Archive for March, 2020

Who Asked you to do This? (Judges 9-12)

March 31, 2020

30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whatever[e] comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord‘s, and I will offer it[f] up for a burnt offering. Judges 11:30-31

I so appreciate when people do acts of kindness to others.  I am always humbled when others do acts of kindness toward my family.  In these days of extreme crisis there are many who are doing acts of kindness and they deserve our deepest thanks and prayers.

This morning, I asked the Lord, “What do you want me to do today?”  Maybe you wonder, why would I do such a thing?  This is what my Lord taught me to do when He gave His disciples a model for prayer.  In the prayer Jesus said we should pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

In these days of crisis we are moved by many things.  We want to help in anyway we can.  However, we know we cannot do everything. So we wonder what are we called to do? Let me say this again, we are to ask the Lord, what do you want me to do.

In Judges 11 we read the tragic story of a Judge in Israel who out of zeal made a deal (a Vow) before God.  This Judge said, Lord if you give me victory over our enemies, I will commit into your hands whatever first comes out of my house.  If you have read the text you know that this Judges only daughter was the first to come out of his house.

Now I really do not know exactly what this meant because the Bible does not clarify if she was to remain a virgin all of her life or if she was to be sacrificed.  The point is, the Judge made a vow and he kept his vow.

But here is the catch:  Who asked the Judge to make a vow?  God never said, the Judge needed to make a vow before He would grant the Judge  victory.  Let me go deeper, no where in Scripture does God say, make a deal with me and I will bless you.

The actual opposite has happened.  Jesus came to give His life for people who would not follow Him and who had not loved Him.  The God I serve leads me to follow Him out of love and not because I want to get something.

This day, I do not know if CV-19 will hit my biological family or my church family.  But this I do know, my God loves me and if CV-19 comes, my God will see us through with either life here or life in Heaven.  Either way you and I serve a great God!!!

How Can I Make a Difference? (Judges 6-8)

March 30, 2020

15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” Judges 6:15

This mornings headlines once again rocked my world.  You may have seen the headlines as well, “Doctors must decide who lives and who dies because there are not enough ventilator to go around.”  I cannot wrap my mind around how difficult this must be for doctors.

Question:  How can people like us make a difference in such times?

Even as I wrote the question above I was comforted by the fact that since the days of Adam’s global rebellion against God, every people group have faced a world of heartbreak, disaster, and wickedness.   The saddest part of this truth is in how many times people have walked away from making a difference in the world. C.S. Lewis wrote, in his classic book, “Mere Christianity,” “Even though the laws of human nature teach us better, we still choose to do the wrong things.”

It was this way in the day of the Judges. In our focal text, Israel was overpowered by the Midianites (Judges 6).  These raiders were literally destroying the people of God.  Each year in harvest time they would come to take their crops.  Because of this Israel  hide in caves and they moved into the mountains in hopes of survival.

One must ask, what had these people done?  Was God just being unkind to them?  We know the answer to these questions.  An unknown prophet came and said (6:1-11) You have turned to worship other Gods.

I cannot imagine how difficult life was for these people.  In the midst of their mess, God shows up.  He shows up to a place and to a person that really does not make much leadership sense.

This person God speaks to is Gideon.  Here are four distinguishing characteristics about Gideon:

  • He was in survival mode.  He is trying to harvest wheat in a wine press.
  • He was blaming God for his hardships.
  • He had no thought of his life counting for anything.
  • He had to be convinced to trust God.  This is why he kept asking for signs.

Does this sound like a great Christian leader?

I would not have chosen this guy to lead on my team.  Honest confession, I would have missed out on what God was going to do in this guys life.

Here is the key to making a difference in any generation:  God is the warrior, we are simply His soldiers!!!

God said to Gideon (I send you, 6:14).  God said to Gideon (I am going with you, 6:16).

Brothers and sisters, if God be for us.  Who can be against us?  Romans 8:31

If the purpose of our hearts are to make a difference for His glory, God will use us to make a difference in His Kingdom Work.

Is there anyone out there who has this purpose on your heart? If so, He’s got a plan and He is ready to go before you and to go with you.  Let’s go!!!

