Monthly Archives: March 2016

March 31 – It’s Not About Them

Judges 3-5

There is a running theme throughout Scripture. God blesses obedience and punishes disobedience. God turns His back on those who reject Him. But He is faithful to save those who call on Him.

There are examples of this here in these chapters in Judges. Israel sinned, God punished, Israel repented, God saved. Israel sinned, God punished, Israel repented, God saved…

I attend a Precepts Bible study. Each week we watch a video of Kay Arthur’s lectures. And we are presently studying the Old Testament Kings. (talk about more examples of consequences for disobedience and blessings for obedience)

Kay said something on the video we watched this week that came to mind as I read these chapters in Judges today. The video was taped about ten years ago. But she could have given this lecture yesterday, as relevant as it was in light of what is in the news these days.

She asks a question: Is God going to punish the United States because we have turned from Him? Then she said:

He has to.

His holiness demands it.

Here’s what I know about God. He is the same today as He was in the time of the Judges and Old Testament Kings. He does not ignore disobedience. He disciplines those He loves.

But God has also said that if His people – we who are called by His name – will “humble themselves and pray and seek (His) face and turn from their wicked ways, then (God) will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron 7:14)

So, it’s not that America needs to turn back to God. God is talking to HIS PEOPLE. Christians. He’s talking to you and me.

If CHRISTIANS humble themselves, turn from the evil in our own lives, if WE seek His face, then He will heal our land. God’s punishment on the United States won’t be because there are unbelievers in the White House.

God’s punishment on the United States will come because we Christians are not obeying God. What is happening to America isn’t on unbelievers. It’s on us.

It’s time for a revival in our churches among believers who have been living with sin. What are you going to do about it?

Holy God, I am convicted as I realize what is happening in our country and our world is a direct result of my own disobedience. It’s easy to blame “them.” It’s not so easy to point that finger at me. Forgive me. Cleanse me. Help me to stand for the Truth You have laid out in Scripture. May I not take my eyes off You. May my desires be only Yours. May Your people, we Christians, humble ourselves and call on You out of pure hearts. And may You heal our land as we submit to You.

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March 30 – Living With The Enemy

Judges 1-2

Israel didn’t drive out the enemy like God had told them to do. Yes, it would have involved force, it wouldn’t be easy. But, like Judah who didn’t drive the enemy out of the valley because they had “iron chariots,” the Israelites chose to live among the enemy. Clearly not what God had wanted for them. (besides, what is an iron chariot next to God?)

God had promised them He would go before them in battle. God had promised them victory. Either Israel was too lazy, or they didn’t really believe God when He told them living with the enemy would cause them to sin.

So, the Jews lived among idol worshipers. And the result? The Bible tells us that their children were “another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.” (2:10)

Oh, their kids knew about Baal. But they didn’t know God.

I have lived six decades. In my lifetime I have seen the decline of morality and the reverence and fear of a Holy God. I have seen worship turn into entertainment, and the Truth replaced by a lie.

God is speaking to me today. I am a part of the decline of Christianity. Have I cleared out my own Promised Land like God has commanded me? Have I eliminated sin from my life, or do I live with a hint of jealousy? Do I watch that one ungodly TV show? Do I take God’s name in vain on occasion? Am I too busy to read God’s Word and pray, replacing my worship of Him with busyness?

Do I love this world a bit too much? Have I grown numb concerning sin, accepting sin or tolerating it?

God would have me clear out the land. He has said that living with the enemy can only turn out badly for me… and for the dear ones who come after me.

God, reveal those areas in my life where I have allowed Satan to exist. I don’t want anything to do with him. I don’t want his influence to have any hold on me. I want to be free from the bondage that results by allowing sin to exist in me. You died to free me. Forgive me for squandering that. I don’t want to live with the enemy. I want my life to be just You and me.

March 29 – Come On In

Joshua 22-24

They built a replica altar. The two and a half tribes that chose to live close to, but not in, the Promised Land built an altar as a sign to those in the Promised Land that they were their equals. They wanted everyone for generations to know they had the right to worship at the tabernacle, that they were the children of Israel, too.

They were. And they did have the right to worship with their brothers. God hadn’t forced them to enter the land. And He blessed them with their own land on the other side of Jordan.

But they had settled for second best. They never experienced the abundant riches living inside the Promised Land afforded. It wasn’t that they weren’t happy, or that they couldn’t call themselves Jews. They just missed having everything God wanted them to have.

