Don’t Let Your Ashes Put Out the Fire

SCRIPTURE – Numbers 4:13; Ezra 4:12

NUMBERS 4:13 (AMP)

[13] And they shall take away the ashes from the altar  [of burnt offering]  and spread a purple cloth over it.

Biblically, the origin of the ALTAR goes clear back to Genesis in the bible when Noah built an Altar and then offered SACRIFICES after the flood (Genesis 8:20).  

Now in Old Testament times, there were many restrictions concerning the Altar.  In Exodus 20:24-26, for instance, the ALTAR was made “of earth or stone that had not been shaped or cut with human hand” AND… “there were to be no steps up to the altar.”

Now the ALTAR was used to make animal sacrifices to the LORD–The PURIFICATION of the Altar was accomplished by sprinkling BLOOD upon it.  Often Altars were erected in places where the LORD had accomplished some great work or had delivered some prophetic message.  Later, the Israelites had ALTARS in the tabernacle in the desert and once Solomon’s Temple was built the Altar was in the Temple.

But the ALTAR’S MAIN FUNCTION, and this is important to remember, was… SACRIFICE and WORSHIP–

And special care had to be taken to keep it Holy– And part of the special care was to “GET RID OF THE ASHES THAT ACCUMULATED ON A DAILY BASIS.”

As a “Word Detective,” I had to discover why this ritual was so important.  Although I have a gas fireplace in my current home, I do remember in the previous house having a wood-burning fireplace insert and heating the entire structure through the Fall, Winter, and Early Spring months.  If I didn’t clean the ASH out of the insert…if I wasn’t careful removing the ASH, I would have to explain to my understanding wife why there was BLACK SOOT everywhere!  If I didn’t remove the ASH daily, the ash would smother the FIRE and cause the flame to be extinguished–NO SPARK, NO FLAME, NO HEAT!

NOW WATCH THIS HERE:  One of the jobs of the priests in the OT was to never let the FLAME on the ALTAR to go out because the FLAME represented God’s Presence.  Since the ALTAR FLAME burned continually, the priest [on a daily basis] would have to go to the ALTAR and scrape the ashes off–because if left there, the ashes were subject to put-out the FIRE and bring down punishment and judgment from God on them and the entire camp and then the priests would have to redress the ALTAR with purple cloth.

That’s it!  Another Holy Spirit moment!!  Many of us need to go and get in a proper WORSHIP POSITION and scrape-off the stuff causing us to miss our deliverance and causing our FIRE to go out.

Some of you reading this might be wondering why you CAN’T get your breakthrough right now.  It is probably because you’re trying to come to God for A BLESSING, but you’re holding onto a mess in your life!

–  You want God to BLESS your finances, but you’re still playing the lottery!

–  You want God to FIX your marriage, but you still want to sleep around.

–  You want to be used by God to minister in the church on Sunday, but you haven’t learned how to get along with the people you see every day.

–  You want that new car or a new house, or a new job, but your BLESSING is being delayed because God is waiting for you to SCRAPE-OFF your ashes!

Have you ever cooked out on the grill and accidentally dropped a piece of meat down through the slots in the grill?  Be honest…if no one was looking, you probably fished it out with tongs, and put it back over the fire, finished cooking it, then took it off the grill, put it on a plate and served it to your guests–but you made sure [when YOU ate] you didn’t get that real black, crusty piece, because you know what it would taste like,

WELL GUESS WHAT…God wants to feed you with the goodness of His Word.  But before you can enjoy the GOODNESS of the Word, you’ve got to remove the ASHES!

Here’s what I’ve learned about ASHES:  I’VE LEARNED THAT ASHES ARE BITTER!

No one, in their right mind, enjoys eating ashes because ashes are BITTER.  Some of us have been eating the ASHES of painful relationships and past experiences for so long, that now, we’re just BITTER all the time with everyone we meet.

The writer tells us in the letter to the Hebrews (12:15):

[15] Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it–  Amplified Bible.

THE STRANGLING ROOT OF BITTERNESS

 

IN OTHER WORDS, I believe the Apostle Paul is telling us, that the ROOT OF BITTERNESS will not only defile us but also the people around us. 

When we FEED on ASHES, that is to say, when we allow the cruel things that were done to us yesterday affect how we feel and function today, we become BITTER, not only within ourselves but to every person we come intact with.

Personally, I’ve discovered over the years, that the ENEMY loves to keep in my face, stuff that hurt me yesterday so that I might be miserable and bitter today.  But thank God for Jesus!  Jesus said, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” ~ John 10:10 (AMP).  

In other words, Jesus is saying that:  “I’ve come to take off what the devil has put on and to put on what the devil has taken off!”

Have you ever noticed how intensely and ferociously the devil attacks you after you’ve had a divine revelation or experience?  Satan doesn’t usually bother you much while you’re sitting around watching television, or out at the mall shopping, or relaxing on the front porch with a tall glass of ice tea in your hand.  NO…he waits until:

  • YOU JUST CAME OUT OF A BIBLE STUDY!
  • YOU JUST FINISHED LIFTING YOUR HANDS IN PRAISE AND GIVING A SHOUT!
  • YOU JUST MADE UP YOUR MIND TO BECOME A GOOD HUSBAND, A GOOD WIFE, OR A GOOD DAD, A GOOD MOM!

That’s when the DEVIL tries to carry you back to where you’ve just come from causing you to sit down around the Old Campfire and EAT ASHES!

Not only are the ashes bitter, but ASHES PROVIDE NO STRENGTH.

Here’s a known FACT:  There’s absolutely no nutritional value in ashes!

In fact, we’ll grow weaker each day if we “FEED ON ASHES”,

Psalm 102:4 (NIV)  My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forgot to eat my food.

Psalm 102:9 (AMP)  For I have eaten the ashes [in which I sat] as if they were bread and have mingled my drink with weeping.

In other words, David is saying:  “I became so busy dealing with yesterday’s junk that I forgot to eat the bread of life.”  

We all know what happens when we forget or skip a meal.  We grow WEAK!  Likewise, when we fail to eat the fresh bread of life each day, we begin to decline and wither like the grass!  That’s why we need to begin each day with personal Bible study and meditation on God’s Word.  You need to understand that your spiritual strength is directly proportionate to how much fresh spiritual bread you eat daily!  It doesn’t matter how much you consumed yesterday, today’s strength hinges on today’s meal!

ASHES WILL MAKE YOU SICK!

In Exodus 16, when the Lord gave Moses instructions concerning the MANNA FROM HEAVEN, He said, “Gather of it as much as you need, let none of it be left until morning”  (vv. 18, 19).  

However, the Bible lets us know that some people ignored the instruction and kept some overnight and the Bible says that it, “bred worms, became foul, and stank.”

But watch this:  When they followed God’s instructions and gathered FRESH MANNA EVERY DAY, the Word  says in Numbers 11:8 that:

“The people ground it in mills or beat it with mortars, and boiled it in pots,

and made cakes of it, and it tasted like cakes baked with fresh oil.”

 

Anytime you see OIL mentioned in the Bible it represents “The Anointing of God!” – HOLY SPIRIT!

So what I’m saying here is YESTERDAY’S MANNA breeds worms and stinks, and if we try to eat it, it will make us sick, but TODAY’S MANNA will taste fresh and strengthens us!

So you’re going to need to make up your mind despite yesterday’s stinking situation…TODAY you’re going to seek a fresh ANOINTING in your life!

  • TODAY…you’re going to go to a higher level in your RELATIONSHIP with God!
  • TODAY…I am going to get in a proper position so I can HEAR from God!
  • TODAY…I am going to get a fresh ANOINTING!

“I WANT A FRESH ANOINTING AND I WANT IT RIGHT NOW!”

ASHES on the Altar produces in us Bitterness, Weakness, and Sickness.

But when you get a fresh touch from God you receive just the opposite:

– BITTERNESS is replaced with SWEETNESS!

– WEAKNESS is replaced with STRENGTH!

– SICKNESS is replaced with HEALTH!

– And HUNGER is replaced with SATISFACTION!

FRESH OIL is what we need, NOT day old oil!

Before the children of Israel could receive God’s approval concerning the offering of the SACRIFICE, Verse 13 says,  “And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon.”

Before the SACRIFICE could be made, God’s instructions say that yesterday’s ASHES from the Sacrifice must be cleared away and the kingly color of purple had to be draped over the altar.

