Category Archives: obedience

How much faith do you have?

faith ps 16 to 18

Judges 13 This chapter reveals a God who cares for His people even if they don’t seem to care for Him. God loves all His people, especially barren women and wants to bless these them. For four chapters, we read about Samson, the son of Manoah and “Mrs. Manoah.” It is the “Mrs.” that has the initial contact with the angel of God. It is she that quoted verbatim his words to her husband, Manoah. But, like Zechariah, when Manoah heard that his wife would bear a child, he needed more confirmation. And, both sons, John the Baptist and Samson would be a Nazarite.

Mr. Manoah may not have understood all the details about Samson’s birth, but he is commended for his obedience and faith as he entreated the Lord.  And like Jacob, he wanted to know the name of the “man of God.” He needs confirmation on all accounts. After seeing the miracle of the flame and the rising of the angel to heaven, he then has a crisis of belief: “surely we will die for we have seen God.”  Not so, Mrs. Manoah! She was perceptive: look at the evidence, God answered our prayer, he accepted our offering, he wouldn’t have shown us these things or let us hear things like this! How great was her faith! And God blessed her with a son.

When God speaks, do we believe Him 100 %! Or do we need more confirmation like Manoah and Zechariah did?

 

Lessons from the Gibeonites

Joshua 10 deceitful2aJoshua 9 – 10 Have you ever been duped? To be duped means another has taken advantage of you in some clever way. Take a lesson from Joshua who was deceived or duped by the Gibeonites.

One of the lessons Moses sought to impress upon his servant was to always check with God before stepping out. Joshua is learning this lesson fast and furiously. First, he failed to check with God about Ai, and now he fails to check with God about the Gibeonites. In both circumstances, Joshua failed, but God still used him in His service, and that is something we need to remember. Just because you failed once doesn’t mean God can’t and won’t use you. God uses imperfect people to complete His perfect plan.

God allows tests into our life to check our understanding of His Word. He also allows them to test our faith and obedience to Him. The city of Ai and the tribe of the Gibeonites was Joshua’s test. What is yours?

The Gibeonites were cunning and deceitful, and we will meet those people as we traverse the world. Joshua assumed they had a good motive from all appearances, but they were lying. We can only see through the lies and facades with God’s eyes. Joshua is an example of allowing his own eyes and the pity he felt for the Gibeonites to lead him rather than God’s eyes.

We must be discerning, and the only way we can be is through prayer and scripture and yes, sometimes seeking wise counsel. Joshua failed on all points; how about you?

“Spiritual Markers.”

Joshua 4 spiritual markers2aJoshua, ch 4 Every scripture is inspired by God. He wrote it for four reasons: to be used in teaching, to reprove us when we are “out of line,” to correct us, so we walk aright, and to train us in righteousness. The Israelites did not have a Bible, but they had the word of God through Moses to the priests. Instead of a written word, they had stones as a reminder of what things were important.

The Ten Commandments and the pot of manna were placed in the Ark as spiritual markers. As the Israelites prepared to cross the Jordan, Joshua had the priests go ahead with the Ark, and then they were to pick up twelve stones to be used as a spiritual maker of what God had done on this day.  They were to walk behind the Ark in reverence. The Ark was their physical marker to follow; we have the scriptures. They stepped into the flowing river, and just like us; they had to get their feet wet to see the power of the Lord unleashed; this is how we trust God, stepping out in faith. There are situations ahead that God is asking us to trust Him and to fix our eyes upon Him, as the author of Hebrews said, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of our faith.  Heb 12:2

Where are your eyes fixed? What is your spiritual marker to follow?

 

 

What’s in your wallet…”er” your armor?

Deut 20 add prayer to your armor2aDeut 20 There is a catchy commercial that asks that question thinking that money is always the answer but not always. How do you fight battles of both kinds: physical and spiritual? For both, we need special armor.

Moses addresses the first as he prepares the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. They would face enemies with horses, chariots, and numerous men. The fear was real, but Moses took the fighting men aside and told them a powerful truth: Some trust in chariots, some in horses and some in the numerous men. In that time, “do not be fainthearted. Do not fear and tremble or be terrified of them” because the Lord your God goes with you to fight on your behalf to give you victory.

