Monthly Archives: March 2014

Step Aside, Satan

Some areas of the Promised Land were more difficult to capture than others, as we read in the book of Joshua. Sure, Israel’s reputation for being God’s chosen people was well known and God’s miracles on their behalf was legendary. But let’s face it. There were people who owned land there, who lived and worked in those cities and not everyone was ready to just step aside and let the Jews take it all. Satan had a foothold in that area and he was not giving up without a fight.

And he hasn’t changed.

When we accept Jesus as Savior we are offered a relationship with God himself, our own private Promised Land. And God wants us to enjoy it all. However, sometimes sin is so deeply rooted in our lives we have trouble conquering it and we miss out on the blessings that are intended to be ours. An addiction or an ungodly relationship pulls at us. A vice, a hobby, a lifestyle is so important to us we don’t want to let go. Jealousy, hate, pride, anger are so ingrained in us we don’t recognize ourselves without them. We end up trying to live with that sin right inside the Promised Land. Satan loves that.

The truth is if we want everything God intends for us in our relationship with him we need to defeat the enemy in our lives. It’s a matter of choice. And often a very difficult daily choice.

God told Israel: There is the land I promised you. Go clear it out and enjoy living there. Defeat the enemy, rid yourself of him. I’m right here with you.

He’s saying that to us today, too.

So step aside, Satan. Or get ready to battle. God and I are taking the land! 

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God Loves The Impossible

Joshua 10 records a pretty amazing event. From a human perspective, Joshua took quite a leap of faith when he prayed a public prayer asking God to stop the sun dead in its tracks. Even if prompted by God, saying something so outrageous would have sounded insane. We know scientifically that if the sun stands still it’s because the earth quit spinning and if that’s the case there would be no gravity and… well… it’s impossible.

But we have a God who loves the impossible! The sun stood still and Israel’s army defeated the enemy. 

God loves the impossible.

Including each of us. No one is too far gone for his love and grace to penetrate a heart still beating. The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. 

And just as God revealed his power that day in what we read in the book of Joshua, he reveals that same power in a changed life today. Nothing is impossible for God. When I read this portion of Joshua I don’t see God asking us to pray for material signs of his power. Moving mountains into the sea or stopping the earth from spinning isn’t the point. I see God telling us to pray for the souls of those we think are too far gone.

President Obama? John Travolta or Tom Cruze? That neighbor down the street or that rebellious person who lives in your home?

God loves the impossible. Let’s pray believing. He can do it.

Dear God, I would ask you to forgive me for not praying like I should. I think way too small for a God as powerful as you. I do pray for our President. Father, even now I would ask that you would bring yourself to his mind, that you would touch his heart, that you would find him ready to give his life to you. I pray for public figures like those who are caught in the lies of Scientology. I pray that they will find Jesus as Savior and would use their celebrity to point others to him, too. I pray for those people close to me who are living ungodly lives, who have drifted from you or denied you. I pray believing that you are able to break through the hardest heart and I’m asking you to do that. Thank you for loving the impossible. Show me what you would have me to do accomplish these things in Jesus’ name.

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

A new generation of Jews was given the privilege of seeing what their parents and grandparents had seen at the Red Sea. In the book of Joshua we read that God allowed them to cross the Jordan River on dry ground and witness God’s power first hand. The Jews walked into the Promised Land and the people residing there were terrified of them because of God. As they should.

The first city, Jericho, was taken by unconventional battle strategies. But it was God who instructed the Jews to walk around the walled city in silence once a day for six days. Just walk. Say or do nothing else. I can imagine the people of Jericho being terribly afraid the first time they witnessed the silent march around their city. But nothing happened. After the third day of the same thing, the people inside the walls were probably confused. And by the sixth day they were most likely amused. (There go those crazy Jews again. Pass the potatoes)

Here’s the thing about God. He’s not on the same time table we are on. And his ways are very often not our ways. But obedience will always produce the results that bring glory to God and point people to the Savior.

Obedience might not look like that of the priests who took those first steps into the chilly waters of the Jordan River. It might be another difficult first step for us like changing careers, befriending an enemy who needs the Savior, uprooting our family to serve God in another part of the world, or something else God has laid on our hearts. Whatever God is asking you to do, that first step can be a tough one.

Obedience might look like Israel’s army. Silently obeying God, doing the day-to-day things that have no immediate effect. It could be praying for a loved one for years to find the Savior. It might be living a life separate from the world, loving our neighbors and doing good to those who aren’t so good to us. It might be the ordinary every day things that we do in the name of Jesus that draw people to him.

As we read in the book of Joshua, obedience results in blessing. The walls that would keep us out of a close relationship with Jesus come tumbling down when we obey the Father. It might not be easy. And it might not always make sense according to the world’s viewpoint. But if God is in it, what we do in his name will bring about amazing results for our good and his glory.

Father, may you find your people ready and eager to obey you. Even if we don’t understand the logic. Even if what you are asking is outside our comfort zone. Help us to recognize your voice and to block out the voice of the enemy by praying, being students of your written Word. And when you nudge us into action, may we take that first scary step and allow you to do great things in and through us for Jesus’ sake.

IF

God loves us. He created us out of love and for love. He delights in blessing us, in taking the trials of life and turning them into ways of demonstrating his power and goodness to us. He watches us. He protects us. He gives us everything we need for life on earth and in eternity.

IF.

If we obey him. God cannot bless disobedience in anyone. He is not a loving God at the exclusion of his holiness. And I think modern spirituality and much of the church in 2014, overlook this very important fact.

