Micah Loses an Idol and finds God

(Based on Judges 17 and 18)
Sheepishly Micah approached his mother with a heavy gray bag slung over one shoulder and a confession on his lips:  “That twenty-eight pounds of your silver that has been missing…I have it…I took it!  Here it is, I give it back to you!”

Micah’s mother was instantly forgiving.  She had suspected her son, Micah, had taken the silver.  She knew of his love of money and nice things, and that only he could have know where she had hidden the treasure.   “God bless you for being honest, my son!”

Taking the silver, she spoke to God, “I consecrate this silver to you, Lord.”  She took five pounds of the silver to the local silversmith with the instructions to use the silver to overlay a clay idol.  When the silver dwarf was completed, she gave it to Micah.

Now Micah had already prepared a shrine near his home in the hill country of Ephraim.  He was intent on receiving the blessing of God one way or the other.  He was trying to cover all the bases.  He made an ephod and placed it in the shrine along with statues of household gods common in his time.   He placed the silver dwarf in a conspicuous place in the shrine.  Last he asked his ten-year-old son to play the part of a priest.  He taught him to light the torches and lamps in the shrine.

Still Micah was not getting the results he had hoped for.  About half of his herd of goats died of a strange sickness.  When spring came, the lamb crop was unusually small.  Obviously he still did not have God’s favor.

One day a young Levite came to Micah’s house.  When Micah found out that the young man was a Levite, a member of the priestly tribe, he was overjoyed!  “Live with me and be my priest and I will provide your food, clothing, place to live, and a small yearly wage.”

When the young Levite agreed, Micah danced with joy.   He could scarcely believe his good fortune–a priest from the tribe of the Levites was actually going to live in his house.  Surely now he would have God’s blessing!!

One day several months later, five spies from the tribe of Dan came by Micah’s home.  They recognized Micah’s Levite priest and asked what he was doing in Mica’s house.
The priest explained that he as working as a priest for Micah.

After spying out the town of Laish,  the five spies returned to their people where they organized an army of six hundred men.  On their way to conquer Laish, they stopped at Micah’s house where they entered the shrine and convinced Micah’s priest to come with them and become the priest of the whole tribe of Dan rather than the priest of only one man’s family.  The ambitious priest left with the army from the tribe of Dan.  They also took the ephod, the household gods and the silver dwarf image given to Micah by his mother.

When Micah discovered that his shrine had been plundered and his priest was gone, he and his friends overtook the Danites, but they were outnumbered so they returned to their homes without a fight.

Micah entered his empty shrine.  He sat with his head in his hands.  How could he prosper now with no ephod, no priest, and no clay images in his shrine?  After a while, he sensed a Presence.  He could not see it with his eyes, or hear it with his ears. Nor could he smell it, taste it, or touch it.  The Presence was very real, however.  In his spirit Micah heard these words, “I am your God.  No man can ever take Me away from you.  You don’t need a priest, silver image, idol, or ephod.  You can talk directly to Me.  I will be with you always.  I will never leave you.”

The next year each of Micah’s ewes bore twin lambs!   He was blessed!  His flocks were fruitful.   In the process of losing his idols, Micah had found his faithful God.

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The Patience of Joseph

Joseph made his morning rounds at the prison.  He checked to make certain that each prisoner had his daily supply of bread and water.  He checked the locks.  All were secure.  He made his daily report on the condition of the prisoners to his superior, the keeper of the prison.

Then  he sat alone in his cubicle for he too was a prisoner, never allowed to go outside the prison grounds, never allowed to have a life of his own–his only friends the other inmates.

Usually his responsibilities at the prison kept him so busy that he scarcely had time to think, but today he was thinking:   about his brothers and how they had sold him into slavery when he had brought them provisions from his father;  about how he had served Potiphar, the Captain of the Guard, and had been entrusted with all Potiphar’s possessions; about how Potiphar’s wife had falsely accused him of assaulting her, resulting in his being imprisoned.

