Monthly Archives: April 2015

No King in Israel

The other day I was reading the last several chapters of the book of Judges. And as I read how the tribe of Benjamin would have raped the man visiting their town, but instead brutally raped his wife until she died, I was angry!

When the other tribes went to war against them because of it, it looked like old Ben’s boys would win. Thousands of Jewish men were killed. In the end, the Benjamites were defeated. Men, women, and children were killed.

But then the nation of Israel felt guilty. They felt sorry for the few remaining young Benjamite men who now had no one to marry and carry on that tribe. So Israel went to war with another tribe of brothers, killed them and their wives, stole their teenage daughters, and gave the girls to Benjamin boys for wives. But there weren’t enough girls to go around.

It just keeps getting worse.  The Israelites devised a plan for the Benjamites to kidnap even more young girls. I’m appalled! This is abduction and rape, slavery. And these are God’s chosen people. Murderers and rapists.

As I was reading this account I was getting madder and madder. I started questioning God. How could he condone such depravity, I wondered. Then I was impressed with the words, “Just keep reading.”

And there it was!

Judges 21:25. The book of Judges ends with:

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Now I get it. God never condoned what was happening in Israel. It wasn’t his plan or his will. God never intended for his people to sink so low. But the Israelites didn’t care what God wanted. They did what they wanted to do.

“If it feels good, do it. Your reality is your reality and what might be right for you might not be right for me. There are no absolutes. Live and let live. You are the most important person in your world. Religious thinking has got to change.”

Sound familiar? I don’t want to get political here, but I have to believe what we see in the news from our country and the world stems from people living like there is no King.

Wake up, Christians. The time of our passively watching while our world does it’s own thing has to end. There IS one God. Jesus IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one goes to God except through him. The Bible IS true and everything else a lie.

If you believe anything else, please stop referring to yourself as a Christian. There IS a king in Israel, and I’m not talking about a piece of land in the Middle East. Jesus IS King. Today.

That’s the reality. And I am determined to serve him, obey him, fight for him. What about you?

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Minimum Wage

We are a society that wants to be paid for what we do. Minimum wage keeps rising, yet many people will say they aren’t making what they feel they are worth. Very often as a young teacher, I felt underpaid. And let me tell you, I never turned down a raise.

We like to be recognized. One of the first things we teach our children is to say, “Thank you”. Showing gratitude is, and should be engrained in us all.

It feels good to be appreciated. It even encourages us to do more, work harder.

But Jesus warns us about expecting good things to happen for us just because we obey him. Does a master thank his servant for doing what a servant is expected to do? Jesus tells us our attitude should be humility.

Even after leading someone to the Savior, teaching a great Sunday School lesson, or taking food to a shut-in, we should say, “We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.” (Luke 17) We may serve God and still not be able to pay the bills, or still battle that disease, or never have that condo on the ocean or that BMW in the garage. But, dear one, God doesn’t owe us any of that.

If we call ourselves Christians expecting to reap rewards or to enjoy status as children of the King, we’re in it for the wrong reasons. We are servants. Let’s act like it. Let’s serve our Master out of gratitude and with joy just for the privilege of serving Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Let me be clear. There’s nothing minimum about serving the God of Creation. Our Master gives HIMSELF to us. Let that sink in. I think you’ll look for more and more ways to serve him just because you can.

Dear Master, I bow before you recognizing that I have nothing to offer you but myself. And I am humbled in knowing that’s all you ask of me. Show me how I can serve you today, not in order for you to bless me, but just because you deserve to be served. Here I am, Lord. I’m yours. And may you be glorified in all I do and say today.

100%

People often say “Wouldn’t it have been amazing to live in Jesus’ day, to actually hear him speak and hang out with him?” I have thought so myself.

Then I read verses like Psalm 46:11 and I am reminded we who live this side of the cross have an even better reality “The LORD of Hosts is with us”! God, in all his power and majesty lives within my heart. I don’t have to travel to Jerusalem to have an audience with him. I exist in his presence!

I might not be able to shake his hand, but I can pour my heart out to him in the privacy of my room and know he hears. He’s with me in the car. Behind my desk. At the ballgame. He never leaves me. I have 100% of his attention 100% of the time. Now that is truly amazing!

