Monday, December 26, 2016

To Judge or not to Judge

Today in the news, the people who are screaming about how judgemental others are,  actually are the worst in that category. It can be seen all over Facebook and it practically runs Twitter. These sites can be subject to the passive-aggressive outcries that can get downright nasty.

Our ability to truly judge situations and actions of people is very limited. It really takes a birds-eye view to see all aspects of what is actually going on. Only God can provide that view.  When we sense the effects or see the fruit of what is going on, it behooves us to tap our all-knowing Father to enlighten our eyes as to what to do about it. In order to benefit from wisdom from above, we must have the courage to trust the wings of the Almighty in carrying through the appropriate action.

The subject of chapter 5 of the book of Judges is a victory and praise song sung by Deborah and Barak (Hebrews 11:32). There is a lot of joy in the song and acknowledgment of God about things he had done for them in the past, how they were delivered from the current situation, and how God worked in the people to get the right results.

At one point Deborah makes a point about being 'a mother in Israel':
7 The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel. Judges 5:7
Now we don't know if Deborah had children, but the illustration hits the mark. What is a 'mother'? A mother trusts God and recognizes that he is to be the power in her children's lives(5:1-5). She teaches them to go to God and his word. She is an encourager (5:9,24).  She is a challenger (4:6).  A mother has to be courageous.  As she fights for her children, she is not always the most popular person in the world and Mom's have to live with that. It takes courage. There is a lot of work, patience, and steadfastness in being a Mom.  It is downright hard at times and it has to be God that gives the rest and assurance. Deborah encouraged Barak to rise up to his calling. She stood by him as he did what he was called to do.

There is a lot of mixture of good and evil in the world today and it is important to separate the two.
20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20
Judgment involves discernment and God has given us great tools to navigate with to properly judge, One of the Greek words for 'discerning' or judging' is the word 'diakrisis' ('dia' as in diameter and 'krisis' as in judgment)
'Kalon' = good and 'Kakon' = evil. Notice there is one letter difference between the two words. The difference between good and evil can be so small.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:14
Deborah was a "full age" believer as a mother in Israel because of her trust in God and her courage to carry out his instruction.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Deborah~ Why a Female?

Why not a female! It says that Deborah was a prophetess in Judges 4:1-4:
4:1 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when Ehud was dead. 2 And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.
3 And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.
4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
A prophetess speaks for God.  In the Old Testament God could communicate to a man or woman via spirit upon them. It was temporary and usually on someone God chose to lead the rest of his people.

After experiencing freedom during the time of the judge, Ehud, God's people were oppressed by Jabin, a Canaanite king. It went on twenty years. Working with Barak, Deborah coordinated a strategy to remove the oppressors from the land. Barak was encouraged by Deborah and said he wanted her to accompany him.  He recognized the spirit of God working upon her and the strategy was successful and she recognized him and the job he needed to do.

The plan was brilliant and the weather brought the enemies weapons into a sluggish mire. They got turned around and outflanked just by these two working together with God. This is about a faithful woman and a warrior working to bring out God's victory.  
5 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, 2 Praise ye the Lord.....

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Great Woman - Deborah

The 4th judge mentioned in the Book of Judges is Deborah. In verse 4 of chapter 4, we see that she was a prophetess and a judge. The children of Israel had gotten into one of their down cycles of unbelief and were experiencing 20 years of oppression. They cried out to God for help.

God's love extends to everyone. If a person or group turn out and away from God, they eventually fall into oppressive pressure traps, not because God ceases to love them, but because he can't reach them outside his boundaries.  Many people blame God or diss him for all sorts of reasons when the only one to blame is really themselves. All of what God has created, and the way he has created what is today, is meant to bless. People who stick up their nose at him are ignorant or have mistaken notions about love, sin, good and evil.

Some don't like boundaries, but God has boundaries. 'Sin' is defined as 'missing the mark' as it is an ancient archery term. There's a target and there is an area outside the target. Hitting the target is golden and has significance and reward. I like to define 'sin' as 'missing out on'. Actually, I looked at a frequent Greek word for 'sin' and it essentially means 'missing a share or a portion'.  'Missing the mark' connotes to me a 'performance condition'. Our performance is not the issue.  It is believing what has been provided for us.  The boundaries keep us within reach.

When Israel cried to God, he worked through a woman. A prophetess speaks for God. In order to speak for God, she had to have spirit upon her. In the Old Testament, this is how God worked through an individual to bless a group and rescue them out of the clutches of oppression.  In the New Testament, the spirit can take up residence in anyone who chooses God by confessing the Lordship of his son and believing that God got Jesus up from the dead.

This lady was also a judge:
4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. 5 And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. Judges 4:4-5
She didn't have to belong to any international or national organization for women's rights, she had God at her back. God's view of women has been so distorted by people throughout history. She didn't run around giving everybody a piece of her mind to show strength, she gave her heart. At the center of her heart was God.

She is an example of a great woman. In the New Testament, we have an even greater potential as women. The spirit of God has been made available to anyone (male or female) who chooses. We can truly walk in the love of God free from the coldness of sin and evil, to do good.  In that context, we can be anything we want to be!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

What Does Freedom Look Like?

The media is all aglow with an uproar over an actor on Broadway who made a public statement to our newly elected Vice President.  Governor Pence's comment to his daughter was interesting. He referred to the expression of the actor as 'what freedom looks like'. His comment got me to thinking. What does 'freedom' truly look like?

The greatest freedom I have ever found is in knowing God.  You can't get it from education, relationships, drugs, alcohol, money, fame or anything else this world has to offer. True freedom comes from the truth about God.

Freedom is not obligatory, static, wild, over-indulgent, undisciplined, unruly, insistent, self-centered vain and certainly not controlling. It involves love, patience, courage and fearlessness .

