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Showing posts from March, 2012

Thirty Sons, Thirty Donkeys, Thirty Towns

Scripture

Judg. 10:3 ¶ After him came Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel twenty-two years.
Judg. 10:4 He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys; and they had thirty towns, which are in the land of Gilead, and are called Havvoth-jair to this day.
Judg. 10:5 Jair died, and was buried in Kamon.

Observation


Over thirty years ago now my father preached a sermon on this very text.  The sermon was titled, "Thirty Sons, Thirty Donkeys, Thirty Towns:  Is this any way to run a church?"  It's one of those messages that has always stuck with me.  The premise is that Jair becomes the judge of Israel.  He is in charge and gets to be in charge for twenty-two years.  He uses his son to help rule the country.  He has thirty sons -- so he provides each one of them with one donkey.  He also sets each one of them to rule over one town.  They each go to their own location and for twenty-two years they simply take care of things.  Jair dies and this is how he is remembered.  Thirty sons,…

A New Atheism

Scripture Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
(1 Corinthians 15:12 NASB)
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised;
(1 Corinthians 15:13 NASB)
If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE.
(1 Corinthians 15:32 NASB)
But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.
(1 Corinthians 15:54 NASB)
“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”
(1 Corinthians 15:55 NASB)
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;
(1 Corinthians 15:56 NASB)
but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 NASB)

Observation Paul reached o…

What are you going to eat?

Scripture

Judg. 6:1 ¶ The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years.
Judg. 6:2 The hand of Midian prevailed over Israel; and because of Midian the Israelites provided for themselves hiding places in the mountains, caves and strongholds.
Judg. 6:3 For whenever the Israelites put in seed, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them.
Judg. 6:4 They would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the land, as far as the neighborhood of Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel, and no sheep or ox or donkey.
Judg. 6:5 For they and their livestock would come up, and they would even bring their tents, as thick as locusts; neither they nor their camels could be counted; so they wasted the land as they came in.
Judg. 6:6 Thus Israel was greatly impoverished because of Midian; and the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help.
Judg. 6:11 ¶ Now the angel of the LORD came and sat …

Wake Up!

Scripture “Awake, awake, Deborah; Awake, awake, sing a song! Arise, Barak, and take away your captives, O son of Abinoam.
(Judges 5:12 NASB)

Observation The Israelites were in desperate need of leadership as their enemies surrounded them. God spoke to a woman named Deborah and a man named Barak to take up the leadership role among his people. Interestingly Deborah responded to the call, and Barak half-way responded to the call. He would help lead, but only if Deborah would lead as well. If she would not -- he would go home. The result was that God promised victory to Barak, but that a woman would get the credit -- not Deborah, but yet another woman.

God brought victory to the Israelites and they had peace for forty years.

Application There are times in life that God asks us to "Wake Up!" It may be a startling cry from God, but he's trying to get our attention. God needs us to become engaged with him in his work in this world. Some of us will…

It boils down to one thing...

Scripture

1Cor. 12:31 …. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Observation


The entire section here from Paul is about spiritual gifts.  One can imagine that the church is experiencing an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the result is that people are experiencing different giftings.  However, you can also imagine that these people were very proud of their giftings and enjoyed boasting and comparing their gifts over and against the gifts of others.  Obviously they thought that some people were better than others; that some spiritual gifts were better than others.  In an effort to deal with this concern Paul goes through a lengthy response as he deals with these different gifts and how they relate to one another in the body of Christ, but when he gets through with this explanation, he changes tone on them.  Yes, maybe you think these are really important issues BUT -- now I'm going to show you a way that is even better!  And this becomes the bridge to the next chapter, the g…

Rise up and be our help!

Scripture For I will not trust in my bow, Nor will my sword save me.
(Psalms 44:6 NASB)
But You have saved us from our adversaries, And You have put to shame those who hate us.
(Psalms 44:7 NASB)
In God we have boasted all day long, And we will give thanks to Your name forever. Selah.
(Psalms 44:8 NASB)
Rise up, be our help, And redeem us for the sake of Your lovingkindness.
(Psalms 44:26 NASB)
Observation The Psalmist is giving God the glory for the victories in battle. David, an expertly skilled warrior says that he's not going to trust in his bow, nor his sword to save him. This is exactly what David could have trusted in, because he was very good at using these two items. Instead, even though this was the area of his strongest gifting, he chose to trust in God. He thanked God for saving him from his enemies and said he was going to continue to boast about God all day long! The Psalm ends with a plea for the future -- that God, in each and every new c…

It's about others…

Scripture

1Cor. 10:31 ¶ So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
1Cor. 10:32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,
1Cor. 10:33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.