Before they could receive God’s FAVOR, His BLESSINGS, they had to get rid of the leftover residue and dress the Altar fit for a king!

If you’re needing a fresh anointing from God…PAIN in your body that you had yesterday and may have even woke up with today, but you’ll be able to endure it with a smile because you’ve gotten the ASHES off your Altar!  You should be saying to yourself,  “I want a fresh anointing Lord, and I want it right now!”  The Apostle Paul compares his sharing of the Gospel Message with an ATHLETE1 Corinthians 9:23-27:

 

So what’s Paul saying here?  Simply this:  I must keep my experiences fresh so that after I have fed others around me the good foods of the Word, I don’t wind up “FEEDING ON ASHES!”

“Whatever it takes, come hell or high water, I WILL put forth the effort to build a fresh ALTAR, and keep it clean that I may partake of the ANOINTING of God every day of my life!  Whatever the cost!  I can’t afford to let my ALTAR get ashy!!”

“DON’T LET YOUR ASHES PUT OUT THE FIRE!”

 

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CREDITS –

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Advance Search Settings.

Comparative Bible Translations:  BibleStudyTools.com

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV); English Standard Version (ESV).

 

 

 

 

 

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There’s A Big Difference Between Commitment and Involvement

TEXT: JOSHUA 24:1, 14-16

 

LIFE IS FILLED WITH CHOICES –

  • We must choose when to go to bed and when to get up.
  • We must choose what to eat and what not to eat.
  • We must choose what to wear and what not to wear.
  • We choose what to do with our time.
  • We choose when we’ll go to work and where we’ll go out to eat.

Now I must admit since I’ve gotten older and retired 15 years ago, the choices have changed…a lot!  But there are still choices to make.

Some choices are easy to make while other choices are more difficult to make.

WE ARE WHO WE ARE TODAY BECAUSE OF THE CHOICES WE MADE YESTERDAY.

The CHOICES we make today have an impact on the decisions we’ll be making tomorrow.

They establish a PATTERN and a FOUNDATION for our life.  That said, most of us haven’t always made the right choices…Okay, ALL of us haven’t.  You and I may never be able to undo those choices…BUT….I have some good news for you.  HE, who holds our tomorrow, is more than able to turn it around for us.

So after reading through the Book of Joshua and writing several Blog-studies, I want to focus on the only RIGHT CHOICE we each can make.

In the last chapter of JOSHUA, it begins presenting what is often called Joshua’s FAREWELL ADDRESS.

The first mentioning of Joshua given is the picture of an HONORABLE MAN–one that you would want to follow.  In his early years, he was sent as a representative of Ephraim to spy out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:1-33).  He and Caleb seem to be a different standard than the other spies–the exciting voice speaking out with enthusiastic optimism about their ability to take the LAND–

  • Let’s do it!
  • We can take it!
  • We can take them!

I wondered as I read in Joshua what it was that caused this nation to follow a leader such as he.  Was it FAITH?  Was it youthful exuberance”

Who can tell, but a leader is what Israel needed as they awaited moving forward in the new campaign–CROSSING THE RIVER!

A Brief Review of Joshua’s Life –

JOSHUA is now quite old in the last chapter, and he has seen a lot over a period of 110 years.

His early formative years he spent in service to Moses.  In his later years, he spent leading God’s people into battle to the promised land.  He’d seen the PLAGUES OF EGYPT, the parting of the Red Sea.  He has endured the trip through the desert to the edge of the promised land, then the trip back into the wilderness for 40 years of wandering in the wasteland.

He saw God part the Jordan river.  He saw God crumble the walls of Jericho, sending the enemies into a panic.  He also saw the PUNISHMENT OF ACHAN after his sin,  He then saw the RESTORATION OF THE BLESSING–not ‘a blessing’ but “the blessing.”  The presence of God.

He’s led a full life and he has known the POWER and the PRESENCE OF THE LIVING GOD in his life and in his leadership.

At the ripe old age of 110, Joshua recognizes his death is near.

JOSHUA’S Last Days Are Where We Find Ourselves –

I wonder what the Israelites might be thinking at this point of history.  They understood after all those years, their campaign was now coming to a close and a LEADER is leaving his parting words on his people.

Joshua’s Life Is Coming to an End.

There’s a transition to take place.  From a people consumed with getting the other people out of the land to being a people in the land.  So Joshua asks this nation, who will you SERVE now that you are NOT FOCUSED on the conquests?  Will you return to the gods you used to worship, or will you SERVE YHWH?  Like me and my family.

There’s a back and forth going on between Joshua and the gathered ELDERS-HEADS-JUDGES-OFFICERS.  They are gathered at the same place where after Ai was finally captured, in Shechem–Joshua calls his people together for another COVENANT invitation.

JOSHUA 24:1 (AMP)

[1] THEN JOSHUA gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders of Israel and their heads, their judges, and their officers; they presented themselves before God.

In this FIRST VERSE, as I read in preparation for this BLOG study, really caught my attention.  Joshua called for the LEADERS of God’s people and they were where they were supposed to be.

We should know where the LEADERS of the Church are located.

They were on their post and Joshua knew, if no one else was around, the LEADERS were at their post and were committed.  You cannot LEAD if you can’t be found.

LEADERS then should be out front in the congregation.

Joshua before addressing the nation of Israel called upon and challenged the Leaders FIRST.  He challenged them to be more than INVOLVED…to be COMMITTED!

THE POLITICAL AND MILITARY CENTER OF GOD’S PEOPLE –

Joshua challenges their ABILITY TO BE FAITHFUL.  Now that’s an interesting thought!  If we can’t be FAITHFUL to God, we can’t be FAITHFUL to the Church.  If we’re not FAITHFUL to God, we won’t be faithful to any ministry we’re in.  To put it simply, if not FAITHFUL to God, you don’t have the ABILITY to be FAITHFUL!

  • Staying at home on Sunday mornings don’t bother you.
  • Staying home on Thursday nights from prayer and private worship don’t bother you.
  • Staying at home at 3:30 PM on Fridays at the Alzheimer/Dementia section in town doesn’t bother you.

Then You are Involved and not Committed.

YOU ARE FAITHFUL TO THOSE THINGS THAT YOU ARE COMMITTED TO –

This, of course, applies to all areas of our lives.  As an example, if we’re not committed to weight loss, then we will not be faithful in the process.  Ever start college or trade school?  If we’re not committed to the process then we will not be faithful in going to class and study (been there!).  And when it comes to marriage…ok, I’ll leave that alone.

The Mood Has Changed from the Beginning of this OT book…

When God’s people were wandering in the wilderness, they found themselves fighting and defending their little nation.  Joshua now reviews the conquest campaign, as well as a history lesson with God, being good to God’s COVENANTAL AGREEMENT.

He then concludes his message with a personal statement regarding his family’s FIDELITY in VERSE 15:

NOTICE, Joshua doesn’t say, “as for me and my people,” rather, he states, as for me and MY FAMILY, or “household”.  WE WILL SERVE THE LORD.

It appears Israel was fit for a battle campaign but now the question arises, are they fit for settling in the land and trusting God in a new way campaign?

Ultimately, isn’t that the most any of us can say?

  • In spite of what I decide to do…
  • In spite of my commitment level,
  • In spite of what I want to do with my time,
  • In spite of how I feel about supporting the Church…

Me and My Family Will Serve the Lord!

With POSSESSION of the Promised Land comes great Responsibility –

It now becomes your DUTY to take what you have already secured and passed it along to the next generation.  But as far as Joshua goes, his BATTLE DAYS are coming to a close.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know there are plenty more battles to be fought but Joshua’s time has come to a close.  After all the BATTLES, the slaughter, and the delivery of land, the ONLY THING Joshua can have control is he and his family.

Opportunity Is Knocking At The Front Door –

I’m sure the compiler of the conquest narrative more than likely lives in the aftermath of these days, in the time of Judges– when the people of God were all too quick to forget this covenant.  So they knew Joshua’s hesitation reaffirmed the COVENANT for a good reason.

But the people say: “No! We will serve the Lord.”  

They could have said:  “Well Pastor, this weekend is my time to sleep in.”

Here was the opportunity to walk away, to be more honest, to pledge just partial commitment, to say, “Pastor you know I work all week!”

