Monthly Archives: September, 2013

Whom I Have Believed

There is one word in this verse that sticks out to me. Paul wrote, “Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know WHOM I have believed.” Whom I have believed. Whom. Jesus Christ.

I have a degree in Christian Ministry. I have quite a collection of commentaries, dictionaries, and other books for biblical studies. But there is a difference between reading and collecting information than knowing Christ. There are books and then there is a personal relationship with Christ. There are books on hermeneutics and Psalms and then there is the Book – the Word of God.

It is not wrong to read commentaries and to dig deeper to better understand. The problem is when we aim to know about Jesus and about the Bible from a historical perspective and we fail to know Him—to truly know Him.  Paul said, “I know whom I have believed” and it was this faith that caused him to sing praises while in jail and to continue to endure suffering. Today evaluate where you are at in life—do you know this whom—Lord Jesus Christ..

“That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” – 2 Timothy 1:12 [NIV]

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Insignificant to You

A big question stood out when I was reading Numbers 16 and the account of Korah’s greed. Does it seem insignificant to you? What a question for us to consider in life. Here Korah and others were aligned together with their selfishness fueling the way. God had given them great positions and blessed them well. All of this blessing was overlooked because they had eyes on Moses’ and Aaron’s calling. Why were they any different than these two men? Why could they not have the same honor? That’s what this group wanted to know. They questioned God’s judgment and were driven by greed.

In response to Korah’s great rebellion, Moses asks this question: “Does it seem insignificant to you…” Korah was chosen to serve the Lord in a way that required them to be near to the Lord. They had a very special position and yet they neglected to see the beauty of that calling upon their lives because they were too focused on Moses and Aaron. This hasn’t ended with Korah’s rebellion. It continues today. Did you ever find yourself looking around asking why God used someone it such a way while you were used so differently?

Remember something—we each have a special role to play in the Kingdom. God has designed us each to do great works through Him. Look at what God is doing in your life. Look at the special calling He has just for you. Does it seem insignificant to you? If it does, you aren’t serving the Lord; you’re serving yourself.

“Does it seem insignificant to you that the God of Israel has chosen you from among all the community of Israel to be near him so you can serve in the LORD’s Tabernacle and stand before the people to minister to them?” – Numbers 16:9 [NLT]FearNot Logo EDITED FINAL square logo

 

A Different Attitude

When the spies were sent into the Promised Land, the report that came back was actually two different reports. Ten of the spies admitted the land was good, but focused their attention on the giants that were in the land. They aimed to persuade the Israelites not to enter the land. Joshua and Caleb went against the majority. In Numbers 13:30, the Bible says that “Caleb tried to quiet the people.” He wanted to go “at once” and exclaimed, “We can certainly conquer it!” The account goes on to mention that Caleb had “a different attitude.”

There are many times when we should check our attitude and motives for things. It is good to ask why we are doing things. It is good to see if we are being positive or negative, believing or doubting, loyal or unfaithful. Caleb “remained loyal.” He saw giants. He saw the exact same things as everyone else. But there was a difference. He didn’t look at the giants and say, “Wow, look at those big giants. I think we should turn around.” He looked at the giants and said, “My God is big enough to do as He promised. He is faithful. We can certainly conquer this land. Let us go at once.” There is a big difference between these two statements—and it is all about the attitude—all about the focus.

Today is a good day to examine your attitude. Is your attitude different from the majority? Are you trusting God? Are you focused on giants? We each can look at the giants and see God’s great power or look at the giants and drown ourselves in fear and doubt and disbelief. Caleb had a different attitude. I pray you remain just as loyal.

“But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.” – Numbers 14:24 [NLT]

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Danger Danger

When I recently asked my daughter to give the dog his food, there was a bit of a mishap. She had some difficulty getting the food out of the can because she had never done it before. When she finished getting out what she could, she tossed the can (still with food) into the recycling bin. The dog quickly noted that there was food still in that can and he retrieved it from the bin. From the next room, I heard the sound of a can moving along the kitchen floor. I quickly retrieved the can and verbally scolded the dog. Then I noted that the can had a good deal of food still in it and realized why he was behaving that way. He saw the good stuff was still inside and could not see the danger—the danger of getting his tongue cut on the can.