Observation

These words come at the close of Paul's discourse on being willing to eat meat which may have been offered to idols.  Often there were those who could not afford to purchase the good cuts of meat.  The "second hand" products, which had been used in idol worship were cheaper to purchase.  However, there were some who refused to eat the food placed before them at the church pot-luck by the poorer folks.  One can see them raising their noses in disgust, being holy folks, who would never touch something that had been offered to an idol.  The poor person's feelings are hurt as all they can see is that what they've prepared isn't "g…

Spiritual Athleticism

Scripture

1Cor. 9:23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
1Cor. 9:24 ¶ Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.
1Cor. 9:25 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.
1Cor. 9:26 So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air;
1Cor. 9:27 but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.

Observation


Paul is an all or nothing sort of man.  Everything that he does in life is about the gospel -- the "good news."  Every situation in which he finds himself has something to do with sharing the good news which he knows will have a direct effect on himself and others.  However, along the way he has also learned that there must be spiritual discipline and this he sees in light of the athletes around him.  If we c…

Know it all?!

Scripture

1Cor. 8:2 Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge;
1Cor. 8:3 but anyone who loves God is known by him.

Observation

Paul is talking to the church about deep mysteries, combined with freedom in Christ.  There is incredible freedom which comes with living in Christ.  We are no longer bound by the law, or by lists of "do's" and "don'ts."  At the same time, the freedom comes from having knowledge at a different level.  If we think we are extremely educated, we don't have the "necessary knowledge."  This is not the source of true knowledge.  True knowledge comes when we are known by God.  That is because when we submit ourselves to God, he invites us to participate in the relationship found within the Holy Trinity.  In doing so we are known by God, and we are able to put on the mind of Christ.  Therefore knowledge has nothing to do with education, but rather, with being in God! 

Application

Education was …

Figure out how to serve God just as you are!

Scripture

1Cor. 7:17 ¶ However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches.
1Cor. 7:18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision.
1Cor. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything.
1Cor. 7:20 Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.
1Cor. 7:21 ¶ Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever.
1Cor. 7:22 For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ.
1Cor. 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters.
1Cor. 7:24 In whatever condition you we…

O Sun, Stand Still!

Scripture Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.”
(Joshua 10:12 NASB)
So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.
(Joshua 10:13 NASB)
There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.
(Joshua 10:14 NASB)
Observation Joshua is in the midst of battle, not just fighting for the Israelites, but for God, himself. What will it require for them to win this battle? It will require more time -- an extended day. How in the world will this happen? Joshua speaks to the Lord about the issue and simply asks God, "O sun, stand still...O …

Trying to Hide our Sin?

Scripture

Josh. 7:20 And Achan answered Joshua, “It is true; I am the one who sinned against the LORD God of Israel. This is what I did:
Josh. 7:21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, then I coveted them and took them. They now lie hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

Observation


All of the Israelites were being punished and Joshua didn't know why.  He laid down before God and began to plead with him when God revealed to him that they, as a people, had been unfaithful.  God gave him a plan to discover where this unfaithfulness had begun and God led him to Achan.  Achan had been tempted and given in to that temptation, taking items from the enemy.  He had seen a beautiful robe and wanted it.  So, he took it, along with silver, and a bar of gold.  But, what was he to do with what he had taken?  No one could know, so he dug a hole under his tent and just buri…

Charitable Discourse -- What would Paul have done in the Internet Age?

Scripture

1Cor. 4:17 For this reason I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
1Cor. 4:18 But some of you, thinking that I am not coming to you, have become arrogant.
1Cor. 4:19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power.
1Cor. 4:20 For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power.

Observation

As I read this today I couldn't help but think about what Paul was dealing with in Corinth.  This was not an easy church, but rather one that seemed to have had "attitude."  There were letters flying back and forth and Paul was catching wind of things happening in the church in Corinth.  Evidently there were those who were using their tongue, and possibly the pen, the cause trouble.  In an effort to bring some order to the issues Paul had sent Timothy.  It was Paul's desire that Timo…

A Prostitute's Declaration of Faith

Scripture

Josh. 2:1 ¶ Then Joshua son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there.
Josh. 2:2 The king of Jericho was told, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to search out the land.”
Josh. 2:3 Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come only to search out the whole land.”
Josh. 2:4 But the woman took the two men and hid them. Then she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they came from.
Josh. 2:5 And when it was time to close the gate at dark, the men went out. Where the men went I do not know. Pursue them quickly, for you can overtake them.”
Josh. 2:6 She had, however, brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax that she had laid out on the roof.
Josh. 2:7 So the men pursued them on the way to th…

Whose mind?

