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Archive for January, 2010

Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem. Ezra 1:3-4

70 Years Earlier

Israel was taken into captivity by the Babylonians and after 70 years, King Cyrus comes on the scene and is moved to release the two million or so Jews. Interestingly, it was Daniel (who we recall was also in Babylon), who brings Cyrus to the Bible and points out in Isaiah how 170 earlier the Lord through His prophet spoke of Cyrus releasing the Jews from captivity! Cyrus, apparently floored by seeing his name prophetically mentioned in the Bible, was moved to be obedient to the prophesy. I guess so.

“Who Wants to Go Home…”

Cyrus asks. Incredibly, at least to me, only about 49,000 or so desired to make the 900 mile trek back to Jerusalem. The truth is that during the 70 year exile in Babylon, most of these Jews had settled in and were now comfortable with their circumstances. Cyrus recognized the situation, which is why he proclaimed, “And if you don’t want to go back, then help out financially those who do.” (paraphrase mine)

Left Behind-ers

At this point we might think that those who chose to stay behind and support those who were going might somehow be lessed-blessed then those who went. I suppose this is how some might feel about those who today support missionaries in the field, but are either unable or unwilling to go themselves. This is simply not the case. We have as one example an admonition from King David found in 1 Samuel 30:24b

But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.

In this situation, some of the king’s men were to weary to continue in battle, so they were directed to stay behind and guard the camp and it’s supplies. After the battle was won, there were those who felt the spoils of the victory should be denied those who did not physically participate in the battle. King David set them straight—everyone gets an equal share; those who fought and those who support!

An Important Attribute

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

Whatever we give, our Father wants us to give it willingly and cheerfully. Why? Because everything belongs to God, that’s why. Is it not a silly notion to begrudgingly give away that which does not belong to you to begin with? If you loaned me your car and then told me to give it to someone else, it would be absurd for me to object or bemoan the request—wouldn’t it? The fact of the matter is that when we give willingly and cheerfully, God lovingly appreciates that we recognize this spiritual principle—He loves that we understand that we’re giving away His stuff and not ours. That’s what Jesus was looking for as He sat opposite the treasury in the account from Mark’s Gospel. He wasn’t looking to see what was given, but how they gave it—the quality and quantity were irrelevant.

Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” Mark 12:41-44


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And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (And Israel said,) …“We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”…But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord…” Joshua 24:15, 18b, 19a

An Emotional High

Joshua is one hundred and ten years old and he is about to die, but before he does, he gives his farewell address to the nation of Israel—likely one of the most powerful speeches ever given in recorded history.

“…Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

I can almost hear the people cheering and countering back, “We will serve God!” over and over again.

What happens next is surprising. Joshua does not say, “That’s what I’m talking about people—give me an amen!” but rather stifles the crown with a stern admonishment.

“You cannot serve the Lord…”

What?!?

Joshua knew that the worshiping of false idols was going on behind closed doors and that these Jews were merely emotionally pumped up by his commanding speech. He also knew that there eyes were blind to what they were doing and what they were now saying. Yes, they were fired up for the One true and Living God, but they secretly maintained idols falsely believing it was acceptable to the Lord.

How Could This Be

And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them? Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols… Ezekiel 14:2-4

What the Lord spoke to Ezekiel (and apparently Joshua too), is that when a person harbors a false idol, He does not entertain their prayers. So while these people might have proclaimed, “But God has given me a peace about it,” the Lord is saying, “That’s not me talking, that’s their idol talking.

That Should Give Us Pause

When was the last time we said, “But God has given me a peace about what I watch on TV,’ or the ‘indulgence of alcohol,’ or ‘my sexual preferences,’ ” or whatever.

God is saying, “That is not Me. I would never give you a peace about those things.”

This is the error of Israel (in that day) and it is often our error today. It didn’t last very long, but nevertheless, Israel repented and put away their false idols. We must do the same.

Next time you utter, “God has given me a peace…” about something, consider who might be doing the talking.


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The second lot came out for Simeon, for the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families. And their inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Judah…Then the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites came near to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the children of Israel. And they spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, “The Lord commanded through Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with their common-lands for our livestock.” Joshua 19:1 ~and~ Joshua 21:1-2

A Wonderful Illustration

Joshua had led the nation of Israel across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. For believers today, the Promised Land is a depiction of the Spirit-filled life in Jesus Christ in addition to the historical event that it was. The battles had been fought and the victory contained, and all that remained were the mopping-up activities; skirmishes that continue to this very day. It was now time to divvy up the inheritance according to the guidelines the Lord established through Jacob back in Genesis.

