What Are You Counting On?

Counting on, or depending on someone or something is very risky at best.  I am reminded about the trust exercise in which one person stands with their back to another.  They fall backward, fully counting on being caught by the one behind them.  As we go through life we endure times when what we rely on fails us and we determine to never let that happen again.  But we do have someone we can count on without fail, God, our heavenly Father.

As we studied this past week we saw an example of someone counting on God in the person of King Asa.  He had succeeded his father to the throne of Judah and immediately began to remove the elements of idolatry from the land and to prepare the land for defense against aggressors.  As it turned out, the Ethiopians eventually came up against King Asa and outnumbered his army nearly 2 to 1.  Asa didn’t fear, but he turned to God, recognizing both his weakness and the immeasurable strength of the Lord.  As a result of counting on God, Judah was victorious over the Ethiopians. 

But the story doesn’t end there.  Eventually Asa and Judah are faced with another enemy in Baasha, king of Israel and rather than turn to (and count on) God, who had been with him against the Ethiopians, Asa turned to the king of Aram.  He decided to seek aid from a past enemy rather than from a infallible friend.  Hanani the seer did not hesitate to go to king Asa and rebuke him for his foolishness and as a result “would surely have wars.”  Later, we read that when Asa became afflicted with diseased feet, he still did not turn to God for aid, but only to the physicians.

During his reign Asa was told by Azariah that “…the Lord is with you when you are with Him.  And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2)  We need to learn this lesson well.  Too many are fooled into believing that God is with them when He is not.  If they look at their lives they will clearly see they are not seeking Him.  Instead they are seek the things they want in their lives, things that please them rather than what pleases God.  Is the Lord with you?  He is if you are with Him?  He is if you know what His will is and you are abiding in it.  The answer to that question is known only by you and God.

Copyright © 2003, Nolan P. Rutter

The Right Person for the Job

There is a saying that says “Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job!”  I don’t know its source but this statement implies that there are situations where a specific person is more suited for a task that needs to be done.  This is true in many cases and in the book of Esther we see this develop as noted by Mordecai in verse 14 of chapter 4, “…And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

The Jews were in a desperate situation.  Because of Mordecai’s refusal to bow to Haman, the king was convinced to issue a decree that on a particular day the people of Israel were to be killed.  They needed someone to intercede on their behalf and it just so happened that one of their own was the king’s wife.  Esther had been chosen to be in his harem and eventually found favor to the point of becoming queen.  She had the opportunity to influence the king to the point of reversing the edict to destroy the people of Israel.  Her efforts not only saved her people but also removed those enemies who would have continued to present a danger to them.

We need to realize that God works in this way.  He provides for His people as perfectly seen in the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.  His basic purpose is always the same, deliverance.  Sometimes that deliverance is from physical affliction or oppression, but the greatest deliverance is of a spiritual nature.  If you have turned to God for salvation as He has established in His word you have been delivered from the law of sin and death.  We should rejoice in this and for the great love of our God and Savior.

We too are the right person for the job.  As part of the church we have a gift that together with others in the church makes up the ability to do what God has in mind for us.  As God’s people, He desires us to reach out to the lost and help them to be delivered just as we have been.  We all have a part in the process making us the “right person for the job!”

Copyright © 2003, Nolan P. Rutter

Confidence

There is an anti-drug commercial for kids on TV that has the line, “What do you need?” and the kids respond in various ways.  In the 25th Psalm David expresses several things that could be identified as needs for him as well as for us.  Careful review of the first seven verses seems to indicate that he needed victory, confidence, guidance and instruction, and most of all forgiveness.  Since space limitations prevent me from addressing all these I would like to focus on confidence.

David says “None of those who wait for thee will be ashamed!”  This statement indicates the trust or confidence that David has in God.  This is the type of confidence that God looks at and is pleased with and we know that by remembering that David is described as a man after God’s own heart. 

So how do we know if we have that kind of confidence?  I believe this will help us understand.  Most of you have heard the term “con job” or “con man” and know somewhat what they represent.  What we need to realize is that their method of operation is to gain our “confidence” in them before they complete their goal.  We know from stories how people lose their life savings (some even take out loans) to these men by way of various schemes.  These men would not be successful were it not for one thing.  They must obtain the confidence and trust of the “mark.”  Once gained, the mark hands over everything to the con man, never to see him or their money again.

