Obadiah (O-bad-yaw’) = Servant of Jehovah

As parents we understand that if a child taunts and teases another child for being punished, the behavior will not be taken lightly. In fact, punishment is often (and rightly) administered to the taunting child for their unruly behavior. A comparable scenario was the purpose of the message, spoken by the prophet Obadiah, to the Edomites, descendants of Israel’s twin Esau, regarding their faults and impending punishment for the mistreatment of the “children of Judah” (12).

The small, single chapter, twenty-one verse book is significant because, among other things, it exposes the nature of our God.

True, the children of Israel had rebelled against God—again, and would be punished for seventy years. The prophesy is detailed in Jeremiah 25:11 (emp. added): “This whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” Micah, one of the pre-exilic prophets, also foretold the event with great imagery: “Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, And the mountains of the temple Like the bare hills of the forest” (3:12).

The Israelites’ punishment was sure, and the God of heaven was not going to relent in carrying it out, but the last thing He was going to stand for is their brothers’ evil behavior. Now the children of Edom (Esau), and the children of Israel (Jacob) had been at odds even in the womb. In fact, the LORD spoke to their mother Rebekah directly, saying,: ““Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger”” (Genesis 25:23). The “stronger” (not speaking of physical stature here), yet “younger” brothers’ punishment was something the “older,” yet weaker brother was unfortunately elated about. God, knowing and seeing all things (Hebrews 4:13), confronted the Edomites with the following truths, recorded in verses 12-14 (emp. added):

“You should not have
gazed on the day
of your brother
In the day of his captivity”
Rejoiced over the
children of Judah
In the day of their destruction”
Spoken proudly
In the day of distress.”
Entered the gate of
My people
In the day of their calamity.”
Gazed on
their affliction
In the day of their calamity”
Laid hands on their substance
In the day of their calamity”
Stood at the crossroads
To cut off those among them who escaped”
Delivered up those
among them who remained in the day of distress.”

Because they performed such terrible actions, God administered punishment to them, recorded in verses 15-16 (emphasis added):

As you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return on your own head.For as you drank on My holy mountain. so shall all the nations drink continually . . . the house of Esau shall be stubble; [The house of Jacob/Joseph] shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau.” For the LORD has spoken.

What we can learn from this brief book is:

  • God is just (Psalm 19:9): Punishment would be administered to the Israelites for their rebellious behavior; they knew why their punishment was coming and how they would be punished. Punishment and destruction would be administered to the Edomites; they knew why their punishment was coming, and how they would be punished. *Remember, punishment from God is only administered to those who need punishment; and the punishment from God is always fair. 🙂
  • God is always watching (Hebrews 4:13), which is a very good thing because He sees all—good and bad. No one can flee from His presence (Psalm 139:7). If we, children of God, walk in the light (1 John 1:7), and take captive our thoughts (2 Cor. 10:5), our sins are constantly being covered over by the blood of His Son (1 John 1:7). He will avenge; we don’t have to worry if He sees what is going on in this world of sin, or if He’ll forget—He can’t and he won’t! Remember God’s words in Isaiah 66:1a: “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool.”
  • God restores His children (Hosea 14:4-7): Although the Edomites would not rebound from their downfall (Malachi 1:1-5), the Israelites, God’s chosen children would. God said there would be “deliverance” on Mount Zion and “holiness” (17). He said the “House of Jacob shall possess their possessions” and would “Be a fire” (17-18). We know that God did restore Israel to their home after the seventy years were completed. We also know that God, who redeemed us (John 10:16), His children, by the precious blood of His priceless Son Jesus, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,” (Colossians 1:14), also restores us completely when we truly repent.

Oh thank Him for His fairness, His watchful eye, and His desire to restore His children to Himself! ❤

 

Maxims in the Bible

We have all heard the popular maxims, “The early bird catches the worm” and “A penny saved is a penny earned.” A maxim, also known as an adage, aphorism, proverb, or motto, is defined as a short, pithy (concise) statement expressing a general truth or rule of conduct. Such statements are obviously valuable to the human race because they’ve been around for a very long time; in fact, many maxims have been attributed to the Roman Poet, Ovid (43BC – AD 17 or 18). If that seems like a long time ago, look again at the synonyms for the word maxim and you see the word ‘proverb.’ We know that seven letter word well, for in His word, God has given us an entire book of Proverbs, spoken thousands of years ago, through King Solomon for “Wisdom and instruction” (1:2,7).