Moses’ song recorded in Deuteronomy 31 reminds the ancient Jews, and it reminds us, that we serve a great God, a God who blesses, a God who loves and a God we must fear. He’s not a buddy or a magic genie. He is the great I AM who demands holiness of us because he is holy.

He’s a God who hates sin with a burning passion and who punishes every sin we commit. Every one!

But here is love. And his name is Jesus.

Jesus didn’t come to earth so that sin can be overlooked or denied. He came to pay the penalty for the lie I told as a toddler when mommy asked me if I took a cookie from the cookie jar, to the many sins I’ve committed and still commit since then. 

Am I afraid of God? I should be. Do I fear disobeying him? If I don’t I’m not looking at sin the way he does.

Holy God, forgive us when we rationalize, accept, or ignore sin in our lives. May we view disobedience as seriously as you do. May we fear you with a healthy fear and choose obedience because of the reality of devastating consequence for disobedience. May we recognize your holiness and understand that you cannot bless sin in anyone’s life. Not even mine. Thank you for love, for Jesus who paid what I cannot pay, who took my sin upon himself and who offers me forgiveness, not excuses… forgiveness. May my life be lived out of love and gratefulness for you!

Be Careful

Deuteronomy records Moses’ final words to the Israelites before they crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. He told them that they would have success overthrowing the seven tribes who were living there at the time. Then they would enjoy the blessings the land provided. Plenty of good food and water, riches, comfortable homes would all be theirs.

But, Moses warned, that’s the time to be careful!

“Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God… For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful!” (Deut 8:11-12 NLT)

Sound familiar? Whether it is on our own personal walk with the Savor or a nation once built under God, good times can be the most dangerous. Times of blessings and prosperity put us at the most vulnerable position. And Satan begins to sneak in through the cracks, sin enters our hearts, our lives, our nation. We get so comfortable we forget how much God has done for us. 

We forget we need him.

And when that happens, the covenant is broken and God can no longer bless us. Not as individuals.  Not as a nation.

Are you blessed? Be careful. Don’t get proud. Don’t forget God. If you do, “you will be destroyed”. (Deut 8:19)

Father, I pray that your people will cling to you in good times and in bad. We tend to run to you when things get difficult because we know you are able to strengthen us, that you answer prayer. It’s easier to see your hand at work when we give you our problems. But we are often guilty of forgetting you when life is going well. Forgive us. May we protect our relationship with you every day by spending time in your Word, praying, talking about you to others, making choices that honor you. And may we be careful not to take any of your blessings for granted.

Living in the Promised Land

Deuteronomy begins with Moses reminding Israel of their history and the amazing ways God had brought them to the Promised Land. He wasn’t going across the Jordan with them but he wanted them to go knowing how important it was that they continue to obey God. Follow God, he told them, and you will inhabit the land. Turn from him and you will be driven out. 

Moses predicted that the nation of Israel would lose the land, then said that at some distant time they would return to the Lord and the land would be restored to them. Deuteronomy 4:29 says, “But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.”

What is the spiritual application? If the Promised Land represents the sanctified life and a close walk with the Lord, then we are warned that when we begin to drift, when we neglect time in his Word and prayer, when we allow our thoughts to turn to sin, we will lose that sweet fellowship with the Savior. We may even wonder where God is or why he’s deserted us. 

But here’s God’s promise: If we seek him with all our heart and soul – truly seek him at the exclusion of all else – we will find him waiting with open arms. He’ll forgive our sins and hold us close as long as we let him.

God wants us to inhabit the Promised Land every bit as much as he wanted Israel to inhabit the land. And he’ll take us back when we seek him with all our hearts and souls, no matter how far we’ve roamed. 

I’m praying that you and I will seek God and enjoy the blessings of living in the Promised Land. That we will know a right relationship with the Creator and the joy that comes from receiving his grace, forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it Jesus, is my plea.
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, Dear Lord, let it be.

There is Life in the Blood

As I was reading Numbers 27-29 this morning I was once again astounded at the amount of blood that was spilt, the great number of animals that were sacrificed in order for the purification of the people of Israel. Every day offerings were made. And once a year hundreds of animals were killed during their festivals. For me, that’s hard to imagine.

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. Life is in the blood.

God requires a blood sacrifice. Looking at the Old Testament account makes me realize what a very big deal it is that Jesus shed his own blood once and for all. His sacrifice fulfilled the requirements of every animal sacrifice we would ever need according to Old Testament law. It is done.

He did what a thousand bulls could not do. We never have to kill a calf ever again in order to be forgiven. Jesus’ death covered the tab. And I just need to accept it. I was once dead in my sin. Now I am alive in Christ. And all because of Jesus’ blood.

Jesus’ blood washed away my sin. From the first little lie I told as a toddler, to the mean things I did as an adolescent, disobedience towards my parents, a multitude of sins committed as an adult, a sinful thought life, an unforgiving spirit, laziness, gluttony, pride and self-centeredness, to the most recent little lie I’ve told in my 60’s. I am forgiven because Jesus shed his blood.

Once again I am astounded. And so grateful to my Savior and Lord.

Dear Jesus, thank you doesn’t seem sufficient to express what I am feeling today. You paid the penalty for my sin when you died on the cross. Your blood met the Father’s requirement for my forgiveness. I am humbled. I am grateful. I am forgiven. May my life be lived in such a way that you are exalted, you are praised, and you are pleased to have given yourself for me. Thank you for the life I can enjoy because of your shed blood.