Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Living with the Enemy

I hate shopping with indecisive friends.  They can't seem to make a decision about what to buy, and they keep looking and looking and looking.  They refuse to settle for less than what they want. 
Once I went shopping with a friend who was looking for shoes.  It was unbearable.  After two hours, we left the mall without shoes.  

My favorite pair of shoes are from a garage sale for .50 cents.  I love those shoes.  

Some people are unwilling to settle for anything except exactly what they are looking for, or in other words—they won’t compromise.  

I’ve compromised plenty in life.  I shop at secondhand stores, dumpster dive, Craigslist, Marketplace and on garbage day I'm super excited at the thought of finding some free trash at the curb that I can repurpose.  After I haul the broken thing from someone's garbage home, two weeks later, it's back out to the road because--IT WAS TRASH! 

Of course, I would rather have new and perfect, but I’ve learned to settle for less than the best.  

Spiritually speaking, this is not a great plan.  In the book of Judges, God’s people practiced this same kind of principle of settling for less.  Throughout the book of Judges, they chose to compromise.  It was easier than being obedient.   Living with their enemy became familiar and comfortable--until it wasn’t.  

And when their lives became unbearable, the Children of Israel would cry out to the Lord, and He would hear their cries.  

I wonder why did the Children of Israel settle for less than the best and put themselves through so much heartache.

Judges 2:1-3 tells us what happens when we choose compromise over obedience.

 The angel of the LORD…said, "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, `I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.' Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? Now, therefore, I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be [thorns] in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you."

These scriptures are a stark warning to God's people that their choice to live with their enemy would have consequences.  

I think the question here is, why would they choose to live with the enemy over being obedient to God? 

Disobedience is a choice.  Compromise is a choice.  When we ask, why did the Children of Israel compromise and why do I compromise?  We may not like the answer.  

Could it be because we don’t believe God’s Word enough?  Or maybe we don’t believe in the consequences – the grave consequences of our actions.

Possibly, we have memory problems.   In Judges, the people had short memories.  They refuse to learn from past mistakes.  Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.

There is an illustration of a frog who jumps into a pan of water, as the temperature gradually increases to boiling, at some point, you’d think the frog would jump out of the ever increassing hot water.  Not so, instead, the frog grows more accustomed to the temperature until it is too late.

God does not ask us to do anything that He will not give us the strength to do.  Obedience to His Word is within our power.

Living with the enemy may seem fun, familiar and comfortable--until it isn’t.  

When we choose to do the right things, God will give us the strength to stand firm.   

Don't settle for less.  Don't compromise.  You don't have to live with the enemy anymore!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Home Sweet Home

In June of 2000, we bought the house that we live in now.  Once the ink was dry on the dotted line, we took possession of our property.  It felt good to walk into our home all those years ago, knowing it was ours. 

I can still remember unpacking dishes, putting them away and saying, "I don't ever want to do this again."  

At that time, we had moved, I'm estimating, over 20 times.  These moves took us places like Florida, Boston, North Dakota, Missouri, and different locations in Michigan on the westside, eastside, south, and north.  

That number doesn't even count the moves we made during our seven years in the Philippines.

Now, the very thought of packing up a house and moving actually sends a lightning bolt of fear coursing through my veins.  Over the past 20-years, we have discussed downsizing, but nothing ever materialized from the many discussions except the inner panic I felt at the very thought of it.

In Joshua 1:11, the children of Israel were facing another move of their own.  They had lived in one place for over 400 years (Egypt).  Then they were homeless (so-to-speak) for 40-years in the wilderness.  But, in the opening chapter of Joshua, the Children of Israel were on the cusp of their "Home Sweet Home."    A promised place of their own to possess.

"Go through the camp and tell the people, 
'Get your provisions ready. 
Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in 
and take possession of the land 
the LORD your God is giving you for your own.'"  
Joshua 1:11

Joshua had previously seen the promised land.  He was one of the twelve spies that originally went in to scout things out.  He was not unaware of what lied ahead.  
  • He knew there were giants, and he also knew the land flowed with milk and honey.  
  • He knew that possessing the land wasn't going to be easy, but he was ready to claim his inheritance.  
  • He knew there would be battles ahead, but he also was not afraid.  He had put his trust in the Lord.  
After all,
  • Giants can be conquered – remember the story of David.
  • Strongholds can be pulled down – remember the story of Gideon.
  • The battle belongs to the Lord - remember the story of King Jehoshaphat.

Whatever you are facing today, determine in your heart that you will possess the land that the Lord has given to us.

He has promised us...
  • Forgiveness
  • Redemption
  • Everlasting Love
  • A sound mind
  • Strength
  • Peace
  • Fullness of Joy
  • Authority over your enemy 
  • A Heavenly Home
  • …and so much more…

Victory is yours!   Time to possess the Land—Home Sweet Home.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

I'm right here!