Although the book of Proverbs: (Hebrew mâshâl, meaning pithy maxim and in a figurative sense, simile or metaphor) has been entirely devoted to them, one must never assume that proverbs exist only in the book they’re named after. Many short, pithy statements expressing truth AND rule of conduct are found throughout the Bible and also serve to instruct and motivate; not in temporary, worldly knowledge, but of the eternal, spiritual kind.

One such example can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:33: ”Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”” The simple instruction is in evil’s corrosive nature over good. Parents especially know this to be true; and the time it takes for evil to complete its work is brief: it may take merely weeks for evil teachings to corrupt sound ones that have been cultivated and cared for over many years. How many parents have agonized over such matters with their own children? I know I have. Two of my three sons despised my and my husband’s teachings and fell prey to this truth. Thankfully, through prayer—and the grace of God, they were rescued from the clutches of that evil, but not without many scars. The motivation is not to be deceived, but unfortunately so many still are because they don’t heed the truth.

The proverb found in Galatians 5:9, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” is a great literal and figurative example that, at the outset, could be a little confusing; but after a simple baking lesson, makes perfect sense. Just as a small amount of leaven affects an entire lump of dough (allowing it to rise), so one person’s influence, whether good or bad, affects an entire group (allowing it to rise—or fall). Parents and teachers especially know this proverb to be true. How many times have we observed this happening and agonized over it? To those who have been trained by this proverb, how did you deal with the “leaven?”

Another example can be found in the latter part of Matthew 15:14: “If the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”  This proverb seems obvious—unless you are one of the blind! Devastatingly, the world is full—even beginning to overflow with blindness. We, children of God, must not only keep our vision strong by staying in the word (2 Timothy 2:15), but we must help our brethren who are going blind (1 Thessalonians 5:11)—and those who are completely without sight (Mark 16:15). What are some sources of blindness in our world today? Is one a complete lack of motivation for spiritual matters? What about utter confusion over the simple truths of the Bible concerning salvation and godly living? Simple selfishness? Whatever the source, we must stay in the light! (1 John 1:7)

A proverb, whose truth is not often welcomed, is: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14b). It’s not received well because we live in a world where humility is not “socially accepted.” In fact, in the world, humility is a sign of weakness; and those whose desire such a trait are persecuted. But the wise know that humility is a quality of great strength; and one to be greatly desired. To the oppressed, I would say: Take comfort in the fact that, “There is no creature hidden from [God’s] sight” (Hebrews 4:13). And all the wicked schemes of the world will account to nothing! We must “Stand fast” (Galatians 5:1) and not be “Moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Colossians 1:23). God will certainly deal with the exalting and humbling of souls; we do not need to be concerned with His work! Have you observed the exalted (in their own eyes) being humbled? Have you experienced the humbled being exalted? If you are watchful, you will observe this proverb in action. Take comfort that God is always present and working! Psalm 121

One final, highly metaphorical example that may also fall on unwelcome ears is: “A tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33b). In this example, humans become the tree and our actions the visible fruit. The lesson is simple: Just as a lemon tree can be visually and tastefully identified, so a human “lemon” tree can be identified by the same. A lemon tree produces (sour) lemons; an apple tree produces (sweet) apples, the fruit of a diseased tree is, yeah, diseased; and a dead tree produces, well, nothing. The fruit is visible and even tasted by others—without us even offering to share! What kind of tree are you? A similar, more literal adage to this one that is well-known in the secular world is, “Actions speak louder than words.” Like the tree, whose fruit is visible, so our actions shout to others, making what our lips utter virtually mute. Unlike the others, whose truths are typically learned later in life, this proverb’s verity certainly does not take a religious person, or an aged one to prove. In fact, I have overheard my middle school students utter this truth in their own colloquial ways. How often is this truth observed? Are we aware that as others’ fruit is visible, ours is as well? How much “pruning” should be done? How often?

Proverbs are very special truths that instruct and motivate those who would be trained by them. They are composed all over the world by those who have become wiser by their truths. We have been given many precious proverbs by our Father for wisdom and instruction in righteousness. We would do our souls good to learn them, apply them, and live by them.

“Transformed!”

Romans 12:1-2

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” 

Every parent knows that after giving a what-you-must-do command, children will often ask why. A parent may say: “It’s time to take a nap.” To which the child may respond: “Why? I’m not tired.” Or, a parent may say: “I want you to be home at 10:00.” To which the teen may rebuttal: “Why? John doesn’t have to be home until 11:00.” While some parents repeat, out of frustration, the commonly used expression, “Because I said so,” most parents give a why response out of love, concern; and also to create awareness and accountability in the child.