Scripture And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day.
(Deuteronomy 34:6 NASB)
Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated.
(Deuteronomy 34:7 NASB)
So the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end.
(Deuteronomy 34:8 NASB)
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
(1 Corinthians 2:14 NASB)
But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
(1 Corinthians 2:15 NASB)
For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 2:16 NASB)
Observation We come to the end of Moses' life. The scripture tells us that he is the only pro…

God didn't make it too hard!

Scripture

Deut. 30:11 ¶ Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away.
Deut. 30:12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?”
Deut. 30:13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?”
Deut. 30:14 No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.
Deut. 30:15 ¶ See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.
Deut. 30:16 If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the LORD your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess.

Observation

The children of Israel…

What are you boasting about?

Scripture

Gal. 6:14 May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Observation

Paul had suffered through a lot in his life.  He had also been successful but he realized that there was absolutely nothing worth boasting about, except the cross of Christ. 

Application

There are many things in life which we think are important for us to accomplish.  We work hard on those things and at the end of the day we feel that we may be able to boast about them, but compared to what Christ has done for us on the cross, they are nothing.  There is nothing that we as humans can accomplish that is worth boasting about, except for the fact that we have been crucified with Christ.  The only goal we have in life is to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.  All of the rest is fluff, and sometimes that fluff becomes a distraction to what God really wants to accomplish in our lives. 

Let's not worry about hum…

Living by the Spirit

Scripture

Gal. 5:16 ¶ Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Gal. 5:17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.
Gal. 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.
Gal. 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,
Gal. 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,
Gal. 5:21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal. 5:22 ¶ By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
Gal. 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
Gal. 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions …

Participating in Grace

Scripture

Deut. 22:1 ¶ You shall not watch your neighbor’s ox or sheep straying away and ignore them; you shall take them back to their owner.
Deut. 22:2 If the owner does not reside near you or you do not know who the owner is, you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until the owner claims it; then you shall return it.
Deut. 22:3 You shall do the same with a neighbor’s donkey; you shall do the same with a neighbor’s garment; and you shall do the same with anything else that your neighbor loses and you find. You may not withhold your help.

Observation


In Deuteronomy we find all kinds of interesting rules and regulations regarding everyday life for the Israelites.  Much of the advice is very practical.  Here, the people are taught what to do when they find an ox or a sheep wandering away.  Even if it doesn't belong to them, they are to go after it.  They are to take care of it and take it back to its owner.  If the owner lives a long way away, they are to c…

All Human Barriers are Destroyed

Scripture

Gal. 3:23 ¶ Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed.
Gal. 3:24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.
Gal. 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian,
Gal. 3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.
Gal. 3:27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Gal. 3:28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Gal. 3:29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Observation

We discover here a not-so-subtle change in the relationship of humanity with the Creator, as a result of the work of Christ.  Christ came and everything changed.  No longer did we have to try to follow every rule to try to be a righteous person, but r…

Give it away!

Scripture

Deut. 15:10 Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.
Deut. 15:11 Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.”

Observation

Moses is again presenting the Law to the Israelites.  He makes a statement that we hear later from Jesus.  There will always be people around us who are in need!  That is why we are taught how to respond to the needy.  We are to be a generous people to those around us.  Give liberally with what we have.  Not only are we to give liberally we we are commanded to "Open your hand."  Of course, this could mean letting go of our money and sharing it with them -- but could it also mean to lend them our hand.  Be willing to reach out and make a difference.

Application

Yesterday I shared my personal rant about the state of society.  Someone raised a…

From Generation to Generation

Scripture “Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.
(Deuteronomy 12:28 NASB)
Observation The Lord gave Moses the Law which the people were to follow. He was explicit in his instructions regarding all manner of things, including their daily lives. God knows the need for humans to have a keen understanding of how to live their lives each and every single day. If they would obey the law of God, their daily lives would go well. And not only would it go well for them, but also for their children who would come after them.
Application I must confess that I am a bit concerned about what is happening to the very fiber of society. I'm wondering whether (at least in the US) we have come to a place where we no longer have any rules for daily life and there will be nothing left to hand down to the next g…

Mocking Jesus

Scripture

Mark 15:16 ¶ Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort.
Mark 15:17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him.
Mark 15:18 And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
Mark 15:19 They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him.
Mark 15:20 After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

Observation


I am always amazed at the amount of emotion which is evoked when I read scriptures like this.  I am angered, saddened and amazed that Jesus could have been treated this badly.  They play with him.  Because he calls himself the "King of the Jews," they put a purple robe on him and then create a fake crown out of some thorns and put it on his head.  They hit him, spit on him and mock him by kne…