Archive for January, 2010

In the time of Crisis

Off to a new trail! A few friends and I are going to study through the book of Joshua at a nice slow pace, which is more suitable for blogging than my Jehu-paced read through of the Bible in Chronological order (using the NIV Daily Bible: In Chronological Order Bible).

So a few scrambled ramblings on just the first chapter. Hopefully something more polished will be forthcoming in the next post!

1:1 After the Death of Moses

I’m struck by the awesomeness of the statement that

The Lord spoke to Joshua

The God of the universe, who with but a word, created the cosmos, bends down to converse with Joshua, a mere administrative assistant.

And He did it, just as the magnitude of the crisis settled on Joshua…

Moses, the servant of the Lord, had died

and the 2 million people then became his responsibility. Gulp! But it is encouraging to go through the Bible noting just how often the Lord shows up just when we are in the middle of a crisis.

As Isaiah 45:3 says, there are treasures to be found in the midst of the dark places. And the Lord speaking to you…that is a treasure, for sure!

1:2 Action

I don’t know if we are reading everything God said to Joshua, but just imagine if the Lord started His conversation

“Moses, My servant is dead.”

And if that wasn’t discouraging enough, He then goes on to say,

“Now…arise…go…you and ALL the people”

Starts off kind of discouraging and overwhelming really.

1) You’re alone and feeling directionless.

2) I need for you to take some action, and you cannot procrastinate this.

3) And you are responsible for all these people.

4) AND you are to motivate them to go into that land once described as “a land of giants, while we look like grasshoppers.”

No wonder the rest of the chapter the Lord spends His time assuring Joshua that he is strong and courageous. And that he is to be strong and courageous!

1:3 Weight is required!

EVERY place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.

Notice that it is not, “every place the your eye sees” but rather every place that the sole of their foot tread upon. We have put all of our weight on God’s provisions. We can’t just give it lip service or eye service.

I’m challenged to think of it as God’s promises, or His word. I’ve got to do more than just read the word, or recite His promises. I need to put all my weight on it. My whole being. I need to rest wholly on His promises and walk fully in His path!

And what a provision that is! Notice that it doesn’t limit it at all. EVERY place. No exception. I wonder why I don’t go out and take more walks for the Lord and claim the land for my own based on this promise!

Well, there you have it! Three whooping verses! And really, I’m tempted to go on a little more about those verses!

1:1 Characters

Moses represents the law, and it is only when the law is dead, that The Lord is Salvation (Joshua/Jesus) can lead us into the Promised Land!

Joshua, who was born as Oshea (Salvation) had his name changed by Moses. Moses knew that the day would come for Joshua to lead them into the land. And it seems he knew the people would be inclined to idolize their leader and would mistaken Joshua himself as Salvation. So Moses renamed him so each time someone called for their leader or chanted his name, they would be reminded of the truth that it is The Lord who is our Salvation!

Joshua was content to play second fiddle to Moses.

The hardest instrument to play
Is second fiddle, so they say
And I believe this is so
I’ve tried, but haven’t mastered it though
It takes more grace than pen can tell
To play the second fiddle well.

Joshua is 80-90 years old. Probably banked on living out his life as an assistant. Don’t ever think you’re retired!

1:2-3 Am Giving and Have Given

Interesting how in 1:2 the Lord says “this land I am giving to them,”

while in 1:3 it says, every place that they tread upon “I have given you.”

Perhaps it is like Jesus who is are representative, has been given all power and authority into His hands. While it is up to us to go into the land and face the opposition to claim it as our own (by the power of God almighty)!

Gracious Lord, I’m so thankful You speak to us, even when there is not a crisis. That Jesus Christ can now be our trysting place. Thank you for the promises and Your word. I pray Father that I will put all my weight and trust in You and Your word. Open my heart Lord, and have Your way with it, during this time in Joshua together with some friends! Own us! Amen!

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Fare for Egypt

This One-Year Reading Bible plan is not for a person like me who cannot resist the urge to chase after frogs, and meander off the trail. So I hereby, henceforth, do now bequeath unto me, the liberty to run after rabbits or to stop to smell the roses!

That being said, I’m going back to Genesis 12-13, Abraham and his side-trip to Egypt!

The portion that has caught my eye is Genesis 12:10-20.

Genesis 12:10-20

God’s Call

The Lord told Abram I will take you to a land I will show you. That land was Canaan. And though he must have felt quite a spectacle being a monotheist in a pagan society, he built an altar to the Lord and worshipped Jehovah in that land anyway!

