VBS Lessons, Day Two: God Listens To You

This week I’m going through the lessons of Group’s PandaMania VBS and considering how they apply to more than just kids!

God Listens To You
“You know what I am going to say even before I say it”
Psalm 139:4

Last week, I quietly explained to my oldest daughter that even though people are friendly and strangers ask her questions, doesn’t mean they always have time for her entire life story.  Perhaps not everyone can listen to everything she has to say.

She replied, “But I just like to talk and I have a whole lot to talk about.”

Thus, when a friendly cashier asks how old my kids are, they give an unabridged biography as an answer.

And when the lady cutting their hair asks where they go to school, the girls launch into a weekly schedule that lists off all their normal activities and then give an infomercial about their preschool and kindergarten.

My PandaMania VBS leader materials for Day Two say:

Kids can tell you exactly what it’s like to be ignored or unheard.  They know what it feels like to talk to a busy parent or teacher, who responds with a distracted “mm-hmm.” They’ve been that hand, waving in the air, that didn’t get called on to share an answer.  And even when someone is tuned in, kids may not have the words to express what they’re feeling.   . . . God not only hears our voice . . .God hears our heart!

There’s a powerful promise buried in this simple lesson—God Listens to You.  Just like my kids may sometimes feel like I’m not listening closely enough, there are times when I feel as if God has gone deaf or, even worse, is choosing to ignore me.

Last week, a prayer request came through my email and I prayed: “Please don’t turn away from this request; please don’t hide your face from us.  Please hear what we are asking of You and deliver them.  Don’t be deaf to our pleas, not this time.”

I’m not alone in this prayer.

David asked, “Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth” (Psalm 54:2) and “To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit” (Psalm 28:1).  Asaph prayed the same:  “God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God” (Psalm 83:1).

Have you prayed this before?  The request of attention, the desire for God’s ear, that He would really hear the petitions you bring so passionately before the throne?  With particular fervency sometimes we say, “I know I pray things all the time, God, but I need you to really pay attention to what I’m asking right now.  This one matters more than normal!”

The promise we are teaching the VBS kids this week is that God always hears us, not just what we say, but even when we don’t know how to pray within the confines of words.  Even when the desires of our heart are too bulky to be smashed into syllables and sounds and long “before a word is on my tongue, you, LORD, know it completely” (Psalm 139:4)

God doesn’t tune us out as we pray or ignore the outpourings of our heart.  Psalm 10:17 says, “Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their hearts.  You will listen carefully.”

He hears what we pray.  He hears our heart’s cry even when words escape us.  During the tough times, heaven may seem silent and our prayers may seem to bounce against a ceiling rather than land at God’s feet.

Regardless of how you feel, though, you can trust in an attentive God who hears the prayers we offer on our knees, the whispers as we lie in bed at night, the tears as we fall in despair in His presence.  God listens to you.

We know this because God doesn’t change.  From beginning to end, from person to person, our God is consistent in His character.  So, just as He threw down fire from heaven in response to Elijah’s prayer, so He hears and responds to our cries for help.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah not just to a test of their gods’ power, but also of their gods’ ability to hear them.  He declared, “Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God” (1 Kings 18:24).

God’s character–the things that sets Him apart–isn’t just that He is able to deliver us; it’s that He truly hears our cries for deliverance.

And so the prophets of Baal danced and shouted. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”  So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.  Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention (1 Kings 18:27-29).

Their god was silent.  Their god was deaf.  Their god was unimpressed by their passion and unresponsive to their cries.

Not our God.

Elijah sloshed water all over the altar so it was running down over the soaking wet sacrifice and spilling onto the ground below.  He prayed, “‘Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’  Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.  When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!'” (1 Kings 18:37-39).

Answer me, God, for the display of Your glory!  So that everyone watching my life and these circumstances can see and declare, “The Lord—He is God!  The Lord–He is God!”

The song we will sing tonight at VBS says, “God knows every word before you even say it; He hears every prayer before you even pray it.  So let Him hear you now.  So let Him hear you shout!  He knows you.  He loves you.  God is listening.”

Be assured of that today and rest in that promise.  Remember that what defines God is that He is alive and active, powerfully able, and mercifully responsive to us.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

VBS Lessons, Day One: God Made You

Every year at Vacation Bible School I watch as adults lead the excited children around the church from station to station, sing the songs (maybe we even do the accompanying motions), shout and laugh.  Do we also, though, compartmentalize? Do we box up the VBS messages and declare they are just for kids and not relevant for us?

