Monday, March 31, 2008

Knowing the LORD leads to obedience

As I was reading this passage, I was impressed with the people's response as they recalled all of the things the LORD had done for them:
22:22 "The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! He knows the truth, and may Israel know it, too! ...
23:5 This land will be yours, for the Lord your God will himself drive out all the people living there now. You will take possession of their land, just as the Lord your God promised you. 6 "So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. 7 Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. 8 Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now. 9 "For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. 10 Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised. 11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God.
24:14 "So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. 15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord." ... 19 Then Joshua warned the people, "You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you."  21 But the people answered Joshua, "No, we will serve the Lord!"  22 "You are a witness to your own decision," Joshua said. "You have chosen to serve the Lord."   "Yes," they replied, "we are witnesses to what we have said."  23 "All right then," Joshua said, "destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel."  24 The people said to Joshua, "We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey him alone."
Heavenly Father, I pray that I will remember all of the things you have done for me and respond in obedience.  Lord, please encourage me to follow you.  I want to commit to doing your will.  God, please give me physical, emotional, and intellectual strength so that I can love you with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, March 28, 2008


This passage defines the inheritance for several of the tribes.
I had a good chat with Brother Mike yesterday at lunch.  We talked about the three stages of Christian growth:
  1. Justification - pardoned from our grievances against God in a judicial sense because of Christ's sacrificial payment; positional sanctification; status changed from "enemy of God" to "child of God"; a regeneration of man's spirit (eating the Passover lamb)
  2. Sanctification - transformed by the renewing of our minds; changing desires from the things of the flesh to the things of the Kingdom (dispositional sanctification); a regeneration of man's soul (eating manna; eating the produce of the Promise Land)
  3. Glorification - complete resurrection with Christ; a regeneration of man's body
Their is an aspect of inheritance in each of these stages.  First, the one who believes into Jesus Christ receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a down payment.  Second, the Believer learns to keep in step with the Holy Spirit (i.e., man's spirit is in harmony with the Holy Spirit).  Third, the Church (i.e., the Body of Christ, the collection of all of the Believers) is made into His temple where we abide with the Trinity forever.
Heavenly Father, thank you for saving me from destruction and bringing me into your Kingdom as an adopted son of God and joint heir with Christ.  That is incredible!  Lord, I pray that you will mold me and shape me to look like my big Brother Jesus.  Father, I pray that you will clean me up and discipline me to be in harmony with the Holy Spirit.  I look forward to the day when you will complete my transformation and I will be entirely yours - a good and pleasing work of your hand.  Lord, may I live in response to this truth.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Jesus is my Salvation

Yahweh not only lead the Israelites into battle, He fought for them:
  • He threw the Amorites into confusion for a great victory at Gibeon
  • He hurled large hailstones down on their enemies
  • He held the sun and moon still for about a day so that the battle could continue
  • When many armies came together to attack Israel, He "handed all of them over to Israel, slain"
There are a couple of points that really stick out to me from this passage.  First, Yahweh is our Salvation!
10:8 "Do not be afraid of them," the Lord said to Joshua, "for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you." ... 24 When they brought them out, Joshua told the commanders of his army, "Come and put your feet on the kings' necks." And they did as they were told. 25 "Don't ever be afraid or discouraged," Joshua told his men. "Be strong and courageous, for the Lord is going to do this to all of your enemies."
And second, we are instructed to obey; God will show us victorious when we, in faith, demonstrate single-minded obedience!
11:15 As the Lord had commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua. And Joshua did as he was told, carefully obeying all the commands that the Lord had given to Moses.
The name Jesus is a derivative of the name Joshua, which means "Yahweh is Salvation."
Heavenly Father, by faith in Christ Jesus, I trust you for eternal salvation.  I trust you with my life, that you will redeem me from destruction.  Lord, I know that you are mighty to save, and I know that you desire to save your people.  I pray that I will be obedient to your call, that you may defeat the Enemy in my life.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