Weekend Edition (Just use what you have), Judges 4-5

March 28, 2020

“Most blessed of women be Jael,
    the wife of Heber the Kenite,
    of tent-dwelling women most blessed. Judges 5:24

Each person is blessed by the Lord to have at least one talent in this life.  Most people have more than one talent.  I think about our medical personnel who find themselves beyond exhaustion in their serving of others around the world.  Such servants are using their talents in harms way.  They need and deserve our prayers and thanks.

Question:  What talents do you have?

In FBC we have so many talented people who are using their talents for God’s glory.  Cheryl and Roy Reid are two people who fit this description.  Each week they serve so many people in so many ways.  This week I talked with a brother who said they had brought seven days worth of meals to them.  Every week I hear about those they cary to doctor’s appointments and those they work around their homes.  Every week they care for the next generation.  Now I know I am in trouble for using their names because they serve for God’s glory alone.  But their witness needs to be shared because, as they do, God is calling all believers to use what we have for God’s glory.

In the days of the Judges God called a guy by the name of Barak to lead God’s people to defeat Israel’s enemies (4:6-7).  But for some reason he would not use the talent God gave him.  He was waiting for someone else to get the ball rolling.  We know God used Deborah to get the ball rolling (4:1-9).  This guy used his talent only at the urging of someone else.

Brothers and sisters, you know God has already spoken to you about how you are to use your talents today.  Don’t wait to be asked.  Use what you have.  This morning Sherry and I prayed and asked God, How can we serve others today?

In Judges 4 a woman by the name of Jael (4:17) used the talent she had.  Her story is simple.  She lived with a people group who lived in tents.  Her job would have been to set up the tent for her family when they moved from place to place.  So naturally, when she saw that God could use her talent, she used it for God’s glory (4:21).

So important was her talent, God placed it for our example in Scripture (5:24-27).  Why it may be true that your name will not be in Scripture, you talent can make a world of difference in this day.

So stop waiting for an invitation from your neighbors. God has given you an invitation.  Use what you have for His glory!!!  I look forward to seeing you out there today!

Our test (Judges 1-3)

March 27, 2020

Now these are the nations that the Lord left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan. It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before. Judges 3:1-2

The headlines this morning brought my busy morning to a stand-still.  As I stared at the heading:  CV-19 tops 1000 deaths in the US, I prayed, “Father, where are all those people in eternity now?” I also prayed “Father, where are all those who died of other diseases this hour?”  Brothers and sisters, this is our test.

4000 plus years ago, God’s people faced another test-God had brought them into the Promised Land.  The book of Judges began with two realities:

  1. The people of God had a massive task before them.  There was still more nations to be conquered.
  2. The people of God had a major text before them.

Did the brothers and sisters obey God all those years ago?  You know the answer, it is recorded for us on the pages of the book of Judges. At first (Judges 1:1) the people asked God for His battle plan and victory came.  But then things changed.  Instead of eradicating the enemy, they allowed the enemy to stay.

When sin is allowed to remain, it will eventually rule the day!!!

The Bible says, God did not remove the enemy without a fight because He intended for each generation to understand the war with the enemy.  Every generation faces the same circumstances.  The question is, will our generation obey the Lord?

When I reflect on my generation, I feel shame and sorrow.  In my early days I remember TV programs beginning to cross the line in moral behavior.  Few pushed back and past the test (but most remained as silent participant’s).  This is why, when you turn on the TV today, you see sexual perversion of every kind and lawless behavior.

Just as God did not drive out the enemy with ease, you and I must awaken to the need to walk in a spiritual war-like mentality.  We need to spiritually go to war in the following ways:

  • The church must reestablish holiness in our hearts, homes, and in our churches.
  • The church must return to humility in seeking to give glory to God in all things.
  • The church must come back to brokenness in our hearts for a lost and dying world.
  • The church must push back against a society who seeks to worship other gods.

This is our testing ground.  The CV-19 is not the task it is the test to see if we will again listen to God.   Church let us arise to listen and obey!!!  Our future depends on it.