We have this same problem in life. There is danger (temptations) all around us. We sometimes cannot hear or see the danger warnings because we keep looking at the good stuff. We see a little good stuff and fall to the temptations. We do not always catch ourselves before it is too late. The devil does not put up flashing neon lights saying, “Danger, I’m going to try to get you to sin with this here.” You won’t hear a “temptation alert” sound when temptations are lurking around the corner. Usually the path to sin is a slow and winding road. C.S. Lewis wrote that the path to hell was gradual. It is when we see the little bit of good stuff and slowly slip away that gets us the easiest.

I cannot warn you of what is around the corner. I do not know what temptations you will face today. But I can point you to Christ who faced every temptation and did not sin. He is our only answer.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 [NIV]

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Too Heavy For Me

We cannot do everything but too often we try to do everything anyway. We find ourselves helping out others and before we know it, we have a filled plate. We volunteer for the PTO, start coaching soccer, sign up for the church bake sale, teach Sunday School, and take on a second job. We sign up for overtime at work, agree to organize the family picnic, mow the neighbor’s lawn, and handle most of the chores in the house. We find ourselves swamped with stuff to do and our shoulders are not able to support everything. If there is too much – if the load is far too heavy—something will break.

In today’s passage, Moses was faced with the complaints of the people among other things. He was getting overwhelmed. He admitted to God that he couldn’t do it alone. That is one of the first things we each must do—admit that we cannot do everything alone. Then God shared with Moses His plan to assist so Moses would not have to carry the load alone. God was going to give the Spirit to a group of people to help Moses. All Moses did was tell God His problem—his need – and the need was met.

Moses was in a leadership position and we likewise have leadership positions, whether we are parents, teachers, bosses, or simply a person trying to do it all. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed because the load is far too heavy, simply take it to God and watch as He helps you carry the load. As well, do not try to take on too many things. When the Spirit of God was given to this group of men, there was delegation. You were not meant to do it all.

“I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! … I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.” Numbers 11:14, 17 [NLT]

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The Good Things of Egypt

When the Israelites were in the wilderness, there came a time when they wanted some meat. The Bible says that the people who were with them traveling “began to crave the good things of Egypt” and they joined in with this desire. They were slaves in Egypt. They were treated harshly in Egypt. Yet they shifted their focus from what they now had to what they lacked.

When you focus on what you do not have, you will find that you act very differently than you would with your focus aligned on God and His blessings. These “good things of Egypt” included nice food, but it also came with poor treatment in slavery. It also included living in a sinful area surrounded by people who did not follow God. The Israelites focused on what they lost—the little good that they had in Egypt—instead of looking at what they now had thanks to God.

We do this as well. Next time you find yourself complaining—next time you are grumbling in the wilderness—shift your focus. Remember what you have thanks to God.

“Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed.” – Numbers 11:4 [NLT]

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Despite All This

There are people who feel unworthy to approach the throne of God, and the truth is we are all unworthy. Only through the blood of Jesus are we able to approach God. Only through God’s grace, His love and mercy, are we able to have this opportunity through Christ. In Leviticus 26, the Lord told Moses that “despite all this,” despite what the Israelites have rejected, ignored, and despised, God would not reject His people and He would not cancel His covenant with them. He told Moses He would remember the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob even though the Israelites were unworthy.

We all mess up. We all can recount moments when we take the path that takes us in the wrong direction. We all can list the times we followed with lust and greed, making choices that got us into trouble and knee deep in sin. But despite all this, God loves us and forgives us. We still are called to be a holy people. His grace does not give us permission to sin. But when we do take a turn away from God, when we do cave from worldly temptations, He has promised not to reject us. Despite all this – repent and be forgiven. You are not rejected.

