Nov. 12-18 Cleaning Out Our Spiritual Stall

Nov. 12 – (Ps. 27; Pro. 13) “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear”? “The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1) “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Ps. 27:14)

Verse 19 of Proverbs intrigues me. To turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.  Let’s think about this for a moment. There is just so much going on today that many are appalled that we stand against those things.  I am so sad. Selah 

Nov. 13 – (Ps. 29; Pro. 14) “Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” (Ps. 29:1-2) What are you going to give glory to the Lord for, today? Remember to give thanks for specific things and add them to your list of thanks!

                Verse 4 has always interested me.  If the strength of the ox is the means for plowing the ground to produce abundant crops then protecting oxen in a stable is a necessary part of the labor, even though it involves the unpleasant work of cleaning the stable.  An empty stable may be clean (thus no unpleasant work is required), but it won’t produce any abundance.  What “unpleasant” work of cleaning do you despise in your walk with the Lord? Selah 

Nov. 14 – (Ps. 30; Pro. 15) “Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy name.” (Ps. 30:4) “You have turned my mourning into dancing. You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Ps. 30: 11-12)

                As I have read these Proverbs, there are many I can relate to, whether having experienced the negative or the positive.  Verse 1 of Proverbs 15 is another such one.  The word “harsh” is literally “word of pain”.  What is your first reaction in a situation where conflict arises, and soft words are then spoken?  How about when the response is “harsh”? 

Nov. 15 – (Ps. 34; Pro. 16) “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.” (Ps. 34:1-3) Let’s bless the Lord today by telling of who He is (as opposed to what He does)!

                I loved the commentary from verse 6 of Proverbs 16. It portrays the sacrificial system, by which iniquity is atoned for, as an expression of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness (see Ex. 34:6; Prov. 3.3; 14:22; 20:28).  The right response is the fear of the Lord, by which one turns away from doing evil (compare Pro. 3:7; 14:16; Job 1:1; Ps. 34:14). The Bible consistently presents the effort to behave morally as the right response to God’s grace.  

Nov. 16 – (Ps.32; Pro. 17) “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Ps. 32:1) “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Ps. 32: 8) “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Ps. 32:11) When we sin, we ask forgiveness and peace and joy can return!

                Proverbs 17:9-13 begins by stressing the importance of friends forgiving one another. It then notes the wisdom of accepting friendly correction (v.10). It concludes with statements about the dangerous effects of constant rebellion against God (vv. 11-13). Unforgiveness and a proud spirit are rebellion against God.  Selah 

Nov. 17 – (Ps. 33; Pro. 18) “Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.  Give thanks to the Lord…. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.” (Ps. 33:1-3)  Now that is using our lips for the best purpose!

                Verses 4-8 of Proverbs 18, speak to the use of our lips. What is in the heart comes out in our speech. Let’s purpose to make every word we speak today be affirming and beneficial to the ears that hear. 

Nov. 18 – (Ps. 37; Pro. 19) “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Let’s thank Him today that as we delight in Him, He puts His desires in us…and what He desires He will do!

                Proverbs 19:2 reminds me again that goals are important. “Whoever makes haste with his feet” likely refers to an impulsive person who acts without thinking or planning.  He has a desire to get somewhere but does not have sufficient knowledge to reach his goal. Hmm

Nov. 5-11 Give Thanks - Get Wisdom

Nov. 5 – (Ps. 8, Pro. 6) “Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps. 8: 1, 3-4) Let’s thank God today for the “work of His fingers” whether it’s the fall colors or the making of our bodies. We are fearfully and wonderfully made!

                Proverbs 6 states that there are 7 things that the Lord hates and calls an abomination to Him (vv. 16-19). Many of us don’t really consider them to be sin. No? “White lies”, a proud look, gossip (which sows discord among brothers) are just a few that I can think of. SELAH 

Nov. 6 – (Ps. 9, Pro. 7) “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” (Ps. 9:1-2) Let’s purpose to do that today!

                One commentary explains Pro. 7:6-9 this way: The simple and the young stumble into adultery by putting themselves in the wrong place (v.8) at the wrong time (v.9).  This contrasts with the clear instruction of 5:8 to “keep your way from her, and do not go near the door of her house.”  Let me add “her house” can be a phone, your computer or your T.V. etc. Selah 

Nov. 7 – (Ps. 16, Prov. 8) “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also, my heart instructs me.  I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.  Therefore, my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.”