Simeon and Levi were two of the twelve tribes of Israel and above we read about their portions. Simeon’s share of the inheritance was, as the passage cites, was within that of Judah’s and in time, Simeon was surrounded and swallowed up by the tribe of Judah. While there are most certainly descendants of the tribe of Simeon around today, for the most part they have been absorbed into Judah and we do not hear a lot about them from this point forward—a very sad indictment on that tribe.

The Levites on the other hand made out very well. While it is absolutely true they received no inheritance, they ultimately were given forty-eight cities in which to perpetually reside—unlike Simeon they were blessed on a very large scale. So what was the difference between these two tribes? We first need to go back to Genesis.

“Simeon and Levi are brothers; Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; Let not my honor be united to their assembly; For in their anger they slew a man, And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob And scatter them in Israel.” Genesis 49:5-7

Simeon and Levi were in effect cursed because of their behavior in the Dinah incident. We would recall that their sister (Dinah) was raped by a guy named Shechem (who lived in Shechem). In retaliation, they duped the Shechemites into being circumcised and when they were recovering they went through that city and killed them all. This enraged Jacob and later on, as he handed out the blessing to his sons, he opts to lay a curse on Simeon and Levi.

The Levites are Redeemed

Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side–come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ ” So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Exodus 32:25-28

The sons of Levi answered Moses’ call-to-arms; all the tribes were asked and only Levi responded. For this reason Levi was given a much larger and more generous portion of forty-eight cities. They still received no inheritance, but they were rewarded in their repentance—they took the correct stand when the godly call was put forth. Simeon could have responded similarly, but history records they remained silent. As a result Simeon’s portion was absorbed by Judah.

The Application for Us

As far as Simeon and Levi go, we’re in the same boat. Their disobedient act is merely a representation of the types of things we did before coming to Christ. What they did afterwards is where we get an application we can use: Levi got back on the horse and Simeon did not. Simeon lived in a curse and Levi lived in their blessings. From a practical stand point, both were saved, but one wasted away in someone else’s brilliance and the other rose above the hand they dealt themselves. Yes, there were still consequences for Levi, but the Lord in His grace and mercy made away to bless them in a different way.

As a Christian, we have the same choices. If we want, in our saved-state, we can elect to do nothing. Oh, we’re still going to Heaven, but what a waste of a Christian we are on earth. Great is the reward in Heaven for those who willingly and cheerfully serve while stationed on earth.


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The Lord has been opening doors for me to go to Haiti! It is my personal conviction to pay my own way back and forth to Haiti and to not be a burden to anyone in Haiti while I am there–Haiti does not need any more burden. Please pray for the team that left Saturday morning (1/16/09) for the D.R. and are driving into Haiti.

However…

I will accept any monetary donation with which I will purchase appropriate medical supplies, generic medicines, soap, tooth brushes, and those types of things. These items will personally accompany me to Haiti and I will see that they get to whoever needs them–no middle man. I will post the receipts on FB for these items as I buy them.

How Can You Donate?

If you do PayPal you can send a donation to Gnuheart@aol.com or you can send a check or money order to me directly. My final request on that issue is that you do it soon.

UPDATES from the HAITI RELIEF TEAM

    Wednesday, Jan 20 12:24am– Today team one made their way to a refuge hospital on the Haiti/DR border in the town of Jimani. From the accounts I received the ministry was very good but there remains much more need than there is ability to meet it. There remains only 1 surgeon to treat 200-300 patients and while the physician is overwhelmed, he is incredibly grateful we are there and has given us a full green light to minister to the patients, pray with them and care for them.Increased medical personnel at this hospital would most certainly be welcomed…They said their plan for tomorrow is to meet the mayor of the town, go to the port warehouse and bring the supplies back to the orphanage, and scout the area to see if it will accommodate a base camp for future teams…but this is also a “trip of the unexpected” and “walking by faith.” Before this update could be completed, the team just told me they made contact with a pilot from Miami who has access to other planes and is eager to help in any way. The plan for tomorrow has already changed! The pilot is taking Lonnie and Raul to Leogane which was hit worse than Port-au-Prince, as it was right near the epicenter. There is, according to news reports, a greater need and they are airlifting as much medical supplies as they can there.

    DONATIONS TO DATE (*received ~and/or~ anticiapted)
    Cash to date: $960.00
    Supplies: $500.00 assorted med supplies
    Supplies: Case of toothbrushes (value not yet determined)
    Total to date: $1,460.00+

PLEASE PRAY FOR HAITI EVERY TIME YOU HERE HER NAME

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And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal…Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” Joshua 10:8-9, 12

First Things First

Joshua made a mistake. In the last chapter, Israel, after being deceived by their enemy, made a covenant with the Gibeonites. Discovering the deception, Joshua put his mistake to work. Oh he kept his vow as the Lord requires every vow-maker to do, but he made his error his slave; the Gibeonites would forever be servants of the Tabernacle as fetchers of wood and water.