But is there any message in Scripture that God delivers just for people under 18? We older and wiser ones sometimes make faith so complicated and fail to recognize or really consider the beautiful truths in these simple messages. So, this week, I’m thinking about VBS and what the lessons for children mean for you and me.  Our church is doing Group’s PandaMania VBS, so that’s what’s on my mind.

God Made You

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex”
Psalm 139:14

God made us.  What then should we do about that?

Do we nod our heads in complacent agreement? Do we go about our everyday lives with no realization, no recognition, no response to an act so incredible and a God so powerful? Have we forgotten the wonder of it all?

Sometimes we do just that.

But in this very moment, I pause.  “God made me.  God made you.”  That should elicit a response of unconfined, unhindered, from-the-bottom-of-my heart, I-don’t-care-what-anyone-else-thinks praise and thanksgiving.

So often we determine the mission and measure the success of VBS by how well we reached unchurched kids. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Yet, VBS has power for churched kids, too.  For one week we encourage them to throw their hands up and sing out loud.  We tell them it’s not just okay, but it’s expected for you to be unashamed about worshiping.

It’s not that way all the time.  Truth be told, in normal church mode in some sanctuaries, not everyone looks excited about worshiping God. We so often grip our hands to our side and feel the eyes of others on us if we look too involved, raise our hands, close our eyes, sing loudly. For some of us, Sunday morning worship means feeling peer pressure and avoiding embarrassment rather than giving God the praise He deserves.

This isn’t about musical styles or song choices or volume or service order.  This isn’t about personal preferences.  This isn’t about one person judging another’s worship and determining a set formula for what praise looks like.  How you worship is between you and God and it may be different from day to day, song to song, moment to moment.

God Himself though has declared that “true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

I can’t help but quote my favorite description of praise from David Crowder’s Praise Habit.  He writes:

We naturally understand praise . . . Kids just know how to enjoy things.  They give themselves fully to whatever has a hold on them.  Remember as children how we would fearlessly hold up our favorite toy and petition anyone who was in close proximity to behold it?  ‘Look, Mom, look!’

We instinctively knew what it was to praise something. It’s always been in us.  We were created for it. . . .But as adults we become self-conscious and awkward.  Something gets lost.  I think we do it to each other.  At some point, I hold the toy up exultantly and you comment that it looks ridiculous to hold the toy up in such a way. . . And we slowly chip away at each other’s protective coating of innocence until one day we wake up and notice we are naked and people are pointing.”

I’ve seen this happen. After a few months in Children’s Church, my oldest daughter told me that kids laughed at her when she sang and made her feel silly for raising her hands.

Do we adults do this same thing to each other?  Do we do it for the children who sit next to us in the pews all around the sanctuary?

Do they watch us and see what wholehearted worship and total unashamed glorifying God looks like?  Or do they instead see how peer pressure should control our behavior and even our relationship to God?

For boys, the pressure is even greater.  How often do they see men not just standing up when church music plays, but unashamedly praising God?  Our behavior mostly teaches boys that men don’t get emotional about worship, men don’t raise hands, men don’t sing out, men don’t look involved, men don’t close their eyes.

We forget David.  He fought bears and lions with his hands and as a young boy felled a giant with a slingshot while grown men in hardened armor cowered in their tents. He led armies and slew tens of thousands of the enemy Philistines.

He was the manliest of manly men and yet he also penned most of Psalms, the songs of praise to God.  He danced before the Lord and declared “I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this”? (2 Samuel 6:21b-22a).  This warrior-king didn’t care what other people thought when he worshiped.

Later David Crowder also writes

My point is we are all fragile.  Somewhere along the way we abandoned abandon.  Or perhaps we gained things that need to be discarded. We have covered ourselves.  Someone pointed out that we were naked, and the clothing we have woven is bulky and pretentious.  It hinders our freedom of movement.  Expression with childlike spontaneity has become difficult.  It bares too much of us. . . .

What if we were so moved by who God is, what He’s done, what He will do, that praise, adoration, worship, whatever, continuously careened in our heads and pounded in our souls? . .. This is what we will do for eternity.  What makes us think our time on earth should be any different?  What keeps it from being so?”