God told the Israelite army to completely destroy the city of Jericho (except for Rahab and everyone else in the scarlet room).  But a guy named Achan found some goodies that he liked more than obeying God, so he took them and hid them under his tent.  Uh oh!
After the battle of Jericho, the Israelite army went to take the city of Ai, but they got beat back because of the guilt of Achan.  Through a very public process, God revealed to the community that it was Achan, and God told them to destroy him by fire.  What really gets me is that they stoned and burned his children with him.  Man, that's rough!  It is another sobering reality that as the husband (and future father), my decisions have direct implications for the welfare of my children.
Heavenly Father, I pray for the sake of my wife and future family that you sanctify me rapidly.  Please don't let me do stupid stuff like Achan did.  Oh Lord, have mercy on me.  I am a wicked and depraved man, and I need you to clean me up.  Lord, please save me from myself, and save me from destruction.  I pray that you will glorify yourself through my life, and I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I think that the Israelites crossing the Red Sea out of Egypt and the Jordan River into Cannan are types of baptism.  Check out these verses:
4:23 For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. 24 He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord's hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever."
5:1 When all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings who lived along the Mediterranean coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan River so the people of Israel could cross, they lost heart and were paralyzed with fear because of them.
Hmmm.  Interesting.  Perhaps there is something to this baptism thing after all.  But, if that wasn't enough, verses 2-9 are on the topic of circumcision, which is another type of baptism:
5:2 At that time the Lord told Joshua, "Make flint knives and circumcise this second generation of Israelites." 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the entire male population of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. ... 8 After all the males had been circumcised, they rested in the camp until they were healed.
I find it extremely interesting that our study on ordinances is not limited to baptism, but here we find the Passover Celebration, which is intimately connected to the Lord's Supper:
5:10 While the Israelites were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. 11 The very next day they began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain harvested from the land. 12 No manna appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of the land, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.
I think there is an analogy here - we eat "manna" in the "wilderness" between the "miraculous salvation" and "baptism" coming out of "slavery in Egypt" and entrance into the "Promise Land".
Confession:  I have had several opportunities to share the Gospel with random people this past week, and I've chickened out.
Praise:  God is so gracious that this morning, as I was walking from the bus with an aquantaince that I've had spiritual conversations with, he brought up a spiritual conversation, and I CAPITALIZED on the opportunity!  I shared John 14:6 and Romans 10:9 briefly as we were parting ways, and he said, "I need to revisit that." 
Heavenly Father, I praise you for your incredible Word that is full of Truth.  Lord, please help me more accurately understand the significance of the ordinances.  Jesus, I pray that you will reveal yourself to my friends that don't know you, and please give me opportunities to share with them your love.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the True Bread from Heaven.  Amen.

Monday, March 24, 2008


33:29 Blessed are you, O Israel!
       Who is like you,
       a people saved by the LORD ?
       He is your shield and helper
       and your glorious sword.
       Your enemies will cower before you,
       and you will trample down their high places.
As we consider the Easter Celebration, this verse at the end of Moses's blessing is so relevant.  We have been saved from destruction; we have been chosen as objects of Grace.  This appreciation of Grace is not without expectation or application:
1:6 "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
God has a good plan for each of us, and as we are faithfully seeking Him (according to the riches of His Grace), He reveals that plan to us and calls us into obedient fellowship with Him.  There is a tight relationship between knowing God's objective/written Word (Scriptures) and discerning His subjective/spoken direction that is applicable to our moment-by-moment situation.
As I consider the position of leadership that the Lord has called me to serve at our local congregation (Bible Life teacher), this imperative to Joshua is very applicable.  I can sort of identify with Joshua: he was left in charge after his famous predecessor, Moses.  Well, my previous Bible Life teacher (Rob) is outstanding, and it is somewhat intimidating to start a new Bible Life group with people who have been in his class.  I need to be consistent in my faith so that the Spirit will use me to lead others to a closer walk with Christ and experience the joy of a victorious, abundant life.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for the celebration of our risen Savior Jesus Christ.  Jesus, please help me be more and more excited about your resurrection life and that you fill us with your Holy Spirit and that same power that raised you from the dead.  God, I pray that your power would flow through me - that I would express Christ and that your love would spill into the lives of those around me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who died and rose again.  Amen.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

alien, fatherless, and widow

Deuteronomy 23-26
24:19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.
Third Day has a song called Alien on their Conspiracy No. 5 album based on this concept. "I am just like the alien, the fatherless, and the widow ..." It is humbling to think about how we are helpless without Christ. We can't do anything right without grace.

