Appropriately Proactive

Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away… (1 Samuel 13:8).

The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns. Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead. 

Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear. Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.

Saul stayed … Saul waited … and as a result, Saul sinned.

Saul ended up being inappropriately reactive, and thus committing a sin. His reaction to his men slipping away, hiding, and defecting was to act in a way that was inappropriate for anyone but the priest.

It’s been said that action has killed its thousands, and reaction has killed its tens of thousands. But if only Saul would have proactively sought God, or proactively formed a battle strategy, or proactively spoke an encouraging word to his men, or proactively moved out with his troops—anything(!) but just sit still—perhaps his legacy as king wouldn’t have been so short lived.

When leaders aren’t appropriately proactive, they risk becoming inappropriately reactive.

A mark of a godly leader is one who is appropriately proactive.

This is part 20 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

A Leader’s Appropriate Anger

…he became very angry (1 Samuel 11:6).

Sometimes we think of godly leaders as always being cool, calm, and collected. But to remain calm when the situation calls for a vigorous response is unbecoming of the title of “godly” leader, and may even be a sin.

The Israelite city of Jabesh-Gilead had been surrounded by the forces of King Nahash. His terms of surrender to these Israelites was unduly harsh: “I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you as a disgrace to all Israel! (v. 2).

When this message got to King Saul, “the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry.” He sent messengers to all of Israel demanding all the able-bodied men to come out to join his army in counter-attacking King Nahash.

Notice that what prompted Saul’s anger was God’s Spirit coming upon him. Since Israel was about to be disgraced, Saul had to act! Also notice this: “And the Lord made the people afraid of Saul’s anger, and all of them came out together as one” (v. 7).

The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is apathy. God expresses strong emotions without sinning. When the Spirit of God made Saul angry at the oppression and potential disgrace of His people, Saul acted. To not act—to shrug his shoulders in apathy and say, “That’s not my problem”—would have been a sin.

Sometimes Christians want to suppress a strong feeling of hate or anger. But when God hates something or is angry at something, we would do well to pay attention to that and feel and act as God would have us act. The Bible tells us not to sin in our anger, but it never tells us not to be angry. 

Anything that is keeping someone from God’s love or God’s presence should arouse our righteous anger to do righteous things.

A mark of a godly leader is one who knows the right things to hate.

This is part 19 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

Godly Leaders Must Do Hard Things

“Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

Leaders have to do hard things. The responsibility is theirs, and the team is imploring their leader to take the responsibility to lead!

Ezra had to deal with a difficult issue. The issue was intermarriage between the Israelites and pagan nations. To complicate matters, Ezra discovered that “the hand of the leaders and rulers had been foremost in this trespass” (Ezra 9:2). I would guess these leaders had committed the sin of commission (intermarrying themselves or allowing their children to do so), and of omission (not speaking out against trespassers).

But those “who trembled at the words of the God of Israel” were greatly grieved at this national sin (v. 4).

Ezra’s first response was a good one: he fasted and prayed, confessing the sins of the people and identifying himself with them (notice the use of “we” in his prayer). Ezra knew there was a window of opportunity for revival that was about to close, so he must act quickly (vv. 5-15).

Prayer is a great start, but after prayer there must be action: “Arise … and do it”!

I am sure looking transgressors in the eye—especially those who were leading men and women in the community—and calling out their sin wasn’t an easy thing nor a pleasant thing for Ezra to do, but it had to be done.

A mark of a godly leader is one who does the hard good things that must be done.

Ezra doing the hard good thing opened the door for God’s blessing to fall on the people. This is still true for godly leaders today.

My prayer—Lord, strengthen me to “arise and do it” when the hard good things must be done.

This is Part 2 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

4 Thoughts To Help Prayer Become A Daily Habit

ImportunityI have shared several strategies about prayer throughout January (you can read them here, here, here, and here). One danger in putting these steps into practice in our life in what I call one-and-done. We do it once and think we’ve done all we need to do.