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “When your heart is full of Christ, you want to sing.”  The response in Scripture is clear, when we consider that God has made us, made the universe, poured out His sacrificial love for us, given us the very breath of a new day and provided us with all that we need, we “sing to Him, sing praise to Him” (1 Chronicles 16:9).

  • We “sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).
  • We “lift up (our) hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD” (Psalm 134:2)
  • We “make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise” (Psalm 98:4).

David Crowder is right.  We will be singing praises to God for all eternity.  We will be surrounded by others doing the same at the throne of the Most High God and there won’t be anything in heaven to hold us back from giving “all that is in” us in worship to Him (Revelation 5:13).  No peer pressure.  No embarrassment.  No expectations.

I tell my daughters all the time—Don’t be embarrassed for singing.  Be embarrassed not to sing.  Don’t worry about what other people think.  Care about what God is thinking.

Can you do the same thing?  Can you put aside notions of dignity, feelings of embarrassment, worries about what other people will think and fix your eyes only on God?

This week, every time the kids hear me say, “God made you,” they are to respond immediately in a shout of worship, “Thank you, God!”  How will you also respond in thanksgiving?


PandaMania VBS runs all this week (06/20 to 06/24) from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Newington Baptist Church for ages 4 through 5th grade.  We hope to see you there!

For those at Newington who are interested in David Crowder’s book, Praise Habit, great news!  It’s in the church library!

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Here, There and Everywhere

Confession time: I am a huge Beatles fan.  Hidden away in those messy closets of mine are Beatles magazines, t-shirts, records, a Paul McCartney figurine, postcards and more.   I have the CDs and movies and have been trying to get my kids to sing Beatles songs since they learned “Old MacDonald.”

So, this weekend, my husband gave me an amazing gift–the chance to see the Beatles in concert.

I know what you’re thinking, where’d the time machine come from and when can you borrow it?!   Really, we went to see four guys amazingly like the Beatles perform the songs with an entire orchestra behind them.  It was great.  More than great.  If I closed my eyes, I wouldn’t be able to tell you Paul McCartney hadn’t flown in from England to sing his songs to me.  Even with my eyes open, it was hard to tell, especially with the Sergeant Pepper outfits and groovy glasses.  I loved every minute of it, even “I Am The Walrus!”

It was as close as I could possibly get to hearing the Beatles sing and it was a fantastic “next best thing.”

Being there, though, made me think how often we as Christians are willing to be satisfied with the “next best thing” when we don’t have to be.  It’s not like me with the Beatles, where the source is gone and the time has past.  We Christians can choose whether to go to the source or accept an interpretation.

We read the Christian books, study our devotional every morning, fill in the blanks in the bulletin about the Sunday sermon, sing with the Christian radio station and travel to arenas to hear our favorite Christian speakers.  And all those things can be great.

Obviously, I wouldn’t keep writing this blog if I didn’t think talking about God’s Word mattered.  I’m an avid reader of Christian books and I love listening to others teach about the Bible.

I believe that God blesses us with Christian writers, authors and leaders who help us learn how to study the Bible and apply it to our lives.  What if we stopped there, though?  What if we only read and listened to people “interpreting” Scripture for us and never read God’s Word for ourselves?

In Exodus 20:18-20, the Israelites did just that.  They told Moses: “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die” (verse 19, NIV).  In other words, they said, “We’ll pass on the whole talking to God directly thing.  How about we just listen to whatever He tells you.”

I get where the Israelites were coming from.  Sometimes God’s Word is daunting or overwhelming.  Sometimes it tells me what I need to hear instead of what I want to hear and that bruises a bit.  The Israelites were afraid.  They saw the lightning and smoke around the mountain and heard the trumpets blaring and the thunder when God came down on the mountain.   God’s glory astounded them and it says “they trembled with fear.  They stayed at a distance.”

My heart aches to think that sometimes I stay at a distance instead of willingly meeting with God one on one.  I’m missing out on the fullness of what He has for me and instead just accepting what He’s given someone else.  It’s as if I’m offered a brand new outfit and I choose hand-me-downs instead.

