Whose line is it anyway?

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Today’s chapter: 2 Samuel 22

Recently my youngest son was working in an activity book. One of the activities had a man holding a fishing pole at the top of the page. To solve the puzzle and catch the fish, he had to circle which fishing line was the right one. The problem was there was a jumble of curvy lines in the middle of the page. All those tangled lines obscured which was the correct line.

Tangled doodle pattern

 

My son solved the puzzle by working backward and starting with the fish, then carefully tracing the line back to the source. Then he was able to “catch the fish” and avoid getting tangled up. But the answer wasn’t obvious. He had to take the time to trace it all the way back.

It’s important that we regularly take time to do that in life, too. We need to trace our blessings back to the Source and remember where they came from.

As we accumulate stuff over time, our lives begin to look more and more like that activity page. The more stuff we have, the harder it gets to see the source. It’s ironic that the more we have, the less grateful we tend to be. We have to work harder at seeing the source, so we can avoid getting all tangled up.

This appendix to David’s story gives us a hymn of praise written by David early in his reign as king. He begins and ends his song by calling God his Rock and Deliverer. He recognizes God’s hand in every good thing in his life, remembers the tough times He has brought him through, and he wants to be sure to express gratitude for all the blessings.

It’s important that we take time to recognize our blessings, and then respond to them with gratitude. If we don’t turn our blessings into praise, they turn into pride. We’ll get tangled up and start to take credit for what God has done on our behalf. Let’s develop the habit of tracing the good things in our lives back to the Source and thanking Him for providing for us and blessing us in so many ways.

DO IT
Don’t let this be a day you simply “read it” and don’t “do it.” Don’t be so busy enjoying your blessings that you don’t pause to thank God for them. Reflect on the experiences God has brought you through and pinpoint the ways He has answered your prayers and moved in your life.

What are you thankful for?

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Have you considered the side effects?

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Today’s chapter: 2 Samuel 7

Television commercials for new drugs make me laugh. For the first half of the commercial, the medicine sounds like exactly what you need to alleviate your joint pain. Even if you don’t have the condition it’s designed to treat, you start wanting this medication just so you’ll be as happy as the smiling people in the commercial.

Medical Pills And Medical Drugs On Pharmacy Stand In Supermarke

Then in the second half of the commercial the announcer begins talking super-fast, like he just downed a couple of Red Bulls, as he lists out all of the potential side effects.

For some people, this product may cause leg cramps, impotence, excessive flatulence, and lockjaw. Women have reported noticing a dramatic increase in ankle hair. Some test subjects have experienced uncontrollable cravings for dairy products and beets. One in ten patients have felt compelled to watch reruns of old sit-com’s for hours. If your trips to the bathroom become greater than 12 per hour, you should consult your physician.

When you hear all the problems that could accompany the pharmaceutical company’s “cure,” suddenly your joint pain doesn’t sound so bad.

Similarly, I’ve found there have been times when if God had given me what I asked for, the side effects would have been disastrous. I’m so glad God loves me enough to bless me in the ways He knows are actually best for me.

That’s probably how David felt when he wanted to build the temple. Even though he didn’t get the blessing he wanted, God blessed him in a way he never expected. God told him through Nathan the prophet that his house would endure forever. And even though he would not be the one to build the temple, his son would have that honor. David was truly blessed.

When we get overly focused on the blessings we want, we overlook the blessings we have. My idea of blessings tends to be that all the traffic lights will be green on the way home, the kids rooms will all be clean, and Erin will tell me I’m right about whatever I say. But a universe built around my whims and preferences isn’t really a blessing at all. God loves me too much to give me whatever I want, when he knows what I really need.

DO IT
Today as you pray, before you talk with God about the blessings that you want, thank Him for at least five specific blessings He has already given you.

What are some of the ways God has blessed you?

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Making a murderer… almost

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Today’s chapter: 1 Samuel 25

Last week my family met up with some friends at a restaurant. This was our first time at this particular place, so it was fun to explore a new menu. Since it was a busy Friday night and the restaurant was crowded, it took a few minutes for our server to arrive to take our order.

About five minutes after we’d placed our order, one of my kids leaned over to me and said, “We’ve been waiting forever. I’m SO hungry. When is our food EVER going to get here?”

Like I said, we’d been waiting for all of five minutes. I thought, “Where in the world did my child pick up such an attitude of entitlement?” Then it hit me.

His mother. Just kidding!

One of the ugliest words in the English language is ‘ungrateful.’ None of us want to have that label, but it’s incredibly hard to recognize in ourselves. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone confess the need to be more thankful.

Nabal is described in this passage as surly and mean. I picture him as Brutus from the old Popeye cartoons. I doubt he saw himself this way. He may have even felt very grateful in his heart. But since he never expressed it, he was perceived as surly and mean.

His unappreciative demeanor almost led to him and his men being killed. Abigail, on the other hand, was thankful and found a way to express it in time to save her husband and his men.

Andy Stanley has said, “Unexpressed gratitude communicates ingratitude.” If you aren’t intentional about taking the time and finding a way to express how thankful you are, the people around you will assume it’s because you’re not thankful at all.

DO IT
Who has served you in some way and not yet been shown how much you appreciate them? Be intentional about not just saying thanks to someone today, but finding a way to show them your gratitude. Remember: they won’t know you’re thankful until you thank them.

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