In Romans 8:21, the first use of 'liberty' (or freedom) in the New Testament is found:
20 For the creature (creation) was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature (creation) itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Because of what happened way back in Genesis (as recorded in chapter 3:1-19) in the garden of Eden, the creation became subject to a great frustration as the earth fell under new management. The world around us now is not idyllic. There has been a lot of corruption. Mankind has fallen into bondage because of the evil intentions of a force other than God. But God has promised to deliver his people from this bondage of corruption and  bring them into glorious 'liberty' as his own children. True freedom does exactly that. Godly truth sets people free. To be free indeed, we have to know God and his son, Jesus Christ.

What does this freedom look like? Freedom has God at the source and lives in a heart that rests in righteousness. It is peace, it is love, it is joy. It is gentleness, goodness and endurance. It is also faith, humbleness, and self-control.

Life can be a pressurized rat race without God. The restlessness of the soul and the striving for something that  really doesn't bring joy is not '"freedom's safest place".  When our heart is genuinely free, it doesn't matter if we are alone or in the center of a crowd. It doesn't matter what other people think of us even if they misjudge us. It is a rest that enables us to love freely and is built on a rock-solid assurance that we are loved by the creator of the universe.

Have a glorious Thanksgiving!






Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Life as it rolls.......

When a feather floats along the ground it is subject to the bumps, scrapes, and impediments along the way. Should even a gentle wind happen its way, it can be lifted into the air to float with the wind on a less destructive path. As we roll with life along the terrain, we too can be jostled around in a path we seemingly cannot control. We can choose, however, to take a higher route and stay above the dust and dirt and launch into the wings of God soaring and not subject to the meanders that push people along.

The Book of Judges illustrates this beautifully. The promised land experience was an up and down trip. When they allowed God to provide the path, they were fine.  When, during times of prosperity, they let things slide they inevitably ran into problems. God does not control, he simply provides a path. Man chooses and acts upon his/her choice. The judges that rose up during that time were temporary deliverers.  Jesus Christ is the once and final deliverer that God has sent under the new covenant.

You never will get to know God unless you look for him. You have to do it, otherwise, something else will try to define him for you. Jesus Christ is the only path to God. It was Jesus who said:
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? John 7:7-11
Jesus Christ has provided the lift to live life to the fullest. After he died and was resurrected to his position on the right hand of God as God's high priest to man, he sent the gift of holy spirit to provide for and tie us all together:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. John 17:20-26
When we rely on others to find God, we relinquish the richness of the fellowship indicated in the above verses. God can work through others if need be, but the ultimate responsibility for each of us is in a relationship with the Father and his son.
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. I John 1:3-4

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The First Amendment of the Constitution

Thanksgiving is a reminder of the Mayflower days and the men and women who made the courageous believing journey across the Atlantic to find religious freedom establishing a new world based upon God's abundant goodness.  Life wasn't handed to them on a silver platter, but they were blessed with the the greatest freedom and peace. We have all benefited by their actions and commitment.

The United States of America is not a theocracy but the 1st amendment guarantees freedom of religion.


 Notice that the phrase 'separation of church and state' does not appear in the amendment. This phrase was first used by Thomas Jefferson in response to the Danbury Connecticut baptists in 1807 to calm their fears of government intervention in church affairs. 

In the 21st century, America has the greatest diversity of religions and is one of the most religious countries in the world. There is much evidence that this country started in Christian Theism. God is mentioned in our national anthem and referenced to in the Declaration of Independence four times (Nature's God, Creator, Supreme Judge of the world and divine Providence). There are Bible verses as well as the name 'God' etched in stone and brass all over Washington D.C. The Bible was at one time used as a textbook in schools. Our founding fathers often utilized biblical quotes in their writings.

According to the amendment, the government is not to establish a particular denomination as the official denomination according to the Constitution. It also restricted government meddling in church business. This did not apply to states. Several states originally had state religions. The courts did not interfere with this for over 150 years. In 1947,  the Supreme Court utilized the words 'separation of church and state' in a ruling of the Everson vs Board of Education case reversing previous rulings and applying the Establishment Clause to states. From this point on in history, there has been increased pressure to separate church and state in many avenues of American life.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Reformation Day

Yesterday was Reformation Day on the calendar. It was  the anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses (also called 'Disputation of the Power of Indulgences) on the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517.  The indulgences were certificates that a person could purchase to reduce penalties for sin for himself or someone else that was already in purgatory. Purgatory  and indulgences are never mentioned in the Word of God. In fact, Luther saw how both ideas contradicted what he read in the Bible.

Martin Luther discovered the reality of the scriptures and he saw how far religion had swerved off the plain path of the grace of God. It is easy to see why. We live in a world that pushes so hard that it is quicker and easier to trust what is said by pulpiteers (not that pulpiteers are necessarily wrong)  than what God says about himself and his son Jesus Christ. So many people are afraid of God and have not realized how much he has shown throughout the Bible that he loves to be believed. We need not be afraid to go to God ourselves. .Jesus Christ is the way to that kind of righteousness.

Luther had problems with the word "righteousness" until he saw the reality of the phrase "the just shall live by faith'. When it registered in his brain what that truly meant, righteousness became a lovely word to him.  With 'rightousness' came  the dynamic duo: grace and peace.
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: 5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:3-5
In his commentary on Galatians 1:3, he said: "Grace released sin, and peace maketh the conscience quiet.  The two fiends that torment us, are sin and conscience.  But Christ hath vanquished both these monsters, and trodden them underfoot, both in this world, and that which is to come." 

When you read through record after record in the Old Testament, book after book, this is so visible.  In the New Testament, grace and peace start almost every epistle and certainly the life of Jesus Christ in the gospels oozes both.