Joseph remembered how he had correctly interpreted the cupbearer’ dream and asked for his help when he was restored to his position.  It had been two years since that incident, and there was no indication that the cupbearer had ever mentioned Joseph’s name to King Pharaoh.

Joseph remembered dreams from his childhood–dreams that had seemed to indicate that he would become royalty.  What was that all about?    He had been imprisoned in a foreign land for years.  Now those dreams seemed little more than childhood imaginations.  Joseph asked for the Lord’s help lest he become bitter with disappointment.   He had tried to do everything right.  How had everything turned out so wrong?  He relinquished those dreams to the Lord.  He would fulfill God’s purpose for him, whatever it entailed.  Peace swept over his spirit.

In the highest Heaven, the Father turned to the Son and the Holy Spirit.  “Look at my servant, Joseph,”  he commented.  “His pride has turned to humility, his dependence on self to dependence on God, his stubbornness has been replaced with yieldedness.  He is ready.  Send the dream to pharaoh.  The seven years of good crops are about to begin.”

Back at Joseph’s cell there was a knock on the door.  Joseph was being summoned!  Before the day was out Joseph had correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and had been elevated to second in command over the land of Egypt!  Joseph’s patience had been rewarded.

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Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land;  Psalm 37:34

Close Calls

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This morning my scripture reading included Psalm 77.  Here are the lines that spoke to my heart:  “In the day of my trouble, I sought the Lord…I remembered God and was troubled.  I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed.  ..Will the Lord reject me forever?  And will He never again be kind to me?…But then I recall all You have done O, Lord;  Surely, I will remember your wonders of the past...You are the God who does wonders. Who is so great as our God?”

In this psalm, Asaph, the psalmist, encourages himself by remembering all that the Lord has done for him in the past rather than focusing on his current plight.  That is just what I am going to do with the hope that someone else who is discouraged will read this and be helped as well!

The year is 1989.  I am only a few miles from home when I signal to make a left hand turn.  I didn’t notice a car coming up fast from behind.  Suddenly my Ford Bronco is struck in the side.  The vehicle has a high center of gravity, so it flips over on its side, and then onto its top.  I find myself hanging upside down with the Bronco engine still running!  A man with a scruffy face and a nearly toothless mouth peeks  in my window.  Then,  seeing that I am still alive, runs off through the field.  I release the seat belt, and crawl out one of the broken windows.  On the way out I notice that the roof of the Bronco has collapsed onto the passenger seat.  A passenger would surely have been killed or seriously hurt.   An ambulance comes, and I ride to the hospital where they determine that my only injury from the roll-over is a tiny scratch on my arm from the broken window glass!  Great is our God!

We move forward to 2005.  I am driving to my home in a heavy rain storm.  I come up to the intersection to again turn left.  The light is green.  An oncoming car appears over the hill.  She also has the green light.   Rather than continue my turn, I freeze.  My car gets hit hard shoving it backward more than seventy feet.  This time I manage to escape the head-on collision with only a cracked sternum!

In 2006, after more than three months of x-rays, and other tests trying to determine the cause of slight abdominal pain, the doctor gives me the news:  “We have found a large mass.  We suggest surgery this week!”  The next day the news is even worse:  “The results of the biopsy are in:  cancer!” Recovering from the surgery a week later, I get more bad news:  “The cancer was stage three.  It had spread to the lymph nodes!”  But the good news finally comes:  I have been cancer-free for eleven years!

In September 2016 my husband and I are driving to Banff National Park, Canada.  Our route takes us on Interstate 15 from Butte to Great Falls, Montana.   The terrain is beautiful, mountainous.  We stop to take some photos.  Montana allows high speeds on its interstates so after the stop we are flying along with the traffic at eighty miles per hour down a number of switchbacks and hairpin turns.  It is raining hard.  I push the brake to slow down for the turn.  Oops!  The brake barely responds!  It is only then that I notice the red brake light on the dash has turned on.  I had forgotten to release the emergency brake after my stop!  I release the hand brake, immediately down shift and slow down to avoid using the brake.  After about a half an hour of intense prayer, I gingerly try the brake again.  It has cooled down and responds normally.  God has once again demonstrated His unlimited mercy and saved us!
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“I will meditate on all Your Work, and talk of Your deeds!…Your ARE the God who does wonders!”  Psalm 77: 12 and  14.

