Archive for March, 2020

In Times Like These (Deuteronomy 31-34)

March 18, 2020

 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

This morning I truly sit in my chair with God’s perfect peace in my heart and mind!  I can be honest when I say, “God has given me courage and strength in this hour.”

Now, I know there are those who would say, boy you are really stuck on yourself this morning.”  But the opposite is actually the case, I am stuck on God!!!  Have you brother or sister not read the Word of God?

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

As a child of God I know God has ordained that we (His Church) are to walk through 

these troubled times as a light to those who both sit and dwell in darkness. I believe we

are called to lead people out of the darkness (Acts 26:18).  I know it is God who leads us 

and He will not leave us (31:8) to face this life alone!!!

In Deuteronomy 31:1-8, Moses words of encouragement were intended to give Joshua

and Israel the wisdom they needed to face the journey ahead.

In Deuteronomy 3:9-13, Moses instructed Joshua to gather the people to read the Law in

the hearing of the people so that they would learn to fear God and to be careful to obey

all His commandments!

God intended for His people to be courageous overcomer’s!!! 

Brothers and sisters, what is God’s Word to you and I today?

I believe it is clear:  We are called to seek the counsel fo the Lord (32:28).  Israel did

become void of counsel and she did refuse the counsel of the Lord.  But this is not

how we are to live.  We seek the counsel and understanding of the Lord!!!

So here is our C-Virus 2019 up to date information:

  1. Read His Word which leads to courage and empowerment to do the work.

2. Trust His Word. This day I will do the next thing on my list without fear or doubt.

3. Step into God’s harvest field today.  Be one of the labors this day.  You have been

praying this for years!!!  Now is the time.

The words of a timeless hymn came from my lips this morning. Enjoy the hymn

Have Faith In God without my singing 🙂

Have faith in God when your pathway is lonely.
He sees and knows all the way you have trod;
Never alone are the least of His children;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.

Have faith in God when your prayers are unanswered,
Your earnest plea He will never forget;
Wait on the lord, trust His word and be patient,
Have faith in God. He’ll answer yet.

Have faith in God in your pain and your sorrow,
His heart is touched with your grief and despair;
Cast all your cares and your burdens upon Him,
And leave them there, oh, leave them there.

Have faith in God though all else fall about you;
Have faith in God, He provides for His own:
He cannot fail though all kingdoms shall perish.
He rules. He reigns upon His throne.

Refrain:

Have faith in God, He’s on His throne,
Have faith in God, He watches over His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail,
Have faith in God, Have faith in God.

 

It’s Your Decision (Deuteronomy 30-31)

March 17, 2020

 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,  Deuteronomy 30:19

Some decisions are easy to make.  For example, if someone asked you to walk in front of a car, the decision is easy if you want to live another day.  Naturally you would respond with “no way.”  Other decisions seem to be okay with either a yes or a no.  For example, whether to eat out or to eat at home.  Either way you are going to eat.

However, there are many decisions which seem hard in the making.  For example, if your parent was on life support.  The decision would be very hard to make.  I wonder, are you facing any decisions today?

In Deuteronomy 30-31, the people of ancient Israel were facing a decision.  To get the full weight of their decision, I encourage you to read chapters 28 and 29.  Moses placed before the people a decision.  The decision was their’s to make.  God said, by your decisions you will be either under my blessing or under my curse.

Now, it seems to me (now that Christ has come into my life and opened my spiritual eyes, II Cor. 4:4-6) that every generation would decide to follow God’s commandments so they could walk in His blessing.

The generation before Moses on that day in the wilderness did obey God.  However, one generation later, the next generation made the decision to disobey God.  I wonder, what was the problem?

According to Scripture:

 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. 

This was an issue of the heart.  The book of Judges concludes by reminding us of where their hearts were: “And there was no king in Israel (their hearts) and every man did what was right in his own eyes (He or she was king of their own heart).

Today, I realize the decision I must make every day is this:  Will I or will I not give my heart to God.  It is true, there are some decisions which are out of our hands. Here is what Moses wrote in 29:29

29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

But there are many decisions God places in our hands.  May we make the right decisions
today.  Here are 5 decisions we can make this day:
1. We can decide to accept the life God offers, 30:19.
2. We can decide to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, 30:20.
3. We can decide to live this day in obedience to His commands, 28:1-15.
4. We can decide to reject the wickedness of this world, 28:16-60.
5. We can decide to trust God with the Secret Things , 29:29.
Brothers and sisters, we do not know the extent of the virus, but we do know the extent
of what God calls us to do!!!  Let us do these things with all our hearts.