Reformation is an ongoing event, not just something that happened almost 500 years ago. Peeling off the false doctrines that sneak their way into religion is not easy intellectually sometimes, but believing God to show you is relatively easy once sin and condemnation are removed. Jesus Christ paved the way for this to happen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Disobedience and Obedience

Today I got into looking at the word 'obedience' in II Corinthians 2:5 and 6:
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. II Corinthians 10:5-6
First of all, it is important to look at these verses in light of the context.  This particular section is about the criticisms that had been leveled at Paul. He was reminding them about judging the way things look rather than looking at things spiritually.

In light of this, the word 'obedience' is translated from the Greek word 'hupakoe' which is from two words 'hypo' (beneath) and 'akouo' (to hear); literally it means 'to hear attentively'. The word 'disobedience' is 'parakoe' (imperfect hearing, parallel hearing, hearing alongside). All this is referring to our thought reasonings(imaginations= logismous- logic). Remember Romans 10:17:?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Listening attentively to the word brings faith (trust in God). Read Matthew 21:21-22!

Truth is truth, regardless of comparing ourselves to each other, boasting and moving in areas that are not our assignment (vs. 12-16). Our job is to listen attentively to Christ, through the word and utilization of the spirit.

The other day I happened to catch a short clip of a television minister and what he happened to be talking about was something I had been working in the word. It was great and I knew it was from God for me to hear what he was saying. If I was to just physically assess this preacher (he looked more like a biker than a world-renown preacher) I would have missed a rich nugget.  Even if I don't totally understand some of his scriptural points of view, I got something out of this one point because of my own studying of the word and the spirit of God working in my heart.

Later on in Corinthians, Paul says:
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity (singleness) that is in Christ. 
II Corinthians 11:5-6
The whole message of Christ is messianic. God provided a way to himself through Jesus Christ. He provided the gift of holy spirit to connect us all together without losing our unique and individual relationship with him. It is amazingly simple! As we ask God for answers, we get them if we listen attentively. (Reread II Corinthians 10-11 about his topic)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Who are you to judge?

The Book of Judges is taking on new meaning for me in light of this current time we are experiencing. There is nothing new under the sun! Of course, when reading the Old Testament we
have to remember that it is the OLD Testament and that there is a NEW Testament, but there are some things that have not changed between the two.

Human nature hasn't seemed to change.  Human beings are still subject to evil. Not only are humans subject to evil, we have the choice to engage in it either by ignorance of deliberate decision.

God's original and eternal intention was and still is to bless his creation . When something goes awry it is something other than God that is setting a variance to the creation he set up. The trouble is when something goes wrong, man's natural inclination is to respond to what is wrong and diminish our relationship with God. We, humans, are great complainers when we engage our negative selfishness. It is not wrong to care about ourselves, we should, but to push it into a negative mindset and continue to stay hunkered down there is not what God had in mind for us. God has given us so many 'outs' for this dilemma, that it is a wonder why evil still floats around. God is given us so much through his love in his creation, his word, his spirit and his son. That is where our focus should be. Light dispels darkness, not the other way around. Focusing on the light is the only way out of any deep hole!

In Judges, it is a constant cycle of self-interest, stumbling, complaining, giving up, crying out and eventual deliverance similar to what is recorded in The Book of Exodus. God is so patient!
In each cycle, God was able to find someone to lead people out of the dark corners that they had drifted into.

Who were these judges? These were people who knew what they had to do because they loved God. They were not perfect but they must have been able to listen to God. Othniel was the first judge.  He was related to Caleb of whom we know 'wholly followed' the Lord. Othniel also had shown the same kind of tenacity in taking care of the enemy who had invaded the land in Judges 1.
10 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the Lord delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim. Judges 3:1
The result was 40 years of rest for God's people!

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the rescuer today. Because of his life, every believer has the spirit of God in them to discern the good and the bad of this world without fear. Jesus Christ exposed the adversary and the idols that draw people away from God. He is the head of the church today and he lives on forever. We can distinguish those things that distract, oppress and abuse us and stand up without fear holding us back because of his living reality.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Government

The Book of Judges is a very relevant book in light of today's culture. God's first and foremost intent is a "Theocratic" government or more simply put, simply God ruling directly over his people. So where did labels like democratism, republicanism, socialism, monarchism, communism come from?

In the early days of the New Testament, God raised up a leader to lead his people by communicating spiritually to that leader. After Joshua died, God did not select another leader to guide the Hebrews.  It was not God's will for God's nation to be ruled by one man.
29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash. 31 And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.Joshua 24:29-31
Judges arose during Israel's 'Theocracy' because of problems, sin and bad situations that developed for the Hebrews. A cycle of governance was repeated over and over again during Israel's history of that time.
11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: 12 And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger.
13 And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. 14 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.15 Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.
16 Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. 17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so.
18 And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.
19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way. Joshua 2:11-19
This could be written today and applied to our culture today. Our government is not a theocracy as evidenced by confusion, corruptness, immorality, lack of believing, greed and self-centeredness. When  people turn their backs to the God who created the universe, man scrambles to construct 'ism's' in God's place to control and regulate the problems that ensue. The only way to get rid of problems is to follow the right way and get back to loving and believing God.

http://truefrase.blogspot.com/2012/10/god-bless-america.html


Monday, October 3, 2016

Part II - Reconciliation and Propitiation

In the New Testament, the King James Version, uses the word 'atonement' only once in Romans 5:11:
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Romans 5:11
The Greek work that 'atonement' is translated from is the Greek word, 'katalagge' which in the other 5 places that it is used is translated 'reconciliation'. This word has been defined as 'restoration to favor' and tied to the greek verb, 'to reconcile'  indicating 'to change thoroughly'. Probably the translators should have stayed with the word 'reconciliation' rather than 'atonement'. The words reconciliation and to be reconciled are also found in II Corinthians 5:18-20:
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Corinthians 5:18-19
 It is important to recognize that reconciliation involves being reconciled to God. It is in turning to God that we receive all that God has made available to us. When we have our back to God we don't receive. There is absolutely no darkness in God; God is pure love. Darkness comes upon us when we turn away from the light.

