the next car. He too said no. I didn’t see which direction she went after the second rejection.

I wondered if she noticed how full my cart was as I said no. I wonder if she realized that I had bought things I needed and then some things I just thought I needed. Oh. She didn’t know the amount of money in my bank account. She didn’t know I had cash in my wallet, but the bills were bigger than I was prepared to hand over to a stranger. Hungry or not, she didn’t get my money. It was reserved for other purposes.

I always feel awkward when a stranger approaches me. I couldn’t lie and say I didn’t have any money. Because I did have a little cash on me. And I knew that a little spare change wouldn’t be enough to feed her. Plus. There’s always that uncertainty that she really needed food. Or did she need a fix? I don’t know. I don’t mean to judge. I’m just always wary about strangers approaching me for money. Oh. There have been times that I’ve shared a few dollars. Just not today.

Did I do the right thing? Was my decision the best one? I have no idea. It’s not that I’m heartless or unkind. I am cautious and concerned. I am suspicious of strangers who walk up to me out of nowhere.

It probably took a lot of courage to walk up to a stranger and ask for money. What if she really was hungry? What if she hadn’t eaten in a few days? She did look a little unkempt. But that could also have been arranged. Just don’t bathe or comb your hair for a few days, and you will start to look different.


God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Psalms 46:1


I wonder what I would do if I was hungry and needed food but had no money. Would I be bold enough to approach a stranger in the middle of a parking lot? Would I notice their overflowing cart filled with odds and ends? Would I wonder if they were lying when they said they had no spare change? Would I be as kind and considerate as she was when I said no? What if she was an angel unaware and I missed my opportunity to bless her? What if I could have been Jesus to her today and I blew my chance? I’ll never know.

Oh. I may someday know what it’s like to be hungry and penniless. These times sure are getting tougher. Gas prices are high. Food prices are high. Tempers are short. There are wars and rumors of war. Things are unsettled these days. And things could get much worse. So I can’t say I’ll never have days where I have nothing to eat. I can’t say that I’ll never have to wander through parking lots begging for food or money. I can’t say I’ll always be freshly bathed.

I see those people standing on street corners and at the entrance and exit ramps of the freeway. Oh. I see their faces. I read their signs. If I put myself in their shoes, I would probably hand them a few dollars. But more often than not, I try to put them in my shoes. I wonder if they really have money in the bank and just don’t want to work. I wonder if their job is begging on street corners. Is begging a new career option? I wonder where they lay their head at night. I wonder where they store their winter coats in the off season. I wonder if they are starving and when they last ate. I wonder how many people actually give them money. And I wonder, after months on end, why I still see them standing there holding a sign.

Life is full of hard choices. Life is also full of hard knocks. Good decisions aren’t always easy to make. Regardless of which side of the equation you’re on. If you have plenty or if you’re in need. One decision could change the course of a life forever. And it could go either way. No one knows what tomorrow holds. But we know who holds tomorrow. Whether in plenty or in want, we can be content in the Lord’s hands.

We know that our God is always ready and able to help us in our time of need. All we have to do is call on his name. Oh. He may not provide a hot meal at the exact moment we need it. But he may. He may not provide employment when the unemployment checks stop. But he may. He may not heal us from an awful disease. But he may. He may allow us to wait years on end to see an answer to the prayer that we’ve been praying. He may allow us to suffer in pain with no end in sight. Throughout difficulties, he continues to love us. Our suffering may be of our own doing. And it may not. But God is always faithful. His love never fails. And it endures to the end. Even when others ignore us or fail us. God is with us.

Building the Kingdom

He was a shoddy worker. Oh. When he worked, he could accomplish tasks. But his work was never complete. He left tasks undone. Someone would have to come behind him to finish the work. To clean things up. He didn’t seem to mind or notice that his work was below par. He thought he was doing a great job and should get a promotion. And a raise, of course. He always seemed to have an excuse to miss work. He missed more days that was allotted. He was written up. He was reprimanded. Yet he never changed. Those who came after him saw his neglect. They picked up the slack. They knew his work ethic was below par. But they also knew that, at the end of the day, the work must be satisfactory. They re-did his work on multiple occasions. And somehow through all that, he kept his job.

