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Monday, March 25, 2013

Not a Fair Fight

Joshua 10:1-12:6
We had some interesting reading over the weekend.  Yesterday we read where Joshua forgot to pray and consult God regarding the weary travelers seeking a peace treaty (Joshua 9:14-15).
Did that make you stop and wonder why this praying nation, did not pray?  It did me.
Maybe the travelers looked innocent enough and they felt they could make this call on their own without calling on God.  Whatever their reason, the deed was done, and Joshua had guaranteed their safety and we read today where the Gibeonites would need that protection in a big way.
So now, the community God would have had Israel destroy, they are riding out to rescue.
Did you catch what God said to Joshua before the fighting even began in verse 8 of chapter 10?  He said, “Do not be afraid of them, for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one will be able to stand up to you.”
The words have given meant that God had already decided the outcome, but Joshua and his men still had to do some fighting.
But they did not fight alone-
God confused the Amorites…
stayed the Sun…
and slaughtered more with the hailstorm than the Israelites did with a sword.
After the battle was over Joshua had the 5 kings brought out and told the commanders of his army to place their feet on the king’s necks symbolizing victory and the assurance of future conquest and he said,
Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged.  Be strong and courageous, for the Lord is going to do this to all your enemies. Joshua 10:25
And God did!  They went on to destroy all the Southern Cities.
So, what battle are you facing today?  Where is the enemy surrounding you?
Your thoughts?  Your marriage?  Your job?  Your finances?  Your fears?
You are not alone in your fight.  As a matter of a fact, the fight is fixed.
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:37 (NLT)
God has already given you the victory.
But remember, God may have the sun stand still for you, but you will still have to fight.
So today, take to words of Joshua and let them be the fuel you need to stay in the fight.
Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged. 
Be strong and courageous,
for the Lord is going to do this to all your enemies.
God is on your side of the fight! And if God is for you, it does not matter who is against you!
You win!

Friday, March 15, 2013

For Your Own Good

Deuteronomy 10-12
Mark and I have raised 2 kids whom we required certain things from…
  • to do their best
  • never give up when things get tough
  • be kind and courteous to others
  • stay committed to your commitments
We knew that it was for their own good that they do these things.
But out of everything we have tried to instill in them, being perfect was never one of them.
When they made a mistake, we taught them how to learn from it.
When they wanted to quit, we explained the big picture and how staying in the game will eventually produce the results they desired.
But perfection?  We knew that was an unrealistic expectation because perfection wasn’t even a reality for them; and its not for you or for me.
Billions of people have lived on this planet and out of ALL those people only ONE was perfect.  And that person's name was not Tina nor (insert your name here).
But as parents we did require certain things.  And as God’s children He required certain things from Israel as well.
Moses shared today what those were…
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. And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good. Deuteronomy 10:12-13
Fear the Lord.
Live pleasingly.
Love and Serve God.
Obey His commands.
Thankfully for the Children of Israel, and for us, Moses did not say be perfect.
But how many times have we allowed the enemy to place the requirement of perfection on us? Too many than we care to admit.
And how many times have we placed the requirement of perfection on ourselves or others?
I realized a few years ago that when I got frustrated with my husband or kids, that frustration was based in the fact that I was expecting them to be perfect.  If they were perfect they would not be frustrating me.
They aren't perfect.
And I am not either.
If God, who is perfect, does not require us to be perfect, then why should we require it of ourselves or others?
But, we can't let that be an excuse to not strive for excellence or doing your best.
So the question today is, Are you doing your best to LoveServeFear and Obey the Lord?
Because that is all that is required of you.
And if you fail or make a mistake just remember to…
  • do your best
  • never give up when things get tough
  • be kind and courteous to others
  • stay committed to your commitments
As Moses said in verse 13, It is for your own good.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Living Sober

Numbers 25-26
Oh that Balaam… even a talking donkey did not stop him from doing evil.
Yes, I know he ended up blessing the children of Israel when Balak wanted him to curse them.  But as Maggie mentioned here yesterday, Balaam did not have the best of intentions.
As a matter of fact, on Saturday we will read in Numbers 31 that is was actually Balaam who devised the plan to corrupt Israel by having the Moabite women entice them to worshiping Baal and have sexual relationships with them.
You see, where Balaam was not able to prophesy against and curse Israel, he was able to go back to the Moabites and plot Israel's corruption by using their women as prostitutes to lure Israel's men into idolatry causing God to curse them (Numbers 25:8-9). Didn’t see that coming did you?  Yeah, me neither.
So, just in case you started liking Balaam as he was giving his pro-Israel prophecies, don't get too excited. He just turned out to be another evil man who seemed to have had a short-lived period of favor with God.
On Saturday we will also read how God instructs Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites for causing Israel to stumble. Just a little spoiler alert, Balaam nor the 5 kings make it out alive.  But you would have seen that coming.  I mean it’s God we are talking about.  And God is a just God and he says in Romans 12:19 “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
But Balaam and the kings’ tactics did not die with them.  Today, Satan still creates circumstances around us to seduce us into sin.  While he can’t steal our salvation, he can place people and things around us that may steal our joy and soften our resolve to put God and his ways first in our life.
That is why 1 Peter 5:8 is such a vital verse for us.  Here is what it says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour.”
As followers of Christ we have to always be on guard.  It is in that one moment, that one instant where we get lax that we found ourselves doing the thing we swore we would never do.
So we have to be like Phinehas was today in Numbers 25:7-8, as soon as we see even the hint of sin in our camp, we need to run out and slay it!
If we don't, it may eventually slay us.
Stay sober my friends,