But, the Bible is God’s intimate and personal revelation of Himself to us.   He wants us to:

Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night (Deuteronomy 11:18-21, MSG)

Yes, we’re busy.  Life is noisy and hectic and finding “quiet time” seems impossible.  Yes, sometimes it’s hard to understand the Bible or we don’t know where to begin.  We might even be afraid of what might happen when we meet with God one on one.  What kinds of mess will He ask to clean out of our hearts?  What kind of life changes will He want us to make?

God invites us to have one-on-one time with Him and sometimes, because of these excuses, we turn down His invitation.  We settle for the “next best thing” and life seems fine that way.  Then, life gets hard.   It’s in those difficult times that we desperately need that deeply personal, relevant and real relationship with God.

Please, keep reading the Christian books and listening to Christian speakers.  Let them be an encouragement and challenge to you.  Watch how others apply the Bible to their lives and implement that in your own life.

But, don’t stop there.  Go up on the mountain yourself and meet with God.  Get His Word deep inside you, think about it and talk about it, take it “Here, There and Everywhere” (I couldn’t resist a Beatles reference!) and let God use it both to transform you to be more like Christ and to draw you into a closer relationship with Him.


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

For Your Name’s Sake

This morning, I filled my minivan up with gas and about choked on my bottled water when I saw the little rolling numbers climbing higher and higher.  I started imagining the what-if’s of our future like not being able to afford food for my children and my husband having to sleep at his office because we couldn’t afford the gas for him to commute.  Within a few seconds, I had my family out on the street with one pair of clothes each and no food.

So, I took one look at my total gas bill and marched inside the store and bought myself a caramel cream doughnut with chocolate frosting and a double chocolate milk.   I almost bought two doughnuts, but a little Holy Spirit self-control kicked in—thank goodness.

Many of the storms in our lives are simply the result of living in this sinful, messed up, broken world.  We can’t blame God for the crises we face.  It’s not God’s fault my gas bill each month is about half my mortgage.  Sometimes the storms we face are because we’ve sinned or have chosen to disobey God and now we’re facing the consequences.  Other times, Satan is at work, trying to discourage and defeat us with trial after trial.

Regardless of whether our difficulties are God-caused or God-allowed, we can trust that He’s always at work for our benefit and for His glory.

In the case of the disciples in Mark 6:45-52, just because they were in a storm, didn’t mean they were out of God’s will or that they had sinned.   It says, “Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida” (verse 45, NIV).  He intended for them to be out on that sea, facing the wind and waves.  Clearly, this particular storm served a purpose in their lives–two of the same purposes that God often has for our life storms.   He uses them to prepare us for our future and to show His glory.

Lessons for the Future

When the disciples faced their first storm on the sea in Mark 4:35-41, Jesus was in the boat with them the whole time, sleeping on a cushion in the stern.  At any time during the storm, they could reach over and wake Him up and that’s what they finally did.  The disciples exhausted their own resources and acknowledged that the storm was too much for them, so they “woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?'” (Mark 4:35-41).

But, this second storm in Mark 6:45-52 was different.  Jesus wasn’t physically in the boat with them.  He had stayed on the other shore and went off by Himself to pray.  So, when the storm got too much for the disciples this time, they couldn’t just do what they did before.   In this storm, they were physically alone.

Jesus uses this second storm to teach them that just because He wasn’t physically in the boat, doesn’t mean He was unaware of what they were facing or unable to save them.  This was a vital lesson for their future!  Every day brought them one step closer to the cross, to His resurrection and His ascension—to a time when they would have to live out everyday life without Jesus talking, walking and eating with them.  Without this lesson in this boat in the storm on the sea, the disciples wouldn’t have survived a single trial after Jesus left them.  They wouldn’t know how to withstand a storm without Jesus physically in their boat.

God doesn’t waste the experiences in our lives–the storms, the trials, the bad days, the annoyances, the interruptions.  All of it.  He can be at work in our lives, teaching us and growing our faith, transforming us to be more like Christ, comforting us so we can later comfort others, as long as we yield those moments to Him and willingly receive the lessons.

For His Glory

Not only can God use our every experience to teach and prepare us for the future, but He is also intentional about being glorified in our every circumstance.

In the case of the disciples, when Jesus walked across the water in the middle of the night and climbed into the boat with them, the storm ceased.  As you can imagine, the disciples “were completely amazed.”  I’d be amazed, too!  In the companion passage in Matthew 14:33, it says, “Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.'”

