Tag Archives: daily walk

Joshua 2; BC (Before Canaan)

I am a little surprised Joshua sent a couple of spies into Jericho. Didn’t God just tell him he’d be victorious over all the nations of Canaan? Are we to assume Joshua had a bit of doubt, and sent those spies just in case he’d misinterpreted God’s promise? Is Joshua demonstrating a lack of faith?

My old buddy, Mathew Henry, says this is an example of an effective leader making it a point to look through other people’s eyes. I think Joshua sent those spies across the Jordan to help them see for themselves what they were fighting for. They hadn’t heard God’s voice like Joshua had heard it. Maybe Joshua wanted to give them the vision by giving them a sneak peak.

I see Jesus in Joshua. Jesus lived His life, faced temptation and rejection, got tired and sick and hungry, wept when He was sad, not because He needed to understand how it felt to be human. But so we humans could understand He gets us. It was for us He lived.

And I think it was partly for the Jews’ peace of mind that Joshua sent those spies. Oh, he received some intel from inside the city. But I believe those spies came away with much more than a city map.

Joshua and Jesus both understood the big picture. But they looked through our eyes and saw what we needed to understand, too.

Dear God, thank You for seeing my perspective of things. Thank you for reading my mind, hearing my thoughts, recognizing my hope, dreams, and my fears. Thank You for knowing exactly what I need. And thank You for Your patience those times I’m too focused on myself or the situation to see the big picture. Open my eyes so I can see through Yours.

Deuteronomy 25; The Family of the Unsandaled

I got stalled in my reading today at verse 10. Moses was talking to the Israelites about the rights of a young woman, widowed before she could have a child. Moses said the dead man’s brother was to marry her, have a child by her, and the child would be considered the extension of her first husband’s ancestral line.

If the living brother refused her, she could take him to court. If, even after the town’s elders talked to him, he still refused, the widow would bend down, remove her brother-in-law’s sandal, and spit in his face. He would be totally humiliated in front of the whole town as he held on to his stubborn disobedience.

So why wouldn’t he be identified as “The Unsandaled Man?” Why did Moses tell the people this man’s family would always be identified with his disobedience: The Family of the Unsandaled.

Jewish genealogy was so important to them, I wonder why a guy would set his children and grandchildren up to bear the tarnish his sin caused? How self-serving can a person be?

I went to the commentaries on my shelves, and even Matthew Henry had little to say on the subject. So I went to Google. Google has an opinion on just about anything. I wasn’t disappointed.

Well, a little disappointed. I found one pastor who said these verses in Deuteronomy support gay marriage. (sigh). But another pointed to Ruth and Boaz and the fact that Jesus came out of their union. Another pointed to the time the religious leaders tried to trip Jesus up by using this passage. But I couldn’t find an answer to my question concerning the family of the guilty man.

So I decided to pray. (Not proud of the order of my actions here today) I asked God if there was something He wanted me to know about this verse. I sat and thought about it, meditated on it, and I prayed again. And here is what I believe God would have me share:

We are all born into a family. We all carry a family name. We rub shoulders with the people in our community as part of an identifiable family. My sisters and I grew up as “The Zehner Girls.” And even though today most of us have different last names through marriage, we are still known to many as “The Zehner Girls.”

But there is another means of identification. And that has to do with character. I bet you know a “Family of the Unfaithful.” Or a “Family of the Liar.” Or a “Family of the Gossip.” What about “The Family of the Lazy?” “The Family of the Hot-Head,” or “The Family of the Drunk?”

Some people believe the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Maybe you also know “The Family of the Compassionate.” And a “Family of the Humble.” Do you know “The Family of the Dependable?”

The thing is, what you do and who you are in the community reflects on those dear ones in your home. Maybe you live like what you want is more important than they are. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself it’s your life, and they have nothing to do with your choices, or that your choices can’t hurt them. I think God would have us know differently.

