Sunday, January 29, 2017

Joshua 18

January 29, 2017 0
Read Joshua 18 to find out more about Shiloh and the tribe of Benjamin's allotted land.

Sitting in church every Sunday doesn't make you righteous.  Speaking behind the pulpit doesn't make you godly.  Professing your love for Jesus doesn't reveal if He's actually in your heart or not.  The Benjamite people of Gibeah were located close to the tabernacle, but they still chose to do very evil things.

What I find interesting about Shiloh is its close proximity to the tribe of Benjamin's lot.  Shiloh is where the traveling tabernacle was finally set up.  This is where a home for the Lord's dwelling place was made.  How cool for the Benjamite people to get to live so close to God's house!  They were probably first to hear of amazing things that went on in the tabernacle.  People taking pilgrimage to Shiloh for feasts and sacrifices probably did a lot of business with the tribe of Benjamin.  Travelers might have even been hosted in local homes come nightfall for safety and warmth.  What a wonderful opportunity for the Benjamites to fellowship with the pilgrims who were seeking closeness with God.

So why did the tribe of Benjamin get nearly wiped out (Judges 20) even though they were able to see, discuss, and serve the Lord so easily?

The enemy can still talk to God.  We know that Satan has limited access to Heaven (Job 1:6).  Lucifer himself, once lived with and served the Lord.  The Benjamites lived close to the tabernacle or the Lord's dwelling place, yet despite knowing of its demise, their town of Gibeah later mirrored Sodom's evil actions.

It doesn't matter if someone has been on the receiving end of the Lord's blessings (rain falls on the just and the unjust), they serve in church, and claim to be God's child: this doesn't reveal what's in their heart.  Wherever there are sheep, the enemy will send out wolves in sheep's clothing.  Evil people pretend to be good all the time.  They might have served alongside you or hosted a Bible study or led you in worship.  But wolves aren't there for righteous reasons.  The devil's pawns are there to try to infiltrate, ruin your witness, cause chaos, draw you away from righteousness, and away from the Lord's protection (Matthew 7:21-23).

The Bible tells us "...God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 6:7 NASB)  Don't let your guard down just because his dad is a preacher, or he always goes to Sunday and Wednesday service, or he feeds the homeless.  If you're supposed to have anything to do with this person, let the Lord lead you.  Remember, "even Satan masquerades himself as an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14)

We must use this as a reminder to walk circumspectly around EVERYONE.  If you're single and that interested person says they love the Lord, make sure you look for spiritual fruit.  When it comes to business,  even though they have the Jesus fish emblem on their card, make sure you check in with God before you shake hands.  Do not place that worship leader/pastor/elder up in an elevated position to derail God's plans for you.  Looking godly doesn't mean someone has Jesus in their heart.  Like Lucifer, the Benjamites lived in close proximity to the Lord, yet they still rebelled.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Joshua 15:63

January 25, 2017 0

I'm following the First5 online Bible study right now.  We just read Joshua, chapter 15 in which we zeroed in on verse 63…“Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah.” (NIV)

Here are my thoughts...

It's common for us to recognize when the Lord calls us to "capture" an area He wants us to inherit. It's also common for a lot of us to quit before we've captured that area.  We can do this by choosing not to kick the enemy out of an area the Holy Spirit wants for us.  People limit their own territories or settle with sharing with the enemy because they didn't follow God's complete instructions.

Ten years ago, I felt the Lord wanted me to volunteer in kids Sunday School.  I shyly approached the director of children's ministry at my church and asked if I could clean the classrooms or take out the trash after church.  Instead, he appointed me as worship leader for the children.  I had/have no musical talent whatsoever.  You could call me musically declined.  But the children's director felt a prompting from the Lord.  I faithfully accepted my "inheritance," learned everything I could from the other two worship leaders, begged the Holy Spirit to lead me, and dove right in.  Those years of leading the children in worship challenged, blessed, and transformed my walk with the Lord in incredible ways.  I'll never be the same and I can't thank God enough for this time I got to serve Him in this area.

I could easily have turned down this opportunity of leading worship.  The children's director says he'll always remember the look of terror in my eyes when he gave his counter offer.  At the time, my thoughts were,  "I can't sing, I don't understand music.  I'm going to look ridiculous!  I don't have the time.  Just emptying trash cans and cleaning whiteboards fits better into my schedule."  The Lord knew better though.  At the time, I had just enough faith to say yes to what turned out to be a HUGE blessing.

If God blesses you with a job, then  fully go in there as a strong Christian with joy, peace, and love. Respectful yet unafraid of your boss.  Also, be sure that you're blameless and hard working.

If the Lord blesses you with singleness, rejoice over the freedom you have to serve more!  Don't get distracted with any man who is not the one the Lord says "yes" to and be strict in avoiding temptation.  Don't allow any guy you're not related to to come over and hang out when no one else is around.

If the Holy Spirit prompts you to start a ministry, don't quit after two weeks because no one has showed up.  Are you giving God glory?  Stick with it no matter the attendance size.  Ask the Lord to increase your faith and to help you stubbornly stick by His will.
The enemy is going to place minions in every area God wants us to be in.  This chapter is a great reminder that as children of God, we must fully fight for our inheritance.

Personally, I have a long history of quitting and therefore not inheriting the gifts and opportunities the Lord has set for me.  Right now, I'm trying to keep moving forward with a project I believe the Holy Spirit has been prompting me to do for years.  I'm discouraged everyday because I don't see the results I want right now.  My Type A personality wants to quit so I can apply my time and energy to something else that will give me "results."  I see nothing coming right now but I'm proceeding in faith that the Lord has called me to do this.  Perhaps we'll never get to see Jesus water the seeds He has us planting right now, but our ultimate goal is to hear Him say, "well done, my good and faithful servant."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Joshua 14:8

January 23, 2017 0
I'm following the First5 online Bible study right now. We just read Joshua, chapter 14 in which we're reminded of Caleb's strong faith in the Lord. Despite the opposition around him, Caleb was unafraid to walk in the Lord's will because he trusted in God so much. "but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God." Joshua 14:8 (NLT) Here are my thoughts... Caleb was unafraid, unlike the other spies. It's much harder to get deterred in the face of fire when we're rooted in the Lord. Caleb locked his eyes on God and that's why he was unafraid and able to cling onto the Lord's will. When our faith waivers or we don't do well in a test, we must ask ourselves, "what was my reason I signed up for this in the first place?" Years ago, the Lord revealed specific plans to us. He confirmed His plans and opened doors for us to proceed in this direction. Then, our pastor at the time presented an offer to us that led to a very different direction. We struck hands with the pastor. Our reasoning was, "he's a godly man. This has to be from the Lord." We made the huge mistake of overwriting God's will. We couldn't have been more wrong in this choice. We almost lost everything as a result. The Holy Spirit was clear to us, yet by going with someone else's offer, we walked away from His will. We were wrong to place trust in a man over God and we were let down in a huge way. But that's what happens when you trust fallible man over the Lord. All people are fallible, including the godly. It's commendable for Caleb to stick by the Lord's promise in the face of adversity. His trust in God was so strong, he stayed on the path to victory. Unlike the other spies, Caleb didn't allow other people to sway him from confidently proceeding toward the Lord's will.
Do not allow yourself to get led astray from God's will. Whether it's an intimidating group of people trying to frighten you away (like what we see in the book of Joshua) or a godly person offering you something different from what the Lord wants, make sure you stubbornly stick to what God says.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Joshua 13

January 21, 2017 0

I'm following the First5 online Bible study right now. We just read Joshua, chapter 13 in which the Lord prompts Joshua to divvy up the promised land to the tribes of Israel.

Here are my thoughts...

As Christians, we're no longer in Egypt and no longer slaves to the enemy. We belong to Christ now. No more, are we subject to sin. As soon as the Holy Spirit first indwelled in us, we arrived in the figurative "promised land." In the promised land, we're free to resist sin and we can choose to be under the Lord's protection from enemy attacks.  

I love Joshua 13 in that 1. God points out to Joshua that he's old and needs to wrap things up. We may not be old right now (or consider ourselves old) but when the Holy Spirit presses on us to do something for him, we need to act on it.  Be faithful now. God may be giving us one more chance to get things done because He knows we're out of time.  

2. Even though the Hebrews are now in the promised land, their work is not done. The enemy still wants to rob, infiltrate, and destroy. As Christians, the enemy can't inhibit our bodies or force us to sin. And we get to call on Jesus' name for strength and protection. But this doesn't mean that the enemy is going to back off from trying to occupy the areas we have to deal with.  

The territory the Lord has blessed me with right now includes a husband, two children, a home in a small town, a church to attend, parents, siblings, friends etc. What has God blessed you with? A job? Loving friends? A mom who won't quit on you? Ministry? A car? What a great inheritance! But know that the enemy wants it. He wants to rip apart our marriages, take our children, come into our homes, discredit each of our witnesses, separate us from other believers etc. Whatever you have inherited from the Lord, the enemy wants. In a nutshell; the battle's not over just because we're in the promised land.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Joshua 12

January 20, 2017 0

I'm going through the First5 online study and we're currently in Joshua.  In coming upon the twelfth chapter of Joshua, we find it reads a long list of king's names who were defeated by Israel.  It's easy for our eyes to skim over this chapter but we must consider that it's here for a reason.

It's good for us to take detailed lists of praise reports and victories in Christ.  Reason being, when we're in a valley and unable to see past our enemies, we can remember the great things the Lord has already done.  We can be encouraged that He's going to keep us moving forward and that the troubles we're currently facing are puny to Him. Remembering our past victories with the Lord can give us hope for the future.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Joshua 11:15

January 18, 2017 0

"Just as the Lord had commanded Moses His servant, so Moses had commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses." Joshua 11:15 (AMP)

Obeying the Lord in total is the only way that we should get things done.  Just obeying a portion of God's instruction is sinful.  We must do exactly what the Lord wants us to do when He call us to do something.

Our household is constantly being forced to purge items that could lead to sin because the enemy is always trying to get in.  For example, going through our DVD collection, we find ourselves continually tossing movies that have that one inappropriate word or that one inappropriate two second scene.  We've thrown out our favorite films or awesome movies that are otherwise innocent save for that one thing about them. But we have to because at what point will we say "no" to sin?  The enemy deserves NO foothold in our house and yours.

Joshua won't compromise with the enemy because he followed God's instruction thoroughly.  Remember, the enemy loves compromise.
I know I'm not the only one who has had to unfollow a dear friend on social media because they're swearing (Christians are called not to allow junk into our hearts) or stop reading a specific website because although they're informative, the images on their advertisements are obscene (Christians are called to guard their eyes).  Everyday, throughout the day, Christians get faced with two choices: follow the Lord or walk away.  Are you going to follow Jesus' instruction in its entirety?  Or will you choose to compromise with the enemy?

What kind of choices have you been making as of late?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Are You Willing to Give God Anything He Wants?

January 08, 2017 0
Push Up popsicles on today's walk

Push Up popsicles are interesting.  In order to eat more ice cream, you need to literally push up the stick that's connected to the platform in which the ice cream sits.

My toddlers both lack the strength and dexterity to push up their Push Ups, so I have to make myself available to help them out.  One of my boys understands this.  As his ice cream dips below the cardboard container, he'll eagerly hand his treat over so I can push the stick upwards and he can continue eating.  My other boy doesn't yet understand why he needs my help.  He'd rather chew at the cardboard than willingly hand over his treat for two seconds.  Whenever it's time to push up his ice cream, he grips it tight and puts up a fight against me even though my motive is completely for his benefit.  I never take the ice cream for myself, I only obtain the Push Up in order to make it possible for my boys to have more ice cream.  So they don't have to resort to gnawing on soggy cardboard.

This reminds me of the two options we have when the Lord requires something from us - either trustingly hand it over or fight Him tooth and nail.  When we put God first, we trust that His will is superior to our own.  We know that when he takes something or someone from us, even if it hurts, it's for God's glory and to strengthen our relationship with Him.  When we fight against Him, we make ourselves miserable from our own resistance.  On top of that, it puts us at odds against the Lord - our resistance separates us from Him because we have an idol.  
Idols come in different forms, a job, boyfriend, living arrangement, savings account, friendship, etc.  There could be multiple reasons the Lord wants to take something or someone from us, whether it be for refinement, or testing purposes, or we've created a barrier between us and the Lord, for example.  Whatever the reason, if God is our God and we are His children, we know that when He takes something from us, it's for His glory.

In Genesis 21, we see that the son Abraham had been anticipating for 25 years was finally born.  In the next chapter, God tested Abraham by requiring precious Issac.  Abraham loved and trusted the Lord so he was willing to go ahead and give his beloved son back to God.  Up to the day of our wedding, I was telling the Lord that if He wanted me to give up my relationship with Aaron, that I would.  Even though I received confirmations from the Holy Spirit that Aaron is "the one," I knew I needed to guard my heart from making Aaron an idol.  I did so by being willing to end our relationship if that was the Lord's will.  I loved Aaron dearly, I had confirmation after confirmation from God that he was to be my husband one day, I was excited to enter marriage with Aaron, so it would have been so easy to completely surrender my heart to this relationship and let it overshadow the Lord's importance in my life. I did not want to break up with Aaron, but I knew that if that's what Jesus wanted, that I was willing to do so.

I believe that the Lord honored my willingness to put His will above my own and I believe that He will honor your decision to do that same.  

Friday, January 6, 2017

Deuteronomy 24:5

January 06, 2017 0
“A newly married man must not be drafted into the army or be given any other official responsibilities. He must be free to spend one year at home, bringing happiness to the wife he has married.”
Deuteronomy 24:5 (NLT)

Prior to marrying in 2011, Aaron and I received lots of confirmation from the Lord that we were created to walk this earth together. So when we got married, we were arrogant in thinking that marriage would naturally be easy for us.

We were under the impression that the”honeymoon phase” would be the easiest, most magical time of our marriage. It turns out, that first year was the most difficult.  The both of us had quirks and emotional scars that went unnoticed until marriage.  Also, you don't begin to really get to know someone's ins and outs until you live with them and are forced to work together on day-to-day issues.

I wish we had studied Deuteronomy 24:5 because this verse imparts great advice. Moving into the same home with your husband is a huge eye opener and takes lots of adjusting on both parties. It’s so important to focus on your marriage and each other especially in that first year.  We took on a huge church project as soon as we married and that was a bad idea.  The project took so much from us when we should have been at home, focusing on learning marriage, gaining wisdom from the Lord, and practicing being the husband and wife God calls us to be. That’s why this verse instructs husbands to not go off to war or leave for extended work, but to stay home and learn about their wives and focus on making them happy.  Let's face it, if someone is going to have more particularities, it's probably going to be the wife so it's best the husband figures out what makes her happy sooner than later.

The Geneva Bible footnotes reasons, “that they might learn to know one another’s conditions, and so afterward live in godly peace.”