The Best Helper

The bitter March wind forced Lois to pull her coat about her.  She was waiting at the bus stop for 8-year-old Danny to arrive.  Just then she spotted the large yellow shape of the bus making the turn at the bottom of the hill.  The bus made its way up the hill, then stopped, and it’s door folded open.  Several children filed down the steps before Lois spotted Danny.  His eyes did not meet hers, and there was no smile of greeting on his face.

Lois pulled the ear flaps down on Danny’s hat.  They had a block to walk to reach their house.  “How did it go today?”

No answer.

“Did the work we did on the multiplication tables last night help you on your test today?”

Still no answer.

Lois felt desperation gripping her heart as the cold was gripping her body.  She had been good in math.  She had tried so hard to help Danny, yet so far her efforts had not paid off.  “So what was your grade?”

Danny exploded in tears!  “Why do you even ask?  Why do you have to grill me like this every night?  You know what the answer is going to be.  I failed again!  I got the lowest grade in the class.  I only got three problems right out of twenty!  Mrs. Bell said that I was going to have to start studying or I would fail math.  But I did study.  I hate school!  I never want to go again!”  Danny was hysterical.

They had reached their home.  Lois unlocked the door and closed it behind them.  She gently removed Danny’s coat and hat, then lifted him into her lap.  She held him tightly, gently rocking him as tears flooded her own face.   It was even more difficult to see her child struggle than to deal with her own issues such as the divorce she was going through.

Eventually Danny’s sobs ceased, and he fell asleep in her arms.

Lois’ own pain and desperation did not end.  She had tried everything.  She had worked with Danny for more than an hour just last night. Obviously the practice was not helping the boy, but she did not know what to do instead.  As she sat still holding the boy tightly on her lap,  one word came to her mind, “Pray!” And she did pray.

After about thirty minutes, Danny awoke and slid off her lap.  He was off to play on his xbox.  Lois started to call out to stop him, but something or Someone stopped her.  “Not now!”

Lois continued her silent prayer as she set about getting supper.  By the time the spaghetti and meatballs were ready, she had reached a feeling of faith and peace.  They would work together on the math as usual, but with one exception, they would pray first.

A week passed.  Lois was again meeting Danny’s bus.  As he climbed down the steps, she eagerly searched his face.  He seemed brighter, more at peace!

She wanted to ask him once again about his math test results, but felt in her spirit that she should wait.

Danny was the first to break the silence.  “Jesus did help me, Mom!  I got four problems right this time!”

Lois’ heart sank!  Only four problems out of twenty?  That was still far from passing!  To her way of thinking that was hardly better than Danny’s score last week.  However, Danny seemed encouraged.

Before they began his math homework that night, Danny asked to pray.  “Thank you, Jesus, for helping me on my math test today!  Last week I only got three problems right, but this week You helped me and I got four right!”  Then Danny enthusiastically began his homework .

Lois knew Danny’s faith had encourage her own heart.

Sure enough, in another week’s time, Danny bounded down the steps of the bus, gave his mother a high five, and enthusiastically declared, “Ten right this time!”

“Still failing,” thought Lois, but clearly they were on to something.

One sunny day in May, a confident, glowing Danny met his mother at the bus stop.  “Nineteen out of twenty!” he crowed triumphantly!  “Best grade in the class!  When Mrs. Bell, asked me if you had been helping me with my math, I told her ‘Yes, but the real help came from Jesus!’  You know, Mom,  Jesus sits with me during the test.  You can’t do that, and”…Danny paused.  “No offense, Mom, but He’s a math expert!”

Lois grinned and breathed a silent prayer of gratitude!

