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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Joshua Defeats 31 Kings; Obeying the Lord

Today's Reading:
  • Joshua 11:1 - 12:24
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Joshua 11:1 - 12:24

I'm learning that Joshua fought far more than just the battle of Jericho!  In my last reading I saw how a group of kings banned together against the Israelites but the Israelites easily defeated them with God's help. 

What I learned today was even more astounding.  Dozens of kings banded against Joshua.  Their numbers were so numerous that they "covered the landscape like the sand on the seashore (11:4)".  Dozens of kings banded together!  To a person who does not have the help of the Lord on his side, that entire situation is 100% hopeless.  It not only looks hopeless, it is hopeless.  It is only with the help of the Lord that Joshua defeated all these enemies without any trouble at all.  All together, 31 kings each of the Jordan were defeated by Joshua (12:24).

I don't have much to say about this passage today, just that with God all things truly are possible.  I did notice that in verse 11:15, we are told that Joshua did everything he was told and very carefully obeyed all the commandments that the Lord had given to Moses.  So yes, with God all things are possible, but there is also an expectation that we will obey Him.  He is faithful to those who place their faith in Him and obey Him.  I think we are quick to call on the Lord for help getting ourselves out of the situations that we put ourselves into.  The Lord will not forsake us, and we have our true salvation by putting our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  That being said, when you are calling for help from the Lord, do a check and make sure that you are obeying both his commandments and his direction.  Joshua was successful in his conquest for three reasons:
(1) God directed path and Joshua followed
(2) Joshua had complete faith that the Lord would fulfill the promises made
(3) Joshua was careful to obey all the commandments the Lord gave to him
Too often we think about the love the Lord has for us and the saving grace, but we forget that we are also expected to obey Him.  If He is truly our Lord, then we should obey Him as we are his subjects and any loyal subjects would wholeheartedly obey their king as well as seek the king's direction in their lives.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

What Joy for those who can Reside Forever in the House of the Lord

Today's Reading:
  • Psalm 84
  • Psalm 85
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Today's reading covered Psalms 84 and 85.  Both are psalms of the descendents of Korah, however they have two different themes.  Psalm 85 is another plea for the Lord's redemption from the hardships that were brought upon the people for their previous sins.  The author of this Psalm wonders if the Lord's wrath will last forever, or if it will ever end.  I personally fear the Lord's wrath -- I never want to be in the place where the Lord shuns me.  That would be a terrible, desperate place, and it would probably feel like it lasts forever. 

Psalm 84 talks about the joy of the place of the Lord and how great it is to be near him.  This is a beautiful psalm that is full of expression of how we should all long to feel about the Lord.  I admit there are times I go further away from the Lord and in those times I lose the feeling that we read about in this psalm.  In those times I need to remember this psalm, re-read it, and keep the words close at heart. 

The psalm starts out talking about how lovely the dwelling place of the Lord is and how the author faints with longing to be there.  Faints with longing.  Longing for such a beautiful place.  And if you really think about what the Lord offers us -- really really think -- we would all faint with longing to be near Him too.  He offers us peace, joy, an end to sorrow and death, protection, love, and just the completeness to our spirit that nothing else can fulfill.  Or, as Psalm 84:4 says:  "What joy for those who can live your house, always singing your praises."  Amen!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Didn't I Heal Ten Men? God's Hand in Medicine

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 17:11 - 17:37
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Luke 17:11 - 17:37
Jesus entered a village where ten lepers awaited him for healing.  Jesus told the lepers to go see the priests.  They did as he said, and all were healed.  One of the men came back to praise Jesus for healing him.  Jesus asked where they other nine men were?  Why did only one come back to give praise and thanks for healing? 

Those ten men received a miraculous healing - all they had to do was go show themselves to the priests.  Yet even then only one came back to praise Jesus.  I wonder how that translates to today, when so many are healed through medicine, doctors, treatments, and hospitals?

How many of us consistently return our praise to the Lord for being healed, even amongst those who firmly believe in Jesus Christ?  I think it's too easy to attribute healing to some medicine or some doctor, or simply time.  And, truthfully, a lot of time it is a medicine or doctor who is able to help us to manifest a healing.  But I ask you, who created the doctors and the people who make such great advances with medicine?  When was the last time that you visited a hospital that did NOT have a strong religious affiliation?  I am a firm believer that God's hand is in the natural - medicines, doctors, treatments, hospitals - that we so eagerly seek out.  These things are wonderful blessings given to us, but we need to remember that they are, indeed, a gift.