“Not Within You” (Deuteronomy 8-9)

March 16, 2020

17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’  Deuteronomy 8:17

As we come to a new week, the world is asking this question: What can we do to combat the virus that is sweeping the world?  The real question for many is this: how can I survive?

Last week our President delivered to our nation an address from his oval office.  The address was with both concern and confidence.  His concern was valid (every person should be caring for the great good of all human beings).  His confidence in America’s ability was also heartfelt. The part of his address that spoke the most to be was when he said, “God bless America.”

The key to overcoming in any form is with God Himself. This God we are speaking of is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Psalm 91:1 “He is God Almighty.”

Moses reminded Israel of this truth so many generations ago.  He said, it was God alone who had brought Israel out of bondage and it would be God alone who would bring them into the Promised Land.

Neither of these miracles from God came because the people were righteous.  The opposite was the case.  God had extended mercy (9:4) to the nation of Israel.

Here is what Moses wrote: “Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you.

Today, it is still the same way with God:

 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Rom. 2:4

If you find yourself in fear today?  I challenge you to trust in the mercy of God.  Check out Psalm 91.

As a Christ-follower I want to challenge each of you to do the following in these days:

  1. Settle In your heart that God is in charge of everything, Rom. 8:28-38.
  2. Surrender your moments into His trustworthy Hands.
  3. Position yourself to minister to others.
  4. God’s people are called to not hide in these days, but to step out in these days.
  5. If you are a senior adult, please use extreme caution and care for your health first.  Let the younger of us, carry the load.
  6. Pray more than you ever have, believing this could be our platform from God in these defining days.
  7. Use every opportunity to present the wonderful message of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, Rom. 10:9-13.

I LOVE EACH OF YOU AND I AM PRAYING WITH YOU IN THIS TIME.

The Honor and Responsibility (Deuteronomy 5-6)

March 13, 2020

31 But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you the whole commandment and the statutes and the rules that you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess. Deuteronomy 5:31

Brothers and sisters, welcome to a new day with new responsibilities.  Last evening many people went to sleep wondering if they would get the Corona Virus.  Still others did not sleep because they are feeling the weight of having to make decisions that affect so many lives.  What should be the Christians response in such times?

As Moses recounted Israel’s journey, he led the people to remember the commandments given to them by God.  If the people would center their lives around God’s commandments, they would fulfill their responsibility to God and to their fellow human beings in the correct way.

As I reread the focal text, I was impressed with the honor I have been given to be trusted with responsibilities in many areas of life.  I am a husband, a father, a friend, a fellow-human being, and a pastor.  Above all these things, I am first a Christ-follower.  With each of these honors comes tremendous responsibilities.

This day, if you are a Christ-follower there are clear responsibilities placed before you.  Moses teaches us about these in our focal text.  How can we be successful in the responsibilities we have?

  1. If we receive God’s commandments, we will be successful.  God gives us the entirety (whole) of His wisdom and direction.  He hides nothing from us.
  2. If we teach God’s commandments we will be successful in communicating to others what God has said to us.
  3. If we model God’s commandments we will have proven the success of God’s directions.

God promised His people, if you obey, life will go well for you and you will live long in the land.  Now I know, for many, life seems uncertain today.  But for we who know Christ, our trust is in His Word and in His Might.  Father, we trust you in all things.

The words of Psalm 91 seem so amazing to me today:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge[b]
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

This is our time to model our faith for the world to see!!!

Never Heard Of (Deuteronomy 3-4)

March 12, 2020

32 “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. Deuteronomy 4:32

Today’s reading truly threw me into a position of praise before God.  As Moses continues to tell the story of God’s work with a people called “Israel,” he challenged a new generation to consider the uniqueness of what God had done in them.

Had any other God or any other people group experienced what this people group experienced?  It was God who had powerfully worked on their behalf through “trials, signs, wonders, war, His mighty hand and outstretched arm.”

Who ever heard of such things?

To this people God gave three reminders:

  1.  He was the one who brought them to life, 4:1.
  2. He was the one to which they needed to be dedicated too, 4:9.
  3. He was the only God they must worship, 4:15.

Brothers and sisters, there has been no people in history like the people of Israel.  Yes, it is true, they have stepped away from God’s blessings, but Moses promises they will some day return (4:29-31).