Sin is turning our back to God. It is when we take off in a dark direction, ignoring the light. Jesus Christ was a light unto the world:
12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.John 8:1
This ties into the word 'propitiation'.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. I John 4:9-11
In the New Testament Covenant, the way back to God is not through the blood of lambs, goats or bird or bulls offered on a continual basis.  Instead, Jesus Christ was the once and all time propitiation and path for victory over darkness for  all men specifically for those who choose to change direction and follow light.

The word of reconciliation has been committed to us. God is very much in favor of reconciliation to him. In II Corinthians 5:19-20 above, notice the phrase "not imputing their trespasses unto them". Does God focus on sin? No! Does God focus on having a relationship with him? It certainly seems so!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Part I: Covered- Atonement

In the Bible, the words, atonement, reconciliation, propitiation, are huge building blocks in scripture. Many theologians write about what these words mean and it can get very confusing because of the various theologies that have been spawned. The best place to look is God's word. God never intended to make his word difficult, therefore we need to keep it simple and expect to get answers from him.

The word 'atonement' is almost exclusively used in the Old Testament.  In Genesis 6:14, the first usage of the Hebrew word for atonement is 'kaphar' and translated 'pitch'.  'Pitch' was a tarry substance.  It was a sealer God instructed Noah to cover the ark in pitch :
14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. Genesis 6:14
The ark had to be covered inside and out to prevent leaks.  Atonement in the Old Testament was a covering. It was a type of rescue on a temporary basis.The Hebrews had various offerings and sacrifices that could be used  to worship, receive forgiveness and exhibit commitment to God. These offerings were repeated and continued for reconciliation with God.

The next few places in the word where atonement is found is in Exodus 29-30 and indeed shows repeated action:
10 And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the Lord. Exodus 30:10
In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived in paradise, until they chose to not listen to God and thus sinned. Sin is simply not listening to God and therefore consequences develop because people look to something else other than God.

What caused the problems in Genesis 3? It wasn't God. God is love and in God  is no darkness at all. As a result, he provided Adam and Eve with coats of skin  from animals for a covering. They had made fig leaves to cover their shame of their nakedness.
21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21
God meets needs of people where they at in their minds. Covering up is not God's heart.

Jesus Christ, who was God's propitiation, brought about true, permanent reconciliation with God.  In the New Testament, the Greek word from which reconciliation was translated from means to change thoroughly. Reconciliation with God is to have a complete relationship with God.

Next: Reconciliation,Propitiation

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Our Spiritual Engine

Sandwiched in between I Corinthians 12 and I Corinthians 14, there is a much-quoted and maybe misunderstood section of scripture. In chapter 12, the 'spiritual matters' in the new creation are illuminated. Chapter 14 contains the practical use of the spiritual functions in the community. In between, at the heart of this whole section, is the love of God spelled out in chapter 13.

These chapters did not fall together haphazardly. The gift of holy spirit that we have been given as a result of the new birth is the love of God shed throughout our beings. It is not just a worldly love as verse 3 indicates:
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (love of God), it profiteth me nothing. I Corinthians 13:3
There is nothing wrong with doing good works, but it is important to know the cart does not go before the horse. Work does not come before love has established that work. The engine behind any spiritual good that we do is the originator of the gift, our Father, God.

In the Corinthians group, all those who received the gift of holy spirit could operate that gift.  It wasn't just relegated to a chosen few. Paul wrote about how they were to keep things in order among such a spiritually endowed group in these three chapters.

In chapter 13:4-8 sits a figure of speech called Asyndeton where several things are listed together and at the end of the list is an all-encompassing summation: 'The love of God never faileth.'
4 Charity  suffereth long (long-tempered), and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: Corinthians 13: 4-8a
This list is not something we break apart into individual bite size pieces, study and try to incorporate into our actions. This is something that emanates as we carry out the love that God powers in our hearts to do the works he would have us to do.

If, say, "Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things"  or "Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth" is taken out of the mix, what have you got? The 'things' listed here refer to the things that God provides as described in his Word. If the Word is not there, what then is there to rejoice in?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Worthy?

4 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy (axios-corresponding to the real value) of the vocation wherewith ye are called,  Ephesians 4:1
What's the therefore there for? It is the connection to chapters 1-3 of Ephesians. Those first three chapters are a beautiful lead up to the second half (the practical) of Ephesians. It is great description of all that is involved in the summons to the high calling of God that enables us to walk practically with each other. here are just a few nuggets:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Ephesians 1:4
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Ephesians 1:17-19
21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: Ephesians 1:21

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Ephesians 3:16-20
When you read through these chapters in Ephesians, the word 'worthy' in 4:1 takes on a powerful meaning.  The real value of our vocation and our worthiness is what we receive from God. It is not about what we do, but what God has done. We walk in that!

So how do we walk in it? The next verse tells us:
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering (not short-tempered), forbearing (standing firm) one another in love;
 Ephesians 4:2
It starts with lowliness (living with dependence on God) and gentleness with humility to God. When taken in context these words are powerful and do not convey any weakness. We rise above all circumstances by staying under the wings of God. This should be no-brainer for anyone who believes chapters 1-3!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Joshua: A Type

In Joshua 23-24, Joshua addressed the Hebrew leaders in a speech that had poignant meaning for all of them. It was full of encouragement, yet not without warning.  He revisited their victories and reminded them how God took care of them.  He did not leave out the sinking sand warnings of idolatry.  The culture that surrounded them could easily dupe them into accepting so much less that what God desired for their life. It had the potential to cast a shadow on the riches of God's grace and desire for all individuals.