How does God handle the why? 

Although He certainly does not have to, God often, if not always (good study topic) gives us the why when He gives us a what-we-must-do request or command. In doing so, He speaks to our logic, or reasoning, thus allowing us to exercise our free will, which makes us culpable, or answerable for our decisions. Also, in giving a why God exposes His non-despotic, but rather loving & compassionate nature. A good illustration of the what/why is found early in history, and is recorded in Genesis 2:16-17: God said, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (What command). “For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Why). Eve first had a logical decision to make. While the serpent eagerly waited, she reasoned—exercised her free will, establishing her culpability, and ultimately ate. God gave her the choice; but clearly laid out why she (they) should not eat of the tree.

In Romans 12:1-2 (above) we observe an additional example of a what and why from God:

What we must do: “Present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” 

The word “sacrifice” in this context translates “victim.” The presentation of our bodies as a living sacrifice is an outward physical manifestation of our inward mental transformation. Having been “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:10); “Buried with Him through baptism into death” (Romans 6:5), we must deny self (Luke 9:23) daily, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . .” (Hebrews 12:2a).

 *The theme of our lives must be as the apostle Paul’s: “To live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). 

Why we must do it:  It’s our “Reasonable service.”  The why goes without saying in God’s logical response but . . .

  • Jesus, God’s sinless Son, became sin for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  • Jesus, God’s Son, made Himself a bondservant for us. Philippians 2:7
  • Jesus, God’s son, died while we were sinners. Romans 5:6
  • God, the Great I Am, did not spare His only Son, but gave Him for us. Romans 8:32

What we must do- “Not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind[s].”

We must actively renew our minds: Take captive every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5); meditate on His word (Psalm 199:148); avoid evil company (Psalm 1:1; 1 Corinthians 15:33) if we want to avoid conforming.

*Renewing our minds is a continuous action.

Why we must do it- “That [we] may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

If we transform our minds, by renewing them, we are told that we will be able to prove God’s good, and acceptable, and perfect will! In the why, God gives us a logical reward; one that benefits us in such a way that we will be better “armed” in this world of darkness in which we live!

God tells us to present our already purchased bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20) to Him. Reinforcing His non- despotic nature, God doesn’t force us to be living sacrifices, but he does remind us that doing so is our reasonable, or logical service after what His Son sacrificed. (This is our opportunity to heed His advice.) He also exhorts us to avoid conforming to this dark world; instead being transformed by renewing our minds in and through His perfect word. Why? So we can prove —be armed—confident in His good and acceptable and perfect will! How do we renew our minds, wherein sin is conceived? The apostle Paul educated us on his practice when he, speaking of the spiritual war, shared that he brought “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Such an activity renewed his mind; therefore allowing him to prove God’s perfect will. Let us heed the advice of our kind and loving Father and do exactly what He has asks us to do; exactly what we know we should do; exactly what will benefit us for all eternity!

 

The Sea’s Garment

“Do you know how the clouds are balanced, Those wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge?” Job 37:16

Do you remember as a child “seeing” things (animals especially) with an imagining eye, in the clouds? As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with clouds. I often go outside to watch them move about the sky—some swirling about like children at play; others separating from a larger mass to float on alone. I like to view them when they are bright white in a calm sky, gray in a disturbed sky, and when they appear to be every color on God’s palette with the rising and setting of the sun.

While doing some research, I visited National Geographic’s website where an interesting article had been written about them. Under the simple title: “Clouds” read its subtitle: “Atmospheric Decoration.” I smiled when I read that phrase because I believe the statement is ironic. National Geographic is by no means a religious organization, yet they fully ascribe to clouds being “decoration.” In order to have decoration, someone must have done the decorating, right? Yet, atheists, naturalists and other non-religious people try to convince others that the clouds decorate themselves—apparently. :/

What does the Bible say about clouds? While the Bible has many prepositional phrase references (metaphorical and literal) to clouds: God appearing in the clouds, Jesus returning in/on the clouds, etc., the only place in the Bible where clouds are spoken of in a literal—structural way is in the poetical book of Job. It is in the book that we learn about clouds, His “wondrous works” (Job 37:16).