He was bold like that. Strong, and full of faith. But then…

…now there was a famine in the land

…the famine was severe in the land

Famine

What happens when I experience a famine? Especially if I’m in the middle of doing something that I think to be of God? What do my famines look like? Would my response be similar to Abraham’s?

Abram’s Response

Abram doubts God, or at least His call (raise your hand if you can relate). Things aren’t going so well. As a matter of fact, things are severely dried up and there is absolutely no fruit to show for his obedience.

So he does what any burdened husband would do, and says yes to a job transfer down to Egypt.

No mention of God directing Him there, or even a prayer to the Lord committing his ways to Him.

Abram’s Results

Pharaoh commanded his men concerning Abram; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had. 12:20

Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 13:2

He certainly seemed to fare well during that famine, didn’t he! Is this a case of Jehovah-Jireh?

Genesis 13:1-4

What was the Result of the Result?

The immediate result of the “blessing” he acquired from Egypt was strife. Genesis 13:1-13

Because both he and his nephew Lot had so much flocks, herd and tents and servants, there was not enough land for both of them to be supported.

There was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmens of Lot’s livestock.

So How Much did it Really Cost Abram to Travel to Egypt?

TEN GRAND

1) Left the land God called him to (disobedience)
(tho totally understandable naturally speaking due to the severe famine in the land)

2) Asked his wife to disobey (lie) as well (caused another to sin)
(tho it was for both of their greater good)

3) He tried something that got him hooked, and it’s an “addiction” that affected his child’s life as well (Gen 20:18; 26:1-16)
(listen, honey, do it just this once, that’s all, just this once)

4) Fails to protect his wife from the hands of a stranger (does he lose her trust?)
(but it’s such a small price to pay for the life your husband)

5) His integrity starts to crumble
(he did tell the truth, Sarah was his sister too! 20:12)

6) Loses his testimony as Pharaoh finds out about his lies and schemes
(well, he did give Pharaoh an opportunity to experience the Lord personally! 12:17)

7) Gone are the good old days of simplicity and family
(but look, his nephew benefits from the trip too. 13:5)

8 ) Riches took precedence over family unity. There’s not enough land for all the cattle, the only solution is to divide up. (Was that really the only solution?)

9) And just where did Abram get that maidservant named Hagar, anyway?
(but Sarai, she will be such a great help in the kitchen. It’s a provision from the Lord. I’m sure you’ve prayed about wanting more time in your schedule!)

10) Lot’s heart. When Lot had to make a life-changing decision, what was his criterion? He based it on…”what was most like Egypt!”
(Yes, I want to serve the Lord full-time, but my nephew deserves the best the world has to offer and I want him to prosper, afterall…he’s like my very own son!)

Genesis 13:1-18

What was Abram’s Alternative?

This story reminds me a lot of the book of Ruth. One theme to trace in that 4-chapter book is the comparisons between Elimelech, who left Bethlehem (God’s land) because of the famine, and Boaz, who endured the famine in God’s land. (I’m going to show restraint and not chase that bunny any further!)

But that book does present to us the alternative. Live through the famine. Be driven to God. Learn to trust.

We trust God the most, when we don’t have to trust Him

Is there any hope for that kind of trust?

Abram eventually does learn to believe and trust the Lord. He goes through the most grievious “famine” ever and does not “go down to Egypt” to escape it. He trusts God wholly, especially when he needed to trust Him most! Read about it in Genesis 22!

O Lord God, thank You for the many blessing in this life. But I pray that You would grant me discernment between blessings and curses, between Your provision and ill-gain. I desire to walk in Your ways more fully every day! Amen.

Maps

Genesis 12:6-9 – Abram travels to Canaan

Genesis 12:10-20 – Abram goes to Egypt

Genesis 13:1-4 – Abram returns from Egypt

Genesis 13:1-18 – Lot and Abram divide

A Tangent (from the Psalms)!

WARNING: This is a long one!

Though my hope for this year is to study half of the Psalms, I’m also attempting to read the Bible through chronologically. I know reading should only take about 3-5 minutes per chapter, but things just capture my attention, and after that butterfly I follow.

All that to say…I may digress from time to time to jot down a few thoughts about the “reading” that I’ve done in the one-year-reading plan!

Abrams Nomadic Ways

Mapy of Israel in OT

Genesis 12-13

In Genesis 12, the Lord told Abram to get up and get moving…and that he did!

