Author Archives: Jim Gavigan

Nehemiah 11:22-13:22

Nehemiah is one of my favorite books in the Old Testament and the Bible as a whole. The courage, faith, and shrewdness that Nehemiah shows in this story is one I greatly admire. We did a study of this book at the church we belonged to when I first launched my business in late 2016. I took great inspiration from Nehemiah, as against all human odds and tremendous opposition, he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. I wanted to do build something great when I started my business.

To set the stage for what I am going to write about here, the wall had been completed. Nehemiah had organized great celebrations to commemorate God’s faith in building the wall in an almost impossible timeline and against incredible odds. The people who built it, along with Nehemiah, dedicated the wall to God. Nehemiah organized everyone and gave everyone orders on what to do next and how to conduct business and live life. He then returned to King Artaxerxes to fulfill his post.

After some time, he returned to find the people back to some unhealthy patterns (all from Nehemiah 13, NLT):

 6But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, Neh. 5:14–16for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, 7and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in 5preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. 8And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. 9Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

“Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their place. 12Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse. 13And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouse Shelemiah the priest and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah; and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were considered faithful, and their task was to distribute to their brethren.

14Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services!

15In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. 16Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

17Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? 18Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

As you can tell, Nehemiah was furious because his orders (God’s orders via Nehemiah) had not been followed. What isn’t stated was why the people drifted from his orders. Was it willful disobedience? Complacence? Were the distracted or discouraged by something and slowly drifted? It is hard to say.

Last fall was a very difficult one for me and for the business. We had much going on. I lost an employee to a customer as they hired him away from us, which took away almost any hope of being profitable for the year. We lost a potentially large contract that would have taken us to the “next level” and it was one that I truly thought we were going to deliver on. My mother in law was in bad health. My oldest son was still adrift. We were (and still are) trying to find a church where we feel we should belong. I became like the people in the above story. I had drifted from the things that God had told me to do that would make me successful in His eyes. I wasn’t studying as much. I wasn’t praying as much. I was distracted by other activities like golf and fishing. The events going on in the country, the world, and within God’s people were weighing me down. I was far away from the course that God wanted me on.

On the business side, we had had two great years and it wasn’t like I didn’t know what to do, nor had I forgotten what it took to get there. Maybe I just started thinking we had “made it” and the business would just continue to grow. I had gotten complacent over time, maybe even a bit arrogant. I had done so much, the “wall was built,” yet it all has to be maintained and cultivated. It wasn’t like I suddenly forgot what to do.

For me, I think it was a slow drifting away from the things I knew were the best for me and there were certainly some body blows to my ego and my psyche. It hurt, but it was a slow drifting away toward complacence that was hurting me. Every discouraging event weakened my will.

I didn’t really have a Nehemiah to come in and assess my life, my business, and all of my issues. I wish I did. I wish someone would have come in sooner and called me out on things that I wasn’t doing as much as I should have. I wish someone would have called out the distractions and the things that were turning to “idols” in my life without knowing it (well, Kristina did a few times, as good wives do!). I had to get back on track with God Himself and a small circle of people. I had to admit to myself that I needed to make a course correction.

I think for all of us, especially in these crazy times we live in (which aren’t unprecedented by the way – I have to keep reminding myself of that and the Bible reminds me as well), it is easy to get discouraged, distracted, and complacent. It is what the enemy wants. He wants us away from our lifeblood. It isn’t easy to come back from a distracted state, but it can be done. What we have to guard against at all cost is willful disobedience, which can be a real danger to us. That is much harder to get back on track from.

So, what do you think happened with the people of Jerusalem? Was it willful disobedience? Or, were they just like their ancestors who were delivered out of Egypt and then complained at every turn just because things weren’t turning out how they had hoped? How about you? Have you been blessed mightily in your life only to find yourself feeling down, bitter, or nonchalant to what is going on in your life? Do you need a Nehemiah – someone sold out and on fire for God to come in and make a tough assessment and tell you what you need to hear whether you want to or not? Is there someone that you need to lovingly hold accountable for something like Nehemiah did here? I will let you ponder that.

Dear Lord, I pray for all of those that read these words. I pray that they take an honest assessment of where they stand with You and with what they are doing in their life. Are they and we obeying You the way we should? You have brought me back from dark places more times than I can count and yet I still let my fire for you burn too low at times. I am praying that my track back toward where You need and want me to be continues. I pray that the right person or people are encouraged and challenged by these words. For those in the right place with You, I ask that they stand on guard at all times. The enemy never quits, never sleeps, and is always out to destroy our relationship with You. I am sorry for drifting away and forgetting Your majesty at times. Help me stay focused on You and away from things that are not good for me. In Jesus’s mighty name I pray, Amen!