As a result of my extreme fascination with them, I have learned all the Latin classifications for clouds, labeled in 1803 by English scientist, Luke Howard. Although there many types of clouds, the four general roots are: cumulus, meaning heap; stratus, meaning layer; cirrus, meaning curl of hair; and nimbus, meaning rain. In a general sense, the classifications simply place clouds into nice little ”artsy” categories, unattached to the Artist; but the way the clouds are described in the book of Job expose the Artist—the One who heaps up, layers, curls, and expands the clouds:

Job 37:11-12: “With moisture He saturatesthe thick clouds; He scatters His bright clouds. And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance, That they may do whatever He commands them on the face of the whole earth.”

Job 38:8-9: “Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band.”

So, someone at National Geographic got it right; clouds do decorate the sky. But they certainly don’t just appear there by chance; rather, God saturates, scatters, turns, commands, and clothes the seas with them. He is the one who is moving them—whether fast or slow. He is the one who allows them to break off from a mass and go their own way. He fills them with water; and He releases the water—when and where He wishes. He is the Painter, the Artist, and the very best “Decorator” of the firmament!

We have an amazing privilege each and every day to look upon God’s “wondrous works.” The next time you walk outside, look up in the sky and remember that God decorated the sky this day just for you! xo

Staying Home!

Anyone who has felt the joy of being near the Lord never wants to leave His presence. To stay near  God is the prayer of every believer. But how do we stay near Him? The verbal expression of the action may have sadly become cliche, but as an important reminder, here are six necessary actions:

  1. Pray – in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, it is written: “pray without ceasing.”
  • Why pray without ceasing? Because if we stop we get in trouble. Think about a time you fell into sin. Had you ceased from praying? Often we become caught in the clutches of sin when prayer is neglected. Also, pray with others—Matthew 18:20, and ask godly people to pray for you—James 5:16!

2.   Read the Bible often 

  • The Hebrew writer tells us that the word of God is “Living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (4:12). The Bible is alive. The Bible is powerful. The Bible is relevant. The Bible is “A lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path (Psalm 199:105). The Bible is our guide; our help. We need to read it in order to get to heaven! We must, must, must read it—and often!

3.   Take captive every thought 

  • Sin starts in the mind/heart, so we must stop it there. (James 1:14). The apostle Paul said that he brought “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This step cannot be stressed enough. Sin starts with a single thought. If we do not control that one thought, it can (and will) lead to our death.

4.   Meditate on His word – Psalm 119:15.

  • King David, a “man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) said to God: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). Four verses later he also penned: “I will meditate on Your precepts and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word” (119:15-16). We must think about God and His word. We must ponder His precepts, His ways, His love, His mercy, His Justice, HIs power . . .

5.   Fellowship with Christians

  • The Hebrew writer exhorted Christians to not give up meeting together when he wrote: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching” (10:24-25). Laugh together. Cry together. Pray together. A bond with like-minded Christians is a source of great strength; God planned it that way!

6.   Avoid immoral company 

  • Remember what God told us about our friends: “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). We need to be spending time with people of like mind if we want to please God and stay close to Him.

AWESOME!

It has become a colloquial word; one that is habitually used throughout each day among Christians and non-Christians alike. It is used to describe anything from the behavior of children, and weekend garage sale finds, to food eaten at our favorite restaurant. But however the word is used, Christians must be reminded that the adjective “awesome possesses meaning more profound than our modern society gives it; for our God, the Creator of the world bears the expression in His very own description!

Two example verses are: Deuteronomy 10:17: “For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.” and Psalm 47:2: “For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.” The King James Version (KJV), Revised Standard Version (RSV), and American Standard Version (ASV) use the word “terrible” when describing Jehovah God, while the New King James Version (NKJV), English Standard Version (ESV), and New American Standard Version (NASB), use the word “awesome” to describe the Great I AM. So, “terrible” and “awesome” bear a synonymous meaning which is, “to fear; morally to revere; causatively to frighten:- affright, be (make) afraid, dreadful” (Strong’s Concordance). And this word is not used sporadically, for “terrible” occurs an astounding 314 times in 305 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the KJV (blueletterbible.org). The Great God of heaven is to be feared, revered, and dreaded—it’s no frivolous matter.

