Pick well…

For senior night with most sports teams at RL, a player is asked to pick their favorite “verse”. Often it is Jeremiah 29:11 (“for I know the plans I have for you…) or maybe a common one like John 3:16. If you haven’t picked one, I suggest today’s verse, Joshua 22:5. If your senior nights are all in the past, this verse is the one verse to set as your goal in life anyway.

This is the command Joshua gave to the Israelites upon their actual arrival to the Promised Land. This, above all else, is what they needed to do. It is what we need to do too. There are 5 action verbs included, and we can pray these for ourselves, each other, and our friends and be certain, it is God’s will for these things to be true in all our lives. We are to love, walk, obey, hold fast and serve. Love God. Walk in all his ways. Obey his commands. Hold fast to him. Serve him with ALL our heart and soul.
I don’t have space to write about all of these, but lets at least look at “Love God.” What do you love? Sports? Food? Social Media? What is the outgrowth of that love? Spending time and money on it. Keeping up with it. Learning more about it. Maybe reading about it. Looking at it. These are some of the ways you can “love” something.

It is the same with God. If we are going to truly love Him, we will spend time and money on Him, we will keep up with Him daily. We will read about Him. We will look at Him every chance we can. We will love Him.

Pray this would be the verse set in our hearts, and that God would conform us to this kind of love for Him, this walking, obeying, holding fast, and serving Him. We CAN NOT do this on our own. He has to enable us, but if we ask, I am certain He will answer that request with yes!

Gift giving and receiving…

I gave everyone a valentine’s bag this morning. What did you have to do to get it? Nothing, right? I also recently received an invitation for a 2 ½ hour REI survey. If I do it, I will receive a $200 gift card. In both cases, items are being “given”. One is simply given, the other requires me to do something to receive it. Two kinds of giving.

Today, we read in Joshua that God followed through on His word to give the Israelites the Promised land.  He “gave it [the land] as an inheritance to Israel.” Israel received something-a BIG something that God had promised them. Which kind of “giving” from my example above was it?

In this case, it was the second kind. God gave them the land, but the process of “getting” it required the takeover and war with at many cities and kings. It was not easy. There were many battles, struggles, and most likely also deaths. It was hard.

Reading to observe God’s character in this Scripture, we can see God is a giver-but sometimes the gift will require us to obey His commands to receive the gift. This may seem confusing because the thing we may have to do may be very hard. It may seem like a lot of work-but if it is for a gift from God, it will be worth it.

Dad and I pray God will give you the gift of a good job in the future. Right now that is requiring hard work from you in your studies. The gift will be worth it. God hopefully will also gift you a  with a spouse and/or children at some point in the future. That too may require hard work-unconditional love when the feelings are not there at the moment or cleaning up after a child has been sick and more. It will be hard at times,  but worth it. If you or I are in the midst of some very hard work, maybe today’s Scripture is here just to remind you or I to keep at it. Keep working. Wherever God is leading us and the gift He has for us is GOOD. In the end, there is a good chance He may also grant us rest after all the hard work, as he did the Israelites. (Look at the end of the verse.) Just keep being faithful in what ever God is calling you to do and keep at it, trusting it will be well worth it.

Oops!

Oops! That’s really the first word that comes to mind here for me. You know that feeling when you send a text or email to the wrong person? It is a terrible feeling.

I have a suspicion Joshua felt that about 100x over in today’s circumstances. God had given strict instructions regarding how the Israelites were to take over the Promised Land. There were specific does and don’t’s-and one biggie was to not allow the people to stay and/or live amongst them. This is where the “oops” comes in. As the Israelites were coming in to the Promised land, one of the cities got down wind of the takeover, and came up with a scheme. Treaties were kept in these cultures, and they came up with a way to trick them into a peace treaty. We are told Israel talked with them  and “did not inquire” of the Lord. It was a big decision. It had important future ramifications and they did seek God regarding this treaty and people.

May we not make the same mistake. We make large and small decisions all day long. I pray in the morning for us that we would all be given wisdom and discernment in our decisions. Maybe now I will add to that prayer that we would actually remember to ask God about the decisions. May we “inquire of the Lord” every time. When we ask Him, He can then point us in the direction that is best. This one “small” step will prevent us from making a huge mistake impacting our future because we “forgot”, were in a “rush”, or were tempted by what was being offered if we would just say “yes”.

Just keep marching…

I always like to try to put myself in the people’s shoes I am reading about in the Bible. These are real people who really did this. What was it like? Today, I have to think the people I am reading about had to have questions!

We are in Joshua and they are marching around the walls of Jericho before taking over. So, if this is us, it is the equivalent to going to Iran or Syria, getting all the soldiers to march around the country while blowing trumpets. For 7 days. ALL DAY LONG. Hour after hour after hour. This had to make NO SENSE to them. They had to think it was crazy. If it was me, I would have been scared and thinking of a thousand other better plans. I would have thought it was a waste of time. But they were faithful. How were they able to push aside the rational thoughts about this?