Abram came to the place of Shechem (12:6).

Historically, Biblically, Shechem was a place of decision-making (around the area of Mt. Gerezim and Mt. Ebal).

1) Who Will I Obey?
In Joshua 18 we have Joshua laying before seven of the tribes the choice of whether they were going to obey the Lord and claim their possessions, or if they were just going to forfeit it to their old tapes, er, I mean, their enemies.

Just because it “has always been that way. I don’t know any differently, etc.” Was that going to stop them from obeying the Lord and fighting for the Lord’s portion prepared just for them?

2) Who Will I Serve?
In Joshua 24 at the end of this great faithful leader’s life, Joshua takes it a step further. He gathers them around Shechem again, and this time gives them a pop quiz…

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.

And here is a hint at the best answer, says Joshua:

Serve the LORD!

3) Who Will I Worship?
John the Gospel writer records about Jesus in John 4,

He needs must go through Samaria (Shechem area). (KJV)

What?! What Jews “needs must” go anywhere near the hill country of Samaria? But here we see the Lord leading a woman of the town to a decision at noon day as to who she will worship. She choose wisely!

This decade, I want to choose wisely! Let this month of January be for me my own little Shechem, my own little valley of decision-making, my opportunity to resolve with the 7 tribes, the Israelites and Joshua, and the woman at the well, to obey, serve and worship the Lord whole heartedly!

All that for the 12:6, the first of Abram’s many hometowns, Shechem. You can see why I couldn’t quite fit this onto Facebook’s 420 character status update!

Speaking of Choices…
The next place we see Abraham moving to is called the Saddle of Benjamin, between Bethel (House of God) and Ai (Pile of Rubble). (Genesis 12:8) I can’t tell you the number of times I feel like I am between those two places in my own life! And reading it just now, it doesn’t look like that hard of a choice.

  • Will I spend time in the House of God or in a Pile of Rubble?
  • Will I invest in adding on to the House of God or adding to a Heap of Ruins?

Amazingly, even faithful Joshua had a difficulty with this choice. If you have the time, please read the story found in Joshua 7. He made four serious mistakes when confronted with this decision…

1) He underestimated the enemy.
I need to be equipped daily against the enemy of sin, temptation, and the tempter.

  • I need the sword of the Lord (His Word).
  • I need to take up the power of prayer that is directed to the Lord.
  • I need the fellowship and presence of other followers of Jesus Christ.

The second mistake they made was
2) The people were divided.

Because they underestimated the enemy, they thought “we only need some of us to go up.” For me, that looks like me rationalizing away my commitments to the Lord, or the full extent of it. “5 minutes is as good as 15. I’m tired, I’ll hook up with God tomorrow, etc.”

3) They asked not counsel of the Lord
Either they were comfortable with their spiritual life, and they already knew it all, that they could answer for God. Forge His signature, as it were.

Or, they didn’t think His counsel important enough to seek. “He’s so arachaic, and hard, and so out of touch. He’s given us brains to reason, afterall! Surely He doesn’t expect us to seek His opinion on every matter!”

4) There was unconfessed sin in the tent
O may we never learn to live unblessed and get comfortable with second best. Achan chose the rubble of gold rather than the obedience to God!

Mamre and Hebron, Abram’s other hometown, 13:18

Mamre means Fruitful and Hebron means Fellowship. They almost always go together.

I have often heard it said,

that we are who we truly are when we are by ourselves.

I despise that pithy statement.

  • I mean, was God mistaken when He declared “It is not good for (wo)man to be alone”?
  • Or was the wisest man of all the earth jesting when he said, “Two is better than one, and three is even better”?
  • Or was Jesus’ promise of a peculiarly special presence for when two or three people are gathered together in His name, just syrupy Hallmark words?

No, I am who I truly am, when I am with other followers of Christ, other sojourners on the pathway of Truth. I need Hebron if I want to be the least bit Mamre in my life! I’m so thankful to God for encouragers along life’s journey!

I was going to talk about how much it cost Abram to take his trip to Egypt and back, but that will be have to be a

To Be Continued…

Lord Jesus, I choose You! O come Holy Spirit. Amen.

I Want To Be More Like Jesus song

Psalm 2

Seems like the theme of Psalm 2 is similar to the first Psalm. Comparing the last verse of each chapter, we have those whom the Lord knows and those who opt to not know Him.