As I considered their story, he is why I found myself in a position of praise. I realize God has also worked uniquely in another people.  We know these people to be “Christians.”  God reached out to all Gentiles (Eph. 2:14-15; John 3:16) with this amazing grace.  To each who surrender their lives to him, God brings them to new life (II Cor. 5:17) and God gives them a new life to live (II Cor. 5:18-21). And to each God gives eternal life (John 14:6).

Oh my friend, are you getting this yet?  Who has ever heard of a king rewarding people who were rebels?  Who has ever heard of a king granting people a place in his kingdom who had murdered His Only Begotten Son?

Brothers and sisters, this is our God.  I love Him this day. I want Him to lead me this day. I want to tell everyone what He has done for me.  I look forward to what He is going to do in my life.

1 Corinthians 2:9 King James Version (KJV)

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Oh what a Great God we serve!!!

What Did They Believe? (Deuteronomy 1-2)

March 11, 2020

27 And you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Deuteronomy 1:27

Moses in this last book of the Law is both recounting Israel’s journey as well as the second reading of the Law of God.  If the people would learn from their past and the Law of God, the Promised Land would be there’s.

In Chapters 1-2 Moses shares both the highs and low’s of their journey.  The truth is, you and I have highs and lows in our journey of faith.  Along my journey I have learned so many things, however the best and most important thing I have learned is this: GOD LOVES ME!!!

God loved Israel.  Moses wrote this, “these 40 years the Lord Your God has been with you.  You have never lacked anything.”

Despite of this truth, Israel was always lapsing into unbelief.  We ask, how could this be?  Here was their problem: they often believed God did not love them.  In 1:27 they said, “God hates us.”

Brothers and sisters, such a view robs us of a life God intends for us to live.  Here are three things that will happen in your life, if you know God loves you:

  1. You will obey Him because you know His direction is best for your life, Jer. 29:11-13.
  2. You will follow Him because He is going before you.
  3. You will walk in fellowship with Him as a son walks with his father.

If the Devil convinces you that God does not love you, the above will not be the pattern of your life.  For 40 years the people wandered in the wilderness struggling between obeying and disobeying God.  The adult generation was dying off day after day for 40 years. Each day was a struggle without true fellowship with God.

But underneath them a new generation was coming up who were learning from Moses, “God Loves You.” A new generation was about to enter the Promised Land.

I wonder, what type of life did you have coming up?  I had a great life with a mother and dad who loved me and taught me the love of God.  This is why I am where I am.  You may have had a terrible upbringing.  Listen to me, God loves you and He carried you through, even though you did not know it.

This is a new day for you.  God wants you to know He loves you and He has a great future if you will simply walk in love.

The greatest truth you could share with anyone today is this: GOD LOVES YOU!!!

As Life Happens (Numbers 34-35)

March 10, 2020

11 then you shall select cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person without intent may flee there.  Numbers 35:11

In the course of ones life a person will see and experience many things. I think about my own life and the many things God has placed before me.  I also think about the many times I have been rescued by God when I was not paying attention to what I was doing.  But there have also been those times when I have seen evil.

I remember years ago looking into the eyes of a young Gypsy Romanian boy who had open cuts on his arms.  He was standing before me begging because that is what his father taught him to do.  His arms had cuts on them, put there by his father, thinking that more pity would be taken on his son.  I asked myself, what evil could be in such parents?

Yes, there are many things that happen as life happens.

In Numbers 35 the Lord prepares Israel for one part of life that happens.  God instructed the people to designate 6 cities called “Cities of Refuge.”  These cities were placed throughout Israel for the sake of some who unintentionally killed someone else.  As life happens, freak accidents happen in a broken world.  These cities were there so that the person could escape the wrath of someone who wanted to avenge the death of their loved one.

Question:  Where do we go in this day when we sin unintentionally?

I believe the Bible gives us three places:

  1. We can run into the arms of Jesus, Matt. 11:28-30.

“Come now, let us reason[c] together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18

2. We can run to His Church, Acts 2:42-47.

3. We will some day be carried to Heaven, John 14:3.

In this life we will see and experience much.  But nothing compares to when we see and experience Jesus.  Once this happens life changes for all who see Jesus.  Here is one example from Paul in Romans 12:18

18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

 

In Front of Everyone (Numbers 20; 27:12-23)

March 9, 2020

14 because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin when the congregation quarreled, failing to uphold me as holy at the waters before their eyes.” Numbers 27:14

Last spring John was making preparations to do an internship in Malawi.  One of the things he prepared for was the ministry of teaching children.  As a very reserved person, this was tough for John to do.  I remember his question to me: Dad, do I have to speak in front of everyone?