Scientists tell us at a minimum it takes 21 days in a row to make a habit. Jesus went even farther than that in talking about prayer in Matthew 7:7. When we look at the three aspects of the verbs ask, seek, and knock in this verse, it would be better stated like this—

You need to keep on asking, and keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. This is not good advice or a helpful suggestion, but it is vital for your spiritual life. So after you have asked, sought, and knocked, then do it again, and again, and again.

Matthew Henry said it this way: “Here is a precept in three words to the same purport, Ask, Seek, Knock; that is, in one word, ‘Pray; pray often; pray with sincerity and seriousness; pray, and pray again; make conscience of prayer, and be constant in it; make a business of prayer, and be earnest in it.’”

In the English language the dictionary has a word for this: importunity = being urgent and persistent, sometimes annoyingly so!

I believe importunity requires these four characteristics:

  1. Trust. Remember Jesus taught us to pray Our Father. We have to come to Him again and again and again trusting that He loves us, that He alone is the Source of our help, and that He wants to help us (Matthew 6:8). We also have to trust that our Father wants to give us the very best (Matthew 7:7-11).
  2. Perseverance. I love the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-5. This determined lady kept coming back again and again. Henry Ward Beecher said, “The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is, that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”
  3. Creativity. One of my favorite New Testament stories is about a mother who is not only as persistent as the widow in Luke 18, but she is creative in her prayer as well (Mark 7:24-30). This lady bantered with Jesus in a way that I believe caused Christ to throw back His head and laugh! This is not bargaining with God, as Oswald Chambers wrote, “Repetition in intercessory importunity is not bargaining, but the joyous insistence of prayer.”
  4. Action. Paul was looking for an open door to preach the Gospel, but he didn’t sit still while he waited for God to say “yes” (Acts 16:6-10).

Keep these in mind as you make importunity a key part of your prayer life. And check out the full video of my message on importunity in prayer here—

Links & Quotes

link quote

“To do an evil action is base; to do a good action, without incurring danger, is common enough; but it is the part of a good man to do great and noble deeds, though he risks everything.” —Plutarch

“A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends.” —George Washington

Jon Bloom reminds us that your Bible is a gold mine! “The Bible contains over 31,000 verses—so much gold and so little time. We’ll never exhaust the gold it contains during our brief lives, but we must discover all we can.”

Dr. Steve Turley on the consequences from families that skip church for sports.

Another good reason to be involved in a local church. “We can’t really experience salvation by ourselves. By its very nature, it reaches out toward others in community,” say Ben Sternke. Read more from his post here.

I am shocked (I type this with great sarcasm!)—Planned Parenthood has donated to (bribed?) several Democrats who are on the committee to investigate Planned Parenthood’s murderous crimes.

Poetry Saturday—Lost Day

Jacob Bobart

Think that day lost whose descending Sun
Views from thy hand no noble action done.
—Jacob Bobart

Links & Quotes

link quote

“There is a sacred art in being able to handle the shield of faith. Let me explain to you how that can be. You will handle it well if you are able to quote the promises of God against the attacks of your enemy.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant are more learned than their ears.” —William Shakespeare

“It is vain to expect any advantage from our profession of the truth, if we be not sincerely just and honest in our actions.” —Archbishop Sharpe

John Stonestreet discusses the dangers of rushing to legalize marijuana. Also check out my book review of Going To Pot by William Bennett, and some quotes from that book here.

Max Lucado reminds us, “God’s grace is greater than your failures.” Read more about how God uses failures.

Detroit Tigers fans know this is obvious: Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker should be in the baseball Hall of Fame!

“Science is finally catching up with the truth and its findings are simple: porn is harmful. Did you know that porn can mess with your head, seriously rewiring the actual chemistry of your brain?” Read more in this Fight The New Drug’s post.

Look at the cold, hard data: strong marriages and families build a strong economy.

%d bloggers like this: