Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Spirit of Adoption

In church today, I heard this:
"The Lord doesn't adopt you,
and then look for the first opportunity to get rid of you."

"For you did not receive a spirit of bondage again to fear, 
but you received the Spirit of adoption 
by Whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' 
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit 
that we are children of God."
~Romans 8:15,16

Calling Him Abba -- Daddy -- Papa -- is a direct contrast to adoption.
"We are adopted into intimacy, into family love."
Adopted into love.
It is the work of the Spirit to remind you that you are God's child.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why Wait?

"Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots, 
ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. 
Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help."
~Judges 4:3

Does your mind stick at then, too?
Twenty years before they broke?

Back in Judges 3:7-9, it says,
"The Israelites did evil in the Lord's sight. 
They forgot the Lord their God, 
and they served the images of Baal and Asherah poles... 
He turned them over to King Cushan-rishathaim... 
and the Israelites served him for eight years. 
But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, 
the Lord raised up a rescuer to save them."

"Once again, the Israelites did evil in the Lord's sight, 
and the Lord gave King Eglon of Moab control over Israel 
because of their evil... 
And the Israelites served Eglon of Moab for eighteen years. 
But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, 
the Lord again raised up a rescuer to save them."
~Judges 3:12-15

They seem to have grown in their tolerance of oppression,
and to have grown dull in their remembrance of the Lord's help.
But there He was, after all those years of being forgotten,
with ears open for their cry of desperation,
ready to save them.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fellowship in Knowing

A friend confided hurts to me -- hurts I've also had.
Received in different places, they caused the same wounds.
What to say?

"I exhort you to forgive them.
They are wrong, and they hurt you, and God can deal with them.
But you must forgive, for your own sake.
Because I am sure you want His forgiveness.
I know I do.
And I know for certain I have failed others.
I can't fix that.
But I can forgive when I am failed.
And sinned against.
And hurt."

That rejection and betrayal cuts deep.
"But I think about Jesus,
and how He looked at His disciples when the crowds left,
and He said, 'Are you going to leave, too?'
There is a fellowship with Him in knowing He felt rejection.
He was betrayed.
And He was abandoned by His friends to suffer alone.
And He loved them to the end.
Look at Jesus to learn how to forgive.
And look at Jesus when you feel afraid of fellowship."

I said it to my friend, and I said it to myself.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hidden in the Walls

Ruins of Beit Shean
The walls of Jericho bring to mind destruction.
Everybody knows the story of the battle.
"And the walls came tumbling down!"

Rahab, the harlot, had a house built in the walls.
It was in these very walls she hid the spies and joined her lot to Israel's.
She first lived her faith there, within the walls.
And it was in the walls, in her home, that the spies told her she would be saved.

Between 1929 and 1936, Jericho's ruins were excavated.
Its destruction was dated to roughly 1400 B.C.
The walls had fallen down flat.
They were double, with an outer wall 6 feet thick,
and an inner wall 12 feet thick --
both about 30 feet high.
They were 15 feet apart, linked by the houses built into the top. 

There, at the point of attack,
she huddled in her house with her family, awaiting her salvation.
The spies didn't tell her to hide in the center of town --
away from the crashing walls.
But right there in the chaos and destruction, she was safe.
They burned the city: the outer walls suffered the worst of the fire.
Houses alongside the wall were burned to the ground.
"The stratum generally was covered with a deep layer of black burnt debris,
under which were pockets of white ash,
overlaid with a layer of fallen reddish brick." (Haley's Bible Handbook)
But the scarlet cord she had hung out her window
marked her trust of the God who broke her walls down,
and took her out of that doomed city.

But the just shall live by faith. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Do You Belong To Us?

"And it came to pass when Joshua was by Jericho, 
that he lifted up his eyes and looked, 
and behold, there stood a man over against him 
with his sword drawn in his hand: 
and Joshua went to him, and said to him, 
'Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?'
And he said, 'No; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come.'
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshiped, 
and said to him, 'What saith my lord to his servant?'
And the captain of the LORD'S host said to Joshua, 
'Loose thy shoe from off thy foot,
 for the place on which thou standest is holy': 
and Joshua did so."
~Joshua 5:13-15

I read through a number of translations of this
and commentaries on it this morning.
Some of them translated Joshua's question as:
"Do you belong to us, or to our enemies?"
Are you ours, or theirs?
And the answer: "Nay.
I am the prince of the army of Jehovah; I am now come."
I am now come.
It has such a stepping-out-of-eternity-into-time ring to it.
And I wonder -- should there be a comma after that first I am?
Prince of the army of Jehovah.
I guess Joshua mistook his rank.
The Prince doesn't fall into line with our campaigns.
We fall into line with His.
And Joshua fell on his face, and called himself His servant.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

His Ears Are Open

"The Lord told Joshua, 
'Today I will begin to make you a great leader 
in the eyes of all the Israelites. 
They will know that I am with you, 
just as I was with Moses...'"
~Joshua 3:7

I read this today.
And it got me thinking about what makes great leadership.
What makes leadership respectable?
A good leader is a listening leader.
A leader with open ears to the Lord.
A leader whose direction comes to pass,
because the Lord gave it to him to pass on.
Joshua was presented to the people as their leader
in his obedience to the Lord's words.
The Lord spoke to him, and he spoke to them.
And in that, the people recognized clearly that the Lord was with him.

I thought about Moses.
Moses was a great leader.
The thing he failed in, that kept him from the promised land,
was stepping ahead of the Lord,
letting his own anger, instead of the Lord's words
be what spoke to the people -- even striking the rock
through which the Lord gave them water.
And when leaders are no longer listening to the Lord's voice,
striking the Rock can result.

Saul was a leader hand-picked by God --
who shut his ears to the Lord's voice.
The Lord gave him a direction, and he did something else.

"...He did this so all the nations of the earth might know 
that the Lord's hand is powerful, 
and so you might fear the Lord forever."
~Joshua 4:24

The purpose of raising this great leader up
was that people might know the Lord.
I think one thing that is interesting to me about Joshua
is that he seems personally boring.
His personality is not the remarkable thing about him.
He did what the Lord said.
The Lord worked through him mightily.
Although he led them in battle,
I think of him more as an accountant type.
Over and over again, the Lord tells him to be courageous.
His ears are open to the Lord's encouragement, as well as His commands.
And the Lord was with him.

"Joshua the son of Nun, 
the servant of the Lord, 
died at the age of 110. 
They buried him in the land he had been allocated, 
at Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash."
~Judges 2:8

The servant of the Lord -- buried in the promise.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

When I See the Blood

"And the blood shall be to you for a token 
upon the houses where ye are: 
and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, 
and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, 
when I smite the land of Egypt."
~Exodus 12:13

"And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, 
saying, 'Drink ye all of it; For this is My blood of the new testament, 
which is shed for many for the remission of sin.'"
~Matthew 26:27-28

"And standing afar off, 
the tax-collector would not even lift up his eyes to Heaven, 
but struck on his breast, saying, 
'God be merciful to me a sinner!'"
~Luke 18:13

"And the other answering, was rebuking him, saying, 
`Dost thou not even fear God, 
that thou art in the same judgment? 
and we indeed righteously, 
for things worthy of what we did we receive back, 
but this one did nothing out of place;' 
and he said to Jesus, `Remember me, lord, 
when thou mayest come in thy reign;' 
and Jesus said to him, 
`Verily I say to thee, Today with me thou shalt be in the paradise.'
~Luke 23:40-43

"The next day John sees Jesus coming to him and says, 
'Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'"
~John 1:29

Monday, April 2, 2012

First, Middle, Last

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Genesis 1:1

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
Psalm 118:8

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 
Revelation 22:21

A few weeks ago in church I was reminded
that the very last word of the entire Bible is:
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all."
It set me to thinking about how it began,
and the central verse of the whole Bible.
His mercy endures forever.
Begun as His creation;
we trust Him, and not ourselves;
and His grace is with us.