“The Cost of Losing God’s Restraining Grace” May 20

 

The Cost of Losing God's Restraining Grace - One of the consequences of willful sin can be the removal of God's restraining grace where He steps back and allows us to do what our sinful heart desires. Without that restraining grace, we find that the sin we thought we could control is now controlling us. As someone once said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.”There is no sin in our lives that is too big or for which God won’t forgive us. But knowing that God will forgive us, doesn’t mean that’s our “ace in the hole” or that we can sin without impunity, like children with our fingers crossed behind our backs. The person who thinks he or she can do whatever and ask for forgiveness later is in rebellion against God and God is looking at the heart.

One of the consequences of willful sin can be the removal of God’s restraining grace where He steps back and allows us to do what our sinful heart desires. Without that restraining grace, we find that the sin we thought we could control is now controlling us. As someone once said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.”

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 11 & 12
Psalm 65.9-13
Proverbs 16.22-24
John 6.22-51

 

The Cost of Losing God’s Restraining Grace

 

2 Samuel 11 & 12:

David, Bathsheba & the Loss of Restraining Grace

 

Here in chapter 11 David sees a beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop and lustfully sends for her, knowing that her husband, one of his faithful men, is away on the battlefield. When she becomes pregnant, he tries to hide his sin and when his scheme doesn’t work, he orders her husband into the most dangerous part of the battle.

This is a sad page in David’s life story, one that would define and change the rest of his life and his reign. Even though God forgave him when he repented, the consequences of it were great!

Neither is there any sin in our lives that is too big or for which God won’t forgive us. But knowing that God will forgive us, doesn’t mean that’s our “ace in the hole” or that we can sin without impunity, like children with our fingers crossed behind our backs. The person who thinks he or she can do whatever and ask for forgiveness later is in rebellion against God and God is looking at the heart. God will not even hear our prayers when we are in that kind of willful sin:

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66.18).

Romans 6.1-2, 15-16, 21, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? … What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? … Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.”

And Galatians 6.7-8 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

So what were the consequences of David’s and Bathsheba’s sin? Continue reading

“When You’re at Your Wits’ End” May 14

 

When You're At Your Wits' End - David was at his wits' end, even his own men had turned against him. Yet he wasn't at his faith's end. Instead, David strengthened himself in the Lord? How can you strengthen yourself in the Lord when you're at your wits' end?David was at his wits’ end, even his own men had turned against him. Yet he wasn’t at his faith’s end. Instead, David strengthened himself in the Lord?

How can you strengthen or encourage yourself in the Lord? What should you remember about God’s sovereignty, goodness, justice, and mercy? How might God be using this for good so that as Romans 8.29 says, you can become more like Christ?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 29, 30 & 31
Psalm 61.5-8
Proverbs 16.7-9
John 3.18-36

 

When You’re at Your Wits’ End

 

1 Samuel 29, 30 & 31:

A Man after God’s Own Heart … Are You Kidding?

 

What was David thinking?! Wanting to join the Philistines and go to war against Israel! God used the princes of the other Philistine clans to prevent him from doing such a foolish thing.

But God wanted to get David’s undivided attention. So while he was off involved in a situation in which he should never have been involved, God allowed the Amalekites to burn down his city and carry off all the women and children.

“… they did not kill anyone, but carried them away …” (v. 30.2).

 

Unmet Desires

 

God would allow them to recover their families, all their possessions, and even take the spoil of the Amalekites. But David and his men didn’t yet know the outcome. They came home tired and anxious to see their wives and children only to find the city burned and their families gone. After they wept over their losses, their emotions turned to anger against David.

Matthew Henry in his commentary on the Bible says they had joined David because they believed he would become king and they expected to all be princes by now. Instead, it looked like they had lost everything. Their grief was coupled with discontent, impatience and disappointment over their unmet desires. To quote Henry, “Their own discontent and impatience added wormwood and gall to the affliction and misery, and made their case doubly grievous.”

