Caving In

Or should we call it making the ‘popular’ choice?March 30 2015 Caving In

In 1 Samuel, Saul disobeyed God by keeping some of the ‘stuff’ that they took from the Amalekites after defeating them.  When Samuel pointed this out to Saul, Saul rationalized the sin by telling Samuel that they did this so they could give the best of the sheep and cattle to God.

Samuel then tells Saul that the Lord didn’t want the burnt sacrifices as much as he wanted obedience.  As a result of Saul’s disobedience and rebellion, God was rejecting Saul as king.

Well, NOW Saul admitted that the real reason he kept the plunder was because he was afraid of how his men would react if he destroyed it all like God wanted him to do.

Saul didn’t trust God.  He didn’t believe God had his back.  He got all wrapped up in being a hotshot king that everyone looked up to and he didn’t want to put any of this hero-worship into jeopardy.

So Saul made the ‘popular’ choice rather than the obedient one.

Do we ever do that?  Are we ever more concerned about what other people think than what God thinks?  Do we fail to take the more Godly position on issues sometimes because it may not go over well with others?  What will people think?

We probably all do.  Maybe even without realizing it.

Our goal is that this happens less and less as we make obedience to God an increasingly higher priority in our hearts and minds.

God trumps popularity.

Every time.

We love you, Abba Father and we want to show you our love through our obedience.

Sword Fighting Class – Look Intently and Be Blessed

Consider if pure joy, my dear brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1 1 - 9 If anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives wisdom to all without fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like the wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.  But the one who is rich, should take pride in his low position, for he will pass away like the wildflower.  For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed.  In the same way, a rich man will fade away even as he goes about his business.James 1 part 2

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor can he tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin and sin, when it is full-grown, give birth to death.

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruit of all he created.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this; everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word of truth that is planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourself.  Do what it says.

Anyone who listens to the word and does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

We are almost to the end of James 1!  Great job!  Here’s this week’s verse:

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard but doing it – that man will be blessed in what he does.

When we hear God’s word and we let the Holy Spirit direct us and correct us through it, we are blessed.  Every part of God’s revelation to us has a purpose in our lives.

As we live a life obedient to God’s word, he has more and more room to bless us.  He becomes increasingly more precious to us the closer we walk with him.

What we say is not nearly as important as what we do.

Please help us be doers of your word, dear Father.

 

Kind of Sad

As we read through the last chapters of Judges, we see that the Israelites were trying to take care of problems and issues but they were still making bad decisions. March 24 2015 Kind of Sad

The tribes were fighting against each other and almost anihilated the Benjamites.

After all the other tribes made a vow against the Benjamites, they quickly proceeded to figure out a ‘work around’ to the vow.

They were obviously struggling.

And its kind of sad.

But – think about it – they didn’t have the word of God written out for them like we do.  The Bible I have opened on my lap right now is a huge blessing.  I can read God’s word anytime I want.

They also didn’t have the Holy Spirit living inside of them like we do.  What a difference!  We have a constant companion who will guide us and comfort us and reveal the truth to us and correct us – we just need to listen and do our part.

I can’t imagine trying to live a life that pleases God without having the Holy Spirit.

It would probably look a lot like what the Israelites went through in the Old Testament.

Thank you, dear Father, for the blessings of your word and your Holy Spirit in our lives.

Caleb is one of my Heroes

I want to be like Caleb.  Every time the Bible mentions him, he is faithfully following God.

He and Joshua were in the group of spies Moses sent to the Promised Land.  They were the only men of the group that said the Israelites should take the land.  They believed that God would give them victory over the large warriors that inhabited the land and all of the huge fortified cities.  Because of their strong faith, Joshua and Caleb were the only 2 people from their generation who actually got to go into the Promised Land.March 13 2015 Caleb is my hero

Caleb is not mentioned often in the Bible but, when he is, he is always doing what pleases God.  He is always believing in God, obeying God and is willing to stand up for his beliefs against opposition.

What a great role-model!  That is why he is one of my heroes in the Bible.

He isn’t one of the main players in history.  But, when it counts, he could always be counted on.

We can’t all live the epic life of faith in the spotlight that Abraham and Moses lived.  They were central characters right in the middle of what God was doing.  Most of us are called to be like Caleb – on the sidelines but faithfully playing our part in what God is doing.  We need to consistently stay on course to complete the purpose God has given us – always ready to support the Abrahams and Moses’ of our time who are up on stage, leading and also just trying to obey the call that God has put on their lives.  We encourage them.  We pray for them.

As we travel this road of faith together…..

always ready to listen to God.

always ready to obey.

Faithful.

Please help us follow Caleb’s example, all for your glory, Abba Father.

Blessed When Others Give

Ruth, a Moabite woman, decided to go back to her mother-in-law’s homeland with her after both of their husbands died.  We read in Ruth 2 that, when they got back to Bethlehem, Ruth went to the field of her clansmen to pick the leftover grain.march 22 2015 blessed by other's extras

This reminded me of the section we read in Deuteronomy a couple of weeks ago where God commanded the Israelites to leave the excess grain in the field after harvesting – they were not to go back over the field.  This excess was for the poor, the strangers and the widows in their community.

Now we see Ruth and Naomi benefitting from this command.

How interesting!

Especially considering that Ruth would become the great-grandmother of King David and this puts her in the lineage of Jesus.  She was an important person in our family of faith.

And God provided for her through other people giving away their excess.

We know God still does this today.  When we give ‘stuff’ away, others benefit.  God provides for others using the stuff that we clean out of our closets or our sheds or our garages.

That reminds me – there are a couple of tubs of ‘stuff’ in my shed I really need to go through.  I haven’t thought of those tubs since we moved in 4 years ago.  There might be some good things I can pass along as a blessing to someone else.  We obviously don’t use it  :)

Please open our eyes, Abba Father.