Is it possible to be a Christian and not experience the abundant life? I believe Scripture tells us it is. Can you be a Christian and not read your Bible every day or pray? Can you be a Christian and not be involved in a church fellowship? I believe so. But hear me when I say non-Christians don’t read their Bibles, either. They don’t pray. They don’t go to church.

Can you be obedient to God as His child, and not nurture a close relationship with Him?? I don’t see how.

God wants you to live in the Promised Land of fellowship with Him, enjoying the abundant blessings that come when you walk with Him. Why would you be satisfied living within arms reach and not grabbing hold of the best God has to offer?

God won’t force you. But that door is wide open, and He’s standing there inviting you to come on in and be blessed beyond what you can even imagine.

Ans speaking of blessings… Thank you for praying for Sheri yesterday. Her daughter reports that surgery went better than they had hoped. There will be radiation and chemo for Sheri in the days and weeks ahead. But God is in this and we are just praising Him today for answering prayers with this successful surgery.

Sheri lives in the Promised Land. She faces her cancer with hope and confidence and assurance beyond what many people can imagine. She walks with Jesus. And she knows she’ll walk with Him today either here on in eternity.

I trust you can say the same.

March 28 – God’s Promises Are A Done Deal

Joshua 19-21

So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. (21:43-45)

Did you catch what Scripture tells us? The Jews were given the land just like God had promised Abraham. None of their enemies stood before them. None of the promises God made to them failed. Not a one!

Can God be trusted to keep His Word? 100%

Would you mind if I share a personal burden I am carrying? I have a friend who is having surgery today to remove a large tumor from her brain. I am praying for complete healing, although this is not the only cancer invading her body.

I read passages like this one in Joshua, and in others like Matthew 4:23 where Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. Or like in James 5:16 that says we should confess our sins so we can be healed. And I am tempted to believe physical healing is God’s promise. But is it?

God promised the Israelites He would defeat their enemies. And he did. Promise kept.

But I am reminded that cancer is not my friend’s enemy. Her enemy was defeated when she asked Jesus to save her. She is a godly woman, a servant, an encourager. Her life has been a testimony for God’s grace for the forty plus years I have known her. She has touched thousands of lives through her years as a music teacher, a member of the city’s Philharmonic Orchestra, as her church’s organist and praise team member. Her unwavering faith these past couple years as she has battled this disease has shown a bright spotlight on her Savior to people in and outside the church.

I pray for a miraculous healing in my friend’s body. I pray for the doctors, for her husband and daughters. I pray for her church family and the community who loves her so much.  I pray that God will be glorified in this surgery today. No matter the outcome.

I know God will keep every promise He’s ever made to my friend. He will never leave or forsake her. He’s gone to prepare a place for her where she will live forever cancer-free, and in God’s Presence.

Would you pray with me today for Sheri? May God be evident in many ways, may hearts be drawn to Him, and may Sheri know the healing that God has in store for her.

He will keep His promises.

 

March 27 – How long?

Joshua 16-18

God had given the land to the Jews. All they had to do was take it. Some tribes went right in and cleaned out the cities in order to occupy what God had given them.

Other tribes held back. Joshua asked them: How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your Fathers, has given you?” (18:3)

It’s Easter Sunday morning. Jesus is alive! His death on the cross bought our salvation. He was buried to carry our sins all the way to hell, separated from the Father.

But He rose again, and offers us new life. Eternal life. A life free of guilt and hopelessness. He did that for me. He did that for you.

Some people have accepted God’s provision. We’ve repented of sin and allowed Jesus to be our Savior, the very thing He was born to be.

Others stand there looking at the gift, like the Jews in Joshua 18 stood looking at the land. But they just haven’t taken that step toward accepting what Jesus bought for them, what He freely offers to them with open arms.

God is saying to you, “How long will you put off taking possession of what is already yours? How long will you refuse what Jesus died to give you?”

Dearest Jesus, we celebrate You today. We sing about the fact that you defeated death itself by dying, then living again. That tomb is empty. We praise You. We worship You. I pray for any reading this blog who are still standing there with that precious gift in front of them. May they reach out and accept what you have already paid for. May they repent of sin this minute, and allow You to forgive them, that which you are so eager to do. May each of us know the blessed reality of having the risen Savior walking with us today.