                Ps. 16:35-36 brings a truth we rarely think about. We injure ourselves when we don’t search God and His Truths, then obey.  That’s all I want to say! 😊 

Nov. 8 – (Ps. 18, Pro. 9) “I love you, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Ps. 18:1-2) Here are some new descriptions to thank God for, on your “Thanks to God” list!

The person who desires to be wise must consider how his heart responds to wise correction (v.12).  We were reminded recently by Pastor Jeremy that God disciplines those He loves. (For the whole sermon go to our website and listen to the podcast for Oct. 21, 2018) Sometimes God’s discipline comes through people. Selah  

Nov. 9 – (Ps. 19, Pro. 10) “Let the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” (Ps. 19:1) There is so much to thank God for!  I am just so encouraged by reading the Psalms again!

                There is so much in Proverbs 10. If I write the cause on one side of a paper and then the effect on the other, I can see a pattern.   Amazing! What do you see if you try this practice? 

Nov. 10 – (Ps. 20, Pro. 11) Do you remember a song we used to sing that was based on some of the verses of Psalm 20? Sing with me: “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving might of His right hand.  Some trust in chariots and some in horses but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” I will celebrate. Sing unto the Lord a new song!  Okay, I’ll quit… 😊

                Pro. 11: Again, make a list of what happens to the righteous and then what happens to the wicked.  What do you see? Let’s just end with verse 30: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.”  

Nov. 11 – (Ps. 21, Pro. 12) “O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices, and in Your salvation how greatly he exults! Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise Your power. (Ps. 21: 1, 13) Amen!

                Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Sometimes I feel stupid… but honestly, it takes great character to “love discipline”!  Verse 25 is an encouraging word that we can practice today with those we meet. “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” (Pro.12:25)

Oct. 29-Nov. 4 As Joshua's Earthly Life Draws to a Close...

Oct. 29 – (Josh. 23) As Joshua’s earthly life draws to a close, he imparts reminders of what will cause success in the lives of Israel.  It is a reminder to hold to God’s ways or be overtaken by “those around them”.  I love this picture of a great leader knowing when his time on earth is almost over and as a loving “father leader” chooses to sit his “family” down and impart Godly wisdom for their lives.  Have you ever sat your family down and done the same (not because your earthly time is near an end!)? How about just telling them how you came to accept Christ as Savior? Selah

                Here in the end of Joshua’s book we see a phrase that was spoken in the very first chapter (also my favorite verses of Joshua). Verse 6 says “Therefore be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left…” In Josh. 1:5b,6 it says: “I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous.” Then in 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  It is still true today! 

Oct. 30 – (Josh. 24) Chapter 24 is a history lesson of what God had done for His people Israel. I keep hearing God saying: “I gave them into your hand.”  God puts things/people into our personal lives.  He still asks today, “What will do with what I put into your hand?”  SELAH.  

Oct. 31 – (Ps. 146, Pro. 1) We are concluding our series on how to get From Here To There.  It has helped me in this ongoing process! I pray it has done the same for you. 😊 Now as we head into the holiday season, I would like to spend some time being thankful to God for all He is and for all He has done.  As you read each Psalm pray it back to God as a Thanksgiving!   I would also like to add just a little more wisdom for our journey, so I have added a chapter of Proverbs to our thanksgiving. May these holidays truly be a transforming time for you!

                “Praise the Lord!” Let all things praise the Lord!  Let all people praise the Lord! We have so much to be thankful for and to praise His Name forever!  Make a short list of what you are thankful for. Let’s add to it every day. 😊

                “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Pro.1:7). What does this word fear really mean?  To be afraid of? NO, it means to utterly respect and know that what the Lord speaks is Truth and to disobey any part of it will result in us showing less (a little or a lot) of God’s image.  

Nov. 1 – (Ps. 134, Pro. 2) “Come Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord.” (Ps.134:1) Bless the Lord for who He is to you!

                “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”(Pro. 2:1-5)  I think this will keep us busy enough today!   

Nov. 2 – (Ps. 135, Pro. 3) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” (Pro. 3:5-6)

                “Praise the name of the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord, give praise, O servants of the Lord, who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God!” (Ps. 135:1-2). “Your Name, O Lord, endures forever, your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages.” (Ps. 135:13) Let’s list the names of the Lord and thank Him for He is that…and more.  When I do this, I tend to go through the alphabet and think of names for each letter (I was a kindergarten teacher you know! 😊).  

