Read the Word, Worship, Then War

even-smaller-bug-light1

34 Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instruction.35 Every word of every command that Moses had ever given was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among them. — Joshua 8:34, 35 NLT

After God had given Jericho and Ai into Joshua’s hands, Joshua built an altar of uncut stones on Mount Ebal.   There, they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar just as Moses had commanded them to do.  Then Joshua read every word of every command that Moses had ever given to them.  This was done in the presence of the entire assembly of Israel including all of the foreigners.  Moses had written five books that contained approximately 124,910 words (depending on the version you use).  At an average of 200 words per minute, this was almost an eleven hour reading.  The building of the altar, the offering of the sacrifices and the reading of the scrolls was quite a lengthy service.  This kind of devotion to God is what prepared the people for the southern military campaign.  Perhaps, it is time for our country to take a break and worship God in this manner.

To be successful in the battles of this world, both natural and spiritual, we need the strength that only comes from the Lord.  If each of us committed to spending a day in prayer, worship and thanking God for our country, then perhaps God would take those sparks and start a wildfire of praise that would envelop the whole country.

16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. ​ — James 5:16 NIV

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 11-14-2018

Tearing Down Strongholds

even-smaller-bug-light1

12 For I will be merciful regarding their wrong deeds,​ and I will never again remember their sins.”​ – Hebrews 8:12

In yesterday’s passage, we read about erecting landmarks and altars to remind us of the goodness of God.  We were reminded of how He provides for us and watches over us so that we might proceed safely on our journey.  He has established a new covenant with us beginning with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Instead of an earthly high priest, Jesus is our high Priest.  He has made each us members of the royal priesthood.  We can now speak directly to God Himself.  He is the complete, final sacrifice so that it is no longer necessary for us to carry out the rituals required in the Old Testament.  Along with that new covenant, He has written His laws in our hearts and in our minds.  He has chosen to forget our sins against Him  The Holy Spirit testifies that this is true.  ( Hebrews 10:14-18).  Just as God forgives and forgets our sins, we are to forgive others. To do that, we are going to have to go back through the memories of our lives and tear down some mental landmarks.  All those memories that bring back the times we have felt or actually been mistreated are going to have to be dealt with and released into God’s captivity.  As humans, we may not be able to forget entirely, but if we follow the instructions given us in 2 Cor. 10:3-5 to bring every thought captive and teach them to obey Christ, then we will find that it is completely possible to make those bad times in our lives insignificant.  If not insignificant, then, at least, no longer worthy of mentioning.  Otherwise, they become the roots that produce fruits of bitterness.  Give those thoughts to God and allow Him to tear down the landmarks before they become strongholds that keep our relationship with God from growing into maturity.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 11-13-2018

“Your Grace Has Brought Me Safe Thus Far”

even-smaller-bug-light1

So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there. — Joshua 4:8 NLT

Often when a major event had occurred in the lives of the children of Israel, God would instruct them to set up stones or build an altar.  These stones or altars were built or erected as a token of remembrance for God’s help in bringing them safely this far. It was also a reminder to tell future generations about the goodness and the mercies of God. They were unique in that they were always built with natural, uncut stones.  Crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land for the first time was a once-in-a-lifetime major event. The Israelis put twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan to mark the spot of the crossing and carried twelve stones to Gilgal and erected them there to mark the spot of their first encampment in their new homeland.  We need to be aware of the major events in our lives and construct mental and/or physical landmarks as a way to remember these events.  We need to point out these times to our future generations as a remembrance of what God has done for us.  When Samuel erected the stone between Mizpah and Jeshanah (1 Samuel 7:12) to mark the spot where God had defeated the Philistines for the Israelis, he named it “Ebenezer” which means a stone of help.  It is by the help of God that we have come this far safely.  Let us stop, set up an Ebenezer, pray, worship and celebrate God’s goodness and mercies in our lives.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 11-12-2018

What Do People See In Us?

even-smaller-bug-light1

65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way. — Luke 1:65, 66 NLT

These are the words Luke wrote to describe the reactions of the people on hearing about the birth of John the Baptist.  It was a miraculous event that Elizabeth should give birth at such a late age in life.  They were also in wonder that Zechariah would allow his son to be named John since no one in the family had ever been named that.  In those days, the carrying on of traditional family names was extremely important.  Because of these two things, they knew that God was involved in a special way and that John must have a special purpose to fulfill.   Once Zechariah was able to speak again, he prophesies about what that purpose is (vv 67-79).