 

At His Wits’ End

 

David, on the other hand, demonstrated what made him “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13.14). He didn’t turn on his men. He didn’t point out their wrongs. He didn’t give in to fear over their threats. Instead, he “strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (30.6) and sought His counsel (30.7-8).  Continue reading

“God’s Homework” May 11

 

Does God give homework?Has it ever happened to you? You are growing in the things of God and have dealt with some area of sin when all of a sudden you find yourself dealing with the same issue again. Could it be God’s homework?

Also, do you ever find yourself bored with your prayer life? In his book, Praying the Bible, Don Whitney poses the question, “Why don’t Christians pray more?” He gives the startling answer that we don’t pray more because we tend to pray the same old way about the same old things, day after day, and prayer becomes boring! Read more about how to pray the Bible in today’s post.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 24 & 25
Psalm 60.1-5
Proverbs 16.3
John 1.29-51

 

God’s Homework

 

1 Samuel 24 & 25:

Why Am I Here Again?

 

Do you ever feel like God shows you something and you think, “OK, I’ve got it!” And then, almost immediately, God gives you an opportunity to put that truth to the test. We sometimes think, “Wait a minute. Why am I here again? I thought God was pleased because I had responded the way I should.”

I think it’s kind of like a teacher who gives homework to solidify something you learned in class. Without the repetition and practice, we may understand it on one level, but we haven’t had the opportunity to develop the skill and make it a habit.

That’s how I see these two chapters in 1 Samuel. First, David is hiding in a cave when, low and behold, Saul comes into that same cave to relieve himself. This is too good to be true! Has God delivered him into David’s hands?

But David recognizes that this is a test. If he had killed Saul he would have been getting ahead of God by taking matters into his own hands. David responded rightly and Saul, convicted by David’s righteousness, goes back home. Good job, David, now everything should be smooth sailing from here on, right? Continue reading

“Paranoia!” May 8

 

Paranoia - Paranoia, anxiety, stress ... could sin be a root issue?Paranoia, anxiety, stress … could sin be a root issue?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 18 & 19
Psalm 58.1-11
Proverbs 15.27-30
Luke 24.1-35

 

Paranoia!

 

1 Samuel 18 & 19:

The Wicked Flee When No One Pursues

 

Two verses stood out to me in chapter 18:

Verse 12, “Now Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, but had departed from Saul.”

That verse sums up what had been going on for a while. David had never done anything but good where Saul was concerned, yet Saul was “afraid” of him. We love putting labels on everything today. Somehow if what we’re going through has a name, it makes us feel better. Today we might call what Saul experienced “paranoia” and the solution might well be medication.

Just putting a label on things doesn’t solve the problem and, while I’m not saying medication is always wrong, in this case, it might have gotten rid of the “bad feelings,” but would not have solved the root issue. In Saul’s case the root was rebellion and disobedience to God’s clear commands. Sin was the root of his paranoia!

Proverbs 28.1 says, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

The other side of that proverb is demonstrated in David’s life: Continue reading

“What do you see?” May 7

 

What do you see? One kind of vision leads to greater faith in God the other leads to fear, worry and doubt.What do you see? One kind of vision leads to greater faith in God the other leads to fear, worry and doubt.

Our Proverbs reading reminds us that even the thoughts of an evil man or woman are an abomination to God, because, as Matthew Henry says, “thoughts are words to God.” Think about that! Thoughts are words to God!

Thoughts come, even ungodly ones at times, but what do we do with them? Do we take them and consider them, look at them from different angles, or do we reject those that are not pleasing to Him? What are you saying to God with your thoughts?

A thought, like a bird, may come and land on your head, but you don’t have to let it build a nest!

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 16 & 17
Psalm 57.4-11
Proverbs 15.26
Luke 23.26-56

 

What do you see?

 

1 Samuel 16 & 17:

What God Sees

 

Verse 16.7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'”

God doesn’t look at outward appearances, nor at the amount of education, nor financial or social status, nor great beauty. He looks at the heart!

Make it your ambition to please God with your life (2 Cor. 5.9). Do what you have to do to make yourself available to serve Him. Ask Him to give you the right heart attitude and He will do mighty things. You do your part and He will do His. In fact, it’s His grace that enables us to even do “our part.”

 

What We Should See

 

Chapter 17 recounts the familiar story of David and Goliath.

Verse 24, “And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.”

