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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

As for Me and My Family, We Will Serve the Lord

Today's Reading:
  • Joshua 24:1 - 33
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Joshua 24:1 - 24:33
The book of Joshua ends with Joshua's death at the ago of 110 (24:29). Before he died, Joshua summoned the people one last time. Joshua gave them a message from the Lord, in which the Lord reiterated all the mighty deeds he had done for His people. He talked about the lines of Isaac and Jacob (24:4), He talked about the plagues sent down on Egypt (24:5). He talked about the parting of the Red Sea for escape (24:7). He talked about the victory over the Amorites (24:8), Balak (24:10), and Jericho (24:11).

Joshua then warns the people that may must choose which god to worship. The decision to worship the Lord should be made wholeheartedly (24:14). Should the people turn away and worship other Gods, they would be abandoned by the Lord (24:20). Joshua also gave this famous verse:
But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. (24:15).
The people of Israel agreed to worship the Lord, and were faithful throughout the rest of Joshua's life, and the life of the elders who outlived him. Joshua died peacefully and was buried in his allocated land.

Verse 24:15 speaks dearly to me. It does not matter what the world says. It does not matter what the nation says. It does not matter what my neighbor says. It does not matter what my friend says. It does not matter what my brother says. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Let God Not Forsake Us

Today's Reading:
  • Psalm 89
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Psalm 89
This psalm starts with great praise to the Lord. We are reminded that the Lord's unfailing love endures forever (89:2), and that He will sit on his throne from now and throughout eternity (89:4). We are then reminded of the Lord's covenant with David. Although the Lord made a covenant with David, He also warned the people that disobedience would result in punishment (89:32). The psalm then moves into a story of despair - a denounced king (89:39), and a people who are wholly vulnerable and defeated. The psalm ends with a plea that the Lord would swoop in and rescue his people. The psalmist reminds God that his life is very short (89:47) and not to forsaken him.

I don't ever want to feel the Lord's wrath like this. I can't imagine what it would be like to live every day, knowing that you were living out the Lord's punishment against you. All throughout the old testament I've seen God dealing punishment in terms of entire nations. It makes me worry for my nation, as we fall further and further from the Lord. As our government dictates that every religion but Christianity should be celebrated and protected. As the White House lights up in rainbow colors - God's promise - in celebration of marriage covenants that the Lord would not sanction. As ten commandment markers are removed from courthouse lawns. As local businesses are ruined because they don't want to do something against their beliefs; yet businesses that stand on other religions are not touched. As marines are brought up on charges for leaving an open bible on their desks.

I feel our freedom slipping away, large chunks at a time. Little by little Satan infiltrates the Christian mind. We are conditioned to think that sin is normal and should be embraced. After all, it's all about "love". We are being desensitized and pulled away from the holy life God has called us to live.  Please pray for our country, and vote for our leadership. Those are the two things that we as Christians can do. We are NOT a minority in the US, yet we are letting these things be taken away from us. If we stood together, and with the help of the Lord, we could take back our nation. Our Lord is far mightier than Satan and the work being done against our nation. Please pray for your nation, pray for its leaders, and vote.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Concept of Marriage in Heaven

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 20:27 - 20:47
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Luke 20:27 - 20:47

The most interesting passage to me in today's reading is the passage about marriage after the resurrection. The Sadducees tried to trap Jesus by asking him who would be married in Heaven if a woman was sequentially married to 7 brothers, each of whom had died before she married the next. Jesus gives a startling response that challenges many people's ideas of marriage in Heaven:
"Marriage is for people here on earth. But in the age to come, those worth of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection." (20:34-36).
I did a little online research about this and could not find any articles that contradicted this statement with scripture. I found many references that talk about how Jesus is our "bridegroom" and how our marriage here on earth is but a shadow of Heaven, for we are the bride of Christ. The marriage relationship we foster here on earth will pale in comparison and we will not lack that intimate sharing of ourselves, but instead be utterly fulfilled by our relationship with Jesus Christ. It seems "till death do us part" is most certainly a true statement. I can't really fathom how it will all work, but I trust the promise of eternal happiness.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Taxes and Caesar - The Perfect Answer

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 20:01 - 20:26
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Luke 20:01 - 20:26
Jesus is tested by religious leaders, spies, and Sadducees. All were trying to trick him into saying something that they could report back. These people hated Jesus so much that they were constantly trying to trap him into a situation where he could be executed.

Jesus responded perfectly to these traps - questions that were perfectly sculpted so that any answer would be wrong. In verses 20:21 - 20:26, the people asked about paying taxes. If Jesus said to pay taxes, it would be upsetting because the people were unfairly taxed. On the other hand, if Jesus said not to pay taxes, they would report him immediately. Instead, Jesus asked them whose face and name were on the coin. When they replied "Caesar's", he told them to "give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God" (20:25).

Jesus could not be accused of telling people not to pay taxes. As much as I don't like to pay taxes, taxes are a necessity for maintaining the land we live in. On the other hand, we know that everything is God's, no matter whose face is on it. Jesus's ability to appease all parties with his answer is truly amazing. Can you imagine that today, with the battling political parties? Only Jesus would be able to craft a statement that no one could find fault with - a statement that would speak differently and appease each person who heard it.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

They Obeyed Every Command

Today's Reading:
  • Joshua 21:1 - 23:16
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Joshua21:1 - 23:16
The elders of the tribe of Levi came to Joshua to discuss land allocation for their tribe. We are told the leaders of the other tribes each conceded land that had been previously given to them "by the command of the Lord" (22:3). As we continue to read chapter 21, we see that each tribe willing gave up their very own land. In verse 8, we again see that the "Israelites obeyed the Lord's command"and assigned the land based on sacred lots.

The notion of sacred lots has always intrigued me. I tried to learn more about it. The general consensus seemed to be that sacred lots were considered an impartial way to make a decision when no clear direction from God was given. I was also told that no sacred lots are mentioned after the Pentecost. I have not verified if this is the truth, this is just what I read from various sources and have not researched it myself. It is generally agreed, because there was no mention of sacred lots after the Pentecost, that the divination of the Holy Spirit upon us has negated the need for sacred lots. There is no longer that divide. The Holy Spirit can live in each of us if we so choose. That's pretty amazing! No longer do we have to go to priests who have to go to the Lord for us; instead the spirit is accessible to each of us. The blood of Jesus Christ bridged that great divide and made that possible. I can feel the Holy Spirit; I know God is there and with me. This makes me wonder what it was like before, when intercession was made directly with sacrifices and through priests.

After the Levi's were given their land, Joshua called the half-tribe of Manasseh and the tribes of Reuben, and Gad together. Joshua told them that they had obeyed every command the Lord had given to them. They had been faithful and followed through. They were now being blessed and granted rest, just as the Lord had promised.

What struck out to me most today in my reading was obeying the Lord's command and finishing strong. Multiple times we were shown a faithful people who obeyed the Lord. Joshua's speech on being faithful and following through really struck me. I want to be the faithful servant who finishes her race for the Lord. There would be no greater honor than to finish strong and true. To obey the Lord wholeheartedly. I fall so short of this measuring stick, but everyday I shall try to follow more closely, to honor and obey the Lord my God.