If such a profound word is used to describe the Creator of the world, how is it that  Christians use the word in a flippant and trivial manner? Is it simply overlooked? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first use of the word in “trivial use, as an enthusiastic term of commendation” was as late as 1980. It would be my guess that few people would even be aware that the word’s insignificant use is still in its infancy. Why has the word become so misused over the past 30 years? Could its flippant application be compared to our modern tragic abuse of God’s Holy name? While its use may appear innocent, we must remember that Christians have been told to “Test all things…” (1 Thessalonians 5:21); that means the words we use. If we put the trivial use of the word awesome to the test, does it pass? Should we be describing anything trivial and temporary that has been used to describe the eternal Almighty? Dear sisters I think not.

We, as Christian women, need to make sure that we are not becoming one with the world; we need to make sure that we are “test[ing] all things; hold[ing] fast what is good. Abstain[ing] from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). If God is described as awesome, then He is the only one who can bear that description; for none can compare to Him!

The Judges!

The judged, The “judges” &  The Judge —John 8:1-12    

In only eleven verses, the apostle John recorded a brief, but powerful account involving Jesus, a woman and certain scribes and Pharisees. From his account, we learn that a woman was brought to Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees after she was caught in adultery. From our prior knowledge of them, we understand that the scribes and Pharisees were clearly not as concerned about the woman as they were about testing Jesus (in order that they might have something of which to accuse Him). According to Jewish law, she was to be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10).

This account can be observed from three angles—that of the judged, the ‘judges’ and the Judge. Today, we will observe the ‘judges.’

They threw the guilty one onto a filthy stage of condemnation, in full view of a robust crowd. Their hate still visibly fresh on her skin. Her eyes, surely cast downward in humiliation, would rely on her ears to communicate the dark sentence to her trepid mind. She was quiet among the noise of abhorrence.

The ‘prosecution’s opening argument was simple and brief: according to the law of Moses, the sinner should be stoned. Then, they waited. No, not in love or concern; they waited with trickery coursing through their veins.

Oh, but instead of granting them their wicked fulfillment, Jesus humbly stooped down and, as if not hearing them, placed his finger into the dirt and began to write. This action must have confused—and frustrated them, so they continued to ask. Over and over they queried Him until finally He raised Himself up and simply, yet wisely spoke: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (8:7b). In under twenty words, or about ten seconds time, He completely dissolved the prosecution’s case. In fact, within that same time frame, the team evolved from the prosecution to the defense! In an attempt to humiliate Christ through the humiliation of a sinner, they only humiliated themselves. With their sentence handed down, they walked away; each convicted by their own sin (whew, at least they still had a conscience).

So, you may be asking, “What does that have to do with me?” Well, although we (thankfully) can’t say that we have (literally) stood in front of the Savior of the world and attempted to trick Him with Himself (after all, He IS the Word! 1 John 1:14), have we ever been quick to judge? See, the ultimate problem with the ‘judges’ was (among many things), a lack of humility, love and true wisdom. They were so caught up in their ‘righteousness’ that they were blind. Total blindness that compelled them to come before the Judge, Savior, Word, eternal Creator of the world and (attempt to) make a case!? The absence of humility, love and true wisdom in their lives tricked them; condemned them.

Are we immune? True, we’re not Jews living under the law. We know the truth that sets us free, John 8:32. But do we forget the commandments/law that we’re under—the law of love, John 13:34? Do we ever struggle with pride, Proverbs 16:18? Are we ever quick to judge? Matthew 7:1-2. Do we ever forget who and where the Judge is? 2 Timothy 4:1; James 5:9.

Remember:

  • In the absence of humility there is pride
  • In the absence of love there is hate
  • In the absence of wisdom there is ignorance

And . . .

  • Because of His humility, our Savior didn’t retaliate —and strike the guilty dead.
  • Because of His love, our Messiah gave them another chance—to change.
  • Because of His wisdom, our Friend knew how to react—and silence ignorance

 

 

Mountains and Valleys!

Most are familiar with the ups and downs of life being figuratively described as “mountains and valleys.” Walk with me, for a moment, inside these figures.

We like it up on the mountain, but consider: The air is fresh–and thin; breathing unassisted will become difficult. We cannot stay here long. The high view is unobstructed. We become comfortable—maybe too comfortable. We neglect to see the threats. The peaceful mountain sounds are calming. We may not be aware of how relaxed we are. We sit; we recline. The rest is nice here, but for our own good, we must move on.

The air is polluted down in the valley, which means we cannot stay here long either. The tainted air is hard to breathe in—hurtful. We loathe the air. The view is obstructed. Darkness envelopes. We are frightened by the unknown. The sounds are loud—deafening. We wish they would stop; they won’t. We despise the noise. We cannot rest here.