It’s So Easy

March 17 2015 Its so EasyIt’s so easy to listen to the selfish, sinful thoughts that come into our minds.  Satan’s team is also always there – encouraging us to focus on ourselves and what we want.

We take our eyes off of God.

We wander away.

It doesn’t take any effort at all.

This is what happened to the Israelites after Joshua died.  They didn’t finish the job of completely take over the Promised land.  Despite all of their promises to God, they let the pagans continue to live in the land.

It was easier.

Some of the pagans were forced into being servants for the Israelites but they stayed…

along with all of their idols and false gods.

This began a period of decline for the Israelite nation.

Yes, the idols became snares for them.

Yes, the false gods became traps.

The Israelites disobeyed God and began to experience significant adversity in their lives as a result of their bad choices.

Just like we do when we choose to disobey….when we make decisions without consulting God and his truth….when we focus on our own desires rather than God’s.

Fortunately, we read over and over in the Old Testament that the Israelites also recognized their rebellion and repented.  They turned away from the things that were trapping them.  They turned back to God – just like we need to do when we recognize our own rebellion.  Our own sin.

Dear Father, Please guide us back to you whenever we wander.

Snares and Traps

Do we have people in our lives who create snares and traps for us?  Do they influence us to do things we shouldn’t do?  To say things we shouldn’t say?

Joshua warned the Israelites in Joshua 23 not to associate themselves with the pagan survivors who still lived in the Promised Land.  He reminded them that God would not accept this behavior and it would cause them to perish.March 15 2015 snares and traps

These relationships would become whips on their backs – causing them pain and anguish.

These relationships would become thorns in their eyes – clouding their ability to see the truth and walk in the light.

The decisions we make about who to associate with are just as important today.  These relationship can either encourage us to grow on our path of faith or they will become stumbling blocks to our growth.  These relationships will either push us onward as we run this race of faith or they will ensnare us, holding back the transformation God has planned for us as he molds us to become more like Jesus.

We make the choice.

Please help us choose wisely, dear Father.

The Sun Stood Still

The sun stopped in the middle of the sky for almost an entire day so the Israelites could have more time to battle and win over the Amorites.March 12 2015 the sun stood still

The sun stopped.

So the earth had to stop revolving.

And the universe stopped its regular course.

The Creator of the Universe said “stop” and everything stopped.

I love these instances in the Bible where God exercises his total control over all things.  It is such a clear reminder of who he is.  How omnipotent he is.

Later in the Bible, we will read about how Jesus calmed the storm.  The wind and the waves stopped when he gave the command.  Because Jesus was in control.

We will also read of Jesus walking on the water.  Because he created the water and he can make it do whatever he wants.gdtDSC_0639

Last year at this time, I was in Israel – on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee when the wind started picking up.  It whipped through the open boat bringing a shimmer  of excitement.  How easy it was to imagine the King of the Universe calming the wind or walking out on the water to our boat!

Thank you, Abba Father.

Our Father God is in total control of our day today.

Thank you, Abba Father.

The earth continues to revolve because that is his desire.

Thank you, Abba Father.

The bright sun rose in the sky this morning because of God’s love and faithfulness to us.

Thank you, Abba Father.

I will take my next breath because my Father God is making that possible.  He provides the air.  He provides life to this body.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

 

Sword Fighting Class – Don’t Waste Your Time

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like the wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.James 1 1 -9

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.  But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position for he will pass away like a wildflower.  For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed.  In the same way, a rich man will fade away even as he goes about his business.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because, when he has stood the test, he will receive the Crown of Life that God has promised to all who love him.James 1 part 2

When tempted, no one should say ‘God is tempting me’.  For God cannot be tempted by evil nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin and sin, when it is full-grown, give birth to death.

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly light who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Therefore, put off all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word of truth planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word and deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”

Yeah!  With God’s help we are doing an awesome job of memorizing James 1!  The next two verses go together so here they are:

Anyone who hears the word and does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

Useless.

Worthless.

A waste of time.

That’s what we’re doing if we’re listening to and reading God’s word but not letting him change us and transform us through it.

Please open our heart and minds to your transforming power, dear Father.

 

 

It’s Our History

At this time last year, I had the privilege of visiting Israel.  Other people who had taken the trip told me that it would change how I read the Bible for the rest of my life.

They were so right.

As we’re reading this famous story of the walls of Jericho falling down, I remember how it felt to be sitting on a hill in the new Jericho.  The old Jericho was cursed so the new Jericho was built close to the old city but not at the same place.aaaDSC_0310

Our tour guide was Dr. Woodrow Kroll who was leading his 50th group through Israel.  He stood in front of us on a hill with his back to the city (picture) so we could look down at this land promised to the Israelites thousands of years ago.  He read from the Bible the historical account – the marching, the yelling, the trumpet blowing and, finally, the walls tumbling down.

Sometimes when we hear about the ‘stories’ of the Bible or read one of these historical events that have become a well-known Children’s Bible story, we can start to think that these stories are folklore, handed down through the generations.

That’s not true about the Bible.  The Bible is a historical account of events that happened.  The miracles in the Bible actually took place, they weren’t computer generated like they are in the movies.aaDSC_0307

Archeological findings continue to prove the historical truth of the Bible.  The amount of conflicting archeological findings is growing smaller as more and more things are being discovered that verify the historical accuracy of the Bible.  They just haven’t found everything yet.  When they do, there will be no more conflicts.

The Bible is not filled with ‘stories’.  It is history – our history as children of Abraham.  Children of the faith.  The places are there.  The proof is there.

If you ever get a chance to go, pack your bags.  It will change how you read the Bible…forever.

Thank you, Abba Father.