BUT THEY DIDN’T!

Joshua needs them to know and understand the gravity of their being A COVENANT PEOPLE.  To ensure they really wanted to be God’s people IN THE LAND, not just A PEOPLE IN THE LAND.

A STANDARD OF SERVICE DEMANDED (24:14 NIV) –

“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness.”

Joshua doesn’t leave any room for CASUAL FAITH, for serving God when it’s convenient or when things are going well, or when life is easy.  He doesn’t leave room for doing FAITH on our terms.  He calls us to SERVE ‘with ALL faithfulness.’

What if in our serving there’s no reward, no appreciation?

Joshua says, “serve Him in sincerity and in truth” (AMP).

There is A RESPONSIBILITY OF CHOICE that goes along with Commitment –

With the right to choose comes the responsibility to choose.  You can’t defer this CHOICE to anyone else.  It’s easy to say if I had a better Husband or Wife; if we had a better Preacher; to say if only others in the church were committed.  We cannot defer or place our CHOICES on others.

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve”  (24:15)

I just want to add here…THE RECORD OF CHOICE.

It has always been LIFE or DEATH, BLESSING or CURSES.

  • Adam and Eve CHOSE Death.
  • Ananias and Sapphira CHOSE Death.
  • The Rich Young Ruler CHOSE Death.
  • King Agrippa CHOSE Death.
  • Pontius Pilate CHOSE Death.
  • Judas CHOSE Death.

BUT…

  • Lazarus CHOSE Life.
  • Abraham CHOSE Life.
  • Paul CHOSE Life.
  • Peter CHOSE Life.

There is a Record of the Repercussions of the Choices you make.

Which Do We Choose?

WHO ARE YOU GOING TO SERVE?

It was fairly easy for the Israelites to worship other gods–these gods didn’t demand much.

  • It was EASY to carry a wooden carving.
  • It was EASY to throw a bit of grain at an altar.
  • It was EASY to bow to the sun.

BUT GOD DEMANDS “ALL”!

It’s relatively EASY for us to carry our own dreams and desires and live for them.  It’s also EASY to throw a bit of money at a charitable cause.  It’s relatively EASY for us to raise our hands and shout praise to a local sports hero.

BUT GOD DEMANDS ALL!

Maybe Joshua is getting less patient with age.  I recognize I’m less patient since growing older.

So Joshua lays it out bluntly–either SERVE the Lord WITH ALL FAITHFULNESS or, if you don’t like that, CHOOSE some other god to serve.  It will probably be a lot easier serving another god for they don’t demand much.

AND BY THE WAY, NEITHER DO THEY OFFER MUCH IN RETURN.

Because of GOD’S GRACE, we are invited into relationship with God.  Because of GOD’S GRACE, Jesus came and died for us and bridged the chasm that separated us from God.

Now we are invited to be in a relationship with God, invited into a reunion with the Holy and jealous God Joshua describes. 

God gives us the GRACE to SERVE Him for we can’t serve Him on our own efforts.

But Here is the HEART of the Gospel:  We can serve a holy and jealous God because He has invited us to by His Grace.

NOW IT’S TIME TO MAKE A CHOICE.

  • To put that god of Alcohol away.
  • To throw away the gods of drugs, opioids, pornography…

To come to the altar, on your knees if you need to.

Today is the day to CHOOSE LIFE and follow God.

“Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”

 

LISTEN TO THE WORDS TO THIS MUSIC/VIDEO:

 

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CREDITS –

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Settings advanced.

Music Video:  As for Me and My House – John Waller/Youtube.com

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

 

 

Is Church the Safest Place to Be?

In my studies this week, I ran across a report on what to avoid in life to keep us safe.  Let me share some interesting statistics:

AVOID riding in automobiles because they are responsible for 20% of all fatal accidents.  Don’t stay at home because 17% of all accidents occur in the home.  AVOID walking on streets or sidewalks because 14% of all accidents occur to pedestrians.  AVOID traveling by air, rail or water, for 16% of all accidents involve these forms of transportation.  Of the remaining 33%, 32% of all deaths occur in hospitals.  So, above all else, AVOID hospitals.

However, you will be pleased to learn that only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services at church and these occurrences are usually attributed to previous physical disorders.  

Therefore, logic tells us that the SAFEST place for you and I to be at any given time is at CHURCH…or Bible study, which is even less.  So for your own safety, attend church and read your Bible.

Now as much as most Pastors today would like for people to come to church in order to avoid accidents, unfortunately, what often happens is that the CHURCH gets too safe–tamed.

We throw away our rebellious side.  I don’t mean just REBELLION against God.  I mean, we just stop rebelling against the culture, too.  We try to fit in…play nice; get along with everybody because that’s what Christians should do.

This brings us to the Bible passage found in JOSHUA 17:11-18 which describes the condition of the tribe of Manasseh.

[11] Within Issachar and Asher, Manasseh also had Beth Shan, Ibleam and the people of Dor, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo, together with their surrounding settlements…  [12] Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region.  [13] However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely.  [14] The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance?  We are numerous people and the LORD has blessed us abundantly.”

[15] “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”

[16] The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”

[17] But Joshua said to the house of Joseph–to Ephraim and Manasseh– “You are numerous and very powerful.  You will have not only one allotment [18] but the forested hill country as well.  Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”

(New International VersionNIV)

MANASSEH had already claimed some land east of the Jordan River before Joshua had started to lead his people to conquer the land of Canaan, which lay west of the Jordan.

But apparently, Manasseh, because it was a large tribe, was to get some land west as well.  VERSE 11 gives what towns could be found in that land:

[11] Also Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher  [these six towns], their inhabitants and their villages:  Beth-shean, Ibleam, Dor, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo.  (Amplified Bible)

 

The Whinners, Grumblers, and Complainers Become Front and Center –

So you see the PROBLEM…

The people of Manasseh had these six towns in their land, given to them by God, but… they couldn’t drive the people out who lived there.  After all, the residents had iron chariots which seemed pretty scary to fight in battle (verse 16).

So they came to Joshua looking for MORE LAND, in lieu of fighting the dreadful charioteers.

At first glance, the request seems reasonable enough.  But JOSHUA knew what they were asking and it wasn’t more land because they needed it…it was more land so they wouldn’t have to take any chances fighting the enemy.  You see, they were whiny.  They were grumblers and complainers.  They had so much, they still weren’t happy.  Never mind that they had more land than any of the other tribes.  No, they wanted MORE!

That sounds like us, actually.

We have so much.  We have PHYSICAL BLESSINGS:

  • Like health, strength, food on our tables, shoes on our feet, roofs over our heads.

Plus, as Christians, we have all those SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS:

  • Like forgiveness, hope, peace, joy, love, patience, self-control, and answered prayers.

And what He’s done for us:

  • ADOPTED us, REDEEMED us, JUSTIFIED us, PURIFIED us, and CLEANSED us, to name just a few.

Ephesians 1:3 says…

 

And yet, knowing GOD’S WORD…

We still want to WHINE about all the shortages in life–in our paychecks, our casual times:

We WHINE about gas prices.  

We WHINE about grocery bills.  

We WHINE about how hot or how cold it is.  

We WHINE about what sinners do.  

We WHINE about what Christians do.  

We WHINE about our church, our pastor, our teachers, our family, our friends (or shortage thereof!)…GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY!!!

“WE JUST WANT MORE!” Is an all together cry today, even in television commercials:

And I wonder, if because we think life is so bad, that we must think that God isn’t doing a good enough job to make us happy.

COMPLAINING about everything, eventually, shows that we are complaining about how good of a job God is doing on earth.

Of course, the people of Manasseh whined and complained.  They had reached a level in their lives and didn’t know how to get past it.  It seemed as though they saw what COULD happen, but too afraid to MAKE it happen.  So, instead of moving forward, they stay put.

It’s like trying to keep a two-year-old still for any length of time–they easily get bored and perhaps…unpleasable, maybe?

It’s the same for the children of God.

We were meant to move on and press forward!  (Philippians 3:12-16; Hebrews 12:1-2).  So if at some point we stop in our spiritual walk with Christ because we are afraid of what might happen, then we’ll get bored, restless, whiny, and unpleasable.

So what you have to do is move on and get out of your COMFORT ZONE every once in a while.