There is a direct call to monotheism rather than the worship of pagans gods:
14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood (Euphrates), or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:14-15
The  gods they had been exposed to belong to three groups: The Chaldeans, Egyptians, and the Canaanites.  Joshua gave them the choice and told them about his own choice.  The last part of verse 15 is a much-quoted verse. It means so much more when it is quoted within the context of what was said. Joshua was saying "I choose God and that is who I serve." He also made the point that you can't mix it up with pagan gods and serve the one true God at the same time.

Each tribe was responsible for his own dominion. At the end of the speech, Joshua sent "every man unto his own inheritance". 'One man shall chase a thousand' is another much-quoted verse (23:10) in this speech. Again the context within which this diamond sits is an encouraging thought. He saw them as doers, not pew sitters. That was the kind of leader Joshua was.

Joshua was a type of the future Christ. Joshua in Hebrew is Jesus in Greek. Joshua led the Hebrews to a physical military victory. Jesus leads to the spiritual victories of the New Covenant. They both were catalysts to those around them. Joshua's victories related to the physical and temporal, Jesus's to the spiritual and eternal.

Joshua was an amazing leader (I really prefer the word 'catalyst' for 'leader'). Idolatry exists in the world today just as it did back in his time. We see it in religion, politics, entertainment, family and educational culture and ethics, just to name a few areas where it seeks to hide. Idolatry hides today behind political correctness and tolerance. Jesus Christ's purpose was to flush out and expose even the most subtle tentacles by which it seeks its power. Jesus Christ is the head of the church that we belong to today. Understanding this not only opens our eyes; it gives strength, comfort and resolve to deal with things around us.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Conflict and Joshua 22

Three tribes of Israel, Ruben, Gad and the 1/2 tribe of Manasseh, asked Moses about settling on the east side of the Jordan.  In  Joshua 22:9, this request was acknowledged  "according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses". These  tribes then built an altar that caused all sorts of angst with the other tribes. The other tribes thought of this as a turning away and that, in essence, they were starting a new denomination. It took a little conversation and practical reasoning to avert a crisis.

Living in a day and time that has something like 24,000 different religious bodies, this type of argument is ever with us and sometimes it can be quite difficult to sort out. It was determined in Joshua 22, that all were worshipping the same God and that the altar the 2 1/2 tribes built would serve as a memorial to that commitment. Phineas got involved along with the princes of the tribes. It was settled peaceably. There were other times in the history of their trek to the promised land when some of them started worshipping other gods and it was not so easy. Phineas was also in on dealing with the sin of Peor in Number 25. The results were more severe on that occasion.

So how does one navigate in the world today with different doctrines and traditions? Nothing is black and white. We all can be cajoled into going along with stuff that goes against what we believe in for "love's" sake, but  honestly, "love" can also be standing up for what is right. That kind of "love" is not legalism. There is a big difference. It takes patience, peace, love and humility to recognize the plain path. To maintain a "righteous" attitude is to go to God with whatever is set in front of you that is disconcerting and allow God to work. Job was a great example of this. He had some pretty nasty judgment thrown out at him from 4 people, but he held out for God's answer. That is where peace comes from! That is where peace comes in, settles the heart and brings freedom from fear!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Individuality

There is a lot of human drama in the book of Job.  Most of it is centered on long dialogues between the human players in this story. What I love about Job was his endurance to stay the course in getting the answers straight from the mouth of God.  'Righteousness' is a big deal. 'Righteousness', when truly understood, is an individual right. It is not  a 'group' thing. 'Rightness' comes from God in working through  and in any situation. That is where Job stayed the course.

Job's three friends had flaws in their thinking. Job had obvious questions for God , and  we are made aware of the big questions he had in his own thinking.They were all products of the world around them. In the end, God told Job to pray for for the three friends.  God does not take sides, he is all about what's right (Joshua 5:13-15). God's intent was growth for all of them: Job, and the three 'miserable comforters'. God showed himself to all 4 of them. I assume Job's friends learned that it is about looking for God rather than sin. Job learned about 'seeing' God! All's well that ends well!

There is another player in the scenario: Elihu. He disappeared in the end. When one honestly reads through his drama, he's not someone you would like to encounter in your local bible study. Job did not answer or argue with him and it seems, despite man-made chapter breaks, God's whirlwind swoops down, interrupts and clears the air.

The lesson of 'righteousness' a big theme in the Book of Job. Despite our questions and flawed thinking at times, we have the right to humbly ask for answers to life's questions. We have the right to the throne room of God. Guilt and shame can shut the door but Jesus Christ opened it for us in the New Testament.  Guilt and shame clouded and covered the light, Jesus Christ unveiled it. We have access to God, not thru some veil, but with clear bold access we too get to 'see' him distinctly.


Job's Sufficiency and Righteousness

Again I marvel at the multitude of opinions expressed about Job's predicament as exposed in the Book of Job. It continually seems like denominational biases try to sneak their cause into the word of God.  The Word of God will always be the Word of God and it is unbreakable. God has protected it throughout history. We can get answers to our questions about God from God himself.

Job was a man that God actually praised. Job had some catastrophic events occur in his life.  He had endeavored to live like God expected him to live. He respected (good fear, in a reverential sense) God and yet he had another type of fear, (the negative kind of fear) and felt insecure. Fear can at times eclipse the light of God. Mentally, he acknowledged God, yet his heart had some worries that ballooned into a big cloud over him:
25 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. 26 I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came. Job 3:25-26 
In response to this, three friends visited Job and sat silently with him for a while and when they started talking they accused Job of having some secret sin that was causing his troubles.  They were joined by a fourth who added fuel to the raging fire that was going on.  It seemed like God was unreachable and yet Job never gave up. Job wanted to talk to God himself.