It may not be all his fault that he’s a poor worker. Perhaps he had poor examples as he was learning to be a worker. Perhaps there were no strong role models he could mimic. Perhaps no one ever pulled him aside in the early stages and coached him about building a strong work ethic. Regardless of the reason he is where he is today, he is showing a less than stellar performance at work.

There are those now who are trying to coach him. They’re trying to encourage him to think before he speaks or acts. They’re encouraging him to consider all the steps he must take to completely finish an assignment. But it’s hard work to undo the poor training or lack of interest from the past. Only time will tell if his work ethic improves.


I recently read that the preaching of a popular pastor of a megachurch is controversial. In other words, his preaching is contradictory to the Bible. He denies certain biblical truths and speaks out of line. I also read of another pastor who is sharing mixed messages concerning heaven. These pastors don’t necessarily know how their words are impacting their hearers. They may not know the spiritual foundation of those hearing their words. The hearers of their message may not be on solid ground and can’t discern biblical truths. Perhaps, it would be good for those pastors to go back and read the Bible with a new lens. Their teaching may be laying shaky foundations or adding shifty layers to an already unstable foundation in the lives of innocent people. These men will be held responsible for their teachings.


Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15


We are builders. We’re all building something. We build a life. A career. A family. A home. A nest egg. A legacy. We build our lives one layer at a time. And the strength and stability of each layer determines the strength of the next layer. If one layer is weak, the entire effort can fail. And then we must decide the next steps. Do we start over? Do we make repairs and continue down the same path? Do we just walk away? These are hard decisions to make.

The same goes for our spiritual lives. There are layers to our growth as a follower of Christ. Each layer must be secured in the foundational teachings of Jesus Christ. If they’re not, then we can develop weak faith. A faith that crumbles when trials come around. We may develop a shallow faith where strong roots can’t develop. Then what happens when the storms of life hit us out of nowhere?

As followers of Christ, we all build into the lives of others. We are called to use our gifts to help others find their faith or to strengthen it. Each gift is unique to each person. We must use our gifts wisely. In order to use our gifts in a way that honors God, we must prepare. Our gifted foundation must be strong, so we can build into others’ lives in a way that pleases God. Otherwise, the faith of those we encounter will be shaky. And our testimony will be watered down. We must seek to know God’s Word so we can share it confidently with others we meet. We must be wise and humbly build solid foundations in the lives of those we are called to disciple. We will be held accountable for our leading.

Our work will be tested. God will examine and judge our work. We are builders. Jesus is the foundation, which is indestructible. But how solid is the rest of the building? We builders will give an account of our work. Oh. We may not be lost if we produce shoddy work. But we won’t receive a full reward. 

Let’s not settle for half truths or unfinished work. Let’s create a masterpiece. For on the day of final inspection, we don’t want to be found in violation of any of God’s codes.

Oh. May all who come behind us find us faithful. 

Put to the Test

He had waited years for an heir. God had told him multiple times that he would be the father of many nations. And at age one hundred, the promise was fulfilled. His son was born. Isaac. Born of Sarah, who was ninety. This son held great promise for the future. There was hope, because the family name would be carried on. Oh. How proud Abraham must have been.

And several years later, God put Abraham’s faith to the test. He instructed Abraham to sacrifice this son as a burnt offering. What?! And Abraham did exactly as he was told.

You can read the full story about Abraham’s obedience in Genesis 22.

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. Hebrews 11:17-19

How many of us have seen the fulfillment of God’s long-awaited promise? Regardless of what was promised, the wait was excruciating. We thought the wait would never end. But we knew we had a clear promise from God. He led us down this path. Now he would fulfill his promise. Wouldn’t he? Wouldn’t he?

And then one day the promised event actually came to pass. Our hearts were filled with happiness and wonder. Relief. Confirmed trust in our Maker. We got the job. A baby was born. The lab results were negative. The debt was fully paid. The bank account was overflowing. Life was good.

And then another day came. And God asked for that promised thing or that promised person to be laid on the altar. He asked us to give the promised gift back to him. For his use. He asked us to sacrifice the gift that was so long awaited. And now we’re being asked to return it? What? To hand it over, as if it’s no longer ours?

But that gift was an answer to a long-prayed prayer.