Early in my Christian life at the church, I was saved at, our pastor invited a few good men, including all the men on the Deacon board, to commit to an Advanced Discipleship Training class for six weeks.  In this training, we were to meet in groups of five (there were 15 men in total) at different homes, review and discuss the previous lesson, then meet back together at church for prayer for the following week.

One week, the LESSON was on Evangelism in our neighborhoods and the discussion entailed sharing Christ to a total stranger.  Wait…it gets scarier!

We were to open up a city telephone directory, randomly pick a name, call the phone number and introduce the person on the other end of the line to Christ, reading from a prepared script.  We all practiced for about ten minutes, and then it was time to ‘move forward.’

“Who wants to be first?” the group leader asked.  “Uh, I’ll go first,” I said with eyes closed.  Was I afraid?  No, of course not.  I was scared to death!  But I pressed on.

Yes, I had several people I called hang up the phone.  But as time came to the end, the last call…“Would you like to receive Christ as your Savior?”  He said, “YES, I WOULD.”  My reaction to the stranger’s answer…”You would?”  I was as surprised as everyone else in the room, as they silently moved their lips with AMEN and PRAISE GOD!

FEAR disappeared and FAITH took over.

There are too few people who are willing to give of themselves.  Too many people, too many Christians are afraid.

Moving From Living by FAITH to Living In FEAR.

Maybe it’s age.

Maybe too much head knowledge, I don’t know, but it seems that people become more and more AFRAID OF LOSING…losing their reputations, losing their pensions, losing their health, losing their lives, the longer they live.

PEOPLE CRAVE WHAT MAKES THEM COMFORTABLE.

But, just as the tribe of Manasseh learned, COMFORT doesn’t bring satisfaction.  They knew the LORD had BLESSED them with so much, and yet, they still wanted MORE!

They whined about not having enough–“MORE IS BETTER”–because they just weren’t happy.  But they weren’t willing to go out on a limb and trust God with their challenges.

If you don’t every once in a while, put your FAITH to the test and step out a little, you’ll never be content.

Someone once said, “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb.  That’s where the fruit is.”

James Bryant Conant, an American Chemist, and educator once wrote:  “Behold the turtle.  He makes progress only when he sticks out his neck”  [See footnote [i].]

That’s why there are so few men and teens in church.  We make this place we call our church home so safe, so secure, never going out on a limb for anything, that there’s no element of risk or danger.  Which of course…fuels men and teens.

Sometime COURAGE means letting go of what you’ve always had.

SOMETIMES COURAGE means stepping out into uncharted territory.

SOMETIMES COURAGE means going to someone and say you’re sorry.

I don’t know what you’d love to do, but you’ve been too afraid to do it.  I don’t know what COURAGE means for you.  All I know is that too few of us are too afraid to do what God is calling us to do, and we have missed out on God’s BEST for us because of it.

There’s a story in Luke 13 I want to share with you–  Luke 13:22-25 (MSG)

[22] He (Jesus) went on teaching from town to village, village to town, but keeping on a steady course toward Jerusalem.

[23-25]  A bystander said,  “Master, will only a few saved?”  He said,  “Whether few or many is none of your business.  Put your mind on your life with God.  The way to life–to God!–is vigorous and requires your total attention.  A lot of you are going to assume that you’ll sit down to God’s salvation banquet just because you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. Well, one day you’re going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you’ll find the door locked and the Master saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not on the guest list’.”

JESUS wasn’t saying that you could ever work your way to heaven.  What He was saying “Trust in God’s mercy but work with all your might!”

He said that the VICTORY’S have been promised to us, but don’t be lazy about it.

I know it’s hard to risk ridicule from people, non-believers, and believers too.

I know it’s hard to have people disagree with you on biblical principles.

But sometimes, as we go about life’s many turns and detours, we find situations, where to do the RIGHT THING, means to step out in FAITH & COURAGE…AND it’s hard!

BUT DO IT ANYWAY!!

As a Christian, there’s no condemnation for you.

As a Christian, you’ve been forgiven.

If you fail, you always have a safety net–His name is JESUS.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Footnote [i] :  Britannica.com James B. Conant, American educator and scientist.

“WE WANT MORE” – Youtube.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Advance search setting.

Bible Translations:  New International Versions (NIV), Amplified (AMP), except where noted.

 

The DAY the Sun and Moon Stood Still

BLOGGING FOR GOD BIBLE STUDY FOR THE WEEK:

JOSHUA 10:8-14

GOD CREATED TIME…

Yes, He did and will someday end it and in Heaven time will be no more.  In the meanwhile, we shouldn’t be surprised at the fact that God can stop time if He so desires.  Sometimes I wish we could do that and often we wish we could speed things up.  Especially when we are younger.

Historical Background.

The children of Israel are being led by General Joshua, taking over the land of Canaan and that ‘take-over’ includes modern-day Israel.  They were taking over the land one city at a time.  They had already taken Jericho and then they went up against Ai.

There was SIN in the camp and Achen was the culprit.  God brought that to light…Israel was made right with Him…and they took the city of Ai.

The King of Jerusalem heard about these conquests:

[v. 1-2] – HE WAS SCARED!

[1] Now Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had taken Ai and totally destroyed it, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king and that the people of Gibeon had made a treaty of peace with Israel and were living near them.  [2] He and his people were very much alarmed at this, because Gibeon was an important city, like one of the royal cities; it was larger than Ai, and all its men were good fighters.

 A league of nations is formed.

[3] So Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem appealed to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish and Debir king of Eglon.  

[4] “Come up and help me attack Gibeon,” he said, “because it has made peace with Joshua and the Israelites.”  [5] Then the five kings of the Amorites–the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon–joined forces.  They moved up with all their troops and took up positions against Gibeon and attacked it.

[6] The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp of Gilgal:  “Do not abandon your servants.  Come up to us quickly and save us!  Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us.”

These 5 kings get together saying, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”.

But what they’re about to find out…United They Fall.

You simply can’t fight against God.

Men have always tried to pool their efforts, tried to kill Him, and you just can’t.  That idea made me think of the lyrics to a song from the 70’s from Bill and Gloria Gaither and Ron Huff cantata, Alleluia!  I was thinking of God Gave The Song.

The Song came through a manger…men tried to ignore it…it doesn’t exist…change the tune.  They made laws against it, armies marched against it.  They fought against it, tried to drown it out…the yelled at it and finally they nailed that Song to a tree.  

There, that should take care of it.  

BIT IT DIDN’T.

The children of Israel heard about this union that was formed, and they along with the Gibeonites…surprised an attack on them.

[v. 9-11] – The FIVE Kings and Their Mighty Army Retreat.

[9] So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having gone up from Gilgal all night.  [10] And the LORD caused [the enemies] to panic before Israel, who slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon and chased them along the way that goes up to Beth-horon and smote them as far as Azekah and Makkedah.

[11] As they fled before Israel, while they were descending [the pass] to Beth-horon, the LORD cast great stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, killing them.  More died because of the hailstones than the Israelites slew with the sword.

The FIVE kings and their armies run and run until they come to a narrow pass.  Joshua has them right where he wants them.  He realizes that he must utterly destroy this enemy, else they return and haunt him later.  ISRAEL was told to finish the job, not halfway.

But Joshua has a problem.  There isn’t enough TIME to finish the job.

PRAYER IN TIME OF NEED!

So JOSHUA PRAYS in fervency for more DAYLIGHT and to finish what he started.

Look at this incredible PRAYER OF FAITH.

[12-13] – Time Stands Froze and the Earth Experienced An Extra Day.

Skeptics of Bible Events…

For years, skeptics have made fun of this account in the Bible:  “Hogwash, that never happened, it couldn’t happen.  It’s just folklore…a fairytale.”

They say everyone knows it’s not the SUN that moves…our planet revolves and rotates giving that impression!  THAT’S TRUE, but JOSHUA here is simply using language that we all do.  After all, can you imagine him saying,  “Earth stop revolving and rotating, thus making it appear that the sun isn’t setting?”

JOSHUA 10:12-13

The important thing here is not HOW God did it, but THAT He did it!

THE ‘COULD HAVE’S’…

HE COULD HAVE used light refraction to do it…

HE COULD HAVE stopped the motion of the entire universe…

HE COULD HAVE caused the sun to move in the opposite direction if He wanted to.