God recognized the mistake too, but He chose to honor Joshua’s commitment–blessings would rise form the ashes of a bad decision. What our Father did with Joshua and Israel, He does with us as well—we have the same assurance from God that our errors can work towards some good thing despite the fact that we might not see it initially.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

In the text today, Joshua provides for us a four-part outline illustrating dynamic Christian faith in action. His example awards us the four basic components of spirited faith; one that bestows honor, glory, and praise to the faith Giver.

He Believed

It really can’t get any less basic than that. God told Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered (the enemy) into your hand.” Joshua took God at His word. He heard the word and he believed the word he heard. Do you believe God’s word?

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

He Gave His Best Effort

The passage does not imply that Joshua performed perfectly, but strongly suggests he worked as quickly and as efficiently as he could to do God’s will, “Marching all night,” until the first leg of the task was completed. God did not tell him to do that, Joshua chose to do that. The fact of the matter is that the work was finished, just like Christ’s work was finished on the cross. Remember, God said, “I have delivered,” the enemy. In willing obedience, Joshua took it upon himself to complete the mission as best he could.

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:17

He Called on the Lord

Joshua takes nothing for granted, probably learning that lesson from his bitter defeat at Ai. We aren’t privy to their conversation, but the passage hints that they must have been discussing some pretty powerful stuff. Contextually speaking, we know that it would have been impossible for Joshua to do what was done without God’s direct support, authority, and power.

…Without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5b

He Acted Boldly

Joshua could not have made the proclamation he made if a) he did not believe, b), he had not been working out his faith, and c) wasn’t checking in with the Father periodically. The kind of boldness Joshua displayed can only be manifest when the first three elements of our faith are in place. That’s not to say a person can’t ever speak boldly, but without God’s power and authority, that person operates in his flesh alone.

It’s sad to say that many Christians, having accomplished the first three steps, arrive at this same place, but shy away from the opportunity to take the wonderful leap. Why? Plain and simple: fear—the very opposite of faith. While it is true we have the ability to put our faith on the shelf, we often forget that by that same faith we have the power of God to destroy trepidation. Our Lord is gracious and merciful and He will let us wallow in this condition if we so choose—our salvation is not in jeopardy. But then again, someone might say to you and I, “Why buy a car if you’re never going to drive it?”

…And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel… Ephesians 6:19


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I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1

Living Sacrifices

I suppose the question I should have initially asked is if you are a living doormat? Christians are called to serve the Lord. It’s not that we run the risk of becoming a doormat for another, but rather that we willingly place ourselves in this position. If as a Christian you are not there yet, you will likely object to this notion. That’s ok for now, but know as you mature in your faith, doormat-hood will be something you endeavor towards. And please take note that I did not say, “As you gain more faith,” but rather mature in the faith God has already given you.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Matthew 16:24

Do you want to sense the Lords presence in your life; His peace and pure joy? Then give without any expectations and submit yourself as a living sacrifice, doing His will with no strings attached. In so doing we learn that the abundant life has so little to do with worldly prosperity and so much to do with the ecstasy of being conformed into His image.

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you… Matthew 5:44

Will people walk all over you? I can guarantee that somebody will, but consider the sacrifice and why you opted to make it. Consider what you truly lost and it’s true spiritual value. Now consider the potential gain and how your submission is a blessing to God. What I find to be incredibly amazing [when people walk all over me] is that my Father in Heaven uses that experience to refine and sanctify me. So instead of complaining about a little residual mud, I rejoice about not being the same person I was before the episode.


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And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. Matthew 14:14

WWJD

Whoever coined the phrase, “What would Jesus do” was certainly on to something; WWJD is a wonderful principle. However, I believe (for reasons I will address) it deserves an update. Therefore I propose we change WWJD to DWJD, which means, “Do what Jesus Did.”

If it Ain’t Broke…

I hear that, but I’m not saying WWJD is broken…necessarily. What I am suggesting is that WWJD leads a person to mindfully formulate what Jesus would do in any given situation. That’s not a problem unless that person’s mind is not steeped in God’s word. That person then carnally determines what course Jesus would take. The world’s image of Jesus by in large is skewed by ungodly influences and as a result we have all heard immature believers cite characteric qualities of our Jesus that miss the mark entirely.

DWJD

In contrast, when a Christian ascribes to doing what Jesus did, it implies that they know what Jesus did. And the only way to know [what He did] is to be in God’s word on a regular and frequent basis. From a practical stand point, DWJD keeps us in the Bible and if we’re uncertain of what Jesus did, it brings us back to the Bible again.


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