Nov. 3 – (Ps. 128, Pro. 4) “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lod, who walks in His ways! (Ps. 128:1)

Proverbs 4 is titled “A Father’s Wise Instruction”.  Several verses jumped out: 1. “Let your heart hold fast my words: keep My commandments, and live (v.4).  2. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life (v. 13).  3. Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.  Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on (v. 14-15). As I read these last verses, I thought it did not apply to me. Then I was reminded that gossip, vain imaginations, assigning motivation, and judging others is just as wicked as any of the “big sins”!  Selah                

Nov. 4 – (Ps. 130, Pro. 5) “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word, I hope… (Ps. 130:5)

                Discipline is the focus of Proverbs 5. Discipline to be pure in physical relationships.  With media as it is today, that includes what our eyes see and what our ears hear.  Need I say more? Selah

Oct. 22-28 Lessons on Doing What God has Given You To Do

Oct. 22 – (Josh. 16) We now have land given to Joseph’s tribe.  Again, they did not drive out all the Canaanites, but they were made to do forced labor. How does this differ from the people Judah did not drive out?  In the end, does it make a difference when we disobey God’s commands? Selah  

Oct. 23 – (Josh. 17) As I read this chapter I think of the word “lazy”. This chapter describes the land given to Manasseh (Joseph’s first son). He complains that his people are too many for the land given. Joshua’s response is for them to possess a land that has forests and people with “iron chariots”. Joshua insists that they can clear that land even though they don’t seem to want to put forth the effort.  It reminds me that there are things in my life that God wants me to “clear out” but I think it’s just too much work!  Selah  

Oct. 24 – (Josh. 18) As I read through this chapter, I have a few thoughts and questions. Maybe you can answer the questions😊. 1. Why did the Levites get no portion of land? 2. Why is it stated that the tribe of Benjamin gets the city of Jericho? Jericho was burned and cursed that no one should build on it. 3. Though one of the smaller tribes, Benjamin would be significant as the tribe of Israel’s first king, Saul (I Sam. 9:21). It would also include the very important city of Jerusalem.  

Oct. 25 – (Josh. 19) As you read about the division of land to different tribes, you may want to compare them to the “blessing” Jacob gave to each of his sons just before his death (Gen. 49:1-27).  Here is a couple other things to keep in mind: 1. The allotment for Simeon fell “in the midst…of Judah”.  Because of this, no boundary description is given for Simeon, only a list of cities. 2. Bethlehem (v. 15) is a northerly village, not the more famous Bethlehem in Judah. 3. Judges 1:34 explains how Dan’s territory was lost to them (Josh. 19:47). The story of how Dan went up and fought against Leshem is told in Judges 18. 

Oct. 26 – (Josh. 20) This chapter explains the designation of 6 cites chosen to be cities of refuge. It was a place where people who “accidentally” killed someone could flee to.  If you want a better explanation, read Num. 35:6-34. Though I love this idea (in its purest form), I really did not understand why they had to wait until the current priest died before they could go back home.  Hmm, anyone have some insight?   

Oct. 27 – (Josh. 21) In Numbers 35:1-8, the Lord commanded through Moses that 48 cities (including the six cities of refuge) be assigned to the Levites.  Taking cities and their pasture lands from each of the tribes would scatter the Levites throughout the whole of Israel (Gen. 49:7) so that they could fulfill their duties of teaching the Israelites.  They were grouped by their relation to one of Levi’s three sons (Gen. 46:11). The Kohathites (Josh. 21:4), from whom Aaron and his line descended (Ex. 6:16-20), received cities in the center and the south.  The Gershonites (Josh. 21:6) and Merarites (v.7) received cities in the north and east.

                Verses 43-45 is a summary of what God had promised and completely fulfilled.  Although Israel had taken possession of the land and settled there, much work remained to be done (23:5).  This is so true of our lives today as “We Go from Here to There”.  