But the young man David saw things differently:

Verse 26b, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

The other men looked at their size in relation to the size of the giant, but David looked at the giant in relation to the size of His God!

How do you see your problems? Do you see them in relation to God or do you see yourself in relation to your problems? One way leads to greater faith in God the other leads to fear, worry and doubt.  Continue reading

The Jesus Code: “Omniscience, Omnipresence & Omnipotence” + LINKUP

 

The Jesus Code

Chapter 19 The Jesus Code: 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer by O.S. Hawkins.

This week’s question: “Where can I go from Your Spirit?” (Psalm 139.7).

This week’s question is taken Psalm 139 where David wonders aloud about the omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence of God.

The author points out that in the midst of our scientific world we have lost much of our sense of wonder about God and His creation. And yet, every discovery actually gives us another reason to praise our amazing Creator.

 

His Omniscience:

This compound word (“omni” – all and “science” – knowledge) simply means “God knows everything.” Verses 1-4:

¹ O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

Hawkins says:

What a wonder! God knows you . . . your e-mail address . . . your phone number . . . your worries . . . your hurts . . . your fears . . . your dreams. And He loves you.

 

His Omnipresence:

This word mean He is all present or present everywhere. From the book:

No matter where we are, God is there. Jonah attempted to flee from God’s presence. But to no avail. Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the cool of the garden. But, again, to no avail. Isaiah’s prophecy that the coming Messiah would be called “Immanuel,” meaning “God with us,” underscores this wonder-full truth that He is always with us (Isaiah 7: 14). Where can we go from God’s presence? There is not a corner of this big world where He is not present.

That means we are never alone! What an amazing promise.

 

His Omnipotence:

God is all powerful. The author points out that David uses the wonder of birth to explain God’s power. Verses 13-16:

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[b]
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

Hawkins:

Think for a moment about this wonder of wonders. David described two microscopic pieces of protoplasm that come together and form a live human being with all the intricacies of a nervous system, a respiratory system, a circulatory system, a digestive system, a mind, a heart, a soul. What a testimony to the omnipotence of our loving God who Himself “formed” us in our mother’s womb!

After describing this wondrous aspect of God’s omnipotence— the conception of a child— David praised his Creator: “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (v. 14). God knows us. He is with us. He is all powerful. Having basked in the wonder of God, David ended this psalm on a note of vulnerability that is commendable and worth emulating:

²³ Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

What a wonderful prayer to pray to the God of Wonders!

 

Next week’s question is: “Who can find a virtuous wife?” (Proverbs 31.10).

Last week’s question: “How can a young man cleanse his way?” (Psalm 119.9). Read it here.

 

 

You can get a copy of The Jesus Code and follow along with these 52 vital questions. The chapters are short and can easily be read in one sitting. If you do, I’d love your feedback. Click here to get the book or here for Kindle.

Blessings,
Donna

 

 NOW IT’S TIME TO LINKUP:

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Making Your Home Sing Mondays The Beauty in His Grip What Joy is Mine/Monday Musings A Proverbs 31 Wife Darling Downs Diaries The Art of Homemaking Mom2Mom Linkup The Modest Mom Embracing His Will
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Sundays Spiritual Sundays Sunday Stillness

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The Jesus Code: The Course of Sin + LINKUP

 

The Jesus Code

Chapter 7 of The Jesus Code: 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer, by O.S. Hawkins. For those of you just tuning in, The Jesus Code has 52 questions, one to contemplate each week. The author believes every Christian should be able to answer these important questions.

This week’s question: “Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight?” (2 Samuel 12.9).

That was the conscience shattering question the Prophet Nathan asked David after he has sinned with Bathsheba and tried to hide it. Since David first looked over the roof of his house and saw her bathing, he had committed adultery, had her husband killed, and married her to hide her pregnancy.

The author says:

Ironically, at this moment in his life, David had reached the pinnacle of success. He was the undisputed king of Israel. He had driven out enemies who had plagued his people for years. He was not only a political success but a spiritual success as well. God referred to David as “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13: 22). It is difficult to believe that such a great man could descend from such heavenly heights to such devilish depths almost overnight.