God asks for our simple obedience. All the time. In every situation. Sometimes, obedience may feel complex rather than simple. But it’s either a Yes or No that God is looking for. That’s the simple part. It gets all complex and uncomfortable when we have to put that Yes into motion. Because that takes the control out of our hands. And we don’t know what God has in store for us when we give Him control.


And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6


Oh. God wasn’t planning to kill Isaac. He wanted to make sure Abraham was not making an idol out of Isaac, this long-awaited son. God tested Abraham’s faith. God may ask the impossible of us. What will we say? Will we surrender our most prized possession? Will we turn our long-awaited treasure back to God to use as he sees fit?

Or do we take that treasure and hide it? Do we hoard our treasured gift?

There are those who run from hard times. They take the easy road. Or they just ignore the request to make a sacrifice. But Abraham walked right into the face of obedience. Perhaps it was the hardest thing he had ever done. He loved his son. But he never looked back.

He took his son on a journey to worship God. A sacrifice was required. And his son knew it. But no lamb was taken on the trip for the offering. Isaac asked about it. Abraham replied that God would provide. And later when Abraham tied his son with rope and laid him on the altar, I wonder what Isaac was thinking.

I wonder the thoughts swirling through Abraham’s mind as he drew the knife to slay his son. Oh. He was willing to offer his promised heir if that’s what God required of him. But God stepped in and told Abraham not to harm his son. God saw that Abraham was willing to give up his beloved son, if that was what God asked. And in the distance, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. The sacrifice was provided by God. Isaac, the long awaited son, was saved.

Abraham responded to God in faith. Not knowing the outcome, he moved in step with God’s heartbeat. He was ready to sacrifice what was dearest to him in a courageous show of loyalty to God. I have to ask. Would I be willing to do the same? Would I be willing to hand over the thing or the person most dearest to me in an act of selfless love for my Savior?

We don’t know what we may be called to sacrifice. It may be financial security. Or a close relationship. It may be a fulfilling career. Or our dream home. A prized possession. Our freedom. Our health. Are we willing to sacrifice for obedience to God? Because if God isn’t first in our lives, is he in our lives?

Strangers In A Foreign Land

We all come from somewhere. We are natives of one land or another. Our ancestors who came before us came from a distant land. Perhaps some of us are first generation immigrants. But most aren’t. Some can trace their heritage back for many generations. Some have learned interesting facts about some in their genealogy. And some of that information is humorous. Some is sad. But one fact that stands out for all of our ancestors is that they were fighters. They were survivors. They didn’t give up when the going got tough. They kept moving forward.

And here we are today. Whether we like it or not, we’re in this place at this time. And God has a purpose for us. Oh. We may not feel like this is the time for us. We may be wondering, especially with current events, why we were appointed for just this time and place. We must remind ourselves that God knows best. His purpose will be fulfilled. His plan is perfect. Who are we to thwart it? Oh. Some will try. And some will succeed. But God’s ways are higher than our ways. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Why not trust him?

Now. There were those in biblical times who did trust him. God made promises to these people. But they never saw those promises fulfilled in their lifetime. But they didn’t stop trusting him. They believed every word he spoke, and they stood firm in their trust. Oh. If only we would do the same.

This group of people who never saw God’s promises fulfilled knew something that we need to consider today. Because we’re in the same boat. They knew they were foreigners and nomads on this earth. They knew this earth wasn’t their home. So they lived for their next home. Oh. They had work to do while they were here. Families to raise. Work to do. Debts to pay. And they did all those things. They lived their lives. Just as we are doing today. But their hope was in the future. Their eyes were set on a distant place. These people. Let’s name them. Abel. Enoch. Noah. Abraham. Sarah. They claimed God’s promise as their own. And they held onto that promise.

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16


Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Isaiah 55:6


We are called to do the same. This earth isn’t our home. Oh. Sure. We live here. It’s the only home we’ve known. But it’s not unusual to have a restless feeling come over us. Is it? A longing we can’t quite put our finger on. We find ourselves longing for more. Something sure. Something out of reach. Something final. And this isn’t it. We are called to leave this home. To leave our comforts and interests. To move beyond what we have. To live for more than just this moment. Because more awaits us. Something much bigger than this earth can give.