Although we loath, are frightened, and despise being in the valley, it’s here—where we are weakest, that Christ’s strength is best manifest in us.

• Jesus said to Paul: ““My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”” (2 Corinthians 12:9) after Paul pleaded with Him to take away his physical infirmity. We know Paul “learned in whatever state . . . to be content” (Phil. 4:11). He learned from the valleys he treaded through. It was only after such experiences that he could truly proclaim, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

• Elijah, being pursued by wicked Jezebel, was certainly in a valley. He went and hid in a cave. He wanted to die. God met Elijah there, among the pollution, noise, and obstructions. God met him there and strengthened him. Re-read the cherished account in 1 Kings 19.

• The Israelites were in an exceedingly deep valley when Zephaniah prophesied (approx. 20 years before the Babylonian captivity) about God’s faithfulness toward the returning captive Jews, saying: “The LORD God in your midst, The Mighty One will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (3:17).

• After Moses died, Joshua obtained the great task of leading the Israelites into the promised land. He certainly may have felt like he was in a valley; Moses, their great leader, was gone and he was given the enormous task of taking on the responsibility—talk about large shoes to fill! But in the midst of it all, God was there, encouraging Joshua (more than once) saying: ““Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go”” (Joshua 1:9).

• In addition to the encouraging examples already mentioned, Jesus, who conquered the greatest valley, gives us more encouragement by saying: ““In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”” (John 16:33).

*Of course no one wants to reside in the valley; we all want to be up on the mountain, but after further examination, we observe:

Up on the mountain, where the air is cleaner, the view is unobstructed and the sounds are peaceful, we relax; we rest. But it’s up here where we may put our guard down and rely less on God.

In the valley, where the air is foul, the view is hindered and the sounds are deafening, we fall to our knees. In weakness, we cry out to God. It is here where we “grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; “” (Acts 17:27). As the Lord met Paul, Elijah, the Jewish remnant, and Joshua in the valley, so He will meet us too.

Remember: It is only after spending time in the valley that we truly can learn, then proclaim, like Paul, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

2 Matthew 28:20

The mountaintops rest. The valleys test

The Wise Father

In his play, “The Merchant of Venice,” William Shakespeare wrote, “It is a wise father that knows his own child.” Mr. Shakespeare’s keen observation was correct, for it is a “wise” earthly father indeed who takes the time to “know” his child(ren). But, even the best earthly fathers can never compare to our heavenly Father, the Creator of all, who perfectly knows us! Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7; Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13.

From up on a mountain, with multitudes of people and His disciples nearby, Jesus verbalized just how much our omniscient heavenly Father knows us. In His teachings, He used the five letter word twice: first, when instructing on how to pray; second, when instructing against worry.

When instructing on how to pray, our Messiah taught:

“You, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:6-8).

He knows what we need even before we ask, but He still wants us to make the effort to do exactly as He has instructed. When instructing on worry, our Savior taught:

Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall  we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’ . . . For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”  (Matthew 6:31-33). Our Creator certainly knows what we need; therefore we have no reason to worry! Why do we?

In addition to knowing, we also observe the word need in Matthew 6:8;32. God knows—and gives us what we need! Unlike our earthly fathers who are limited in their ability, our heavenly Father’s knowledge is perfect! Needing something means we require it; it is essential; our survival depends on it. And wanting something means just that—we want it, but our survival is not dependent upon its acquisition. In fact, sometimes our survival is jeopardized by wanting. Think of Eve. God gave her (more than) what she needed, but she wanted the one thing she couldn’t have. Hypnotized by her desire, she neglected to heed God’s warning. We know what happened; we’ve all been affected by her wanting. We are so blessed that God knows—and gives us what we need! May we always listen to and trust in His omniscience.

Further observation of Jesus’ instructions: praying alone, away from the gazing eyes of men, and without the use of repetition and wordiness, reveals a child who truly trusts God; a child who desires not to be pleasing to men—by presenting a prayer to God before them; but rather, one who knows God, who “sees in secret” (6:6b), hears. And, knowing that He hears, also knows that He is aware of individual needs, so does not carry on with many words. Additionally, the same trusting child does not worry about objects necessary to earthly life, for this child literally (and figuratively) sees that God feeds and clothes the seemingly most insignificant of His creation.

While the best and “wisest” earthly fathers take time to “know” their children, their “knowing” is restricted. Only the great Weaver, who “formed [our] inward parts; [and] covered [us] in [our] mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13) knows us, and knows what we need! Trust Him!