God is all around us, healing us and helping us.  If we pray to the Lord for healing, relief, etc., and we receive it, then we should ALWAYS return thanks and praise to the Lord.  These passages are a simple reminder.  We should be the one who remembers and gives thanks to the Lord -- not part of the nine who go off and forget the things that the Lord has so graciously done for us. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sun and Moon Stand Still; Seek the Lord Lest Ye Be Deceived

Today's Reading:
  • Joshua 9:3 - 10:43
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Joshua 9:3 - 10:43
Joshua and his men continued to conquer all the lands that the Lord had instructed them too.  The kings of five lands were afraid, so they banded together to come at Joshua and his army.  They stationed together at Gideon and the Israelites went out to meet them.  There the enemy was defeated both by sword and by a terrible hailstorm.  This hailstorm, sent by the Lord, killed more people than the Israelites did.  I can't imagine a storm so powerful -- but it must have been terrifying for the enemy.

Verse 4:12 mentions one other supernatural thing that occurred.  Joshua declared that the sun and the moon should stand still until the enemy was completely defeated.  We are then told that the sun did not set that day because the Lord answered his prayer, and that there has never been a day before or since like that (10:13-14).

Joshua called to the Lord to stop the sun and the moon in the sky.  The Lord answered him as he requested.  This made me think of Mark 11:22, where Jesus tells us that if we had the faith, we could tell the mountain to jump into the sea and it would listen.  Can you imagine the faith it would take to request the sun and the moon to stand still, and believe without a doubt in your heart that it will be done?  The faith Joshua had was immeasurable.  

There was one more part of today's reading that really caught my attention.  In chapter 9 we learn that the people of Gideon decided to deceive the Israelites into creating a peace treaty with their people.  They knew that Joshua had the Lord on his side, and the people were rightly terrified.  Some people of Gideon dressed up in old, worn clothes and sandals.  They packed old wineskins and moldy, dry bread.  They then road up to Joshua's camp and pretended as if they had been on a very long journey.  They asked Joshua for a peace treaty with their people, and Joshua granted it to them. 

Verse 9:14 says something very important -- that the people did NOT consult the Lord before making this decision.  How often do we let ourselves be deceived?  And not just by things that you need divine guidance to discern?  For example, how many people get hooked into phony or misleading social media stories and pictures?  We have the resources to validate these things at our fingertips, yet too many choose to stay in ignorance and be deceived. 

There are many people in this world who try to deceive others.  It might not be as easy to find out about the person who appears to be suffering -- usually with some financial matter.  It is the Christian thing to do to help these people out, is it not?  But just because we are Christians does not mean that we have to accept deception.  So what can we do about it?  Well, verse 9:14 tells us precisely what to do -- we must seek the Lord about those situations.  Seek the Lord, read His word, and listen for His answer.  He is there and He WILL guide us. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 16:19 - 17:10
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Luke 16:19 - 17:10
Today I read the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.  In this story there is a rich man who lives in luxury, denying himself nothing.  A poor diseased man named Lazarus laid at the rich man's gate, wishing for scraps - but instead dogs would lick his open sores as he laid there suffering.  Both men died, and Lazarus went to be with Abraham while the rich men went to be with the dead in suffering.  The rich man implored Abraham to let Lazarus come and relieve some of his suffering, and asked him to send Lazarus to his family so that they might repent.

Abraham told Lazarus a few things: First, he said that the divide between the the rich man and Lazarus was a chasm that none could cross.  That serves as a reminder that your state, once you are dead, is permanent.  Abraham also told the man that he had everything he wanted in life with Lazarus had nothing - and thus Lazarus was being comforted while the rich man was in anguish.  I am conflicted about this part of the story -- after all, all my needs are met, as are many of my wants.  Does that mean that I will be in anguish after I die?  I don't think that's quite what this story is saying, and I will say why as I continue.

When the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his family, Abraham also refused.  The rich man wanted to warn his family to repent and turn to God.  To me this implies they are in a completely unsaved state to begin with.  Lazarus didn't say to repent and tell them to not indulge themselves - no, he knew that they would wind up with him if they didn't turn to God.  Now, that's not to say that a person who is a Christian should have everything they want -- far the opposite.  But I would assume that if the rich man had turned to God, that he wouldn't allow Lazarus, the man who lay right outside his gate, to remain in suffering and poverty.

There's a lot to be said about that too.  After all, poverty will be a condition of this world until Jesus Christ comes back -- so how do Christians draw the line between helping those who are in need and managing their own lives?  It's a fine line, I think, that every Christian has to make for himself.  I will say this, however -- if there is someone in suffering at your door, you should do all you can to help them.  After all, the Lord brought them to you so that you could help them.

Finally, Abraham makes a point to the rich man.  He says that if the rich man's family did not believe Moses and the prophets, then nothing -- not even a man risen from the dead -- would cause them to believe.  I don't know about you, but for me it's easy to think that if God would just show this person this one thing then they will believe.  But the bible is telling us right here that isn't so.  And if you want more proof, look to Moses and the people of Israel!  How many miracles did the Lord show those people, yet they continued to doubt, and gripe, and debate God's greatness?  These people had the visible presence of God living in their camp, had encountered many many miracles, yet still failed to truly believe.  In the end, I think people will believe what they want to believe, no matter what they are shown.