They trusted Joshua, a leader they knew was placed there by God. They had to trust him 100% or would have never been able to do it. They also knew this was God’s will. This what exactly what God wanted them to do and they found confidence in that. They had seem God work before and do amazing things, and trusted in Him to do it again. They pushed away the thought to trust in themselves.

Easy applications for us today: Are we following someone? Who is “leading” us at the moment? Are they trustworthy? Do they get their direction by seeking God? We always want to consider this-whose advice we are taking and whose leadership we are under. Right now,  you are under dad’s leadership and you can be fully assured he seeks God daily.

God’s will. Are we in that? Are we seeking that? If we are, then we can trust Him and where He has placed us- even if it makes NO SENSE AT ALL. Be obedient and trust He will complete what He has started.

Don’t trust our own solutions. Push away the temptation to do it “my way”.  Satan will constantly bombard us to think God’s way is ridiculous and we have a better plan. Eve did not have a better plan. The Israelites did not. And we don’t either. His plan always has been and will always be the best. Just keep “marching” and watch what God does!

Look at this!

Last week Aaron and I watched a short video about the importance of glorifying God. He made a great comparison: The speaker talked about when you get a new phone. You want to show it to everybody, show them all the things it can do, how it looks and so on. Or, he said, consider if you got a girlfriend. You are anxious to bring her to meet all your family and friends and you would be sure to tell everyone how wonderful she is. That is like “glorifying” the phone or the girlfriend. It is bringing attention to and showing the wondrous qualities of these things. That is what we should be doing for God.

The better we see and know God, the better we will be able to glorify him. God, in fact, is very interested in helping us do this. In Joshua, we read about how God dries up the Jordan so the people can cross, similar to Moses exodus crossing. Today’s verse tells us part of the reason why: so that all people would see the hand of God AND so God’s people would fear him. By seeing this awesome work, it would help strengthen the Israelites faith in God, and increase their wisdom (the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom/Prov. 9:10) The more they knew about God, the more He could be glorified.

I sometimes forget this. I forget to “see” God everyday. I am praying I can see all He does so I too, might always fear the Lord, and glorify him more. I, of all people, am definitely the type to show you my “new phone” as soon as I get it. What I really want to be, though, is a person who you can’t possibly spend time with without me showing and telling you about the awesome qualities of my God. I want you to see the hand of the Lord is powerful too-so you see you don’t want to serve any other thing by comparison. This is my prayer for all of  us. May we see what God is doing daily, and because of this, want everyone else to see and know Him too!

Bring your manual!

Do you want to be successful once you start working? There are quite a few books out on how to do this. including:  “The Success Principles”, “7 Habits of Highly Effective people” and “How Successful People Think”. Do you want to be successful in life? In your marriage? What about a book for that?

I don’t recommend any of the books above-I have not read them. But, we all already own a book on success and prosperity. The Bible. At least, you do if you believe what the Bible says in Josh. 1:8.
What does this verse actually mean? First, the context is set at the time Joshua is leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. His instruction includes these words about God’s law, prosperity and success. It is referring to being prosperous in the things of God and successful in the endeavors that God is leading them into. Keep in mind, what they were going to get was AWESOME. The promised land was (and is) a beautiful place-it is vacation land in terms of what it had to offer at that time. It was good. Really good. But it was also God’s will for them and it wasn’t easy. The next verse in fact tells them to be strong and courageous. These two go hand in hand.
God’s will is for us to be prosperous and successful in HIS things. We are fully equipped for this by God. Sometimes we may be tempted to think we are not as “interested” in that-but trust me, we should be. Just consider the following: God’s will is that our marriage models unconditional love. This is a GOOD, wouldn’t you like your spouse to love you unconditionally? God’s will is that we would live in unity with one another. You and I WANT that, right, as opposed to living in disharmony with people? God’s will is that we would be strong and courageous. Don’t we want to be strong and courageous in life? God’s will is that we would use our gifts He has given us for the good of others and to his glory. Do we realize this is what we would truly LOVE doing, it will be the things we love and are best at? His will is really what you and I ultimately want to be most successful and prosperous in. So, grab your “manual” and be careful to do everything written in it-the instructions are right there!

Rest, refuge and shelters…

Have you ever seen a small child who is afraid, run to get as close to their mom or dad as possible? If they are scared, they feel safer under their mother’s arm. It is a place of refuge and safety.

We all need a place of refuge and safety throughout life. Children are not the only ones with fears and worries. I love the picture that God paints in regards to this today in the Psalms. He talks about resting in the shadow of the Almighty-like a child would rest under the arm of a parent. He also talks of himself as a refuge and fortress.

Isn’t this what we all really want in times of trouble, stress and suffering? A place to rest? A place of refuge from physical or emotional pain and suffering?

Psalms tells us that the person who “dwells in the shelter” of the Most High will rest. The person who trusts in God will find Him to be a refuge and fortress. I want that: to be in a shelter, and to find God a strong refuge and fortress, especially when things are all messed up in my life. I would guess you do to.