Then I thought about another family with whom we identify. That’s our church family. When people look at your church family do they identify them as “The Church of the Faithful” because YOU are faithful? Do they recognize your fellowship as “The Church of the Generous” because of YOUR generosity? Are you known as “The Church of the Compassionate” as you reach out to the needy in your community? “Do they see you as “The Church of the Truth” because you live your life according to Scripture?

Like it or not, the world is judging your family, and your church, by how you live and the choices you make. I don’t want my legacy to be a slap in the face to my family. In fact, as I sit here and wonder about what I’d like that legacy to be, I would like us to be known as, “The Family That Looks Like Jesus.”

And if that’s my goal, I’ve got some praying, some searching of Scripture, some loving and serving to do in His Name.

I hope you will consider the title your family is known by, and what you’d like it to be. I’ll be praying for you.

Deuteronomy 21-24; God Makes Sense

As Moses teaches God’s Law to the young Jews ready to take the Promised Land, I am struck by the sense and sensibility of it all. (I just watched that movie on TCM this week)

Oh sure, we could dissect the verses concerning divorce, or agriculture, or fashion, parenting, or even using the latrine. But don’t all these chapters fall under the Greatest Commandment Jesus talked about in Matthew 22? Love God, love others? Don’t these verses in Deuteronomy fit under the umbrella of the Golden Rule?

I think our world is in the state it is in because we aren’t living with the good sense God gave us. Love Him. Worship Him only. Be kind. Have integrity. Be honest. Have compassion. Eliminate sin. Don’t think of yourself more highly than you think of others. It just makes sense.

God makes sense.

Deuteronomy 18-20; Go Home

I came across some verses here today which remind me of something Jesus said. Moses is talking about warfare as the Jews prepared to take the Promised Land. “Don’t be afraid,” he tells them, “even if the enemy seems unbeatable, because the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, will be with you and will fight for you.” (from 20:1-4)

But then Moses instructs the army officers to weed out certain soldiers:

If you’ve recently built a house, go home.

If you’ve just planted a vineyard, go home.

If you are engaged to be married, go home.

If you are afraid, go home.

It makes me think of when Jesus, in Luke 9, tells a couple of guys the same thing:

You want to go bury your dad? Go home.

You want to go say goodbye to your family? Go home. Neither one of you is of any use in my kingdom.

An effective Jesus follower cannot have divided loyalties. Period.

Toward the end of his life, my dad spoke more freely about his experiences as a Marine fighting in the Pacific during WWII. He talked about fear, about duty, about focus and determination, senses heightened, everything forgotten but the task at hand.

He told me about a Marine in his division, who gave in to fear. He said the young man, at a critical point in the battle, stood up and tried to run away. He was immediately shot and killed by the enemy. I must have said something like, “How sad,” or “I feel bad for that guy.”

Dad quickly replied that there was nothing sad about it, that that Marine had jeopardized every other Marine in the area by revealing their position. He had no sympathy for that young man.

So what does this have to do with living the Christian life in 2017? I am reminded that being an effective follower of Jesus is not for sissies. It’s hard. It’s not popular. It takes intention and determination. It takes focus, and courage. It means loving Jesus more than your spouse, or your children. It means obeying Jesus even if it costs us a career, or a friendship. It means sharing the Gospel with that loved one, that neighbor, that coworker, even if that person will think you are an idiot.

It means living a life that doesn’t look like the world. This is war. And if you aren’t in this 100%, just go home. You might as well go golfing on Sunday morning, quit identifying with your church fellowship, stop quoting Scripture if your life doesn’t reflect the Truth.

Because you are putting the rest of us at risk. You are giving Christianity a bad name, you are undermining what God would like to do in the lives of the people you are in contact with. There are people who are totally committed to Jesus, who are obeying Him, loving Him, sacrificing for Him. And if you aren’t one of them, you are a liability.

The soldiers Moses was talking about were still soldiers, the men Jesus spoke to might have really loved Him. But they were told to go home anyway, because they were of no use in the battle at hand.