Oct. 28 – (Josh. 22) Here we see factions starting already.  The tribes on the west side of Jordan were assigning motivation for the actions of the tribes on the east side of Jordan. These verses remind me that we need to be very careful in assigning motivation to others in our church and other churches as well.  Communication is so very important when we don’t understand actions of others.  Communication with only the offensive party! Selah

Oct. 15-21 Listening to That Still Small Voice

Oct. 15 – (Josh. 8) We sin in our journey “From Here to There”.  The question is: What will we do when we recognize it?  Will we hide it like Achan? Will we repent and see the “redo” but this time follow what the Lord is telling us? This involves trusting Him enough to give up our selfish way in whatever area we have sinned. Selah 

Oct. 16 – (Josh. 9) Many times we don’t listen to God’s “still small voice” concerning a decision (big or small) we need to make. When God doesn’t “get us out of it”, we need to trust Him for what He has allowed and see how He wants us to respond.  There are no small or insignificant questions we can’t ask Him concerning our lives.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  He will always guide us!  

Oct. 17 – (Josh 10) NEW PERSPECTIVE! This chapter reminds us that those who cry for help are saved, and the oppressing powers are decisively defeated in a way that signifies the ultimate defeat of evil. Was it the Israelites who originally cried for help? No! It was the Gibeonites who had deceived Israel! Joshua kept his oath to the Gibeonites to protect them and listened to the Lord in how to do that. In the process, He conquered Southern Canaan.  God always keeps His promise to protect us (His view, not ours of what that means) even when “we are not doing it right”. 

                One other thing I noticed here: Canaan was a land given to the Israelites full of blessings but also included intensive warfare.  We have to learn to conquer all the areas of our lives (mind, will, emotions) as Jesus guides us. Let’s go back to Joshua 1:5b-6. “I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous for you shall cause the people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to them.” 

Oct. 18 – (Josh 11) Joshua has moved on to Northern Canaan and conquered them according to God’s instructions.  How would you like this truth written on your tombstone: “He/She left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded him/her.”  Something to aspire to! 

Oct. 19 – (Josh 12) This chapter summarizes the conquest of Canaan before the land is divided and assigned to the tribes.  Verses 1-6 describe the land beyond the Jordan (east of Jordan) that Israel had conquered under Moses (Num. 21:21-35). Josh. 12:7-25 lists the kings whom Joshua and the people of Israel defeated on the west side of Jordan.

                As I was reading these verses, I felt compelled to look at my own life and write down some things that God has helped me conquer or subdue. I think it will encourage me of victories while continuing to “occupy” those places that have been conquered by Him.  Just like the Israelites took possession of these lands, they still needed to work on occupying those territories.  Go ahead…make a list…thank Him for the victories!

                Okay, I just took my own advice and began to make a list of current victories. He showed me something very important. I was recounting the miraculous move into this house about 6 months ago. (If I told you all the facts I know you would agree they were definitely miracles.) We felt we were to downsize somewhat but also provide a space for Pastor Torry’s parents to move here until they can find a place for themselves. Being over 90 now, they need someone close by. We are the closest family right now being 3 ½ hours away. Anyway, as I was thanking Him for all the miracles He provided in the move, I realized I can depend on Him and look for miracles in bringing His parents here as well! Isn’t God so very good?  YES, HE IS!!!  

Oct. 20 – (Josh. 13-14) The work of Joshua’s leading the Israelites has been mostly done. May I repeat…mostly done.  Even though Joshua is “old and advanced in years”, the Lord tells Him there is still land that needs to be possessed. Whether you are 10 or 110, there is still work for you to do. There is still areas to possess in your own life, people to encourage or share about your walk with Him.  I have been struggling lately with the attitude of some older folks.  They see things changing around them and interpret that as they no longer are useful or have purpose (in the church or around them in life).  Joshua was older (My sister has a good reminder, “You are not old, you are older!”) and in a totally new land.  He led the people in conquering Canaan, but God is saying there is still more to do. As long as we have breath, there is things for us to do. Areas in our own lives that still need conquering, people that we can encourage or pray for. Yes, the land looks different. No, we are never too old to listen and obey and conquer that different looking land! Selah 

Oct. 21 – (Josh 15) This chapter describes the beginning of distribution of western lands. Judah receives its land first.  The tribal boundaries are described (vv. 1-12), followed by listings of cities according to region (vv. 20-62). Verse 63 says the people of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem. They lived among them to this day. Do we see factions in Jerusalem today? Duh! God is mighty to drive out any force He says needs to go (6:17-18). Someone let down their “guard”.  Do we do that today? Selah. “Be strong and courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:9)  

Oct. 8-14 Oh Achan, What Have You Done?