I was thinking today, if God himself is our shelter, refuge and safety, the more we know God, the more we can hide in him. For instance, when we are worried about a medical lab result, we would rest knowing God already has our days numbered. He will not allow anything to be “diagnosed” with us until it is the appointed time. (Job 14:5) When we are having difficulty making a decision, if we know God and His word, the Holy Spirit could remind us to ask God for wisdom because He has told us He will give it to us. (James 1:5) We can rest in that. The more we know God and his Word, the more we can run to that shelter and refuge.

Are you or I worried about something? Do we need shelter and some serious rest? Trust God, and “dwell” in his Word. Play music that quotes Scripture. Listen to podcast sermons. SURROUND ourselves with God’s “presence” by his Word every way and time possible. Where we find the presence of the Almighty, we will find true rest and refuge.

 

Good or evil? How do you know?

Do you think abortion is wrong? Is homosexuality a sin? Should children be able to decide if they are a boy or girl? How about this things… Is it ok to use foul language just amongst friends? Should we pass on something negative about someone to a friend? Do we have the right to hate President Obama or President Trump?  How you answer these questions shows how you define good or evil.

The ability to judge or distinguish good from evil is called discernment. A person who can not distinguish good from evil according to the Bible is “without sense” or a fool. God described the nation of Israel as a nation “without sense”, and He called them this because there was no discernment in them. Their discernment or lack thereof, determined their future, and God warned them about the dangers of this. Sadly, they ignored it, and therefore suffered greatly.

Lack of discernment affects our future. What we call good or evil shapes our choices on a minute to minute basis. How can we gain discernment, so we make wise choices?
Discernment is trained. Heb. 5:14 tells us that “Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” You can only distinguish good from evil based on your definition of good or evil. Where you find that definition will make all the choice in the world.

If our definition of good and evil is found in the headline news, our friends or social media, we will lack sense and have incredibly poor discernment. If our definition of good and evil is found in God’s Word, the truth, our discernment will be spot on, but it will take practice. This is the “solid food” Hebrews speaks of. It takes learning what is right and wrong, good and evil, on a daily basis. What time will you or I be practicing today or will we just be fools and let the world determine it for us? Practice makes perfect. Lack of practice in this area makes a senseless fool.

Warning: Poison

Zippy seems slightly better but she still has a long way to go. Initially I wondered if she somehow had gotten into poison. I am sure it wasn’t now. How can I be sure? Because poison is lethal. It kills. If it was poison, Zippy would already be dead.

How about you and I? Have we gotten into poison lately? Well, we may not be physically ingesting poison in our food-but God today points out we can do this spiritually. God warned the Israelites about those among them. He says they were to make sure there was not anyone amongst them who was worshiping other gods. He compares such a person to bitter poison.

I ask again, what does poison do? It kills. If God describes the person amongst them as poison, who do you think would be the one to die from it? The person in contact with the “poison.”

People who we are close with can be life-giving or poison in our lives. This is why I have started to try to pray for your friends as well as for you. Each day I am picking one of your friends-and praying that they too, would walk worthy of the Lord-because these people will influence you. I ALSO pray for my friends along these same lines. I need to be surrounded by those encouraging me to grow in the Lord, sending me podcasts, articles, bringing up topics that glorify God and reminding me not to take part in ungodly things. I am thankful for these friends like Gege, Mrs. M, and Mrs. K.

At the same time, we would do well to make sure WE are not poison in others lives. Are we leading our family and friends to worship other gods of entertainment, sports or something else? We have a responsibility to make sure we are not a root of poison in others lives. Are others likely to emulate Christ more or less after being spending time with us?

Nobody desires poison. Let’s keep it out of our daily diet and make sure we are not the bitter poison root in others lives either!

10 Herbert…

If I said that today I am going to “10 Herbert”-would you all know where I was going? I bet you would. 10 Herbert is the address of Aunt Patty’s house. Their whole family refers to that house as “10 Herbert”. But it is not just an address-instead, it is a home-where grandmom was, where they grew up, where the family gathers for Christmas and Thanksgiving, where we have been privileged to be invited at times, where memories have been made and where good things happen.

That’s part of the feeling I get with the phrase “the land your God is giving you.”  This was the land God promised his people. It was a very special place, a land flowing with milk and honey. Today’s verse is 1 of over 27 times this phrase is used up to this point in Deuteronomy alone. It is a location near and dear to God’s heart-and he wanted his people to enjoy it and always remember HE GAVE IT to them. It was an incredible gift and if they lived with the mindset of thanks to God for this gift, life would be good. The moments they  began to forget this, things went terribly wrong.

How did they get it so wrong? would take it for granted or disobey God in their care of it. Perhaps they started to think THEY had gained the land themselves, since they had had to fight for it. They would forget that all victories were by the work of God’s hands. The land itself was chosen by God before they were born. The goodness of the land was by God’s doing. They only saw their part in it, and lost sight of the Giver.

We would do well to remember God in all the good things in our lives as well. Some of those things the “Lord our God” has given us include; Our home here in Delaware, good grades-and the brains and body to be able to even do that work, athletic ability including muscles that work because God holds you together, Dad’s job-provided by God but at which he still has to work hard every day. What are some of the specific things the “Lord your God” has given you that come to mind? Don’t forget to be thankful for them, and work hard to take good care of them avoiding the temptation to take credit for them.