Our battle is spiritual, but the principles are the same: do not be fainthearted. We struggle not against flesh and blood but the spiritual forces of the evil one. We may experience fear of the enemies around us and wish we could have wings of a dove to fly away to safety, yet God has provided us with the spiritual armor; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of the gospel which is the good news. Our shield is that of faith by which we can extinguish the flaming arrows of our adversary. Our helmet is that of salvation, and we have the Word of God! Don’t forget the most important piece of armor: the powerful forces of prayer and petition.

Whether a physical or spiritual battle, know and cling to this truth: Our God goes before us, and He will not allow his righteous ones to fall. Take up your armor and stand firm.

So what’s in your wallet…’er’ your armor?

“Knowing the God of Our Past, Present, and the Future”

deut 1 prov 3 trust in the Lord2a

Deut 1-3 God is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Failure only happens because of our unbelief in this truth.

How often are we set to take on a new project but forget to ask God to go before us, and when we step out, we lose heart because we see with our earthly eyes rather than our heavenly eyes? How often, like the children of Israel, we see the enemies and lose confidence because we forget that God has given us all we need and wisdom for the asking. Remember this truth: the fear of man is a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. [Prov 29:25a]

The same God that took them out of Egypt would be the same God that would go before them. He would carry them; fight for them; provide direction for each step ahead and place terror in the eyes of the enemy. And the same is true for us today!

Is God the same promise keeper to you now as he was in your past? Reread this verse from Proverbs: “trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.”  d of Our Past, Present, and the Future”

God is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Failure only happens because of our unbelief of this truth.

How often are we set to take on a new project but forget to ask God to go before us and when we step out we lose heart because we see with our earthly eyes rather than our heavenly eyes? How often, like the children of Israel, we see the enemies and lose confidence because we forget that God has given us all we need and wisdom for the asking. Remember this truth: the fear of man is a snare but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. [Prov 29:25a]

The same God that took them out of Egypt would be the same God that would go before them. He would carry them; fight for them; provide direction for each step ahead and place terror in the eyes of the enemy. And the same is true for us today!

Is God the same promise keeper to you now as he was in your past? Reread this verse from Proverbs: “trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and He will make your paths straight.”

A Sticky-Wicket Problem or Not?

 

Numbers 36 god honors our obedience2qNumbers 36  Zelophehad had been a devoted father but his dear wife, who is not mentioned, bore him only daughters and no sons. In fact, she gave birth to five daughters! We know he was faithful because the daughters eulogized him in chapter 27 ““Our father died in the wilderness, although he was not part of the company of those that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah, but he died for his own sin, and he had no sons.” Because the tribal lineage and legacy went through the male line, these daughters learned that their father’s name would be lost from among his family because of this rule of law. So they asked Moses to rule that they would be given them Zelophehad’s inheritance. God agreed with them. Fast forward to chapter 36 and we find that the heads of their tribe came to Moses with a “stickey-wicket” problem of marriage. If these daughters married out of the tribe then their inheritance would be given to the new husband and the new tribe and the land to the new husband. What to do!
Moses concurred with the men that these girls should only marry in their tribe so that in the year of the Jubilee there would not be a problem with the land inheritance. The girls agreed and they went on to marry men of their tribe.

 

God placed this long tale to remind us of how to honor our leaders. These daughters are a role model for obedience, decisions, and choices. They are mentioned in 3 chapters of Numbers and in Joshua—and always named in their birth order.

 

 

Do you smell sweet or stinky?

Numbrs 28 29 be a sweet aroma2a.3jpg

Numbers 28-29 “What aroma are you spreading?”

We equate aromas with fresh coffee, cinnamon rolls, candy, and candles. That is because one of the gifts God has given to us is the olfactory system or the sense of smell. Nine times in these two chapters, we read that the sacrifices brought a soothing aroma to God, meaning it brought great pleasure.  In the OT, Moses explains the offerings in great detail. They were to be from clean animals and were to an “olah” or wholly given over to honor God. It was a sign that the person offering this sacrifice was willing to be obedient. Jesus was an example of an “olah” because of his willingness to be given sacrificially as a way to bring peace between God and man.

“Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” [Eph 5] Paul reminded the Corinthians that Jesus was the perfect atoning sacrifice. When they and we accepted Christ’s sacrifice, it should produce a fragrant or sweet aroma that permeates or brings to mind the knowledge of the Messiah in every place. To the saved, we are a sweet aroma of Christ; but to the unsaved, we are an odor or a stench of death to death.

Practically speaking, John Piper lists four sweet aromas we can offer to God: our prayers, repentance, our witness as we spread His love to all, and lastly, our love to and for others.

Question for today: What aroma are you spreading?

Follow the Leader or Rebel?

numbers 16 rebels2aNumbers 16  We have all, as children, played a game called follow the leader, and the followers mimic the leader’s actions. Elimination happens when you fail to comply, thus eliminating yourself from the competition, and there always seems to be one who wants to do his/her own thing. God calls it rebellion in Numbers 16, we find one man, Korah, who challenges the leadership of Moses. He, like some, usurped the leadership by placing himself in the “I” position. When “I” gets in the way, the ego is puffed up, and we begin to say: I know better! This same scenario is what took place in the Garden of Eden, and men have not learned from that lesson.

God had already chosen, anointed, and proven that Moses was the leader, yet Korah was unsatisfied. He wanted to be the new leader of the Israelites. Gathering the Reubenites to join him, he began murmuring, which escalated into a full roar of mutiny.

Satan loves it when we grumble and better when we gather others to follow us. It starts when we listen to the voice of Satan rather than God. Jude describes the scenario. They dream and defile the flesh in their rejection of authority. They are divisive and devoid of the Spirit. He is an example of pride.

Two men with instructive lessons about the character of people: Moses, a man of humility, “fell down with his face to the ground.” Korah, a rebel, fell when the earth opened up and swallowed he and his family all because he failed to honor God’s anointed.

Rebellion is easy; humility and submission to the Lord’s anointed are hard.

It is all about holiness before a holy God

 

Lev 5 GodLev 5 holiness wants us to handle sin when it is revealed to us and more so: “even if we didn’t realize we sinned…”  This is not talking about intentional rebellion, but those sins that we unintentionally commit and then realize. Sin brings guilt. You can ignore it OR confess it to God seeking His forgiveness and cleansing.

These Leviticus chapters were written to the Israelites to demonstrate the love and mercy of God upon these unintentional sins and how men can seek God’s forgiveness. In the OT, people had to do it over and over and over. But, Jesus paid it all on the cross, so we are forgiven once and for all. But, just as they did, so we also must seek God’s mercy the OT, people had to do it over and over and over. But, Jesus paid it all on the cross, so we are forgiven once and for all and his compassion. The lesson is that we all must fall upon our knees, seeking cleansing. God wanted them to realize that their sin was not just against a fellow citizen, but God Himself. God is right to condemn our sin because He is holy, and He calls us to be holy. We stand guilty before God.

We now have the indwelling Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts. We no longer need to take an animal’s blood to cover our sin for Jesus paid the price. What is required now is the same as it was then; confess our sin and seek forgiveness, trusting that He is faithful and righteous and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Do you need this today? Do not delay but listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Are you a Soothing Aroma?

 

Levitcus ch 1 aroma2aLeviticus 1 to 4  What a gift of smell God has given to us! It brings smiles, or it carries a warning to beware. As a teenager, I worked to pay my way through school by working in a bakery slicing fresh bread. I will bet that right now you recall those aromas vicariously. Or think of walking into an apothecary shop and being greeted with the smells of herbs and spices.

God loves aromas too, and they are soothing—or they are repugnant, and it all depends upon our heart and our mindset as we approach him. When God smelled the sacrifices Noah offered, he promised he would never flood the earth again. Jesus Christ was the fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Paul reminded the Corinthians that they were one of two kinds of aromas: a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.

We are to be a fragrant offering to God, but what exactly does that mean? It means that when God, pardon the pun, smells us, He “smells” not our sin but our cleansed and perfect new creation; a soothing aroma to his nostrils. Our prayers of thankfulness soothe him as we seek His face for answers. He is soothed by our repentance when we fall short. And He is soothed when we offer words of wisdom, discernment, and the gospel message to others.

So today, are you a fragrant, soothing aroma to God?