Oct. 8 – (Ex. 39-40) Chapter 39 first describes the garments for Aaron and his sons. Notice that after the description of each piece, it is emphasized that “it was made as the Lord had commanded Moses”. When statements are repeated and emphasized, we need to pay close attention to it.  Why do you think this was important to God?

                Chapter 40 describes the anointing of Aaron and his sons and the erecting of the Tabernacle.  Can you imagine how everyone felt when this project was done?  It says they went to their tents.  But it didn’t end there. God’s glory (in the form of a cloud and then fire) came down and filled the Tabernacle.  God was pleased with them. He blessed them with His Presence among them!  How rich was His Presence!  At the end of each day, do you feel that same way? I have to admit, this is a new thought for me.  Selah! 

Oct. 9 – (Josh. 1) Yay!  We are now beginning Joshua.  I love the way this book will flow with Exodus. In the Pentateuch (which Exodus is part of), The Lord redeemed His people out of slavery in Egypt and formalized His covenantal love for Israel at Sinai.  Moses led His people at that time. Now, we begin part two under the leadership of Joshua (who was Moses right-hand man).  The Lord brings His people into the Land of Promise, shows them how to destroy and get rid of enemies in the land (that would be the strongholds in our lives). He then gives them rest. This process is a very important part of our going “From Here to There”!

                I believe this is my favorite OT chapter! In this season of my life I have repeated verse 5b-6 and 9 over and over. You see, when I was four, my dad died, and I placed on Father God many beliefs born out of that experience. I felt abandoned and rejected. My mother did a wonderful job for being a single mom in the 50s with 3 kids 7 and under, but the enemy uses every opportunity possible to mess up our relationship with our heavenly Father.  God set up a family as having a mother and a father for a reason! Through these verses God is healing that misconception and bringing me to a closer relationship with Him. “Thank you, Father God.” “I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  This is just one way Father God is taking me “From Here To There”! 

Oct. 10 – (Josh. 2) Rahab was a prostitute among a pagan people yet was saved by Gods mercy and is remembered as an ancestor of Christ (Matt. 1:5) and for her faith ((Heb. 11:31) and good works (James 2:25).  Let’s not live in past sins that are forgiven.  We are the Bride of Christ and righteous before God because of Christ!  Halleluiah!

                DID YOU KNOW? Canaan was made up of various city-states. Each had a central city surrounded by villages and farmland and its own “king.” Many of the cities were walled.

                                                The Jordan River was generally impassable except by swimming or wading at shallow areas (or fords).  One of the few places where the Jordan could be crossed was near Jericho. The king’s men probably hoped to catch the fleeing spies there.  

Oct. 11 – (Josh. 3) God again performed a miracle in pushing back the waters of Jordan so that the people could cross.  Why was it a miracle if they crossed at one of the fords close to Jericho? Verse 15 gives us a small clue.  The Jordan overflows all its banks caused by spring rains and snow melt from the Mt. Hermon region. Jordan’s headwaters – through the time of harvest, that is the grain harvest of March-April, normally has a 3-10-foot depth and 90-100-foot width.  With the added water, it would have been much more difficult to cross. Sometimes we don’t understand the scripture because we don’t have all the background we need to understand.  We need to understand this, do our best to get that background and trust Him that it is what He says it is when it still doesn’t make sense. 

                One story to emphasis this: A child was learning about a similar situation when Moses led the Israelites through the Red Sea. The teacher said it was not a miracle because after studying it, she found that the water was only a few inches deep at that place and time.  The child piped up and said it still was a miracle because God drowned all the Egyptians with their chariots and horses in just a few inches of water!  Always trust in His Word even while you are searching for understanding and perspective!

                The passing into the land of Canaan meant many things. Up until this moment, Israel was called “A People”. Now, for the first time they are called a Nation.  Once you were called a sinner. Now you are called redeemed and righteous! Selah 

Oct. 12 – (Josh 4-5) God wants Joshua to set up 12 memorial stones at the Jordan to remind them of what He has done.  Where are your memorial stones set up? God has done wonderful “miracles” in our lives.  We need to be reminded of this. 