You see. We are foreigners. We are strangers. We don’t belong here. This isn’t the home we were made for. Our home awaits us. And it’s eternal. In ancient days, it was humiliating to be a foreigner in a country. Foreigners were treated with suspicion and contempt. They were outsiders. Outcasts. They had to pay a tax just to remain a member of their community. On the social scale, they were barely above a slave. They were unwanted and mistreated.

There are those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ and have bowed before him and confessed our sins. We are foreigners in this world. We know this world isn’t what we’re made for. But here we are. And we’re waiting and longing for the day that we cross over into eternity. We’re longing to be in heaven with our Creator, Lord and Savior. Because in this world, we will have trouble. And boy. Are we having trouble.

There will be wars and rumors of wars, but don’t panic. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. Matthew 24:6-8

We are not settled. We weren’t meant to be settled on this earth. Our eternal home awaits us. And we must prepare, because the day is coming soon for us to go to that long awaited home. While there is still time to choose, choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Don’t Play God

Life isn’t fair. It rarely is. And when it isn’t fair, we tend to complain. Or we take matters into our own hands. And that’s exactly what she did.

She was barren. And as all men in those days, her husband wanted and needed an heir. Because, you see, they were very wealthy. And if she didn’t produce a son, her husband’s servant would inherit all their wealth upon her husband’s death. That’s how unfair life was in those days. Because she certainly wasn’t in line to inherit her husband’s wealth. She was a woman.

So she did the unthinkable. She offered her servant girl to her husband with the hope that a baby boy would be birthed from that union. And so it happened. The servant became pregnant. And the wife became jealous. What did she think would happen? When a woman offers her husband to bed another woman and he accepts, does she think it will be all sunshine and roses? Did she think she could claim the child as her own? Did she imagine warm and fuzzy conversations about choosing the name with her servant? No. The women turned against each other. Obviously.

Oh. God had promised her husband that he would have as many descendants as the number of stars in the sky. But God’s timing is his own. To him, a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day. When he made the promise, Abraham was at least seventy-five years old.

Sarah took matters into her own hands. She decided that she would play God and make sure her husband had an heir. And the whole affair blew up in her face. I wonder how long it took her to regret her actions. This boy child born to her husband was not the child God had promised. This child was an act of Sarah, Abraham and Hagar. Not an act of God. Abraham was eighty-six years old when this child was born.

If we choose to play God and move his agenda forward when he isn’t in control, chaos ensues. This one act created a nation of people who have tried to rule the world in an evil way. And it’s all because one woman made one wrong decision. And that decision has impacted the world for all times.

But we know that God is in control.

When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him. He again told Abraham that he would be the father of a multitude of nations. Then God told Abraham that Sarah would have a son at the same time the following year. When Sarah heard the news, she laughed silently to herself. But God heard her laugh and called her out on it. She was afraid and denied her laughter.

A year later, when Sarah was ninety years old , she gave birth to their son, Isaac. Abraham was one hundred years old.


What is impossible for people is possible with God. Luke 18:27


It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. Hebrews 11:11-12

At times, someone will promise us something and it doesn’t happen. And we know they’ve broken their word. We lose trust in them. We learn to doubt anything they say. We have selective hearing when they’re making a new promise. We know we can’t trust what them. Because they have failed us.

So when God dressed as a man paid a visit to Abraham and Sarah, he brought along two angels also dressed as men. And they sat outside the tent with Abraham. Sarah had no clue that the men who sat with her husband were of the heavenly sort. And when one of them said that she would have a child, she laughed to herself. She was almost 90 years old. Well. You can imagine what went through her mind. And God heard her laugh.

Sarah laughed because she was skeptical of God’s promise. Her laughter wasn’t filled with hope and expectation. Oh. She had already tried to fulfill the promise and made a sorry mess of the situation. Then God dressed as a man asked a question. Is anything too hard for the Lord? And his words stopped her in her tracks. He had heard her laughter, and he knew her barren anguish. He saw her heart, and he knew she believed. Perhaps a babe would spring from her worn body. Even at such an old age. Hope was rekindled.

If we look at the timeline from when God first promised to make nations come from Abraham, it took twenty-four years for the promised babe to arrive. Who of us wants to wait twenty-four years for someone to make good on their promise? We are slow to believe. Perhaps lengthy delays weaken our faith. Things thought impossible are achievable only through an act of God. And he proved his love for Abraham and Sarah by giving them a son to carry on their line. Isaac was the long-awaited son for this aged couple.