When God gives us too much to handle, it’s not so we feel defeated or broken or ashamed.  It’s not to humble us or make us fall.  God gives us too much so that we give everything to Him. Then, when He carries the burdens that force us to the ground, He is glorified.  People stand in amazement and see God in us and at work in our lives.  There is no question of whether “Heather did this amazing thing”—No, it can only be God.

That means that instead of praying for the miracles I think I need, I can tell God my problems and simply pray for Him to be glorified in every situation.  That’s not natural for an in-control, planning person like myself.  I am so tempted to pray for specific miracles when I go through tough times and tell the God of the Universe exactly how He can provide for my need.

Praise God that He shows me enough grace not to give me what I ask for!

I’ve slowly learned not to pray for the miracle I think I need, but to pray for God’s glory instead.  When David was surrounded by enemies and running for his life, he so often prayed for God to rescue him or save him for God’s glory and for the honor of God’s name.  In Psalm 31:3, he prayed, “For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, Lead me and guide me.”

Whatever you are facing, you can trust God to know the perfect way to provide for you and to rescue you.  Give your problems to Him and ask Him, “Lord, be glorified in this situation.  Be amazing.  Be awesome.  For Your name’s sake, take me through this storm.  For the glory of Your name, rescue me.  Whatever brings You glory, Lord, that’s what I ask for.”

Today, I saw this kind of faith in a prayer from another family.  I don’t personally know the little girl, Kate McCrae, who is fighting metastatic brain cancer for the second time in her young life.  But, her story has touched my heart.  I pray for her all the time and I follow her family’s updates and prayer requests.  At the end of her post today, Kate’s mom wrote, “We continue to pray that Kate would be healed of this disease, and that Jesus would be glorified through our heartbreak.

What an example of faith for us.  Not many of us will face a crisis in this life as big as this family is facing and yet this hurting mom is willing to place everything in God’s hands and just ask that He be glorified.

Is my daily life too much for me to handle?  All the time.  Is Kate’s cancer too much for her family to handle?  It’s too much for any of us on this earth.  But absolutely nothing is too much for God, and so we hoist the burdens that are too heavy for our shoulders onto His back and let Him carry them and us as well—and then we give Him all the glory.

Please join me in praying for Kate McCrae as she begins radiation treatments for her cancer.  You can follow this link to learn more about her story.


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Even If He Does Not

Today, the sermon at our church was on miracles and how God uses them to bring glory to Himself and to grow faith in us.  It is always exciting to recount what God has done and give testimony, both Biblical and current, to His might and majesty.

But, today was a hard day for me to talk about miracles.  I’ve been praying for two years for a sweet baby girl, born terribly premature.  She’s fought so hard for so long, receiving a liver transplant, undergoing open heart surgery, and more.  Yesterday, though, I got the phone call saying she had passed away in the night.

Yes, it’s a hard day to think about miracles.

It’s not that I think this was too much for God or that He didn’t love this little girl enough to give her another miracle in her already miraculous life.

The hard thing for me is that I’m a question-asker.  In any room at any time, I am usually the one asking the most questions.  I am willing, sometimes even with people I hardly know, to ask them far more than the superficial sanctioned small-talk.  I’m not a “How are you doing?  Where do you live?  How’s the weather been?” kind of person.

Thus, as I’m praying for the family of this tiny girl, I’m bold enough to ask God some tough questions.  It’s at times like these I’m thankful that He is such a big God, that He allows us to lift our pain-filled faces up to His, look straight into His eyes, and ask Him, “Lord, why?  What are you doing in this situation?”

When one of Jesus’s closest friends fell sick, his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick” (John 11:3, NIV).  Surprisingly, Jesus didn’t rush to their home to heal Lazarus.  In fact, by the time Jesus arrived, Martha greeted him along the path:  “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Then Mary went out, fell at His feet and said exactly the same thing,  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32, NIV). Some of the bystanders even bluntly asked, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (Luke 11:37, NIV).

These sisters didn’t hide their confusion and hurt and Jesus didn’t rebuke them for confronting Him.  In this case, Jesus quickly answered their questions.  He called Lazarus up from the tomb and displayed His power over life and death.  He asked a question in return ,“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40, NIV).