More skeptics say, if something like this actually happened back in the day, there would be a MAJOR historical occurrence.  You’d think we’d have some mention of it in the annals of history, other than just the Bible.

The FACTS are, WE DO!

Most every ancient culture that can be studied has a record of this extra-long DAY,  just like most of them gave a record of a worldwide flood.  Here’s some research I found this past week:

Records of the Chinese during the reign of Emperor Yeo, who lived in Joshua’s day, report the strange occurrence of an extra long day.  Also, Herodotus, a Greek historian, mentions an extra long day recorded by the Egyptians during the same period of time.  Others cite records of the Aztecs in Mexico saying the sun standing still, denoted as 7 Rabbits.  The same year that other historical records show Joshua defeating the Philistines and conquering Palestine.  Other cultures: Incas of Peru, Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Polynesians.  Some refer to the SUN standing still; others call it an extra long day/night. [See footnote [i].]

Why do you suppose?  (The SUN doesn’t shine everywhere at once!)

HISTORY says this happened.

Some may say, I just can’t believe the Bible, it goes against the laws of NATURE.  In order to have a LAW, you need two things:

  • Someone powerful enough to create the LAW.
  • Someone powerful enough to enforce the LAW.

OK, I’ll stick my neck out and say that God IS powerful enough!  He’s the CREATOR by the way!!

Can’t a clockmaker stop his time piece if he wants to?

God doesn’t OBEY the laws of nature; the LAWS of nature obey God!

So History says it happened…

Here’s some personal application:

  1. The RELIABILITY of God’s Word.
  2. The RELIABILITY of God’s Care.

VERSE 14:  “For the Lord fought for Israel.”

You may be thinking, I wish He would fight for me.  I’ve got battles of my own.  I wish I could get Him on my side!

Hey, you don’t “get” Him on your side, you get on His side.  He’ll fight your battles if you let Him.

I’ve been reading in JOSHUA for some time and remember particularly Joshua 5.  Joshua was sizing up the city of Jericho when he came upon an unusual character, the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.

The man had a sword drawn and Joshua asked, Are you on our side, or their side?  The man answered, “No”,  Basically he was saying I’ve not come to take sides…I’ve come to take over.

God then gives them (us) a visual aid in Joshua 10:22-25. the picture of their feet on their necks.

[24] “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.”  So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks.  [25] Joshua said to them,  “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Be strong and courageous.  This is what the LORD will do to ALL the enemies you are going to fight.”

God says, remember this. This is what I’ll do for you who are on My side.

SATAN is a defeated foe.

I’m not saying that all your battles are instigated by the devil.  I’m saying that Satan is a defeated foe and he knows it.  He just hopes we won’t find out! He’s a bully!

Yes, Christians have problems like everyone else…maybe more! [family/financial/emotional/spiritual life.] 

If getting SAVED is the end to problems then it has to be front end loaded.

The MESSAGE is that “Christianity isn’t the subtraction of problems, it’s the addition of POWER resulting in the multiplication of BLESSINGS” (Quote from Jerry Shirley).  And that’s all the more reason to avoid the division that Satan wants to bring between us and God/us and each other.

VERSE 14:  There was no day like it before or since when the Lord heeded the voice of a man.  (AMP)

One of these days, the SUN will set in our own lives for the last time.  Jesus said in John 9:4,  “As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me.  Night is coming, when no one can work”  (NIV).   

We wish at times that we could make time stand still, but it stops for no one but God.

Let’s get serious about making the most of our time BEFORE time runs out!

God IS the Source!

The Source of Time…the Source of the Song in our lives, Jesus Christ!

Make it count!!

 

_________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i]:  THE MISSING DAY IN HISTORY – Space Explorers, Inc.

Music/Video:  Sandi Patty God Gave the Song Alleluia – YouTube

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings, Advanced search.

Bible Translations Used:  Amplified Bible (AMP) and the New International Version (NIV).

 

 

 

In the Words of Humpty Dumpty… “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean”

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF JUDGES…Chapters 17-18 –

The Following From “Through the Looking Glass”

Humpty Dumpty and Alice were having an in-depth conversation about birthday presents.  Because Humpty Dumpty’s physical appearance (no neck and no waist), Alice had made a remark about his beautiful belt and was promptly corrected to “a beautiful cravat.”  Evidently Humpty Dumpty was very angry though he said nothing for a minute or two.

Evidently Humpty Dumpty was very angry though he said nothing for a minute or two.  He informs Alice that his “cravat was a present from the White King and Queen.  “They gave it to me–for an un-birthday present.”

“I beg your pardon?”  Alice said with a puzzled air…I mean what is an ‘un-birthday present’?”  

“A present given when it isn’t your birthday, of course.”

Alice considered for awhile, “I like birthdays best.”  

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” cried Humpty Dumpty.  “How many days are there in a year?” 

“There are three hundred and sixty-five,” said Alice.

“And how many birthdays have you?” 

“One.”

“And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five, what remains?”

“Three hundred and sixty-four, of course.”

Humpty Dumpty looked doubtful at Alice’s math.  “I’d rather see that on paper,” he said.  

Alice couldn’t help smiling as she took out her memorandum-book, and worked the sum for him.

365

-1

364

Humpty Dumpty took the book and looked at it carefully.  “That seems to be done right.”

“You’re holding it upside down,” Alice interrupted.

“To be sure I was!”  Humpty Dumpty said as she turned it around for him.  “That surely shows that these are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents.”

“Certainly,” said Alice.

“And only ONE for birthday presents, you know.  There’s glory for you!”

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled…”Of course, you don’t–till I tell you.  I meant there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master–that’s all.”

[See Footnote [i] ]

It seems a bit silly, doesn’t it?  “When I use a word it means whatever I choose it to mean?”  What would life be like with no absolute, no certainties, nothing to measure oneself by.

The Bible tells us that there was a time just like that when people measured themselves…by themselves.  The Book of Judges points this out for us to meditate on:

Judges 17:6 (NIV) –  In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

Sound familiar?

SCRIPTURE FOUND IN JUDGES 17 –

 

Spiritual Anarchy Always Results In MORAL Collapse –

It follows this pattern:

  1. You have a person with no moral compass.
  2. They meet another person with no moral compass.
  3. They multiply their SIN and spiritually bankrupt themselves and a DANGER to others.

A Pathetic Story is unveiled.

Son of a wealthy family…looking for the easy way out.  MICAH didn’t want to wait for inheritance…didn’t want to work for anything…saw what he wanted…and with no moral compass…took it.

JUDGES 17:1o indicates that ten shekels of silver a year was an adequate wage.

[10]  And Micah said to him, “Dwell with me and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver each year, a suit of clothes, and your living…”  (AMP)

Therefore, 1,100 shekels was a great fortune (vs. 2).

But without the true belief in God, Micah fell prey to superstition, feared his mother’s curse and so confessed his sin.  

And it was easy to pick up on how this young man got there…A THIEF.  He learned it at his mother’s knee.  She stole 900 shekels from God.

I see one of the true tragedies of our times where so many parents who are steering through some sort of MORAL FOG of relativism…having no moral bearings or compass to pass on to their children.  So, their children get deeper and deeper into the FOG.

I see my own extended family…PARENTS abandoning the church, the Word, and the faith.  What is left…NO ABSOLUTES…just relativism.

And the grandchildren parents…the relativism doesn’t match the relativism of their friends, so they pick and choose.  There’s no king, no absolute or higher law…so they do what is right in their own sight.

Notice in the verses, how the mother didn’t even correct her son for stealing.  How could she–a THIEF herself!  Not only was she guilty of failing to do right by him…she was guilty of leading him to sin.  She was the one responsible for getting him into IDOLATRY.

EXODUS 20:4-5 (NIV)

[4] “You shall not make for yourself an idol; in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  [5] You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.”

This is what happens when you combine two hearts and minds, both wicked and neither having principles…The SIN is multiplied…IDOLATRY.  That’s the reason God wants us to have Christians friends, partners, and spouse.  Two persons without MORAL COMPASSES combine their SIN and then you become spiritually bankrupt, spiritually malnourished and starving.

God’s ANGER burned against Micah, his mother, and now Micah’s son.

That’s the Nature of Sin…it always takes you farther than you wanted and always keeps you longer than you wanted.  It always involves others.

MICAH consecrated one of his sons to be his Priest.  Sin because ONLY God can consecrate someone as a priest.  MICAH and his mother have now dragged Micah’s son into the quagmire.