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2 Chronicles 32-35:19

There are two observations/lessons that I take from today’s readings. The first one is as follows (all translations are NLT):

Then Hezekiah encouraged them by saying: 7“Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! 8He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.

2 Chronicles 32:6-8

There are those days that I see what is going on in our crazy world and forget Who is on my side. I can get afraid or discouraged at people and events that are happening. All that does is distract me from having an eternal perspective. It also makes me forget just how big God is and how I need to lean in to Him when the world (or even my little piece of it) seems to be spinning out of control.

In the above, the Assyrian army was gathering to invade Jerusalem after having already entered Judah. The people were afraid and felt overwhelmed. King Sennacherib of Assyria was executing psychological warfare on the people of Jerusalem and was mocking them and mocking God Himself.

The words above were the things that the people of Jerusalem needed to hear at that moment. There never was a battle, as God sent an angel to destroy the army:

20Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to God in heaven. 21And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers. So Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace to his own land. And when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword.

22That is how the Lord rescued Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the others who threatened them. So there was peace throughout the land. 

2 Chronicles 32:20-21

So, sometimes, the battle isn’t even ours. We need to call out to the Lord and ask for help as that IS our battle and He takes care of the rest.

The second observation/lesson is how just because we may show faith and do the right things and model that for our children, they may not choose to follow. This is a difficult one for me, as I have what I believe is a prodigal son in my oldest son, Thomas. The Bible has many stories of people like me, who didn’t come from a home where faith was modeled, yet who had great faith. There are also stories of people who came out of great families of faith who decided to go the opposite way. Two examples are below.

1Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. 3He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had broken down. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them.

2 Chronicles 33:1-3

It isn’t like Manasseh hadn’t witnessed the great things his father had done, but maybe he was too young to fully understand what had been done and he likely hadn’t lived through the crucible above. I think when life is good and there is peace and comfort, it can make people drift away from God as they forget what has truly brought the peace and prosperity.

It takes serious trouble to bring about a galvanized faith. Until I was 30, I was not a Christian. I never believed that there wasn’t a God, but I just never knew really who Jesus was and is and just had no interest in Christianity because I was “good enough.” Maybe Manasseh was there – he just didn’t think it was important and people got in his ear at a young, impressionable age to rebuild the pagan shrines. Clearly, there were still people in that culture who didn’t believe in God and wanted to worship their idols, despite witnessing the peace and prosperity under King Hezekiah.

Much like me, it took incredibly difficult times in Manasseh’s life for God to be invited into his life.

10The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings. 11So the Lord sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon. 12But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. 13And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!

2 Chronicles 33:10-13

I still remember the week I professed my faith in Jesus. It was literally during one of the lowest times in my life. I was ashamed, disappointed, and hopeless. I am not sure I cried out to God, but He sure showed up in a big way in my life and saved my life and my marriage.

I think often that when we have it too good, that we forget why we have it so good. It is all because God has chosen that time for us. Then, it takes those moments when things aren’t so good where God is acting as the silversmith and scooping the impurities off the top until He sees His reflection in us. It isn’t pleasant, but it is often necessary.

I am praying that Thomas becomes Manasseh and that his crucible moment(s) aren’t too bad. God has shown me some of his future and I know it is bright. Even though it looks dark right now, I am hopeful and expecting great things for Thomas.

I am also praying for Thomas’s offspring, if God chooses to bless him, as I don’t want them to end up like Manasseh’s son:

21Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. 22He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Manasseh, had done. He worshiped and sacrificed to all the idols his father had made. 23But unlike his father, he did not humble himself before the Lord. Instead, Amon sinned even more.

24Then Amon’s own officials conspired against him and assassinated him in his palace. 25But the people of the land killed all those who had conspired against King Amon, and they made his son Josiah the next king.

2 Chronicles 33:21-23

In tying all of this together, I am seeing that I need to make sure I am remembering Who is in charge at all times, that I am praising Him, and modeling the right behavior. I need to encourage others that the Lord is near and we are not being forsaken and that everything happens for a reason (Romans 8:28). I need to continually pray for both of our boys so that they are protected and so that God calls both of them to be the men they are designed to be. I cannot be complacent with these lessons, as none of us know when our final day is here nor do we know when THE final day is upon us. So, we need to be mindful daily of Whose we are and be encouraging those that have been placed in front of us that God is near to all of us.

Dear Lord, I am humbled when I read your word. You have shown your mighty power in so many ways in Your recorded word. We can see it in our own lives, yet sometimes we so easily get distracted from Your majesty and how incredible you are. Lord, let us never forget that you are firmly in control and that everything happens for a reason. Help us to do everything we can to make sure that the ones coming after us in our families follow You. None of this is easy, but with You, all things are possible.