Last night we went to visit a couple that has been to our church a few times. They were very receptive to us, and after Pastor shared the Gospel with them, they both prayed to trust Christ for Salvation! It is so amazing to see how God is working and moving in their lives! I look forward to them getting involved in our Bible Life group.

Then, after that, I had a good chat with my Brother Kyle. I am really impressed with his spiritual insight and desire to serve Christ in our local congregation. One of the things we talked about was how we as Christians still get so obsessed with rules and regulations instead of the heart of the matter. This resonates with the following verses:
26:16 The LORD your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 You have declared this day that the LORD is your God and that you will walk in his ways, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws, and that you will obey him. 18 And the LORD has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands. 19 He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he promised.
Heavenly Father, I want to love you with the core of my being. Father, I want to live in humble recognition of how you have saved me and rescued me from a painful life without you. Your love is so amazing! God, I pray that you will be even more real to me this weekend as we celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ. Oh, may I keep your commands with all my heart and should. I want to live a life that is holy to you. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

generational covenant

19:8 "And if the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as he swore to your ancestors, and gives you all the land he promised them, 9 ... (He will give you this land if you are careful to obey all the commands I have given you—if you always love the Lord your God and walk in his ways.)
It is interesting that God honors His covenant with the decendents of the one with whom He orginally made the covenant. 
I discussed this concept with a Believer friend (Harry) as we were walking with from the bus drop to the engineering buildings this morning.  He believes that this concept applies to the NT Believers as well, and he considers this concept one of the strong supports for infant baptism.  While I don't agree with the doctrine of infant baptism because I don't see any NT examples of it, I can certainly understand his perspective based on God's interactions with the people and nation of Israel.
I also mentioned that I thought it was tragic when parents say something like, "Well, I don't want to indoctrinate my child's religious perspective.  I want them to be an individual and decide what's true for themselves."  Harry said, "They are indoctrinating them with relativism." 
There are so many imperatives in the Bible of teaching your children the Way!  This is something I resolve to do: to try to teach my children from a very early age to autonomously love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Heavenly Father, I know that you operate generationally because I've seen it demonstrated in my life and the lives of my parents.  God, I pray that you will bless me by allowing me to train my children to love you with every part of their existence.  God, I want to carry the torch of Faith to my children in such a way that they may continue to share the Truth of Christ with their children.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