And neither are you if you aren’t in this all the way. The Bible doesn’t encourage us to kinda follow the Lord. It doesn’t tell us to turn over most of our life to Him. Scripture is pretty clear that it’s all, or nothing.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matt 22:37)

I challenge you to find a verse that says differently.

I know this sounds harsh, but I think it needs to be said. We’ve come way too far away from this truth. And Christianity is suffering for it. There is nothing politically correct about being a Jesus follower. Jesus was hated and crucified because He refused to be politically correct.

I think it’s time we quit trying to look like the world, trying not to offend sinners, or by making sinners feel comfortable in the presence of a Holy God. It’s time we quit wimping out when it comes to standing for Biblical truth. The Church was never intended to be a country club.

It was intended to be an army of dedicated soldiers, giving it all for the purpose of sharing the Gospel. Here’s the good news: Moses reminded the people that God Himself, the God who rescued them from slavery, was fighting with them and for them. We aren’t in this alone. And that makes me believe I can commit myself 100% and He will give me the victory.

Otherwise, I might as well just go home.

Father, I pray for Your children today. Some of us might need to take a step back, to go home for a bit and be strengthened, and encouraged to join the battle. Some of us are ready to get in there and follow Your lead today. May each of us check our commitment level, and may we all make the determination to follow You 100%. You demand no less. You deserve no less. I pray Your Church will be strong, effective, and powerful as we submit ourselves to You, in Jesus’ Name, and for His sake.

Numbers 31-33; A Godly Response to Serving God

The Midianites, children of Abraham through Keturah, had turned from God and were worshiping idols. God told Moses to take some men, and go and wipe out those disobedient people. So Moses sent 12,000 soldiers to war.

The Israelites were successful. 31:7 tells us they “killed all the males” just like God had told them to. They brought home the spoils of war: women, livestock, gold and jewels. Then they divided up everything among themselves and the entire population of Israel, and gave a percentage to the Levites. Well, except for the gold and jewels. They were allowed to keep those things for themselves.

God had blessed them for their obedience.

Here’s the lesson I gleaned from these verses today, beginning in verse 48: When the commanders had a chance to count their troops, they realized there’d been no casualties. 12,000 men went to war, and 12,000 men came home. They immediately went to Moses.

Now, they didn’t go to Moses to demand recognition, or an “attaboy” for doing great work out there on the battlefield. First of all, they came humbly, calling themselves “servants” not warriors or victors or nice guys. They didn’t go to Moses to report their accomplishments, or to point out their sacrifices in the line of duty.

They came to Moses to lay their gold and jewels at the feet of their God. Scripture says they wanted to make “atonement for their souls.” God had spared their lives. They wanted Him to save their souls.

So many Jesus followers are busy doing great things in our churches and in our neighborhoods. Many spend hours preparing lessons, giving up vacations for mission work, visiting the sick, giving generously of our resources. We are on the battlefield every day, fighting this battle against the devil, and winning.

My question is, what is our attitude about all that? Are we working toward some pat on the back, some applause or recognition? Are we trying to convince God that He’s got a gem in us? Are we waiting for that blessing we’re sure we deserve?

God has given us life. God has taken our sins to the cross. God has forgiven us at a very high price. Our response can only be humility, and praise to the only One who deserves praise.

Our response to God when we are obedient, when we serve Him, should be like that of these Israeli soldiers. It’s a privilege to serve Him, and He deserves all that we are or have. And the bottom line isn’t what we do, as much as who we are in Him.

 

Numbers 17-18; Budding, Blossoming, and Bountiful

Priests were highly regarded men, respected, obeyed. It’s no wonder that men from other tribes wanted to enjoy the same honor. But God made it plain that Aaron was His chosen, and only Levites were to attend to priestly duties. The staff that represented Aaron not only budded, it blossomed, and produced fruit over night.

The other staves? Nothing.

This side of the cross, as God’s kingdom of priests, we can learn from Aaron’s staff. As believers, we are chosen by God to grow in grace and knowledge, to go and make disciples, to stand in the gap between heaven and hell. We also can delight in God’s Presence, His love, His forgiveness, and protection. Buds and blossoms and bounty.