But Micah wasn’t finished yet…his SIN would get much deeper, endangering many more people.

Here’s a 2nd Sad Case… we have a person who is a Levite but not a priest (not in the lineage of Aaron) but he is masquerading as a priest.  He’s dissatisfied with his position and his inheritance.

When Israel was divided among the 12 tribes…

The tribe of LEVI is the only one who didn’t receive a territory–they received 8 cities.  They received no land and were to be supported by the tithes of the other 11 tribes.  A LEVITE would never own land or have riches.

But the LEVITE wanted more and left Bethlehem (17:8).

He had determined that he would go whereever…do whatever and make a name and fortune.  He had lost his moral/spiritual compass, what’s right and wrong…resolutions, different from Micah.

MICAH never had a compass, but the Levite did.

The LEVITE and MICAH meet (17:9-13).

This was an accident waiting to happen meeting another accident waiting to happen!

THE RESULT: BIG BANG!

Micah wanted a proper Levitical priest (to get God’s favor) and the Levite wanted fortune and fame.  They were a perfect match…made in Hell!

The LEVITE was a member of the CLERGY…not a priest.

He wasn’t supposed to be a PRIEST…not from the priestly family.  In Numbers 16, God caused the ground to swallow a LEVITE that tried to be a priest.

BUT HE WAS HAPPY!

He had been dissatisfied with his position God had placed him in for his life, and now, he was determined to make his own plans and he was happy…at least for a while.

He was serving an IDOL, sacrificing to an IDOL, leading others in the process to do the same.  The Levite had moved beyond the sins of PRIDE and INGRATITUDE…was now in the big leagues…IDOLATRY.

Now he was spiritually destroyed and in danger to others around him.  But his sin had not reached its peak.

3rd Sad Story (Judges chapter 18)

 

Scripture tells us that the tribe of Dan was seeking an INHERITANCE  ” for themselves”  (verse 1).  They were not satisfied with God’s plan.  And God’s PLAN for them: He had given the land between Ephraim and Judah, stretching to the Mediterranean Sea.

It wasn’t as they claimed, that God had not given them a territory to possess, but rather that they chose NOT to possess it because that would cause them to have to defeat the Amorites living there.  Their FAITH in God’s promises was lacking.

They loved the junk-food of easy living.  

“GOD’S WAY IS TOO HARD…WE WANT AN EASIER WAY!”

That’s what Micah said…that was what the Levite said…now Dan says it.

And today it is the CRY of Society…God’s way is too hard, too demanding…we want a new God.

So the tribe of Dan left their homes in the Promised Land and sought a new, easier place to live.  They left their COMPASS of absolute right and wrong…lost in relativism.  That’s where they were when they met the LEVITE, another one without a COMPASS.

REMEMBER: they are guilty of disobedience, lack of faith, fear, and last but not least…LAZINESS.

They are looking for a god to stamp–validate their plans, and the Levite is looking to move up…BIG BANG!

They took the Levite to be THEIR Priest and the gods of Micah to be their own.

Look how steep the slope has become…

It started with a SINFUL MOTHER with no principles, no king, and she was in danger.

She led her son into IDOLATRY.

MICAH became spiritually bankrupt and dangerous to others.

Micah led the Levite into IDOLATRY.

The LEVITE became spiritually bankrupt, malnourished and dangerous to others.

The Levite led Dan into IDOLATRY.

The Story Is the Same…Only the Names Change Throughout History.

Eve lost her COMPASS…met the serpent with no compass, fell into SIN…danger to others.

Samson lost his COMPASS…met women with none…fell into SIN…danger to others.

David, Solomon, Jacob, the list goes on.

When you get to the point where you are no longer satisfied with God’s way because it’s too hard, it doesn’t give you what you want, it’s NOT fun…then you decide to choose your own way of doing things…you toss away the COMPASS…absolute right and wrong.

You’re bound to run into others like yourself.

Together, you will get more LOST, deeper into SIN.  You too will become morally/spiritually BANKRUPT.  You become a danger to others and you have NO COMPASS.

WHAT’S THE CURE?

You’ve got to hold on to the COMPASS, no matter what!

What is the COMPASS?

The Word…the Holy Spirit.

As long as you have the Word of God in your heart, Holy Spirit in the driver’s seat, and not deceived by the bogus teachings or promises of the world.

But it all starts right here…Satan’s first move is to get you off the straight and narrow; to give up the COMPASS…the ABSOLUTES.  

To accept RELATIVISM…” the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society…is not absolute” (Google dictionary).

  • All roads lead to God,
  • All religions are the same.
  • Each person must decide for self what is right and wrong,
  • Other religions have their bibles,
  • There are no ABSOLUTES.

With it, he has you!

No matter how good your reasoning and rationale might seem, if God calls it SIN…then it’s SIN.

We need to make sure that as Christians, we never slide into the category of “Doing what is right in our lives.”  

That we never define our actions with the attitude “Whenever I use a word it means whatever I choose it to mean,” said Humpty Dumpty scornfully.

____________________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [i] :  Alice in Wonderland – Wiki – Humpty Dumpty a novel by Lewis Carrol and Who Says It’s Right?  by Denn Guptill, Jan. 5, 2004.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – advanced SETTINGS.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

 

AN UNCROWNED AND POWERLESS NATION

JUDGES 1:1-7 (NASB)

[1]  Now it came about after the death of Joshua that the sons of Israel inquired of the LORD, saying “Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?”

[2]  The LORD said, “Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand.”

[3]  Then Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me into the territory allotted me, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I, in turn, will go with you into the territory allotted you.”  So Simeon went with him.  

[4]  Judah went up, and the LORD gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hands, and they defeated ten thousand men in Bezek. 

[5]  They found Adoni-bezek in Bezek and fought against him, and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

[6]  But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes.

[7]  Adoni-bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and their big toes cut off used to gather up scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me.”  So they brought him to Jerusalem and he died there.

AMERICA AND ISRAEL ARE MUCH ALIKE…

They remind me of each other.  Both remind me of those 70 kings in verse 7:  UNCROWNED AND MADE POWERLESS, reduced to settling for scraps.

AMERICA used to sit feasting at the table of the KING of kings, but we are descending rapidly to the role of the beggar at the Beautiful Gate.

THE BOOK OF JUDGES is a book about incomplete VICTORY…

It stems from incomplete OBEDIENCE.

Another word for “incomplete obedience” would be DISOBEDIENCE.

Partial obedience in your MORALS is disobedience.  [I’m not so bad compared to others! / But are you still willfully choosing to do wrong in the same areas?].  If you aren’t FULLY FAITHFUL…you’re UNFAITHFUL!  If you TITHE on about half of your income, you can’t call it a TITHE.  It may be 10% of THAT paycheck but if it’s only 5% overall, it’s not credited by God as partial obedience but disobedience.  I’ll get some emails and comments on that thought.

When it comes to our COMMITMENT to God, let’s not do it halfway.

I especially like a verse in 1 Kings that illustrates that thought  (1 Kings 18:21):

[21]  Elijah came near to all the people and said,  How long will you halt and limp between opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow Him!  But if Baal, then follow him.  And the people did not answer him a word.  (AMP)

You, WE, are either committed or we’re are not!

And AMERICA cannot ride the fence.  Either we’re a Christian nation or we are not!

Yes, we have FREEDOM of religion, but many today are trying to lift freedom FROM religion, trying to tie our hands and gag our mouths in the process.

Our FREEDOM of speech is going down the toilet.

After turning an 11-day journey from Egypt to the Promised Land…

During 40 years of meandering, ISRAEL found itself IN the promised land, but not IN possession of it.  ISRAEL did things halfway.

WANTING TO BE BLESSED BUT NOT WANTING TO PAY THE PRICE.

ISRAEL was commanded by Joshua to cross the river, conquer the enemy and claim the inheritance that God had promised.

They did cross the river, conquered SOME of the enemies, and stopped well short of finishing their conquest and claiming their inheritance.

They certainly wanted the BLESSINGS of the Promised Land but didn’t want to pay the price for complete victory.

They wanted something FREE, much like most Americans today.

They demanded their rights and wanted privileges, but didn’t want to take responsibility.  They were all take and no give!

So, they went back to their old ways of going in circles in the wilderness.