In the book of Job there is a lot of dialogue devoted to his three friends.  Elihu gets quite a bit of print also. It almost seems like these miserable comforters are trying actually to separate Job from God rather than bring him closer. Is God unapproachable? No? Can one ask God questions? Yes! Job loved God. He wanted answers. Can we get answers? Do we really think God wants us sitting around in the dark? God is relational, not a distant judge as is proved in the final chapters of the book. Job got  his answers!
5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Job 42:5
Job held on to his righteousness throughout the ordeal  and that is an important lesson for all of us especially in the day and time within which we live. We live under the New Testament Covenant. Jesus Christ has made the login to God much easier through the sending of the gift of holy spirit.  To live in righteousness, we believe in the actual 'right' to access to God. God doesn't want us stupid regarding his blessings and all that he is.

The greatest thing one can do for other humans is to encourage them to get to know God and understand that God can become their sufficiency (not us) as the relationship develops.  The results are beyond anything we could imagine! 'Seeing' God at work in another is one of our added riches of life!
17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. Isaiah 32:17

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Where is God's Focus in The Book of Job?

The Book of Job is one of the most hypothesized books in the Bible. There are so many opinions about things contained in the book that it is mind-boggling!  As I look into some of the sections of the book and take my time, it is fairly evident that most people get it wrong one way or another. Don't get me wrong, I don't have all the right answers, but I can see all the contradictions of opinions that pile up with each and every theory.
God actually spoke in the beginning and end of this book.  In the beginning, he praised Job for his righteousness. In the end, God praised Job again. In between, we read a lot of human dialogue page after page, where there is a lot of mention of sin and blame from Job's friends, which got worse and worse before God stepped in.

When God spoke to Job directly  ,he set the tone with:
2 Who is this that darkeneth (dims the light) counsel (advice) by words without knowledge (discernment, thinking)? 3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand (ask) of thee, and answer thou me. Job 38:2-3
These two verses are sliced and diced over and over by people who study  the book of Job.
I looked up what it means 'to gird up the loins'. The phrase is used several times in the Bible. Some historians describe this as pulling up the tunic and tucking it in to be ready to move. Job was not going anywhere physically, but spiritually he was moving forward. In  Ephesians 6 it says:
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
After the discourse in Job 38:1-3, God asked Job question after question!  God asks questions throughout the Bible and this is the longest list to any individual. The questions are thought-provoking! The questions allowed and encouraged Job to think! (Check out Genesis 4:6, Job 1:7, Acts 9:5, Romans 8:31-39, or the first question in the Bible 'Where art thou ?' in Genesis 3:9). The questions didn't box him in, accuse or blame him; they freed Job, because he wanted to be freed:
5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Job 42:5

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Fresh Air



Yesterday I smelled something odd in the main room of our house. It occurred to me that it might be
coming from a small window air conditioner. My husband said he didn't smell anything, but it was gagging me. I shut down the air conditioner and opened the windows because it was a nice breezy day. Then later I opened the front piece on the air conditioner and WOW! The filter was totally covered with thick, thick, matted dark dust! I removed the filter, which to my joy, was a plastic mesh. I brushed it and removed most of the dust . I then washed it with nice sudsy hot water. It actually was snowy white underneath. I get such satisfaction out of doing things like this.

The air conditioner was truly cooling the front room down, but deep in its inner workings something was causing it to give off a stinky smell. It had accumulated all that dust during its faithful normal functioning. It is a great little air conditioner and we only use it a month or two during the year. Now the filter and the grating on the inside is fresh and clean, and I expect this machine to operate at its best and keep the air cleaner.

Filters are important for so many things. Our allergic systems alert us to contaminated air. They can be a pain in the sniffer, but they help us identify foreign particles floating around. I wish there were integrity filters for the TV and internet. There is plenty of moldy dust floating around the media and cybersphere. If we smell enough of it over the course of time, it will be harder to detect.

Our minds as God made them, are to be operated with high efficiency. The best mental floss in life is the Word of God. God gets to the bottom of all human issues because he loves and wants us to know true joy and peace. It is our own choice to leave our filters dusty and moldy; but if we do we shouldn't blame God for our discomfort for putting up with it.

In Exodus, every time something would go wrong, the people moaned and groaned over their plight. Leaders like Moses and later Joshua went to God for sudsy solutions instead of piling up more dust. That's what good leaders do.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
Guess it's time to go clean the dehumidifier. :)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Who's Side Are You On?

Joshua 5:13-15

13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?
15 And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Abraham Lincoln


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gaslighting or Godlighting

'Gaslighting' is a word floating around  that was spun from an old movie about a villain who manipulated his spouse by setting up situations to make her doubt her sanity. Actually 'gaslighting' is a technique that is more than floating around. It's demonstration is everywhere. It is used in advertising, politics, religion and in simple everyday relationship transactions.

In the movie, the villain kept dimming the lights and when his target started to notice and remark about the dimming light, he said she was imagining it. The idea was to tamp down her perception of reality and drive her into confusion and self-doubt. 'Gaslighting' involves twisting the truth for an advantage to self, a far cry from love. This is the opposite of "speaking the truth in love" in Ephesians 4:15:
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: Ephesians 4:15
Truth sets people free. Twisting the truth imprisons. Godly truth helps people to grow. Religion based on opinion is very dangerous. God's truth is healing. It is easy to tell the difference when you look at the fruit produced.

The human mind can twist any thing when it is constantly focused on self. When the human mind is focused on the one true God there is a strong internal heart atmosphere that has amazing power. It is not the power to control: it is the power to do the bidding of the most powerful force in the universe.

God gave us a beautiful 'truth-o-meter' in the gift of holy spirit.  It is the inspiration of God in his word and in the human heart.  When the human heart and God's word line up absolute peace results. There is no dimmer switch. The shadows disappear. The noise of the world fades. Quiet reassurance replaces anxiousness and fear dissipates.