it all centers on Christ

15:12 "If a fellow Hebrew sells himself or herself to be your servant and serves you for six years, in the seventh year you must set that servant free.  13 "When you release a male servant, do not send him away empty-handed. 14 Give him a generous farewell gift from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress. Share with him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were once slaves in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you! That is why I am giving you this command.  16 "But suppose your servant says, 'I will not leave you,' because he loves you and your family, and he has done well with you. 17 In that case, take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door. After that, he will be your servant for life. And do the same for your female servants.
I see a similarity between this passage and the fact that out of love, the servant Christ was completely obedient to the Father as He was nailed to the Cross of Calvary - the door to eternity with God.  Moreover, Christ calls to the Christian "deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me"; in so doing, we will crucify the sinful nature that lurks within us in complete obedience to the Father's will.
Chapter 17 is a sweet review of the festivals, which ties into a blog from Leviticus, but the emphasis is slightly different this time.  The three festivals listed in this passage might be interpreted prophetically/chronologically:
  1. Feast of Unleavened Bread  (Christ's crucifixion)
  2. Feast of Weeks  (rapture at the end of this age)
  3. Feast of Tabernacles  (eternal residence with Christ in heaven)
A neat verse that a Brother pointed out to me a few months ago:
17:18 "When [the king of Israel] sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. 19 He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. 20 This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel.
That is a direct scriptural imperative for a daily time in the Scriptures.  Furthermore, it also emphasizes the utility of copying Scripture - there is something about reading, writing, and meditating on Scripture that helps it soak deep into a person.  The consequences are tremendous:
  1. learn to FEAR the LORD my GOD!!!
  2. obey Him
  3. prevent pride
  4. prevent backsliding
  5. blessing for my children
Whew!  I don't know if it gets any more practical than that - read your Bible every day and let it soak, and then you will grow in your relationship with Him.  How simple!!!  Why is that so cool?  Because God commands us:
18:13 But you must be blameless before the Lord your God.
Chapter 18 concludes with more Messianic Prophecy:
18:18 I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. 19 I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf. 20 But any prophet who falsely claims to speak in my name or who speaks in the name of another god must die.'  21 "But you may wonder, 'How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?' 22 If the prophet speaks in the Lord's name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.
You can be sure that every single thing Christ prophesied WILL COME TRUE!  And you better believe that the Father is going to punish anyone who does not heed Christ's Message of Hope and Redemption.
Heavenly Father, I want to be your servant.  Lord, I want to be faithful and obedient.  Lord, as I read your scriptures each day, I pray that you will soak your word into my heart and change me.  Lord, please humble me and help me obey you.  Please forgive me for not being bold.  Lord, I pray that you will keep me pure and blameless, because I know that I can not.  I ask you this in the name of Jesus Christ, your perfect servant and perfect prophet.  Amen.

Monday, March 17, 2008

love and obey

Deuteronomy 6-14  (includes readings this weekend)
This stuff is powerful!
6:4 "Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. ..."
6:12 "be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. 13 You must fear the Lord your God and serve him. When you take an oath, you must use only his name."
7:5 "This is what you must do. You must break down their pagan altars and shatter their sacred pillars. Cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols. 6 For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.  7 The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! 8 Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the Lord rescued you with such a strong hand from your slavery and from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. 9 Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. 10 But he does not hesitate to punish and destroy those who reject him. 11 Therefore, you must obey all these commands, decrees, and regulations I am giving you today."
8:1 "Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. 3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 For all these forty years your clothes didn't wear out, and your feet didn't blister or swell. 5 Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.  6 "So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. 8 It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. 9 It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. 10 When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you."
9:4 "After the Lord your God has done this for you, don't say in your hearts, 'The Lord has given us this land because we are such good people!' No, it is because of the wickedness of the other nations that he is pushing them out of your way. 5 It is not because you are so good or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land. The Lord your God will drive these nations out ahead of you only because of their wickedness, and to fulfill the oath he swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 6 You must recognize that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land because you are good, for you are not—you are a stubborn people."
10:12 "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. 13 And you must always obey the Lord's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.  14 Look, the highest heavens and the earth and everything in it all belong to the Lord your God. 15 Yet the Lord chose your ancestors as the objects of his love. And he chose you, their descendants, above all other nations, as is evident today. 16 Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn.  17 For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. 18 He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. 19 So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. 20 You must fear the Lord your God and worship him and cling to him. Your oaths must be in his name alone. 21 He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes."
11:1 "You must love the Lord your God and obey all his requirements, decrees, regulations, and commands. ... 22 Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him."
13:4 "Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him."
Heavenly Father, thank you for saving me by your grace.  Lord, I want to follow you wholeheartedly.  I want to love you with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Lord, please help me turn away from the things of this world and cling to you.  God, I want to live a holy life - set apart for your work.  You are the only one who is worthy of praise.  Oh Lord, may I hear your voice.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, March 14, 2008