When we think we can control sin, it can get its hook in us and take us on a downward spiral that we never expected.

Hawkins goes on:

It makes no difference whether it is David, or Adam and Eve, or you or me. The course of sin is the same. It begins when we see . . . then we covet . . . next we take . . . and finally we try to hide, hoping against hope we will not be found out.

David learned that the pleasures of sin are only for a season (Hebrews 11: 25). Bathsheba conceived as a result of her encounter with David, but their little boy died as an infant . What had begun in pleasure ended in pain and loss in several forms. But this was just the beginning of the heartache David would know from his own offspring. His son Amnon raped Tamar , his own sister and David’s daughter. Learning of the incest, Absalom— another of David’s sons— killed Amnon. And , as though that were not enough, Absalom later led a revolt against his own father and, during the battle, was killed by some of David’s men.

But when confronted, David repented. He is a great example to us that even the most grievous sins can be forgiven when there is genuine confession and repentance.

Next week’s question is, “Ask! What shall I give you?” (1 Kings 3.5).

The question for week one was, “Has God Indeed Said …?”
Week two: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Week three: “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”
Week four: “Who am I?”
Week five: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” (Numbers 21.5).
Week six: “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6.13).
Week seven: “Is there still anyone … That I may show him kindness?” (2 Samuel 9.1).

You can get a copy of The Jesus Code and follow along with these 52 vital questions. The chapters are short and can easily be read in one sitting. If you do, I’d love your feedback. Click here to get the book or here for Kindle.

Be sure to sign up for the “Christian Living” emails so you won’t miss upcoming posts on the book and notifications of each week’s LINKUP.

Blessings,
Donna

 

Featured Post:

A few days ago I said we need to be willing to stand up for truth in the “everyday” things if we want to be able to stand in the “big” things. I’m reluctant to call this subject a “little” thing, because the moral decline of our nation isn’t little. But sadly, it has become an “everyday” thing.

As most of you know the book, and now the movie, 50 Shades of Grey, have become all the rage. So called enlightened people claim it can enhance your sex life and justify seeing and reading it a dozen different ways. But true enlightenment comes only from God and His Word:

22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! (Matt. 6)

I read an excellent post on the subject this week and I want to share it with you. I hope you will take the time to read Rebekah’s post and consider sharing it with others.

ready to be offered meme 1[1]

Sex, Bondage, Fantasy . . . and Embracing What is Real

Divine Counterpart

Be sure to check out the first in my series on Genesis, “Divine Counterpart,” on Ren’s website “A Look at the Book.”

 

NOW IT’S TIME TO LINKUP:

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I sometimes LINKUP with these blogs:
Mondays
Making Your Home Sing Mondays The Beauty in His Grip What Joy is Mine/Monday Musings A Proverbs 31 Wife Darling Downs Diaries
Tuesdays Rich Faith Rising Unite Linky Cornerstone Confessions Titus 2 Tuesday Teaching What is Good Time Warp Wife Solo Deo Gloria Sisterhood More of Him Testimony Tuesday
Wednesdays A Wise Woman Builds Her Home Juana Mikels Woman to Woman Word Filled Wednesdays Judith Whole Hearted Home A Little R & R So Much at Home Mom’s Morning Coffee The Art of Homemaking
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Fridays A Look at the Book Christian Mommy Blogger Fellowship Fridays Worshipful Living Blessing Counters Missional Women Faith Filled Fridays Faith & Fellowship Bloghop Grace & Truth Linkup
Saturdays Still Saturday The Weekend Brew
Sundays Spiritual Sundays Sunday Stillness

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May 26 “How does God use the sins of others for our good?” & LINKUP

Does God cause someone to sin? And how does God use the sins of others for our good and His glory?

Friend of God

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 23 & 24
Psalm 68.7-10
Proverbs 17.5-6
John 9.1-23

2 Samuel 23 & 24:

David a man of strength and weakness

Here we are at the last two chapters of 2 Samuel. They read like a summary of David’s life, both at his best and at his worst.

Chapter 23 gives David’s last inspired words (vv. 2-7), calling him “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” What a great ending—or is it? Along comes chapter 24. Verse 1, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.'”