While God does not operate on these principles, He does want us to have confidence in Him, and I believe we need to, as well.  But alas, I fear that many Christians today would be more apt to give everything they have to someone bent on fleecing them than they would to the One who created them and loves them.  Demonstrate your confidence in God today by giving Him “everything”, begin with yourself first (2 Cor 8:5) and then with all that you have, whether it be your talents, time or worldly possessions.  After all, He provided them all to you. 

Copyright © 2003, Nolan P. Rutter

Out of Step with the World

Some of my fondest moments in the military were the times we spent in marching.  This appreciation for the precision and teamwork even extends to the point of my observation of drill teams.  I even had the pleasure of judging of a drill competition for Junior Police Cadets while assigned to a base in Guam. 

What captures my interest is the way a finely tuned unit can mesmerize you with their unison of sight and sound.  One morning while marching to the rifle range, our TI (Technical Instructor) encouraged us to “just listen to the heel beat.”  He, of course was referring to the sound of our boots on the pavement in the quiet stillness of the morning.  We weren’t permitted to talk and since it was before daybreak there was neither traffic nor wildlife to break the silence.  There was only the sound of our boots, echoing out the rhythmic pounding of 45 men stepping in unison. 

The same is true when watching a unit perform precision movements in drill formations.  Each man, as an individual, precisely coordinated with all the others.  Regardless of how you view the formation the steps are perfectly choreographed to the point that everyone appears to “move as one.”  A well trained unit can make you stand in awe at the way so many can be able to work together. 

Later in my Air Force career I can remember feeling terribly disappointed when given the opportunity to march in formations that were less than acceptable.  Since we were no longer in a training unit we weren’t required to march and as a result our skills deteriorated.  It was obvious to even the untrained eye that people were out of step with one another.

As I remember this, I also remember the words of Peter when he said that Christians are “resident aliens.”  The world could be compared to the marching unit with everyone identifiable as doing things the same as all the rest.  But the one out of step is clearly not “part of” the group.  Christians should be just that way, in that it should be obvious, even to the untrained eye that they are not part of the group.  They are different than the rest of the world and it should be seen clearly that this is the case.  Did not Jesus refer to us as being “not being ‘of the world’”?  While it is true we are physically here in the world we must not find ourselves “in step with” the world to the point that we become part of it.  Ask yourself this “Am I in step with the world or with the will of God?”

Copyright © 2003, Nolan P. Rutter

Plea For Revival

Being summertime, we will unfortunately have news reports of individual’s falling victim to the tragedy of drowning.  Some, it will be reported, will respond to the actions of emergency personnel and will be revived from their brush with death.  This is perhaps the best illustration for defining the word revival, and this is something David prayed for in Psalm 85:6 “Will you not yourself revive us again…”

Our study brought out some things that should be of interest to those seeking to follow the will of God.  First of all David’s plea for revival presents the situation as extremely serious.  They were dying! No, not physically, but spiritually, as the surrounding text deals with salvation.  The people of Israel were failing to maintain a positive relationship with God and as a result their salvation was in jeopardy!  Christians of today should heed that plea made by David, evaluating their own relationship with God.  We too can find ourselves dying and in need of revival.

David’s plea for revival was directed to God.  He knew that just as God is the source of physical and spiritual life, He is also the source of reviving that life.  All too often we believe that we can take whatever steps are necessary for renewal, but the truth is that God must be involved in providing the revival we regularly need.

While a cursory reading of the text may not be immediately apparent, it cannot be denied that David included himself in his plea.  His words were ‘revive us’.  That can’t be!  We have all heard the character of David as “a man after God’s own heart” and may be surprised by his inclusion.  If David considered himself as needing revival how can we look at ourselves as without need.  It may not be now.  It may not be tomorrow.  But we should be aware that just as our physical life has strong and weak times, so does our spiritual life.  But the doctor that treats our physical weaknesses cannot help.  We must turn to the “Great Physician.”  We must turn to God Himself!  Just how is your spiritual life today?  Do you need revival?

Copyright © 2003, Nolan P. Rutter