love God

Several verses just jumped right off the pages this morning:
4:26 "Today I call on heaven and earth as witnesses against you. If you break my covenant, you will quickly disappear from the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. You will live there only a short time; then you will be utterly destroyed. 27 For the Lord will scatter you among the nations, where only a few of you will survive. 28 There, in a foreign land, you will worship idols made from wood and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. 29 But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.  30 In the distant future, when you are suffering all these things, you will finally return to the Lord your God and listen to what he tells you. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors."
This is similar to my Awakening several years ago.  I was already a Christian; I knew eternal salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, but I slipped away in dedication.  I allowed myself to be distracted by the things of this world.  By His mercy, He got a hold of me and brought me back to Him!  Praise the Lord!  The fact that we can know the one true God is so amazing:
4:34 Has any other god dared to take a nation for himself out of another nation by means of trials, miraculous signs, wonders, war, a strong hand, a powerful arm, and terrifying acts? Yet that is what the Lord your God did for you in Egypt, right before your eyes.  35 "He showed you these things so you would know that the Lord is God and there is no other. ... 37 Because he loved your ancestors, he chose to bless their descendants, and he personally brought you out of Egypt with a great display of power. ... 39 "So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other. 40 If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children. I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time."
The privilege of obedience:
5:32 So Moses told the people, "You must be careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God, following his instructions in every detail. 33 Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.
Heavenly Father, thank you for saving me and rescuing me from destruction.  I praise you for your mercy and love - they never fail.  Lord, I want to serve you whole heartedly.  I want to know you and place no one before you.  Lord, I pray that you will help me be obedient to the path you have called me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

spring break

It has been both an encouraging and challenging half-spring break.  We drove back to the flatlands on Sunday after I taught Sunday School.  When we were a couple of hours out, I called our former Sunday School teachers from our church that we attended in undergrad.  We were able to meet with them, and it was such an encouraging visit!  One of the things they mentioned was the formation of a new congregation by a Brother that I fellowshiped with in undergrad.  It sounds very exciting, and I look forward to visiting with him about it: Experience Life.
On Monday, I had the opportunity to visit with one of my professors from undergrad.  As I was driving over to meet him, I prayed that the Lord would give me guidance and vision from the meeting and that it would be a profitable meeting; specifically, I asked Him to clarify/confirm my interest in a professorship.  Wouldn't you know it, my former professor said maybe a dozen times, "I strongly encourage PhD students to apply for faculty positions."  Well, that definitely sounds like a confirmation to me.
Another wonderful opportunity afforded me in this brief vacation was to evaluate the activities/priorities in my life while enjoying the agriculture, communities, and scenery that I call "home".  Let me tell you, we saw some of the most gorgeous sunsets while we were there!  As I consider how the Lord has grown me since my Awakening two and a half years ago, I realize that I still lack so much.  From this point forward, I resolve to devote more emphasis to being a genuine, devoted, man of God who demonstrates humility, integrity, and leadership.  Objectives from that goal are the following: 
1) to grow daily in my walk with Christ,
2) to demonstrate a life of servant leadership to my wife (and family),
3) to lead boldly in growing Disciples in the congregation where the Lord has placed me and lead others to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus,
4) to demonstrate integrity in my vocation and allow Christ to bless the nations through me, and
5) to be a sincere and transparent friend.
According to His infinite Grace, may it be so.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Balak and Balaam

Oh, that my operation would be like that of Balaam:
22:18 But Balaam responded to Balak's messengers, "Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God.
I want my objective to be the simple obedience of Yahweh my God.  Of course, as in the life of Balaam, verbal confession is much simpler than practical obedience, and we often are so egocentric in our limited perspective that it takes an extraordinary intervention from the LORD for us to pay careful attention.
Like Balak, the enemy of our souls is begging us to curse God's people, and he provides opportunity after opportunity.  But we must, like Balaam, seek the LORD's will in each and every circumstance so that God will use us to bless His people where the devil begged a curse.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you would bless your people through me today.  May I be your mouthpiece of blessing; may I never curse.  Lord, may the devil be defeated in my life today, and may I never give in to the lusts of this world.  May I demonstrate single-minded obedience to your call on my life.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

more grumbling

I just can't get over how much they grumbled.  I mean, after all God had done for them, after all the times He had spared them the full vent of His wrath - and they still were so whiney.  Well, again, I guess it's pretty true to life.
I love the snake story.  The snake on the pole is a picture of Christ.  He took on the form of sinful man - even on a pole.  It is by turning to Him that we have salvation. 
Heavenly Father, thank you for your son Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life and took on my sin to extinguish sin and death.  Lord, help me not to grumble, but help me be joyful and allow your life to fill me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Korah's rebellion