Monday, July 11, 2016

Does God hear?

I recently read an article on Deism. According to the article, deists believe in God but that he is not involved with his creation. Oh my! I get that people often feel that God is a million miles away. When we look at the world around us and see all that is going on it seems that way. The world is a noisy place.

We just drove through the great state of Pennsylvania! It is beautiful. If you drive on interstate 80, you can see majestic mountains that take your breath away. There are luscious green trees everywhere. Threading through the mountains are winding rivers. It is awe-inspiring.  As we drove, I couldn't help but appreciate again God's love in all that he created. It is so visible in his creation.

God is always close.  The farther you keep God out there, the harder you have to work. Total self-reliance is an inevitable result. Self-reliance is not built like those mountains or the gorgeous blue sky.

We can learn much from looking at God's creation. Our eyes and ears are good examples of the intricate beauty and functionality of things God designed. The ear is an amazing organ. The eyes are complex second only to the brain. God is the designer of hearing and seeing.   It is very simple:
He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? Psalm 94:9 
Surely our Father, the designer, understands hearing and seeing! It is a good thing to remember when we pray thankfully, with love and honor to a very involved God!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Life In The Lane

In swimming practice, warm-up laps, and racing, lanes are set up to keep things smooth. For a race, the swimmer dives aggressively into his lane and depending on the length of the race, stays in that lane until he hits the wall and does a flip turn and heads back down the same lane. The lane markers are constructed so the water flows through them and breaks up  the wash from the adjacent lane.
You can't cross over to another lane during a race. When you are standing on the starting block, the lane is all yours!

The Hebrew tribes of the book of Joshua were each assigned lanes. God never intended to have them pile up on top of each other.  The land they each got was for them to settle in, grow and thrive.

Moses was Joshua's mentor. In Numbers 11 there is a great example of this mentoring.
24 And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the Lord, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.25 And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.
26 But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.
27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.
28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.
29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!
Moses response to Joshua was along the lines of 'Are you concerned about me? Don't be! It is not about me!' God's heart was "would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!" Eldad and Medad were not in the tabernacle, they were out in the camp.

In the New Testament, God's spirit is available to all. We all have our own lanes to work, practice, thrive and enjoy.  An athletic analogy can just go so far. Spiritually, our competition is not with each other, but against that which would hold us back or attempt to drag us down.



Friday, July 1, 2016

The Sin of Ai

Israel defeated Jericho handily.  They had a plan to do it that was prescribed by God. The plan involved parading around the city once each day for 6 days and 7 times on the seventh day. The people were given very specific instructions. Joshua 6 has all the details.  In those details were specific warnings about the spoil and that it was to go to treasury of the house of the Lord.

God had already dried up the pathway across the Jordan River so they could cross over.  This time they had no one chasing them. God had asked to mark their crossing by piling up 12 stones so they could remember this great event.

The next conquest was Ai. Joshua apparently wasn't aware that a man named Achan had violated God's instruction and took some spoil he shouldn't have. There is no record of God telling Joshua his strategy for taking Ai. Instead Joshua sent out two men to spy it out and took their advice when they got back to send only 3000 men in. They downplayed the threat or maybe they overestimated their own abilities. Things went awry. They had to retreat. 36 men were killed. Joshua was devastated and fell on his face to God. Depression, discouragement and doubt came knocking on the door!
Joshua sought answers from God:
10 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?
11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. 12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Joshua 7:10-12
Joshua took care of the situation and listened to God about how to take Ai and things went well.

Often when something does not go well, we have the same visitors knocking on the door.  We question ourselves, whether God can help us at all and maybe we should go back to retrace our steps in life and maybe revert to old times. God said to Joshua to 'Get up'! Joshua listened and moved on. Success came.

The struggle is intended to set up a blockade. There will always be pressure. We should not allow it to send us back, but use it as an opportunity to connect with God and achieve more memories of success and overcoming! We don't need to pile up 12 stones, but we can lock our victories in our hearts or do whatever it takes to remind ourselves of all that God does for us. When blockades start to rear their ugly head they can be ignored, marked as not true and chased away. We have a greater covenant with God. We all have access to God's throne room and we can take up residence there with him.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Entitlement or Empowerment

Have you ever noticed that when things are to themselves, there is a tendency to for things to move towards chaos. There is a lot to be said for order.  Things just don't take care of themselves. If there wasn't order in the universe and every star, planet, galaxy were allowed to go freely, it would be catastrophic. The universe is held together like a fine tuned machine. God is a God of order.

Work is good and even though we may groan and feel too tired, we benefit from the efforts exerted to keep things straight. Our world can teach us to be lazy, that somebody else needs to do it. Some of the biggest problems facing America today are because of this mental philosophy.

People today have their own philosophy of love. They also often are judgmental of others who on the surface don't appear to gush humanitarianism. It is a ruse. Some of the most loving people I know are tough as nails when it comes to encouraging people to work and believe for themselves.

Men like Moses and Joshua understood it. Imagine the work it took to lead about all those people. God is not into entitlement, he is into empowerment. God put himself right in the middle of them to remind them he was with them, not to make magic happen, but to encourage and them to do as he empowered them. Circumcision, sacrifices, the law and the tabernacle were all reminders.

There is, of course, a balance to all of this. We can overwork. Just as underworking is misbelieving, so is overworking. I, personally, have experienced both.  I have also seen it in various churches, ministries, businesses, professions, education, politics and even in raising children. Underperforming and over-performing are always a temptation. God keeps us in perfect balance when we know how he operates in our lives. Believing God and tuning in to him keeps us in balance. It also requires humility.
3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) Number's 12:3
I love making the bed in the morning. It reminds me that the day needs to be ordered and then at night it is a nice fresh place to remember to rest. I think about God in both actions. You may think that is weird, but it works! The sun rises and sets in a predictable orderly fashion. God designed it that way and he is very loving in creating it that way.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mission Possible - Should You Accept this Assignment.....