In Jesus’s might name I pray, Amen.

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1 Chronicles 8:29 – 11:21

13So Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord. He failed to obey the Lord’s command, and he even consulted a medium 14instead of asking the Lord for guidance. So the Lord killed him and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

1 Chronicles 10:13-14

5When Saul saw the vast Philistine army, he became frantic with fear. 6He asked the Lord what he should do, but the Lord refused to answer him, either by dreams or by sacred lots28:6 Hebrew by Urim. or by the prophets. 7Saul then said to his advisers, “Find a woman who is a medium, so I can go and ask her what to do.”

1 Samuel 28:5-7

For some reason, I have just glossed over Saul consulting a medium when I have read through this part of the Bible. Interestingly enough, Saul had decreed the no one was allowed to consult mediums earlier in his reign. Literally, this decree is documented just a few verses up in 1 Samuel 18.

So, what would drive a man to do the thing he deemed no one under his charge could do? I am going to speculate here, as I don’t know what drove Saul to do this. My opinion is that he felt a tremendous amount of pressure as a leader. He was facing overwhelming odds with the Philistine army in front of him and he was absolutely panicked since God wouldn’t give him any advice. He was desperate for an answer – any answer, from anywhere.

He had drifted away from God, and likely deep down he knew it. He was likely trying to use God as a “genie” and saying “Just help me God! Give me an answer to my prayer!” I think that this is a danger we all face, especially those of us in leadership positions as the consequences can be worse. Sometimes, our motives are completely wrong, or we have drifted so far away that God chooses to remain silent because our motives aren’t sincere. This is likely where Saul was – his motives weren’t at all sincere.

There have been numerous times over the last 5 years where I didn’t know if my business, Industrial Insight, was going to make it. There certainly have been temptations to do things on my own and not consult God. Honestly, there have been a few times where I took an action and THEN asked God to bless it, but that is another story. However, I couldn’t imagine driving down SR16 5 miles from our house to a house that advertises psychic services (I rarely see cars there, so I wonder how many people go to actually see this person). I haven’t been tempted to consult my horoscope or some astrological prediction, either. I was big into astrology before I became a Christian and literally didn’t even do so much as read a horoscope after that, so that could have become a temptation for me I guess.

There have been times where God was silent with me, often for just a time, but He has always answered my prayers, even if it wasn’t what I was praying for nor in the time I was asking for. There were times that doors closed on me/us and I am convinced God was simply protecting me/us. There were times I heard “no” or “not yet” but I am not sure I ever got to such a panicked state that I wouldn’t/couldn’t wait on an answer.

So again, I go back to what drives a man, who was once a man of God, to compromise so much? I am not sure, but the lesson here is that even when I am facing what I believe are dire circumstances, that I should trust God, even if he is silent and I can’t hear Him. Maybe I am the impediment to our relationship, or maybe He is is just choosing to be silent for a reason I have yet to understand. We have to be careful to not compromise, just because we are facing tremendous pressure. It is in those moments of trust in silence that likely galvanize our relationship with God and our faith in Him.

Dear Lord, help to stay steadfast to Your will in these crazy times. Let me never compromise my trust in you and search out people and things that could lead me away from Your will. In Jesus’s mighty name, Amen.

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1 Kings 14-17

24Then the woman told Elijah, “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”

1 Kings 17:24, NLT

Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, the widow said. It is interesting as for many days, Elijah had been hanging out with her and her son. The widow and her son were literally down to their last meal and she was picking up some sticks to start the fire to bake the meal, when Elijah happened upon her.

12But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”

1 Kings 17:12, NLT

This was in response to Elijah needing a cup of water and then saying “oh, and can you bring me a bite of bread too?” So, Elijah tells her to do exactly what she was going to do, except make his bread first, and in so doing, God would make sure there was always enough left to make another meal. This goes on for many days and yet she still hasn’t figured out that this is a man of God? It is only after “some time later,” so maybe many more days, weeks, months even, that her son got sick and died. She got frustrated and vented to Elijah that it was his fault that her son had died:

8Then she said to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”

1 Kings 17:8

Elijah takes her son to an upper room, sprawls over the boy three times while praying and pleading to God for God to bring her son back to life, which mercifully, He did.

So, here we are, back to the line “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God!” I am trying to figure out what this dear woman was thinking. This guy shows up out of nowhere and she basically now has just enough to eat every day because He said she would. That is supernatural. There aren’t many choices on what to think here. It sounds like she had almost convinced herself that this was a man of God, but she was still not 100% sure.