We can’t rush God. We just can’t. His timing is his own, and if he makes a promise he will keep it. God doesn’t lie. But he also doesn’t give in to our whining and whims in order to please us. In order to meet our self-imposed timeline. Eternity is at stake. And even though we can’t see the big picture, God is still working. Even when it takes years to see his promise fulfilled. Even if we don’t see his promise fulfilled in our lifetime. God will keep his word.

Walk by Faith

His father had packed up all his household and moved with his son, daughter-in-law and nephew many years earlier. Their destination was Canaan. But somewhere during the relocation, they settled in Haran. And that’s the city where they stayed until the father’s death. And then God asked Abram to pack up and move again. God asked him to leave his home country and travel to a place unknown. So what did he do? Abram packed up his household and all his belongings and began traveling. Destination unknown.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3

God made an enormous promise to Abram when he called him to move to an unknown destination. Abram believed the promise and packed his bags. Now mind you. He had many bags to pack. He was very wealthy and owned many livestock. He employed many people who ran his household and managed his herds. Plus, his wife and nephew came along. It was a huge undertaking.

As they began their travels, they had no clue where they would settle. They didn’t know how long they would travel. Was it a one week journey? Was it a year? When would they settle? Where would they settle? But God didn’t tell Abram anything about the destination. So they headed in the direction of Canaan, which was approximately four hundred miles from Haran. They set up camp in Shechem for a bit, but over time they kept moving in stages.

During this time of travel, they never had a real home. They lived in tents. They moved their herds and flocks from one place to another. Always looking for enough food and water to keep their animals alive. God provided for them on each step of the journey. After all. It was God’s idea to move them. He was faithful to them in their travels. And when they finally settled, they stayed in their tents.


For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7


It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

Hebrews 11:8-10

Abram followed God with each move. Oh. There were a couple of incidents over time that could have ended poorly. But through it all Abram stayed faithful. He followed God on a path that wasn’t clear to him. His faith endured the test of time. Oh. He didn’t see the fulfillment of God’s promise. He didn’t live to see it. But should that always be the goal? Isn’t trusting God enough? Or do we always expect to see the promise fulfilled?

Much later in his life, God made another promise to Abram. He promised to make a great nation out of Abram and his descendants. And then God changed his name to Abraham, because he would be the father of many nations. At this time, Abraham was ninety-nine years old, and he and his wife were childless.

God may call us to follow him to ends unknown. He may allow changes in our life that make us uncomfortable. But he will always lead us along a path that he has ordained. He will be with us in those unknowns. Our role is to trust him. To obey him. Will we be found faithful?

Faithful followers aren’t perfect. We stray from time to time. At times, Abraham’s decisions led to problems. But he always returned his focus back to God. And over time, his record of faithfulness shone through. We have to remind ourselves that we’re not called to perfection. We’re called to faithfulness. And in our faithfulness, we grow and become more like Christ.

Abraham was a stranger in a foreign country, but he was content. He was holding on to the promise that God had given to him. He knew that God would keep the promise, but he had no clue as to God’s timing. But he didn’t give up hope. He knew that in time a great nation would come from him, even though he was old and childless.

Abraham’s faith was the faith that was ready for adventure. God’s summons meant that he had to leave home and family and business; yet he went. He had to go out into the unknown; yet he went. In the best of us there is a certain timorousness. We wonder just what will happen to us if we take God at his word and act on his commands and promises.

Barclay’s Daily Study Bible

God may require us to leave our comfortable life and serve him in uncomfortable surroundings. He may lead us through deep waters that cause us to feel as if we’re drowning. Perhaps our faith is too cautious. Perhaps God would do much more amazing things through us if our faith was expanded. Don’t we trust God? We aren’t living by faith if we know every detail of God’s plan. Living by faith is living in the unknown.

And when we know God is leading us but don’t see the fulfillment of his promise, it’s hard to explain to those who don’t have faith. They may question our actions or motives. If someone doesn’t know God, they won’t understand our will to follow God’s way. The question is. Who should we follow? God or our friends? Obedience or comfort? Temporary status or eternal rewards? The answer seems obvious, because God is always faithful. He won’t lead us down a dead end street. Let’s walk by faith.