Their progression was:  Sin…Suffering…Supplication…Salvation.  They would sin and naturally suffer for it, then cry out to God and He would come to their rescue.

But God isn’t bound to always be a safety net for His people.

He has come to our nation many times, but like with Israel, His patience may soon wear thin if it hasn’t already.  And He may allow us to fall in order to look up!

THE LAST WAR AMERICA WON WAS WWII.

That was back when generals fought wars to win them.  Today, Congress fights wars according to polls and popular opinion and of course, politics!  No wonder we often lose or end in a stalemate at best.

JUDGES is about a small group sent by God to reclaim a fallen nation, to speak as prophets of JUDGMENT and turning them away from backsliding to repentance, revival, and recovery.

INCOMPLETE OBEDIENCE AND INCOMPLETE VICTORY.

ISRAEL’S first instance of both is right here in chapter one.  They begin with a VICTORY in the first 7 verses, but then FAIL to continue…they stop short…and are satisfied with partial obedience.

IMPORTANT SYMBOLISM:

  • ISRAEL=God’s people and could represent America, or the Church, or us as individuals.
  • CANAAN=Christian victory.
  • Adoni-bezek=  “Lord of Lightning”= Satan.  [See footnote [i] ]

Yes, I believe the king in chapter one in the text is a picture of the DEVIL himself because of a parallel passage in the NT.

LUKE 10:1 – After this, the LORD appointed seventy-two others [Some manuscripts say seventy, also in verse 17] and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go.

LUKE 10:17-20 –

[17] The seventy-two returned with joy and said,  “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”  

[18] He replied,  “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

[19] I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions, and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  [20] However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

JESUS reminded these 70 (or “72”) followers of His that SATAN is a powerful bolt of lightning that fell from heaven, and his power is beyond our own.

JESUS teaches them that although He has given a position of POWER they should glory in the position but not in the POWER as if it were their own.

Another powerful teaching in vv. 6-7 of Judges is RETRIBUTION.

Adoni-bezek was punished for his crimes in the exact same way as he punished these 70 kings.

RETRIBUTION is an aspect of God’s character we seldom think about.  We like to focus on His LOVE and REWARDS in heaven, but we often fail to consider His holiness; His perfect nature demanding justice and a payment for all imperfection.

SATAN’S DAY IS COMING!  He may think he’s getting away with things now on earth but it’s payday someday.

God may not pay weekly, monthly, or annually, but when He pays he pays in full!

We too should take the warning…

  • Numbers 32:23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”
  • Galatians 6:7  “Do not be deceived:  God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.”
  • 1 Timothy 5:24  “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.”

UNCROWNED means to be knocked out of your seat–dethroned from your position of POWER.

Romans 13:1  Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.

It’s like a major demotion…that hurts!

Proverbs 25:26  Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.

What a letdown!

POWERLESS means unable to accomplish work for God–DISABLED!

Some try but find themselves to be ineffective while some have been disabled to the point that they have quit trying.

WITH NO THUMBS they couldn’t hold a sword, no threat…WITH NO BIG TOES, they became unstable, couldn’t stand to fight.

Under his table = OPPRESSION.

They lived off the scraps they could gather under his table and that’s difficult with NO THUMBS!!

Satan DISABLES in many ways but seems to have the most success by using the following ‘BIG SINS’ against us:

  • Bitterness
  • Immorality
  • Greed
  • Guilt

Many Christians Are Defeated Today–

SOME HAVE BEEN OVERCOME–[Ambushed] – 1 Peter 5:8 – “…for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.”

SOME HAVE BEEN OUTMANNED –  We try to go the battle alone and are no match for Satan– Ephesians 6:10 – Be strong in the Lord; draw your strength from Him.

SOME HAVE BEEN OUTGUNNED – Ephesians 6:13 – Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…; 1 Corinthians 15:57 – But thanks be to God, Who gives us victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Remembering THREE THINGS About Satan:

#1.  He is not a mythological character:  Not just a force or influence, but a real person.  He has life, intelligence, a will, and feelings.

#2.  Satan is a destructive force:  He’s out to defeat you!

  • In Christianity
  • Christian America
  • Church
  • Family
  • Person

#3.  Satan is a defeated foe.

HOW DO WE THEN GAIN VICTORY?

The only true victory is COMPLETE VICTORY.

America today fights to a stalemate or a draw.

Let’s not make the same mistake in our personal lives.

 

1 John 5:4 – 

Who is it that is victorious over [that conquers] the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on that fact]?

In the above verse, the Apostle John is giving his readers a testimony that in Christ there is VICTORY!

  • VICTORY doesn’t come by regretting.
  • VICTORY doesn’t come by resolving.
  • VICTORY doesn’t come by renouncing.
  • VICTORY doesn’t come by rededication.

VICTORY COMES BY RECEIVING THE VICTORY ALREADY MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH JESUS.

Outside of Christ, there is no victory.

In John 16:33 we read, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence.  In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]!  For I have overcome the world.  [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”

This KING is just like the devil and he wants to oppress you and rob you of the benefits of your SALVATION.

Many of God’s people live a beggar’s lifestyle while they’re the rightful heirs of the kingdom of God.

Satan is holding many of God’s people in BONDAGE to GUILT and SHAME, (slavery) while living like beggars because they don’t know what God’s COVENANT says.

The Syrophenician Woman said, just let me have the crumbs that fall from the children’s table, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs (She didn’t know or have a part in the Covenant).  [Matthew 15:21-28]

But the sad part is that when we are COVENANT sons and daughters and because of ignorance, Satan oppresses us and brings us into BONDAGE, and has us living like beggars.

LAZARUS was a son of Abraham (Yet he was living like a beggar).

HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE:

You are NOT a beggar and Satan has no AUTHORITY over you if you are truly SAVED!

He has no authority to hold you in a BONDAGE of GUILT or SHAME over your past.

You are a Covenant Son or Daughter of God!

The King is calling you to the banqueting table, and at His table, no one sees what you were, only what you are!  A CHILD OF THE KING!

When you take your rightful place at the table, you RULE AND REIGN as kings!!

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FOOTNOTES AND CREDITS –

Footnote [i] :  Bible Study Tools, Dictionaries – Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary:  Adoni-bezek

Photos:  Google Image Search –  Advance search setting.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and the Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

It’s Always Paul and Somebody Else

SCRIPTURE READING IN PHILEMON 1:23-24

Philemon Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow labourers.

The Apostle Paul was a TEAM PLAYER.

I never read in Scripture where JUST Paul took trips to establish churches in the Roman Empire.  It was ALWAYS Paul and somebody else–Paul and Barnabas or Paul and Silas.  In addition, a number of people were with these headliner pairs, like John Mark, Luke, Timothy and Epaphras, and the valuable couple, Aquila, and Priscilla.

One of these helpers that traveled with Paul was a young man named DEMAS.

Notice in the Bible verse Demas is referred to as one of Paul;s “fellow laborers.”  At this point, Demas was valued enough to be mentioned as one of Paul’s fellow laborers, an honored designation.

But in Colossians 4:7-14what I found as notable and something interesting as well.  In Paul’s closing remarks and as was his custom, he mentions a list of servants by name.  Notice that Paul says some glowing things about several people in this passage:

Tychicus is a “much-loved brother and faithful ministering assistant and fellow servant”…verse 7

Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother…verse 9

Aristarchus a fellow prisoner along with Mark the relative of Barnabas…verse 10

Epaphras, a servant of Christ Jesus, a man of prayer and convictions…verse 12

Luke the beloved physician…verse 14

Great praise was given to these men.

Demas is also mentioned at the end of this passage, notice in Verse 14 and the only thing Paul says about him is “And Demas”.  Glowing remarks for all but one, Demas, and all he got was his name mentioned.

Was Demas being slighted here, demoted in Paul’s estimation somehow?  Hold that thought.

Now, let’s look at 2 Timothy 4:9-11 –

DEMAS has abandoned Paul’s team in this portion of Scripture while Paul while incarcerated in Rome. 

The phrase “deserted me”  in the Greek literally carries the idea of “abandonment in a time of need.” Today we might say, “He left me in the lurch”.

Ironically, Paul asks Timothy in verse 11 to bring with him Mark, who had abandoned Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15 but had later been restored to service.