I think we can all relate to this woman. You see, sometimes God puts people in our lives who may not do supernatural things, but who give us just what we need when we need it. Sometimes, God answers a prayer. Other times, he puts us in a situation where we are at exactly the right moment to minister to someone else. He uses every person and every situation to mold us into who He wants us to be. Sometimes, that is unpleasant, and many times, the unpleasant outcome isn’t a punishment, but a tool.

Yet, how many times do we catch ourselves with unbelief? If we believe in Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit, then why do we keep doubting? We start to walk on water like Peter did on the sea of Galilee, and then we get those same doubts and start to sink. How many times does God have to prove Himself to us before we really catch on and have ZERO doubts?

I remember a pastor who used to tell us he was preaching his sermons to himself and hoping we would get something out of it. This blog is me writing to myself and hoping you will get something out of it. I doubt, I pout, and I sometimes kick and scream when things aren’t going my way. I lose a job, a business deal, a friend, etc. and it’s “woe is me!” Why have I still not figured out that it is all part of His plan and He knows better than me? I am just like this woman with one of the few prophets of God living with her and yet she doubts what she is seeing. I am her. I am sure God just shakes His head as he proves time and time again that He knows what is best for me.

Maybe one day I will learn.

Nah, probably not….

Dear Jesus, I am sorry for those times I doubt you and the Father and that you know what is best for me. You give me and us just what I and we need right when we need it. No more than we need, and no less. You prove yourself faithful over and over again. Please let me learn to have the type of faith that moves mountains. In Jesus’s mighty name I pray, Amen.

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1 Samuel 30:11 – 2 Samuel 2

“21Then David returned to the brook Besor and met up with the 200 men who had been left behind because they were too exhausted to go with him. They went out to meet David and his men, and David greeted them joyfully. 22But some evil troublemakers among David’s men said, “They didn’t go with us, so they can’t have any of the plunder we recovered. Give them their wives and children, and tell them to be gone.”

23But David said, “No, my brothers! Don’t be selfish with what the Lord has given us. He has kept us safe and helped us defeat the band of raiders that attacked us. 24Who will listen when you talk like this? We share and share alike—those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment.” 25From then on David made this a decree and regulation for Israel, and it is still followed today.”

1 Samuel 30:21-25, NLT

Sometimes, we want to be the ones out in battle, whether physically or spiritually. We want to be like David and his mighty men, conquering things for and with our God. However, sometimes, it is our job to stay back, out of the actual “fight.”

In this case, it was men that were too exhausted for the fight, so they stayed behind and guarded some equipment. David gave them the same honor that he bestowed on his other men who had been in battle with him. Despite some evil men who had fought not wanting to reward these 200 men who had stayed behind, David knew it took ALL of them to win the battle and to have a successful unit.

Being an avid sports fan, I have seen some teams (not a ton mind you) that have praised the men and women who were bench warmers, on the practice squad, the equipment managers, and/or all of the ones behind the scenes who never hit a home rum, made a 3 pointer, scored a touchdown, or scored a goal. Yet, these are people that help make a team go and keep things together.

Maybe you are one of those in the background at work, in your family, or in a ministry who isn’t necessarily out on the front lines where you can be seen, but make no mistake, your role IS vital to the mission. I have had forward facing roles in business for years, and there was always support staff who made my life easier and let me focus on the task at hand. I always have tried to recognize those people and tell them that they were appreciated.

I am the leader of our household, but there is ZERO doubt in my mind that my wife Kristina is the glue to our family, even thought I am the sole financial provider for our family. I think sometimes she gets discouraged and I remind her that her role in being the glue to our household and the influence she has had over our boys is way more important than the roles I have played.

I have had front line ministry roles and have been in the background at churches we have belonged to. I realized that all of the roles were important in God’s mission in that church. I have been on sports teams where I was the “star” to some degree. Yet, it took all of us to win games.

I have tried, although I am sure I have missed in this area too, to praise those people in the background. I encourage you to do so as well if you are in a role out on the “front lines.” You will be amazed by how much impact it has. I am sure David’s words and actions had incredible impact on those 200 men.

Here is the reality, there isn’t always a David to hold back the people who mistreat you and think you are undeserving just because you are operating in the background. However, there is One who notices all and don’t forget that. You are honoring Him. So don’t be discouraged. He notices and is preparing a reward for you.

Lord, we don’t always play a “front and center” role. Sometimes, you have called us to work in the background. Some of us, you have just given us a personality to stay behind, stay out of the spotlight. Let us not lose heart when imperfect people don’t recognize what we do. Help us understand that You see and appreciate us. Amen.

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