The prophet, Habakkuk, wasn’t like most of the other Old Testament prophets, who delivered messages from God.  Instead, much of what Habakkuk wrote is full of questions for God, just as Mary and Martha asked questions of Jesus. In his brief book, Habakkuk asked:

  • How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?  Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? (Habakkuk 1:2-3)
  • Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (Habakkuk 1:13)

After presenting a chapter-long list of complaints to God, Habakkuk says, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (Habakkuk 2:1).  And God answered Him.

For us, sometimes it does become clear why God chooses to answer “no” or “wait” to our heartfelt pleas for a miracle.  I can look back now and see how God used my husband’s job loss and temporary unemployment not just for God’s glory, but ultimately for our blessing and benefit.  What seemed like harm, was actually salvation for us!

In other cases, though, our questions remain unanswered this side of heaven.

When the three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to and worship King Nebuchadnezzar, they faced instant death in the fiery furnace.  The king offered them one last chance to deny their faith and worship him instead.  To this, they replied:

“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

What faith!  The miracles aren’t what we should be seeking; we should be seeking God and hoping for whatever brings Him glory.  If He rescues us, then we praise Him.  Even if God doesn’t give us the miracle we’re looking for or provide for us in the way we expect, we can, like the three men in the fiery furnace, still worship God alone.  We can trust His hand.  We can know that somehow He will be glorified even in our tragedies.

When God answered Habakkuk’s tough questions, the prophet was moved to write what my Bible notes is a “hymn of faith” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NIV).  It’s one of my favorites:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk says, “Even when we’re starving and we have no hope of a harvest, we’ll choose to praise God.”  The Message translates verse 18 as: “Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength.” It’s when we walk through the hard times with God, counting on His rule to prevail, pouring out our questions to Him and learning to trust Him, that He gives us the toughened, sure “feet of deer” and trains us how to “tread on the heights.”


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

What Would Bring Jesus Joy?

Today I read a great Valentine’s verse.  In the past two weeks, I’ve actually come across it three times, so today I’ve been meditating on it because obviously God wants me to pay attention.

The LORD your 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 (Zephaniah 3:17, NKJV).

I love that verse!  There’s two things that encourage me here.

His love

I love how the NKJV says “He will quiet you with His love.”  If I really think about the root cause of so much of my anxieties and worries, what keeps me tossing and turning at night—it’s because I’m not trusting in God to take care of me.  I’m not trusting enough in His love.  When my mind is noisy with anxiety and stress, His love can quiet me.  His love gives me peace.

The NIV translates this as “in his love he will no longer rebuke you,” which to me is such a powerful thought.  When I’m messing up, stressed, or worried, intermingled with those thoughts are thoughts of condemnation.  I say bad things about myself that I would never ever say –or even think–about anyone else.  I think, “You are such a mess.”  “That was so stupid.” “I can’t do any of this.”

But, Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  No condemnation!  God’s great love for me covers over all my mistakes and I am no longer rebuked or condemned.

His Rejoicing

I clearly remember the days when we Christians all wore WWJD bracelets and there were songs, books, sermons and t-shirts asking, “What Would Jesus Do?”  It was catchy and thought-provoking.

Today, though, I’ve been asking myself a slightly different question—What Would Bring Jesus Joy?

Not as catchy, I know.  I’m not trying to sell the rights to make t-shirts or anything.  Still, the Zephaniah verse says, “He will rejoice over you with singing.”  I want Jesus to rejoice over me!

I want my actions to bring Him joy and glory so that people see Christ in me.  In my words and thoughts, I ask as the Psalmist did, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, NIV).

Unfortunately, I fall short of this goal often.  I’ve read many articles and books lately saying that you can’t disappoint God.  I don’t know that I agree with that.  I think we see His disappointment when Moses tried to get out of going to Pharaoh and leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  We see His disappointment in Israel’s perpetual complaining and turning to false gods.  In the New Testament, Jesus was disappointed even in the disciples and their lack of faith and understanding.

Sometimes, He’s probably disappointed in me.  Sometimes, I don’t give Him reason to rejoice.

But, in those moments I can go back to His love.  As a parent, I always love my children, but I am sometimes disappointed in their behavior choices.   Similarly, even if God is saddened by my disobedience, or lack of trust, or my poor reactions to life’s irritations, He never stops loving me and His grace always covers me.

As Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-39:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King