There are arms wide open waiting for you. We are all unworthy but through Jesus, despite all this, despite the dirty rags each of us has worn, we can approach the Father – we are not rejected. Today, thank the Lord for His great sacrifice. He gave all so we could have life—an amazing life with our loving Father. Oh how marvelous a life!

“But despite all this, I will not utterly reject or despise them while they are in exile in the land of their enemies. I will not cancel my covenant with them by wiping them out, for I am the LORD their God.” – Leviticus 26:44 [NLT]

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Entitlement

One phrase that is hurtful to anyone is “I hate you.” This morning I saw a little boy shopping with his mother. She was looking for cough medicine and after finding the bottle she wanted, her son said, “That’s mine.” She said “no” to him and then his response was loud. He yelled, “I hate you.” It hurt me hearing it and it was not even directed my way.

The boy was asking for adult cough medicine which was not his and could have actually killed him if consumed. Kids go through the “it’s mine” phase. Perhaps the kid just wanted to hold the bottle and it was simply a matter of having something to claim. But we see this every day. We see this same scenario played over and over again, not in a grocery store and not over a bottle of cough syrup. We say to God, “that’s mine.” That can be seen as an “I hate you” to a degree. Some people even go as far as to say that as well.

Today’s culture is all about having everything. We are taught that we deserve everything. We are entitled to everything. We can have whatever we want. If it isn’t given to us, we can take it. We are owed it. We even go as far as to think that God owes us. Why should we give our lives to Him? He should just fulfill my long grocery list prayer and be the God I want Him to be because I am entitled. It is sad. I thought of all of this when I saw this mother getting yelled at by her son. The mother said to the boy, “well I love you.” We may feel entitled. We may live for ourselves. We may even turn our backs on our loving Father. But still, He loves us. We are not entitled. But we are loved and we are shown grace that we surely do not deserve. Thank God today. Thank Him for His love and His forgiveness. Remember, you are not entitled to anything and nothing belongs to you.

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people!Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” – James 4:1-8 [ESV]

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A Child Learns

There was a man and his son standing in line with a group of other people. A lady standing next to the man began talking to the man with typical small talk. The man’s son walked up to the woman he did not know and he smacked the woman. The man immediately grabbed the boy and smacked him again and again. He then said he did not know how his boy learns this behavior because he surely did not learn it from him.

I do not want to get into a discipline discussion. The Bible tells us not to spare the rod. Children need discipline. But I think it is important to make note of our actions because our children learn by example. The boy was not told to apologize. The boy was not told why what he did was wrong. He was not taught a right way to handle the situation. He was hit and then hit again. Perhaps the first hit wasn’t hard enough so it needed to be reinforced.

Today I challenge you to be an example of what you want your children to follow. When they need discipline, discipline them. But be mindful that they will learn from your example. You might not even realize what you are teaching them. The actions speak so much louder than the words. Today’s verse can be seen as one for leaders, for parents, and for anyone. A good example speaks volumes.

“Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.” – 1 Peter 5:3 [NLT]

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Because of Laughter and Joy

Solomon wrote Psalm 126 and spoke of the joy and laughter from returning to Jerusalem. The people were laughing and singing songs of joy this Psalm mentions. Why? Because The Lord did great things for them. The people would speak of these great things as a result of this joy and laughter. They would see the people and know that God had done great things. What an awesome display!

I do not think we consider how powerful our testimony can be without even using words. But here we have people simply laughing and singing and the nations were speaking about them. People were seeing them happy and singing and knew it could only be because of God. They then were spreading the word that God did “great things for them.”

Don’t shy away from sharing what God has done for you. Whether you use words to share or just by laughing and singing praises to Him. People will hear and they will wonder about our great God. People will start to talk. Your greatest testimony could be your laughter.

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’” – Psalm 126:2 [NIV]

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