[11] Only Luke is with me.  Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”  (NIV)

I find it ironical when Demas had deserted him, Paul sent the former quitter, John Mark, whom Paul now says it was helpful to him in the ministry.

Ah, reconciliation at play!

This is a reminder to all of us that no one is UNSALVAGEABLE to God.

John Mark, like Demas, had been a miserable failure earlier in life, but now he had become a “helpful” servant.

GETTING BACK TO DEMAS…

What happened to him?  He started off with great promise.

ONCE he’d been a valued co-laborer; NOW he’s a tragic failure.

I’m not a big fan of reading between the lines in Scripture, BUT…

I can think of several reasons DEMAS may have left his post.

FIRST, DEMAS MAY HAVE BECOME WORN OUT –

Perhaps he had not anticipated how tiring ministry really was.  No doubt, working with Paul involved many hours of tiresome labor to:

  • Witnessing the Gospel to many people…
  • Counseling sessions to attend…
  • Study time needed to be done for sermons…
  • Teaching responsibilities…
  • Meetings to attend.
  • Choir practices
  • Drama rehearsals.

Many times, undoubtedly, he may have been burning the candle at both ends.  And I can relate!

Past times in my serving in ministry…after working all day at a secular job, then at night, attending leadership meetings, evangelism outreach classes…And that’s okay, actually, because honestly…I LIVE for this kind of usefulness.

But I can see myself being in Demas’ shoes if I’m not careful; just getting WEARY of being tempted to quit if you caught me at the wrong time.

What Demas needed to hear is the same thing we need to hear when we get WEARY IN THE lORD’S WORK.

Paul said in Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.”

Sometimes we need to get some rest…But don’t get weary in well-doing.

Sometimes we have to reprioritize to make sure the important things get done first, but don’t get WEARY in doing well!

Sometimes we may feel taken advantage of and unappreciated, but don’t be weary in well-doing–because we’re not doing our service for people anyway.

I want to share a couple of tips that I’ve learned over forty-five years in various ministries on how NOT to get or stay weary in well-doing:

  • First, when you can, SERVE in harmony with your spiritual gift.

We can’t always have that luxury to serve only where we’re GIFTED, but that’s where we should gravitate when possible.

When we minister in our giftedness, we may get tired, but we get tired because we’re doing too much of what we ENJOY and that’s a good kind of tired.

  • Second, find time for alone time with God where you can get recharged and encouraged in the Lord by His Spirit.

Just maybe, Demas needed to set aside some time with God and get STRENGTH from Him.

SECOND, DEMAS MAY HAVE BECOME UNHAPPY WITH HIS EFFECTIVENESS –

Maybe he tried to win his relatives to the Lord, and they wouldn’t listen.

Perhaps as he preached alongside Paul he became disappointed that he didn’t see the same results as Paul.

Possibly Demas found that PREACHING when most of his hearers didn’t want to hear what he had to say was more difficult than he anticipated.

And he just simply became discouraged in his doing, and he decided to throw in the towel and QUIT!

If true, then he would’ve been helped by Paul’s words to the Corinthian church, 1 Cor. 3:5-7:

Paul was saying that much of what we do when we SERVE GOD doesn’t result in immediate visible results.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it or that God isn’t blessing it.

Maybe Demas just needed to HEAR that we work for God, not for effectiveness and it won’t be until we get to HEAVEN to see the fruit of our labor.  Right now, we just need not be WEARY in well-doing.

THIRD, POSSIBLY DEMAS HAD BEEN DISAPPOINTED WITH THE FAILURES AND INCONSISTENCIES OF OTHERS –

Maybe some of the Christians he worked with were not all they were cracked up to be.  It’s hard to imagine that he could have found a more spiritual man to minister alongside than the Apostle Paul, but Paul certainly wasn’t perfect.

  • Maybe some of the other Christian leaders he worked with didn’t live up to the standards he thought Christians or ministers of the Gospel should have.
  • Maybe he started looking at others for inspiration instead of Jesus!
  • Maybe he was looking around instead of looking up!

Or maybe he struggled with a certain SIN in his life that caused him to begin to look at others with more critical eyes so that he wouldn’t feel so bad about his own sin.

OUCH!!!

We really don’t know for sure, but if that’s the case, the writer of Hebrews had the answers to Demas’ problem

HEBREWS 12:1-2 (AMP)

[1] THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth]. let us strip off and throw away every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which is so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,  [2] Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].  He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

The writer says we should keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ and not others as we run the race.

  • JESUS is the author and finisher of our FAITH, not those around us.
  • It was JESUS who endured the cross for us, not our co-workers in the Lord or our mentors, our fellow Christians.

I wish Demas had thoughts of that before he threw in the towel.

FOURTH, DEMAS MAY HAVE BEEN DISAPPOINTED WITH HIMSELF –

Perhaps he thought, once in the Lord’s service, somehow his struggles with sin, lust or fear, or covetousness, or anger from jealousy would disappear.

  • Maybe he forgot the importance of depending on the Holy Spirit.
  • Maybe, as he looked back over the last few years of serving in the ministry that he became disappointed he hadn’t come any further in the Christian life than he felt he should have.

As a young worker in God’s Vineyard, maybe he had been too idealistic–thought that people would flock to hear him teach and preach with multitudes being SAVED!

But things, well…they just didn’t turn out that way.

All anyone wanted to hear was that big-shot Paul!

Possibly, DEMAS struggled as many of us struggle and was disillusioned with his own wrong motives and lack of spiritual growth, especially when he compared himself with the great Apostle Paul, who seemed to always be “on target.”

FIFTH, IT’S ALSO POSSIBLE THAT HE HAD DEVELOPED A DIMINISHING OF SPONTANEOUS SERVICE FOR THE LORD –

  • I wonder if Demas was so involved with FIGHTING for the Word of God that he stopped FEASTING in the Word.
  • I wonder if he became so busy SERVING God, that he stopped SAVORING God.

If so, then most likely his spiritual life became forced, cold, mechanical, calculated, until he just didn’t bother taking time out to spend with the Lord anymore.

Maybe he became like Martha instead of Mary.  

MARTHA received a gentle rebuking from Jesus though she was busy serving, while MARY was commended because she took the time out to be with Jesus (Luke 10:41-42).

Maybe DEMAS wouldn’t have given up if he had been able to feed at the Lord’s table.

SIXTH, JUDGING FROM PAUL’S WORDS IN TIMOTHY 4, MOST LIKELY THE ATTRACTIONS OF THIS WORLD ALLURED DEMAS AWAY FROM GOD.

Paul said, “…because he loved this world, has deserted me and gone to Galatia…”  (2 Tim. 4:10).

That will rob you of your spiritual power and zeal like nothing else!

Jesus half-brother James (Mark 6:13) said in James 4:4

[4] “Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy?  So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God”  (AMP).

James uses mighty strong language here! 

A FRIEND of this world’s system is a spiritual adulterer or adulteress who, instead of loving God with ALL your heart, goes “a whoring” after the world, to use O.T. terminology.

How can one experience the JOY of walking with God if you’ve become His enemy?

No, the WORLD will not satisfy you; it will only pull you away from God and SERVICE to Him.

I’ve Given Some “Maybe’s”, the REASONS Demas Could Have Bailed Out On Paul.

But all is not lost in the case of DEMAS (3 John 1:12):

“Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone–and even by the truth itself…”  (NIV)

It is said that this passage of Scripture was written about 90-95 AD.  Many Bible scholars believe that DEMETRIUS in this passage is the same DEMAS found Philemon 23-24.  

The name “Demas” was what is called a diminutive of the name Demetrius; in other words, kind of like shortened nickname of the name like Bob for Robert or Will for William.  

If this is the same DEMAS as the one Paul referred to, it proves again, as with John Mark, it’s never too late to recover, restore, reconcile those who have FAILED, failed miserably. And reconciliation IS the theme of Paul’s letter to Philemon.

Somewhere along the line, Demas got things straightened out in his life so that John could say,  “Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone…”

If you are in danger of becoming a DEMAS, or maybe you find yourself already a “Demas”, then it’s time to grab hold of God’s PROMISE found in 1 John 1:9:

[9] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].  (Amplified Bible).

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CREDITS –

The Free Dictionary by Failex.

Bible Hub – 2 Timothy 4:10; Elliott’s Commentary for English Readers.

Ray Stedman, The End of the Road.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, Settings Advance.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); except where noted in the text.