 

 

Not Finished Yet (Joshua 23-24)

March 26, 2020

28 So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance. Joshua 23:28

Question: Could this be the end of the world as we know it?  This sobering question is being asked by many within the church.  But at the same time many other people are living as if this CV-19 is a big hoax or as one person said, “I am young so I do not have to worry about it.”

Brothers and sisters, what would be your viewpoint be if you truly knew this was going to be your last assignment on the earth?  But at the same time, what would your viewpoint be if you truly knew,  you were not finished yet?

Well, let’s let the above questions hang for a few moments as we once again go back in time to the days of Joshua and the people of Israel.  As we come to chapter 23, it is clear, Joshua was giving his last charge before he would die (Joshua 24:29-30).  Joshua was 110 years old.

In chapter 23, Joshua gathered the elders for one last great meeting.  I want to challenge you to go back and read it again.  I have broken his charge into four manageable thoughts for us:

  • Joshua reminded Israel of God’s miracle work since their beginning days, 23:3.
  • Joshua  reminded Israel of God’s assignment for the people: The people had been allotted territory that needed conquering, 23:4-5.
  • Joshua reminded Israel of God’s playbook for their lives, 23:6-12.

By the way, this is God’s playbook for our lives today:

  1. Be strong in clinging to God’s Word.
  2. Be separated from the world (do not mix).
  3. Walk in intimacy with God.

 11 Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.  23:11

Brothers and sisters, this was the key.  If a person did not know the author of the playbook, he or she would not have a desire to cling to the author and distance themselves from what would pull them away from the author.

There is one more thought here:

  • Joshua charged Israel to never turn away from God, 23:13-16.

Brothers and sisters, these are amazing reminders for our day.  So back to our question:  Are we as a church at the finish line?

Here is what I know:  Joshua was at his finish line when he plainly spoke:

14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond 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.”

I really do not know if Jesus will return in the morning, noon-day, or night, but I know He is coming and I know until He comes for me in either death or the Second-Coming, I have work to do.  He has given me the playbook and I am to get out on the field and do kingdom work!

I wonder, will you join me today?

 

 

 

 

Lessons from the Battlefield (Joshua 9-10)

March 25, 2020

12 At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Joshua 10:12d

Yesterday, Sherry and I listened to most of President Trumps news conference about the CV 19 virus.  As I listened to his address there was one phrase he used several times.  He kept saying in answering questions, “We have learned at lot in this process.”

This morning, I wonder, what have you and I learned in this battlefield called CV 19?  Before I share with you what I have learned, I want to get you I context of Joshua 9-10.

Once again we go back in time to the days of Joshua and the Children of Israel. I wonder, how would Joshua respond if we could ask him, what lessons did he learn from the battlefield he was in?  I think if we could have asked him after Joshua 8, he would have responded by saying, “Make sure there is zero sin in the camp.”

The chapters before us (9-10) give us a front row seat for the battles Joshua was fighting.  Here are some key points to consider:

  • The Gibeonites were great warriors who were frightened by the power of almighty God (10:3).
  • Israel assumed she was making the right decisions without even consulting God, (9:14).
  • The Gibeonites would give up even their freedom to stay alive, (9:23).
  • God did the impossible when it was deemed necessary for His plans to be accomplished (10:12).

So what did Joshua learn?

  1. No power is greater than God.
  2. The enemy is cunning.  He needed God’s wisdom in every decision.
  3. God is a miracle working God.
  4. Be bold and ask God for miracles that glorify God and aid His Kingdom agenda.
  5. You can put the Devil in his place (10:25).

Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. 25 And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” 26 And afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them.

As I sit her in my chair, it is easy to write down the things I observe from Joshua’s battles, but it is a different matter in the battles I am facing.  It’s harder when you are on the front lines to learn lessons.  The truth is, you had better know the truth before you walk into the battle.

Here is battle walking truth I have learned:

  • Daily we must seek the Lord’s will and His way before we open the door to the battlefield.
  • Daily we must be wise and Spirit-filled before we open the door…
  • Daily we must mortify the deeds of the flesh before we open the door…
  • Daily we must see beyond the ordinary prayer requests and enter into miracle praying for our times before we open the door…
  • Daily we must put on the armor of God so that Satan will be put in his place before we open the door to the battle fields.