Psalm referring to Jesus
This Psalm ultimately refers to Jesus Christ and the plotting that occurred against Him. The fulfillment of this can be demonstrated in the one example of Herod and Pilate (who were lifelong enemies) becoming friends when it came to needing to plot against the Lord and His Anointed!

Know
John 17:3 says that knowing Him is eternal life…oh for more of that eternal life in the here and now!

Genesis 4:1 says that Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived! I guess the idea of kissing the Son ain’t too far off from knowing Him!

George Handel’s “Why do the nations”

Rage leads to folly
Where there is much rage, there is generally much folly. Certainly true in this case. It’s like men plotting together as to how they might extinguish the sun with a garden hose!

Meditation
In Psalm 1 we saw the blessed man meditating on the Lord and His Word and His goodness. The blessed man gives careful and full attention to it. Oh, what blessed delight and prosperity!

In Psalm 2 we see the rebellious man meditating on the Lord and how he might be done with God and His high standards, once and for all. The foolish man gives careful and full attention to it. Oh, what vanity and futility!

George Handel’s “Let us break their bonds asunder”

Bonds and Cords
Sometimes I feel as though I would be happier if not restrained by the words of the Lord and His ways, and simply did things my way. But this passage is a good reminder of what the end result will be. I’m not talking about heaven and hell necessarily, but derision, distress, displeasure versus purity, passion, prosperity.

God is a bondage-breaker, not a bondage-bringer.

George Handel’s “He that dwelleth in heaven”

Is God Laughing in Mockery?
God sits in the heavens, calm and unthreatened. Man’s boldest efforts to oppose such awesome power is ludicrous. The Almighty doesn’t even rise from His throne; He just laughs.

But is this a heartless or cruel laughter? No! His same infinite greatness that mocks man’s defiance also marks His sympathy for man in his lost condition.

But God’s laughter gives us the assurance that Christ will ultimately triumph over evil. All will be made right within us and around us. Instead of opposing the Son, kiss the Son and take refuge in Him.

God Speaks
Before God acts against defiant man, He first speaks to them.

This shows the great mercy of God. He has every reason and every right to simply act against defiant man. Love and mercy compel God to speak a word of warning before He acts. Listen, O my soul, to His pleas.

God’s Will is Done
While the nations of the earth combine all their wisdom and hoist it against God, the Lord still accomplishes His will by establishing His King upon His Holy Hill!

My heart takes comfort, that though the waves and winds may cause circumstantial distress, the Lord has established a King in my heart and has given me an Anchor steadfast and sure!

Outline of Psalm 2

  • The first 3 verses reveal the foolishness of the rebellious man
  • The next 3 verses gives us a peak at what the Father is doing in heaven
  • The following 3 verses records for us the Son’s mind and recollection
  • And the last 3 verses affords us sound counsel from the Psalmist himself

You are My Son
The writer to the Hebrews uses verse 7 to give proof to his readers that Jesus Christ is better than a prophet, angel or great teacher…He is God our Saviour, the Lord’s Anointed!

Ask of Me, and I will give You…
Though in this passage, the Father’s generosity is written to show the kings of the nations they are but the Anointed’s possession, I often take this verse and make it my missionary verse.

I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession!

O to have the nations given to Christ, who is our inheritance, both visibly and presently, and that I might have a part in seeing that happen!

George Handel’s “Thou shalt break them”

2:9

Those who will not bend, must break.

O dear Lord, make me flexible and pliable in Your hands!

2:10
God in mercy is reaching out to the very kings and judges who have spun their wheels taking counsel against the Almighty. Let us not give any up as hopeless.

  • Serve the Lord
  • Rejoice
  • Kiss the Son–both in subjugation and love
  • Trust in Him

Who would object to such sound counsel and life purpose?

Choices

Psalm 1 shows two choices:

  1. Firmly Planted or
  2. Blown like Chaff

Psalm 2 shows us two choices as well:

  1. Broken or
  2. Blessed

Gracious God, thank You for the invitation to Kiss the Son, to serve You and to rejoice and be blessed. With Solomon, I ask for a discerning heart and for the strength to follow through with wisdom’s choices. You are King and Lord, and I love You. Amen.

Links about Psalm 2

http://www.spurgeon.org/treasury/ps002.htm

http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=4&contentID=1125&commInfo=5&topic=Psalms&ar=Psa_2_1

http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/19002.htm

http://www.rbc.org/devotionals/our-daily-bread/2006/01/14/devotion.aspx