Often the exact opposite is our problem in our society.  Social Media is filled with what people say and what they are doing.  Often I read someone’s post and I will think, did they have a clue of what they were putting out there or did they even think this through?

In Matthew 5:16 Jesus told His followers to “Let their light shine before men, so that men would see your good works and glorify the Father in Heaven.”

In Numbers 20 Moses has been for 40 plus years doing this very thing as a leader.  Certainly there were times when he failed, but never like we see today.

We ask, what happened here that made it different?

  • As a leader Moses was representing God’s character before these people.
  • As a leader Moses took the place of God in this moment, saying that the water was his doing.

Brothers and sisters, do you get it?

As I sit at my desk, I get it.  Even though I am all alone, the words I am writing on this blog reach far and wide.  God has called me to represent Him correctly and to never take credit for what He is doing.

My prayer this day is so clear to me.  Maybe it will help you in your journey before others this day:

I must be ready Lord. I must be salt and light.  Please Father teach me to want your will and crucify my flesh (Gal. 2:20).  Father you know I can get in the flesh so easily.  Please place a guard over my mouth and the shield of faith over my heart.  Forgive me when I take credit for what you do and forgive me when I misrepresent You to others by my words and actions.  May I be able to say with Paul, “I was faithful to the vision You gave me Lord,” Acts 26:19.

 

How do you lead in the midst of opposition? (Numbers 16-17)

March 6, 2020

They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord? Numbers 16:3

The last couple of days I have been writing from the viewpoint of leadership.  Moses example of leadership is one in which we can gain so much in our Christian lives.  I almost entitled this blog, “life lessons from a leader.”

Moses was a God-centered man who walked humbly before God.  He certainly had flaws including anger, but above all he was a leader who followed The Leader, God Himself.

Today we find Moses leading in the midst of opposition.  Here is a foundation truth for all leaders: Leaders will always have to deal with complaints, critics, and covetous people.

Consider those who lead as mothers.  Mothers daily field the complaints of their children who do not like what they are served and a hundred other things.  Mothers daily face the critical spirit of a child who don’t like your decisions.  The truth is the children are dealing with a covetous heart that wants to lead instead of being led.  A mother has to give her heart and her ear to God and not to the complainer.

Here are some principles for leading in days of opposition:

  1. Passionately listen to God as did Moses.
  2. Screen carefully who has your ear in your leadership circle.  If Moses would have listened to Korah, he would have been out of leadership.
  3. Be confident in the decisions you made.
  4. Stand firm in the process of your decisions.
  5. Stick with your plan and trust God to win the day.
  6. Do not repay evil with evil.

Moses did exactly these things in Numbers 16 and 17.  God lead him to victory.

Brothers and sisters, be encouraged today.  God will lead you so you can lead others.  Follow Moses example.

Decisions that still hurt (Numbers 13-14)

March 5, 2020

33 And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. Numbers 14:33

The words of God to Israel hurt deeply, “You shall suffer for your faithlessness…”

Oh the times that I still hurt for faithless acts.  I wonder, what would it feel like to live one’s entire life without any faithless decisions?  I guess we could ask Adam, before the fall, because he was the only one who would have such a frame of reference.

Now I know there are some who read this who say, wait, I thought we were set free at the cross from our past.  This is exactly correct, (II Cor. 5:17).  All of the sins of our past are forgiven through the payment of Jesus Christ on the cross, (I John 1:7).  I celebrate this every day.

But at the same time I know my decisions have implications in this life.  The Psalmist wrote (Ps. 68:60) of pleading with God that his life would not be a stumbling block to others.

In Numbers 13-14 the people of Israel made a decision they would regret. It would be easy to blame the decision on the 10 spies who gave a bad report.  It is true that they really did have a major hand in what happened, but they paid the ultimate price for it.  But the truth is the entire fellowship made their own personal decisions to act in faithlessness (14:9,11).

Brothers and sisters faithless decisions have extreme implications.  Here was my prayer this morning:

Father teach me to walk moment by moment by faith and not by sight (II Cor. 5:7).  Father reveal to me each day your will and help me to overcome unbelief (Mk. 9:23-24).  Father, may I be found faithful doing your will from the heart, (Ps. 62:8).

Jesus, please empower your people to walk in genuine faith before you.

Brothers and sisters, let it be said that our decisions reflect a life of faithfulness to God!!!