I think if the disciples really understood this privilege, they wouldn’t have argued with him so often about his death. I think if I really understood the privilege, I wouldn’t doubt or question so often. I wouldn’t waste one second worrying or being fearful.

“Be still and know that I am God… The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.” Psalm 46:10+11.

Dear God, Thank you, thank you for your Presence in my life, Thank you for walking with me, living within me, focusing your attention on me. Thank you for the intimate relationship I have with you through the blood of your dear Son. May my walk with you be intentional, lived out of a heart of gratitude for the very real privilege of having you with me..

Border Wars

I have to admit I don’t know Middle-Eastern geography. I am not familiar with nations and cities on today’s maps, much less those in Old Testament times. So when Joshua is naming territories that were given to the Jews to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham, my eyes glaze over. Not only do I not know where these places are (or were), the names of these places are hard to pronounce.

What can God possibly say to me through this geography lesson?

One word kept repeating itself as I read Joshua 15 and 16 this morning: borders. The Jews were given the Promised Land, but it didn’t come without clear borders. Those borders were necessary to separate the people of God from everyone else. The Jews were to live inside the borders. The enemy’s influence was to stay on the other side of those borders.

Do we have borders as 21st Century children of God, living in the blessed Promised Land of fellowship with God? Let me share just a few borders God has laid on my heart:

Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Be holy as I am holy.

Resist the devil.

Flee youthful lusts.

Pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks.

Preach the Gospel.

Confess sin.

Present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.

Study to show ourselves approved of God.

Now, none of these will earn us favor in God’s eye. None of these will buy our salvation. The privilege of living in the Promised Land is a gift of God, it’s ours by the grace of God, it was bought by the blood of Jesus, the only way to the Father. No, these borders can’t allow us to get around the cross. But living within these borders is amazing, like living in a land flowing with milk and honey.

These borders, like the borders Joshua spelled out for Israel, separate us from the rest of the world. It’s within these borders we find fellowship with God himself, life and peace, and help in our time of need.

But there is a war on our soul. Satan wants to tear down the walls, blur the line, enlarge our borders by telling us lies like: God wouldn’t send a good person to hell, there are multiple paths to God, there are big sins and little sins and little sins are overlooked by God, you are ok just the way you are, laughing at sin on TV or neglecting study of God’s Word or keeping your faith to yourself is no biggie, intelligent men and women reject the Bible as inerrant.

I am challenged to guard my borders. The walls around my heart can’t be too high, my resolve can’t be too strong, my dependance on God can’t be too complete. I want to live within the borders God has given us in his Word. There is nothing outside those lines that can compare.

Father in Heaven, thank you for lovingly identifying the borders. Thank you for providing peace and joy and comfort and blessing to those of us who walk inside those borders. Forgive us when we fall for Satan’s tactics to blur the lines, to step outside your perfect will. I pray for your people today. May we let you identify the borders as we read and study your Word, and may we be willing to fight to keep those borders secure. This is war. You give us the victory. Thank you. 

Show and Tell

The story of Rahab in Joshua 2, and that of the demon possessed Gadarene in Luke 8 have parallel messages. That message is: evangelism.

Rahab wasn’t a Jew but she believed in God because of what she had seen God do in Israel. “…the Lord your God, He is God…” She was told to place a red ribbon on her window, then go and tell her loved ones how they could be saved.

Jesus told the man whom he healed of demon possession to go home and tell people what God had done for him. The man did, and many believed Jesus as a result.

That’s what it means to be “chosen”. God didn’t choose Israel to separate them from the rest of us for any reason other than to reveal God to a lost world. And as Christians, we are chosen to do the same. Go into all the world and preach the Gospel…

So how am I doing? Do people see Jesus in me? Do they recognize God’s hand in my life? Do I live it? Talk about it?

Rahab put a scarlet thread on her window to identify herself as a believer. What is it that identifies me as a child of God? Is it visible? Is it beautiful?

May it be so.

God, I pray for your children today. May we be those vessels through which you can draw all people to yourself. May we realize that each of us has a commission… to share the Good News of Jesus with our world. May we show them what it looks like to be forgiven, to have you present in our lives every minute of every day. May we tell them, speak with them, use Scripture to share your plan of salvation. And may the result be the same as we read about in Joshua and Luke, that our loved ones and neighbors will be saved because of our testimony.