But chapter 18 reminds us of the great responsibility that goes along with all that. God told Aaron that he and his sons, “bear the responsibility for offenses against the sanctuary…

Verse 5 says: You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that wrath will not fall on the Israelites again.

The commentaries I read seemed to agree these verses warn me that, although being God’s child through the blood of His Son is a precious gift, there are serious consequences if I don’t use it, if I hoard it or abuse it.

I must bear fruit. If I don’t, God’s wrath will be my fault. If my neighbor goes to hell because I didn’t reach out to him to introduce him to the Savior, his blood is on my hands.

My pastor is going through I Thessalonians verse by verse with us, and yesterday we got to 5:12-15. These verses talk to us about how we are to regard those who are over us in the Lord. In other words, our pastors.

He shared the grave responsibility he has as our under-shepherd, and the fact that he will stand before God some day and account for his care of us who worship with him in our church body. He asked us to pray for him, for his faithfulness to God’s Word, and his purity, that God would keep him grounded in the Truth of Scripture, and victorious over sin in his own life.

I’m teaching a Sunday School class this quarter, and would ask the same of you. Please pray for me as I take on the responsibility of being God’s voice to the dear women who trust me to speak the Truth. And pray that Satan will be defeated in my life.

My pastor also pointed out these verses address “those who work hard AMONG you.” Isn’t that all of us who name the name of Jesus? We need to be in prayer for our elders, deacons, youth leaders, worship leaders. We need to be in prayer for each other in our workplaces and neighborhoods as we represent Jesus to a lost world. These verses tell us to live in peace with each other, to encourage each other in the work we have to do, to be patient and kind with everyone, and always want what is best for everyone.

We are all in this together. We all have jobs to do so blossoms will grow and fruit is produced. I pray that God will find all of us faithful, and that our fruit will be bountiful for Jesus’ sake.

Numbers 10-11; Is The Lord’s Arm Too Short?

Moses was overwhelmed with the responsibility of leading the nation of Israel. It wasn’t like he ran for office, or even applied for the position. God called, Moses answered (though somewhat reluctantly). Now in the desert with a million whining Jews, he probably wished he’d ignored God’s call.

Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease You that You put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do You tell me to carry them?… If this is how You are going to treat me, put me to death right now… (11:11-15)

Yep. Moses is wound a little tight here.

The problem with the Jews this time was about the manna. Not that they weren’t grateful. They were just sick of it. How many ways can you cook a wafer before you want to gag at the sight of it? They missed eating meat. They wanted meat.

God told Moses He’d give them meat, and plenty of it. Now here’s what happens when your nerves are shot, and you are hanging by a thread: You lash out at the first person who dares speak to you.

In Moses’ case, that person just happened to be God.

Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them? (11:21-22)

Moses is like, Seriously Lord? There aren’t enough animals in our flocks or fish in the sea to feed these people for a month. Are you kidding me? Just kill me now.

I’m often amazed at the relationship Moses had with God. Because, isn’t it true that most of the time when we are at wit’s end, we tend to lash out at the people closest to us, the people we love and trust the most? I love God’s response to Moses’ outburst:

Is the Lord’s arm too short? You will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.

Yes, dear one, when circumstances are overwhelming, God reveals Himself. When burdens are too heavy to bear, you see how big God’s shoulders are. When problems seem impossible to solve, God provides the solution. When you feel like you can’t go on, God carries you.

How? For myself, it’s when I shut myself away and read His love letter to me. I spend time reading the Bible. I use my concordance and read verses about God’s faithfulness, His character, His provision, love, Presence, and promises. I crawl up into my Father’s lap and whisper in His ear about all the things that have me frustrated, or frightened.  I pray, and I listen. Then I trust Him, even if I can’t see what’s ahead.

So no, Moses. God’s arm isn’t too short. He is able. Sometimes we need to just step back a second and watch what He can do.