Father help every believer to learn the lessons you have placed before us on this battlefield.  

Who Caused This Trouble (Joshua 7-8)

March 24, 2020

18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. Joshua 6:18

As our nation continues in battle against CV-19, many are growing weary of how many in  our national leadership are handling this crisis.  Still yet many people point the finger across the isle at the opposing political party with scathing accusation.   Brothers and sisters, let each of us ask ourselves, who caused the problem?

This day we once again are drawn back (through our reading program) to the days of Joshua.  The last time we were here (Joshua 6), the people had won a great victory.  As Israel’s story progresses, we see her making her way to Ai (Joshua 7).  There were only about 12,000 people in the city.  According to the text, here were three assumptions they made:

  • We are an unstoppable people.
  • We have a good plan.
  • Surely God will bless our plan.

But wait, it did not turn out the way it had in Jericho!  How could this have happened?  The Bible says Joshua and the elders began to mourn and they cried out to God.  Did Joshua (7:7) blame the defeat on God?  Had God really let them down?

Heavenly Father, this strikes at the core of our existence.  This leads us Father to consider the very nature of our relationship with you.

All those years ago, God spoke to Joshua the following:

  • Joshua “get up.”  On that day in history God was calling Joshua to account before Him.  Israel had sinned, Vs: 11.  Someone in the group had taken from God what was supposed to be His alone.

Heavenly Father, we as a nation have stolen from you what is yours.  We have stolen the unborn who would have praised you with their lives.  We have stolen the glory for our success.  We have stolen the resources you intended for us to use for your glory.  We have taken credit for every victory and we have blamed you for every problem.

  • Achan took what belonged to God and Achan cost many people their lives.

Brothers and sisters, because of this man’s sin, Israel lost the blessing of God’s favor.

  • Achan had to pay the price for his transgression.

As I look at our current place in America, I cannot point my finger across the isle at anyone.  I must look within my own life and ask, have I attempted to steal God’s glory and have I attempted to take everything for myself.

Brothers and sisters, I join with Joshua in repentance today. I have many things I need to talk over with God.  Maybe you are in the same place as I today?

This day, America needs reflection-personal repentance-and redemption that only Christ can bring!!!

Heavenly Father do not give us what we deserve.  Please give us mercy and please Lord turn our hearts back to You alone!!!

The Commander has Arrived (Joshua 5-6)

March 23, 2020

14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped[c] and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant? Joshua 5:14

In these difficult days, most people are searching for answers and they are looking for assistance.   I talked with a health-care provider last week and they said, “I just want to fix this.”

As Israel stood for the first time in the Promised Land all those years ago, it must have been amazing.  For example, for the first time in 40 years they had something besides Mana to eat (5:12).

However, just a few miles down away stood the city of Jericho.  History records the people of Jericho were brutal and vicious.  It is said that the walls are the city were virtually impossible to penetrate.

As I read this, I thought; here I am in Jackson Georgia with mostly calmness but just up the road in Atlanta there is chaos and hospitals  which I am being told are almost like war zones with case after case of CV-19.

The Bible teaches us that Israel’s first place of attack was to be Jericho.  This must have been why that Joshua made his way to spy out the city (5:13).  As he looked around, he saw a Warrior.  You noticed I capitalized Warrior because this is an appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament.

Joshua does not known who this warrior is.  He asks an appropriate question of one man to another (but this is not one man to another).  Joshua wanted to know if this Warrior was a friend our foe.

Jesus (Warrior) answer to Joshua reveals both who He is and how we are too relate to Jesus.

Jesus says, “I am the Commander of the Army of the Lord.”  Get this truth deep within your mind and heart: God does not side with one group or the other.  He calls us to come under His flag.

Write these things upon your mind and heart:

  • The Commander comes to lead.
  • The Commander comes to defeat.
  • The Commander comes to establish.

The Commander comes to lead people out of bondage and to defeat Satan.  The Commander comes to establish His Kingdom in our hearts (age of grace) and someday over this world (His Kingdom Come).