*****

…Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Colossians 2:3

Hidden in the Light

I could feel the cold sweeping over my soul–the nerves tensing in my stomach, and I knew that another anxiety attack was beginning.  Next came the suggestions:  “She thinks you are controlling, He thinks you are lying, etc.” At first the lies came to my conscious mind a few at a time, then as the attack increased, the lies seemed to bombard my thinking so that I could think of nothing else.

I was afraid of these thoughts.  I knew that no good Christian should be having them.  What if others knew these thoughts were coming to me?  They would surely reject me as a poor Christian, a “bad” person, someone who should be avoided!  That is what I feared most:  being rejected, being counted unworthy.

I was doing my best to live the Christian life.  I believed that I was the possessor of eternal life.  I knew that Jesus loved me unconditionally.  But that was not enough for me.  Jesus loves every believer unconditionally.  I had to be special, different, better than others to accept myself.

Years earlier I had entered first grade as a very frightened little girl.  I clung to the teacher and refused to go out and play with the other children.  At home, in order to get me to eat, my mother had been spoon-feeding me.  At school, I could barely choke down half a peanut butter sandwich.

I felt secure with the teacher, and I became her pet.  I cleaned erasers and picked up scraps of paper.  I was academically talented and began to excel, graduating at the top of my high school class, and in second place in my large college class.

As an adult my early insecurities were largely hidden only to reemerge again in my later years.  When I became a Christian, my teachers once again became the focus of my need.  Rather than doing things for my Lord Jesus, I felt that I had to please my teachers and pastors.

If a pastor suggested that I take a certain course of action, this created terrible turmoil in my mind.  If I took his suggestion, I would be doing it only to please him.  If I did not do it, he would surely reject me!

If a female leader saw the darkness in me, this punched all my buttons.  I felt that she had to be wrong!   I had to look good to her.  How could I accept myself, if she rejected me?

Others suggested that my problem was that I was trying to live the Christian life in my own strength.  I wanted to rely on the Lord, but the thought of it, brought terrible tension, and fear increased its grip on me.  I told the Lord, “I can not come to the end of myself.  I am too afraid, and my soulishness seems to go on and on without end.  Can you please bring me to the place of total dependence on you?”

As I sat quietly in His Presence, He gave me the picture of a brilliant light.  That, I knew, was Him.  In my mind, I saw myself, soiled and dark in many places, move closer to Him.  As I did that, His light overcame the darkness in me, and I disappeared!   In His Presence, I had peace.  I was hidden in His beautiful light!

By Pat Lockridge, March 20, 2017

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For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  Colossians 3:3 NIV

Lucky Pat

On  Saint Patrick’s Day

by Pat Lockridge

 Lucky Pat has
Friends who call when she needs them most.
A spouse who is always faithful in his support.
A church who both preaches and practices love.
A neighborhood with opportunities to pay it forward.
And a God who is loving, patient, and forgiving
as she learns to trust and surrender to Him.
Lucky Pat!

A Caregiver

unnamed-1I am a caregiver, a position that I have held since July 2015 when my husband suddenly became unable to move due to Parkinson’s Disease.   I didn’t apply for this position, nor am I particularly given to the people skills and medical knowledge that this position requires.  However, this position  is an opportunity to serve my husband and to serve my God!

My job description includes:
1. Managing six prescriptions and making certain that my husband (patient) not only gets the pills in his mouth but also swallows them!
2. Dressing the patient, helping him bathe, shaving him, and cutting his nails.
3. Preparing a variety of meals for him with the consistency of baby food.
4. Watching to make certain that my patient does not wander away or experience a crippling fall.

Rewards of working as a caregiver include:
1. Although the hours are long, the position offers plenty of down time.
2. My caregiver position also gives me a chance to give back to my life partner who has given me more than fifty years of companionship, support, and love.
3. It gives me a chance to see a different side of this man I know so well–a softer, gentler side.
4. And now that his mind is no longer dominant, it gives me a chance to know his spirit, that part of my man that connects with his God–gaining a new perspective on a life-long companion.