Serious consideration was given to the dividing up of the promised land, it was not haphazard. Lands had to be conquered. Living in the land promised previously to the Hebrews, were people who were ungodly and dangerous. God made it clear that they had to wipe out the enemy before settling there or the infiltration of their amoral and dark culture would seriously affect and harm the people of God.

Three of the tribes of Israel decided they settled on the east side of the Jordan: Reuben, Gad and half of  Manasseh (Numbers 32) because the land was suitable for livestock.  Moses asked them to help the rest of the tribes obtain their land.

Once the land was somewhat conquered, the land on the west side was divided up between the other tribes. It is interesting that they decided the sections by lot along with taking consideration the size and attributes of the land for each specific tribe. Planning, preparation, fairness were the basis for making their decisions. It is interesting going back to Genesis 48 and 49 when Abraham blessed each of his sons before he died, including a private blessing and adoption of Joseph's sons. It is all very purposeful and I'm just beginning to delve into the connections. The Word of God is amazing and intricately detailed. It is breathtaking.

God hasn't changed. Our promised land today is spiritual. God is fair, just, loving, and no respecter of persons. He's the kind of Father that has given you a specific assignment, equipped you for that assignment ( with all the high tech spiritual gadgets), believes that you can do it (should you choose to accept the assignment) and then He has thrown in grace, mercy, and peace on top of all that!

We are each members in particular, called uniquely. Your spiritual territory is between you and God and God's right-hand man, Jesus Christ! No one else has a right to your assignment. It is part of the great idea God had from the beginning of the creation of man that came into manifestation in the New Testament.  The power of God was not meant to be limited to a select few. It was meant for anyone who believes. Don't let anyone talk you out of it!
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation(mission wholeness) with fear and trembling (respect and trust). 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
In Joshua 9, the Hebrews compromised a tad bit with the Gibeonites, but when they realized it, they had to make an adjustment. Yea grace, mercy and peace! The Gibeonites didn't run them over but were compliant, so it worked.

Life is full of adjustments, and sometimes the path changes but the calling doesn't. The key is in still looking to God and Jesus Christ who is the head of the church. Many people struggle with this asking themselves the age old question "What is my purpose in life?".  Dig into the Word of God and stay devoted to prayer and listen. The answers will start coming. God is very chatty on this subject! You don't have to sit down and try to figure this out all by yourself.




Monday, June 13, 2016

Being Strong - Part II

God told Joshua to be strong through words from Moses (Deuteronomy 31:6,7, 31) just before he died. In Joshua chapter 1,  God himself repeated the same thing 3 times (Joshua 1:6,7,18). God spoke to Joshua and Joshua spoke it to his people (Joshua 10:25).

God speaks directly to us in this day and time with great specificity in Ephesians 6:10-18!:
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Joshua means 'savior'. Joshua helped to physically save his people back in Old Testament times. In the New Testament, Jesus means 'savior' and he is the way spiritually into a relationship with God.  We can be strong spiritually because we have been given the means to see through the smog of this world and move with great power when God energizes us with His own power through the spirit. We have truth, righteousness, peace, believing and salvation as equipment. This equipment is universal for those who believe, not just to certain individuals like Joshua and Moses in the Old Testament.
Hebrews 3:1-14 -Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.3 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. 4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. 5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 
6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. 7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

Being Strong - Part I

The Bible is full of questions. According to E W Bullinger, there are 2,274 in the Old Testament and 1,024 at least in the New Testament. In his book, Figures of Speech Used In The Bible, he describes the figure of speech Erotesis as: 
"The Asking of Questions without waiting for the Answer" 
"This figure is used when a speaker or writer asks animated questions, but not to obtain information. Instead of making a plain and direct statement, he suddenly changes his style, and puts what he was about to say or could otherwise have said, into the form of a question, without waiting for an answer. Instead of declaring a conviction, or expressing indignation, or vindicating authority, he puts it in the form of a question without expecting any reply." 
"The questions of the Bible, whether God addresses them to man; or whether man turns to God; or whether he questions himself; contain a mine of truth and teaching; while the heart is awakened, and the attention is aroused to seek out the answer, which is ever fraught with deep and blessed instruction."
In the first chapter of the book of Joshua, God said to Joshua:
 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Joshua's Foreign Policy

In the book of Judges, 2-3 million people crossed over the Jordan to an area a little larger than New Jersey.  Two and a half of the 12 tribes had decided to stay on the east side of the Jordan as a place to settle, but they helped the other 9 and one half tribes to obtain access to the land that God had promised to them in Canaan.

Joshua was their leader to not only obtain settlement in the land that was inhabited by dangerous amoral 'ites', but also to apportion the land appropriately to each tribe. I had sort of skimmed through this book rather rapidly, but now am going back through it again because it really is more than an historical account.  The book of Joshua is about leadership, in the 'truth' sense of the Word.

The great thing about Joshua is that he really leaned on God. The battle of Jericho is great example. Somebody should do a movie about every thing that lead up to the battle of Jericho and see how easily battles can be won when it is done God's way. Whatever your thoughts on foreign policy, wouldn't it be just great today, if people who call themselves leaders in world affairs would understand Ephesians 6:12:
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Joshua understood who the enemy was. He had no illusions about his own abilities, he knew where his strength and wisdom came from. Read through chapters 3-6 to get all the juicy details.

As they were crossing over the Jordan to approach Jericho, we read in chapter 5:1
5 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.
People had heard about this group of people ahead of time and how God was with them. Their reputation had preceded them and they sure didn't want to mess with them.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend and we got to talking about respect and the current culture. He made a statement to me t...