This is one of my favorite OT passagas, not just because of the content, but because of the first discipler that taught this passage to me.
It's kind of like an old western showdown.  I'll stand here, you stand there, and the last man standing wins.  The earth opened up, swallowed the bad guys, and closed back up again.
Here are a couple of heavy lessons from the story:
  1. You will experience severe consequences for rebelling against the LORD's appointed leadership
  2. A family will experience some or all of the bad consequences from a father's rebellion
  3. God is merciful, even in the face of audacious rebellion
In light of these observations, I must take great care to be the spirtual leader of my family that God wants me to be.  I must be very careful to obey Him with my whole existence.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for being merciful.  Lord, thank you for showing me mercy - over and over again.  God, I want to honor you by fulfilling the responsibilities you've given me.  I want to fit into your plan exactly the way you have designed me to participate.  Lord, help me be diligent and obedient, and help me enjoy life today.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


The word of the day is contempt: Unabridged (v 1.1) -
con·tempt      [kuhn-tempt]
1. the feeling with which a person regards anything considered mean, vile, or worthless; disdain; scorn.
2. the state of being despised; dishonor; disgrace.
3. Law.
a. willful disobedience to or open disrespect for the rules or orders of a court (contempt of court) or legislative body.
b. an act showing such disrespect.
That is exactly how the Israelites treated Yahweh!  He delivers them from slavery in Egypt through miraculous plagues, rescues them from Pharaoh's army through a miraculous passage through the Red Sea, miraculously provides for their physical needs of food and water as they travel through the desert, spares them of their disobedience with the whole Golden calf thing, brings them right up to the edge of the Promise Land so they can peek inside and see how good it is, AND THEY TREAT HIM WITH CONTEMPT.  (in a whiney voice...) "We can't go in there, we're to small.  Why didn't we just die in the desert.  I wish we were back in Egypt as slaves."  Can you believe they said that?!!!
I can.  It's stupid, but I treat God with contempt every time I sin.  Everytime I think something bad about someone, everytime I look at a woman in a way I shouldn't, everytime I think I'm better than someone else - it's all contempt.  l am humbled by this clear picture of how fickle we humans are.  God saved us!  He rescued us from the enemy that wants to steal, kill, and destroy, but so often we chicken out when we see what God has for us, because we don't rely on Him.  How lame.
Heavenly Father, please forgive me of treating you with contempt.  God, I want to honor you.  Lord, I pray that you will enable me to obey you and trust you.  Lord, please take me to the Promise Land, and may I trust you to defeat the enemy.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, March 3, 2008

manna vs. quail

There are several good stories in these chapters, but the one that really spoke to me this morning is about manna.  What's cool is that before I started reading my Bible this morning, I was praying that God would make His Word come alive in my heart.  I was thinking about the fact that Christ is the Word, and Christ is the true bread from heaven.  I was thinking about how the Israelites gathered bread each and every day, morning and evening - that must be a picture of how the Christian should read the Scriptures morning and evening.  I was thinking about all of these things, and then I sat down and read a passage about manna.  How cool is that?!
Some of the jokers who were with the Israelites began to grumble about not having all kinds of nice food to eat, stuff they had lots of back in Egypt.  These jokers ended up stirring up a whole bunch of people to be uncontent with the manna that God was providing miraculously.  So, God turned them over to their desires, and he made them eat quail for a month - until they puked it out their nose.  This is a great picture of the tension between the flesh and the spirit.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to the place where our spirit prevails in choosing Christ over the sinful things this world offers - every single day.
Heavenly Father, lead me to desire Christ over anything else.  Jesus, I want to consume you every morning and evening - all day long.  Help me seek you and turn my back on the things of this world.  Lord, purify me.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.