The question is: Are you on His side?  Those who are on God’s side do the following whether they are in Jackson or Atlanta. Those who are on God’s side do the following no matter where they are in the world:

  1. They pray.
  2. They meditate (listen to God through reading His Word and visions and dreams).
  3. They follow God’s commands wherever it leads.
  4. They experience His victory either through the storm, from the storm, under the storm.

Just down the road is our Jericho (6:1-22).  We are called to face it instead of fleeing from it.  This is our time brothers and sisters.  Let us follow the Commander of the Lord’s Army.

Facing the Unknown (Joshua 3-4)

March 20, 2020

Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over Joshua 3:1

I picture in my mind 2 million Jewish believers (I use this word carefully) gathering up their tents and their belongings to begin a journey to the unknown.  In from of them was never before entered territory as well as never before experience tests and never before experienced truth with God.

That generation had heard the stories of God’s power, however they had not been there when God had parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14). In three short days they would have to face the unknown (3:2).

On that day in history Israel faced and past the test (3:4).  Even though she had never gone that far with God, She could later testify, His mercies are new every day!!!  Each day was a new opportunity to grow in personal experience with God.

The CV-19 virus is our opportunity to grow by personal experience.  Think through this with me:  Every person in the body of faith had personal experiences:

  • 12 men had to step up to lead the others.
  • The priests had to step into the waters that were at flood stage.
  • Each person had to cross the flooded Jordon by faith.

Brothers and sisters, what is God impressing on your heart today?  Is it the fear of the unknown that is in charge of your moments or is it faith that is focused on the opportunity to grow and to harvest for God’s glory?  Just as the nation came to the Jordon at flood-stage, you and I live in a moment of world-wide flooding:

  • If you are a leader in the home, at work, among your peers, trust in God who does wonderful things, 3:5.
  • If you are a healthcare provider or a parent keeping sanity in your home, step by faith knowing God has this, Psalm 91.
  • If you are in the masses of humanity, have faith in Him knowing you are going to make it.  “with man things are impossible, but with God nothing is impossible,” Matt. 19:26.

Brothers and sisters, this is our moment in time.  In Joshua 4 the leaders chose 12 stones from the middle of the Jordon to carry to the banks so that they could build a memorial for what God had done.

I wonder, what will we remember and what will the world remember about these days?  I pray they will say,

Romans 8:37
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

BE CAREFUL (Joshua 1-2)

March 19, 2020

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go. Joshua 1:7

It happens almost every time I leave for work.  Often this one thing happens as the very last think before I close the door and walk to my vehicle.  Yes, each day, Sherry says, “be careful.”  I know John and I sometimes joke about it, but I have grown to love hearing Sherry say those words, “be careful.”

I have come to understand that Sherry is not saying I am absentminded or wreckless with my actions.  This is her loving reminder to me, how important I am to her.  She wants me to use all my abilities to get home in the evening.

In an even more loving way, God was saying,  “Joshua, be careful.”

The nation was within three days of entering the battle for the Promised Land.  God had given them everything they needed to accomplish the victory.  But they needed to be careful.  How were they to be careful?

  • They were to be careful with their hearts.  They were to obey the commandments of God.
  • They were to be careful with their minds.  Meditation was to be a priority for these people.
  • They were to be careful with their souls.  Day by day they were to carry out God’s commands.

Oh how timely this is for the Church.  When our hearts, minds, and souls are being careful before God, we will have good success wherever we go.

Israel, in her day, needed to be strong in heart and mind. Israel needed to be courageous in soul if they were to accomplish all God had placed before them.  In Joshua one we read the example of two men who were careful (Be sure you go back and read Joshua two).

This very hour, you and I are called to be careful.  You see, I really do not have the time to be worried about the CV-19 virus because my mind and heart are focused on carrying out God’s commands.  I don’t find myself being afraid of everyone I meet because I am locked into focusing on doing the very things God has tasked me to do.

I am praying for you ever hour!!!

I sang an old hymn this morning,  It says, “Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.”

I love each of you!!!