There’s so much contained in that one verse. First, was it God who “caused” David to sin against the people? James 1.13-15 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

David, like all of us, was first and foremost tempted by his own sinful heart. 1 Chron. 21.1 says, “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.” So God, for His sovereign purposes allowed Satan to tempt David to do what was already in his heart.

So what was the sin that manifested itself here? Notice the last part of verse 2, “… count the people, that I may know the number of the people.” David counted the people out of his pride so that he would know the number of people over which he had rule.

What about the phrase, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel …”? Remember these were the people who had followed Absalom in rebellion against David and then afterwards, many of them had followed Sheba. So God allowed David to be His instrument of discipline in the lives of the people while he used the situation to reveal to David the pride in his own heart.

Romans 8.28-29, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

So what or whom is He using in your life to conform you to the image of His Son? How might He even be using someone else’s sin as an instrument of discipline in your life? What does He want you to see? How did David respond and how should you respond?

Verse 17, “Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, ‘Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.'” David took responsibility for his own sin. He didn’t blame the people. He understood that God was well able to deal with the sins of others.

Psalm 68.7-10:

Remember … remember … remember

God repeatedly reminds us to “remember” His deeds. In these verses David continues to recount the works of God so that he might “remember.”

Proverbs 17.5-6:

Don’t rejoice in the calamity of others

Verse 5b, “… He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.” 1 Corinthians 13.6 says, love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.”

John 9.1-23:

So the works of God can be revealed

Verses 1-3, “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.'”

Often those things that we call “handicaps” are opportunities for the glory of God to be manifest whether through healing, as with this man, or through His grace in allowing that person to serve Him in a special, and just as miraculous, way.

What about you? Questions to ponder or journal:

Reread the questions in the 2 Samuel section. What or whom is God using in your life to conform you to the image of Christ?

What have you seen in your life as a weakness or handicap that God wants to use for His glory?

Blessings,
Donna

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May 14 “Encourage yourself in the Lord”

When the chips were down and even his own men turned against him, David encouraged himself in the Lord? How can we encourage ourselves in God when we’re faced with difficult situations?

Encourage yourself in the Lord

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 29, 30 & 31
Psalm 61.5-8
Proverbs 16.7-9
John 3.18-36

1 Samuel 29, 30 & 31:

A man after God’s own heart … are you kidding?

What was David thinking?! Wanting to join the Philistines and go to war against Israel! God used the princes of the other Philistine clans to prevent him from doing such a foolish thing.

But God wanted to get David’s undivided attention. So while he was off involved in a situation he should never have been, God allowed the Amalekites to burn down his city and carry off all the women and children. But even in the midst of it God protected them, “… they did not kill anyone, but carried them away …” (v. 30.2).

Now that God had his attention, David did what he should have done before, he sought God’s guidance and He allowed him to recover all the people, all their possessions, and even to take the spoil of the Amalekites. God did, in His graciousness and mercy, what he often does, “… exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think …” (Eph. 3.20).

Unmet desires

Of course, David and his men didn’t yet know the outcome. They had come home tired and anxious to see their wives and children only to find the city burned and their families gone. After they wept over their losses, their emotions turned to anger against David. Continue reading

May 7 “2 things that hold us back”

Two things that often hold us back: looking at the size of the problem and being concerned with what people think. We need to live to please God (2 Cor. 5.9) and keep our eyes on Him, not the problem as we’ll see in our Old Testament reading.

2 things that hold us back

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 16 & 17
Psalm 57.4-11
Proverbs 15.26
Luke 23.26-56

1 Samuel 16 & 17:

What God sees

Verse 16.7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'”

God doesn’t look at outward appearances, nor at the amount of education, nor financial or social status, nor great beauty. He looks at the heart! Make it your ambition to please God with your life. Do what you have to do to make yourself available to serve Him. Ask Him to give you the right heart attitude and He will do mighty things. You do your part and He will do His.

What we should see

2 things that hold us back

Chapter 17 recounts the familiar story of David and Goliath. Verse 24, “And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.” But the young man David saw things differently, verse 26b, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” The other men looked at their size in relation to the size of the giant, but David looked at the giant in relation to the size of His God! Continue reading