A week ago, my three-year-old grandson along with his three older siblings stayed with us for 7-days.  Our normally quiet house was transformed to accommodate four more little humans with various needs and temperaments.  
It was a full house with plenty of action, bursts of noise, sounds of laughter and sometimes there were tears.
Even though it's been over a week since they left, I  can still hear my youngest grandson calling, "Grandma, where are you?"  
There were times, while he was here that I left the room he was playing in to put a load of laundry in the washer/dryer or step into the garage to get something out of the freezer for dinner.   
Almost, every time I was out of his sight, I heard his sweet voice calling out to me, "Grandma, where are you?"  
My response would inevitably be, "I'm right here."   And with those words, I would quickly come to his side.  Once he saw me, his face would form a sweet smile and he would go back to whatever he was doing.  But sometimes, he would run to my side and hug my leg.  
When my grandson called, I came.   

It's what grandmas do.

It's what God does for us too.
In Deuteronomy 4:7 in the (NIV) Bible, it says, what other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?  
 I think we can all identify with this simple illustration of me and my grandson,  but how much more powerful is the picture we see in Deuteronomy 4:7. Our prayers to God and His response to us when we pray is the ultimate comfort. 
There have been times in my life when I called on the Lord and the picture of Him standing near me would bring a smile to my face.  And I'm not ashamed to say, there have also been times where I have run to Him and took hold of His leg like a fearful child in sheer desperation because of a need I faced.
Are you in one of these places today where you are asking, "God, where are you?"  If you are, find comfort in this—He hears and He draws near.  

"I'm right here!"

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Prayer

Have you ever heard a child pray?    

The words of their prayers are so precious and sincere.  Nothing about a child's prayer is showy or flowery in speech.  Their prayers simply state their need and believe the request has been heard by a person they trust.  

A child will pray with equal faith no matter if a friend has a boo-boo or the food needs blessing.  

A child believes they can ask whatever they have need of, and God will hear their prayer.  Maybe that’s why Jesus told us that we should be as little children.

In the Bible, from cover to cover we find many kinds of prayers for numerous situations.  

The Lord's Prayer in the Gospels is a teaching prayer.  Jesus said, pray in this way, “Our Father, which art in Heaven…”

The prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4 is a prayer of faith.  He prayed, “…Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!...”

David prayed in Psalms 51 from a heart of repentance, “Have mercy on me oh God according to your unfailing love…”

Hannah's petition in I Samuel 1, was a plea with a vow attached, Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant…” 

Jesus prayed from the cross a memorable prayer of forgiveness, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

And in Numbers 6:24-26(NIV) there is a prayer that most of the Christian world has labeled the benediction prayer.  This is a prayer with a special pronouncement of security, grace, and peace.   

Whatever your need may be today, be encouraged, God hears our prayers.  

Have a blessed day!

“The Lord bless you and keep you; 
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The "Rule Follower"

I've always found the whole birth order thing interesting.  The 1st born who are traditionally the “rule followers” and the 2nd born who are the “fun-loving social butterfly types.”  Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule just an observation on a percentage basis, I presume.  

You know, there is something to be said about the “rule follower.”  After all, Jesus was a firstborn...and a “rule follower” too. 

When I think of rules, I think order, smooth sailing and a peaceful existence.  If everyone would follow the rules life would be so good.

God set up rules from the beginning.  Adam and Eve had one rule—ONE and they broke it.

God gave Moses the 10-commandments.  Ten rules and in his anger, he cast the tablets down and broke them all.

In the Bible, when I think of rules, the book that comes to my mind is Leviticus.  This book is jampacked full of rules for things no one would ever guess a rule was even needed for, but none the less—the rules are recorded there.

Do this!

Don't do that!

If you do this, then this will happen then you'll have to do this or that to make it right. 

It's tiring just thinking about it.

The book of Leviticus can be daunting with the tedious lists of rules and regulations.  By chapter 3, most readers will jump right over this book in hot pursuit of character-driven Bible stories.  

Yet, if the reader will properly take the time to understand the pages of this book, they will unfold the rich wisdom and practical instruction supplied to the readers on these pages of the Bible. 

In Leviticus 17:11 (NIV) it says, For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. 

The book of Leviticus is best described as a guidebook (kinda like a book of rules) for God's people pointing us to holy living and worship.  But before we can avail ourselves of these two things, first we must deal with the sin issues in our lives.

In the Old Testament, the only way to deal with sin was through sacrifices and offerings.  Sin required a sacrifice--a life for a life and Jesus became our once and for all sacrifice when he surrendered His life for us.  

Next time you think of the book of Leviticus, remember to be grateful for our firstborn, rule following Savior who became the once and forever sacrifice that reconciled us to God the Father.

Book Release

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