In its own way, every birth is a miracle and every child has a special purpose in life.  God has a plan for every life and every one has been given a particular gift to accomplish that purpose.  Not all of us will be involved in what we call “full-time” ministries, but all of us are involved in full time witnessing for the Lord.  Every word and every action reflects positively or negatively on the Kingdom of God.  What is our lifestyle today telling people about Jesus and His Kingdom?  If someone observed us for a month, what do you think they would say about what we think is important?  Does our attitude and our demeanor tell others that we live in fear or that we have faith in a God who can and does do the impossible?  

 
10  Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. — Isaiah 41:10 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 11-11-2018

Mount Zion Brings Life

even-smaller-bug-light1

2  “The Lord came from Mount Sinai and dawned upon us from Mount Seir;  he shone forth from Mount Paran and came from Meribah-kadesh with flaming fire at his right hand. 3  Indeed, he loves his people; all his holy ones are in his hands. They follow in his steps and accept his teaching.. — Deut. 33:2, 3 NLT

This is beginning of the last blessing that Moses gave to the children of Israel.  It was a reminder to the people of how God had chosen them and brought them through the desert to the Promised Land.  Because of His great love for the people, God remained faithful to His promise even though the people were often disobedient and ungrateful. It was also an admonition to continue to follow in the steps of their God and accept His teachings.  Moses blesses the tribes of Israel, then leaves them.  As God instructed, Moses climbs Mount Nebo up to Pisgah Peak where God allows him to view all of the Promised Land.  There, at 120 years of age, Moses passed away.  God came to the children of Israel from Mount Sinai, a mountain that was covered with smoke and fire, touching the mount brought death.

God comes to us from Mount Zion, “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem”. (Hebrews 12:18-24)  Touching Mount Zion brings life and joy to those who love the Lord, to those who accept His teachings and follow in the steps of Jesus.  Today, spend some time in the presence of Jesus, just loving Him and marinating in His love.  If you do, you will touch Mount Zion and receive true life and an abundance of joy.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 11-10-2018

“This Is the Key To Your Life”

even-smaller-bug-light1

19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. — Deut. 30:19, 20a NLT

This choice was given to the children of Israel under the old covenant.  They lived under the old covenant and the law.  We live under the new covenant and grace.  The covenants have changed but the choices are still the same, we can choose life or death. We can choose to accept the sacrifice of Jesus as our redeemer or we can reject that sacrifice and choose death.  We were born in sin into a sinful world, we choose death by continuing that lifestyle.  We choose life by accepting Jesus, loving God, obeying Him and committing ourselves firmly to Him. This choice is “the key to life”.  Choosing Jesus and life unlocks doors so that we can access the abundant life.  Life is more about “being” than about doing. We are called human beings not human doers.  Before we do anything, we need to be in the presence of God. To be in His presence means we spend time at His feet learning His teachings and allowing Him to disciple us.  Maybe that is why all the “blessed are” verses in Matthew 5 are called the “be-attitudes”.  We need to learn to have the same attitude that Jesus has so we can be like Him. If we spend enough time “being” in His presence, the “doing” will be a natural outflow of our “being”.  Then we can live the abundant, blessed life He desires to give us.

10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. — John 10:10 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 11-09-2018

“We Are Without Excuse”

even-smaller-bug-light1

14 No, the word is very near you—it’s within your mouth and heart for you to attain.” – Deut. 30:14 ISV
At this time, the Holy Spirit had not yet been given to us to remain on the earth until Jesus returns, so God gave the Israelis their instructions and commands through Moses.  In  the following chapters of Deuteronomy, we read that God instructed Moses to write all of these instructions in a Book.  That Book is now included as the first five books of the Bible.  Moses instructed the priests to keep the Book of Instructions beside the Ark of the Covenant at all times as a sign of remembrance to the Israelis of their covenant with God.  It would also serve as a witness against them in times of disobedience. It was to be read to the people, in its entirety, every seventh year during the Festival of Shelters.  God is a just God and never holds anyone accountable for things they can not know.  He can and does hold us responsible for those we could know but refuse to learn.

Now, since Jesus has returned to Heaven, He has sent the Holy Spirit to abide in us and lead us into all truth.  We have no reason for our disobedience.  We may try to excuse ourselves because of a lack of knowledge, but that excuse won’t hold water since God has made the Holy Spirit available to be our Teacher. His love for us and our love for Him is more than sufficient reason to study, learn and obey as much as we possibly can.  The Lord, our God, is a jealous God and he is unhappy with anything less than a total commitment to our relationship with Him.

For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ.  ​ — 2 Cor. 11:2 NLT​

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 11-08-2018