High Walls

When the Israelites entered the Promised land, its cities all had high, fortified gates and walls.  This was because the culture of the time was very destructive.  Wars included total extermination or enslavement of the men, women and children.  This was the culture that the people of the time lived in and understood.  Later, we will see God start to change this thinking with the Israelites as he made specific laws about how to treat each other and how to respect the belongs of other people.Feb 15 b 2015 high walls

So, when we see the Israelites totally annihilating a city, that was in line with how people dealt with these issues at the time.  It seems extremely excessive to us and hard to understand.  It was the only thing the Israelites understood and that’s why we see God using these methods to complete his will.

Getting rid of cultures that were committed to worshipping pagan gods should have also helped the Israelites avoid being enticed by the allure these other gods had…..but we read that often the Israelites still strayed and paid the penalty for their lack of commitment to the One True God.  God was trying to teach the Israelites to hold themselves separate from the pagans.  But they didn’t always get it.  Sound familiar?

All of the fighting and devastation in the Old Testament sounds gory and unforgiving to us…..until we remember the righteousness and holiness of God.  He is perfect.  He is always right.

Just because we don’t understand all of it doesn’t make it not true.  When we believe that God is in total control and that he is perfect, we can accept the reality of God working in this savage time as the right thing to do.

This is where faith kicks in.

Our 3 1/2 pound brain is limited.

God is limitless.

So we accept and believe….

OR we get all hung up on things that are beyond our comprehension.

Dear Father God, We believe you are perfect and righteous and holy.  Please help our faith grow in the areas where we don’t understand – in the areas where we will never understand.  We thank you for your truth.  In the redeeming name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Sword Fighting Class – Become Stable

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when 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 2-5

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 sea.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;” 

Great job!  We’re memorizing James 1 one verse at a time and we’re adding verse 8 this week:

‘he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Double – minded.  Changing his mind over and over.  Not sure.  Not confident.  Not grounded.

Unstable.

So, how do we become stable?  When the waves of life crash all around us.  Over us.  Into us.  Shoving us.  Frustrating us.  Making us unhappy.  Tired.

God tells us to believe and not doubt.

Believe he is the creator of the universe.  Believe that he is in control.  Believe that he wants the best for us. Believe that he sent his Son to save us.  Believe that he gives us wisdom when we ask for it.

Believe – not doubt.

Become stable.  Sure.  Confident.  Grounded on the Rock.

Thank you, dear Father.

Knowing…but not Believing

Satan and his team always knew exactly who Jesus was when they saw him.  They recognized Jesus right away and call him the Holy One of God when other people around Jesus were still asking him if he was Elijah or a great prophet.  The people in Nazareth tried to kill Jesus because he told them he was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesies about a Messiah.October 24 2014 knowing but not believing

But Satan and his spirits never had any doubts about who Jesus was.

They knew… but they never believed in him.

We can do this, too.  We can know all about God in our heads but never accept his free gift of grace in our hearts.

My experience is that most non-believers I’ve talked with believe there is a God.  And they don’t have a problem with God…..until something bad happens and he becomes an easy target for their hurt and ager.

Just knowing God doesn’t make anyone a believer.  Just like saying a prayer doesn’t make us a believer, either.  There needs to be a change in our minds – a change in our hearts.  It may not be visible on the outside but God can see the condition of our heart.  He knows.

And just believing doesn’t make us a follower.  Following is an action.  To be a follower, our actions and behaviors and priorities need to be changing.  Yes, going to church and tithing are on the list….but not at the top.

Loving God with all of our hearts, minds and souls stands alone as our top priority.  With loving others is a close second.

Loving God and loving others.  These are the indicators of a true, growing follower of Christ.

So…….how are we doing?