March 26 – God’s Sovereignty

Joshua 12-15

Caleb went to Joshua and reminded him that 45 years earlier, Moses had promised him a certain portion of the Promised Land. Now Joshua was assigning property to the Jews, and Caleb wanted to be sure Joshua gave him the land Moses had promised. So Joshua assigned Caleb that land.

Later, Achsah, Caleb’s daughter, asked her dad for springs of water to go with the land in the Negev he had already given her and her husband. Caleb gave her the springs.

These days, with the election coming, and with such unrest in our country and the world, I often hear it said, “God is Sovereign.” Many people seem to believe that means God will put whoever He wants in the White House, that He is exacting punishment on the world by causing some people to be suicide bombers. Some seem to take the attitude that we might as well sit back and let God do His thing because, after all, He is Sovereign.

But I don’t think that means God is up there playing a game of chess with our lives.

Would Joshua have remembered Moses’ promise to Caleb had Caleb not reminded him? Would Caleb have thought to include springs of water with the land he gave his daughter had she not asked? Would the Israelites have received the Promised Land had they not fought for it?

We won’t know the answers to those questions because Scripture tells us what actually happened. Had the requests not been made or the wars not fought we would be reading a different account.

Yes, God is absolutely, without question, Sovereign. He is the Supreme Ruler. He is the ultimate Power. But God has also chosen to exist in time while we are on earth.

Actually, He’s already at the end of time, too. He’s already returned for His own in the realm of eternity. We just haven’t experienced it yet, trapped in minutes and seconds.

The Bible tells us over and over how important our choices are. Why would our choices make any difference if God was “in control?”

Does God have a will concerning who occupies the White House the next four years? I am certain He knows who will be our next president. It will be the person who gets the most votes, and voting is a choice each of us must make.

I think God’s will is for Christians to fight for our land. He wills that we choose morality, obedience, and that we make our voices heard. I think His will is that we vote and make our position known. I think His will is that we take action and not sit back and assume He’s going to do it all.

If we sit at home and think that, because God is Sovereign, His will will be done with or without us, we are sadly mistaken. There are dozens of examples in the Bible where God wanted to bless His children but could not because of their choices. More than once He “gave them over” to their choices. And those times certainly couldn’t be described as His will for them.

I know that God is in control. I know He knows the end from the beginning. I know that He knows when life on earth will end. He is Sovereign.

But God’s Sovereignty does not let us off the hook. God knows what will happen if Christians stand up for themselves like Caleb and Achsah did, like Israel did when they fought for the land.

But He also knows what will happen if we don’t.

That chapter hasn’t been written yet in the realm of time. Our choices will make the difference. Yes, God knows what we are going to choose. But He wants us to choose Him. That’s His will. Everything else will fall into place, if we choose God.

Dear Sovereign God, it is comforting to know that You are who You say You are. You are all powerful, all knowing, ever present. But You, in your wisdom have given us the ability to make choices. And those choices, according to Your will for Your creation, determine life on this planet. I pray that Your children will choose You, that we will intentionally put on Your armor, that we will purposefully choose to obey You, and that we won’t just sit back and assume You are going to do a great work in spite of us. May we not give up, thinking there is nothing we can do to change the tide. You can and do great things when we choose to be vessels through which You accomplish Your will. May You find us choosing to be faithful.

 

March 25 – A Rest From War

Joshua 9-11

These chapters tell of Israel’s taking of the Promised Land. It involved wars, and fire, and hangings, and destruction. Then in 11:23 we see that finally the land had rest from war. But it hadn’t been easy. And it didn’t happen over night.

11:18 says, “Joshua waged war a long time with all the kings.” God had promised the land. But the land needed some serious cleansing. They had to purge the evil before the Jews could live there.

My spiritual Promised Land is mine for the taking, too. It’s there God promises to never leave or forsake me, to live in my heart, to bless and keep me. But, just as with the Jews, there is some purging I must do.

I need to repent of sin, flee youthful lusts, love God with all my heart and soul, cleanse my hands and purify my heart, fight the good fight, put on the whole armor of God. And, just like with the Jews, God is going to fight for me.

God will help me rid my life of sin that so easily entangles me. When I allow God to come in and stand with me against our enemy, there is victory. Then I, too, can live in this world resting from the spiritual war Satan has declared on my soul.

With God I can be more than a conqueror. With God I can know the peace and rest that comes from abiding in Him, living in the Promised Land.