                Here’s another thought: Joshua is the only one who witnessed the first “miracle crossing”. Does that give any insight into the importance of memorial stones?

                Verses 10-12 reminds me of the Truth that God will always provide for our “needs.” The day after the Passover was observed, they ate from the fruit of the land and the manna stopped. Whenever I think of this Truth I always have to remind myself that it is “needs” not “wants”.  God gets to decide which is which!   

Oct. 13 – (Josh. 6) Verses 17-18 give instructions that we need to understand better.  The term “devoted to the Lord for destruction” was an order to destroy every living thing. It was not a license to kill indiscriminately in other warfare situations.  Cities outside Canaan were treated differently (Deut. 20:10-15). This specific order was for the Canaanites whose wickedness had become complete (Gen. 15:16; Lev. 18:1-3). It was also to protect the Israelites from worshiping other gods because of Canaanite influence (Deut. 7:1-6). Jericho’s destruction was not a general guideline for the conduct of war.  Instead, it is a picture of what will happen in the final judgment to all who continue to rebel against God. It doesn’t just apply to Jericho or of the Canaanites in general.  The Lord warns that if Israel does not totally destroy Jericho, the camp of Israel itself will become a thing of destruction.  Furthermore, Canaanites such as Rahab and the Gibeonites (ch.9) who devoted themselves to the Lord are spared, while Israelites who defy the Lord, such as Achan (Ch.7) are killed. 

                One other thing I picture in my head.  Israel does what God instructs and the walls of Jericho fall flat (v. 20).  Rahab’s house was built into the walls of Jericho (2:15).  Did her section remain standing? Or maybe just the shell of her house stayed up?  We probably will never know. We just need to believe His Word that He saved her and her family as He promised (v. 23)!

Oct. 14 – (Josh. 7) Oh Achan, why did you do this? Look what your one act has caused! Is there a reason other than your greed? I think so. Let’s look back at the sins of your ancestors from your tribe of Judah.

 In I Chron. 2:3-8, Judah is the central focus of the genealogy because God chose Judah to lead Israel (Gen. 49:8-12).  God also chose David and his line to bless Israel and rule forever (2 Sam. 7:1-17; I Chron. 17:1-15).  Judah’s’ five sons demonstrate both Yahweh’s judgment on disobedience (Er, Onan, Shelah) and his grace in continuing the lines of Perez and Zerah, the twins born from Judah’s unlawful union with Tamar (Gen. 38). Achan means “trouble” in the Hebrew text, a wordplay on the troubler of Israel (Josh. 7:24-26).  This is the first instance of this key term in the book that describes Israel’s failure to obey the Lord (Lev. 26:40).  Does this help you understand “the sins of the fathers…”?

                One other thing.  Achan was the only one who sinned yet the community suffered. Verse 1 says, “The people of Israel broke faith…”  Israel as a covenant community is held responsible for sin in its midst.  Do we as a community have any responsibility for “the sin” in our midst?  Selah!               

Oct. 1-7 Can a Weakness Become a Strength?

Oct. 1 – (Ex. 31) Bezalel is my hero! Why? God put gifts and abilities in him from the get-go “for such a time as this”.  Can you imagine what he was like as a child? I picture him always creating something from “nothing” even though he used things that mom and dad needed for daily living.  What if his parents had given him such a hard time that he refused to even think about creating things as a young man called by God?  What if he got discouraged while Moses was up on the mountain getting “Bezalel’s marching orders” and became one of the 3,000 men who died because they gave up and worshiped the golden calf?  In other words, it reminds me to pray for children that they will walk in the giftings God has put in them and not turn from God.  I also pray for parents to nurture the gifts they see in their children.

                Let me give you one practice I learned to express while I taught kindergarten at Charisma Academy.  In teacher conferences several times, I had to acknowledge to parents that their child was overly disrupting class proceedings by bullying other students into doing what they wanted. Sometimes they would even try to “take over” the class.  Most times the parents saw this at home and were despairing of the behavior. I always explained that God had put the gift of leadership in them and He wanted them to use it for His Glory.  What we as teacher and parents needed to do was pray for ways to channel that gift so that God could use it. 

Oct. 2 – (Ex. 32) Have you ever messed up…very badly… trying to “get from here to there”? Then you really need to read this chapter.  Aaron and his sons have just been chosen to be priests to the Lord. Really to be the only one to go into the Holy of Holies. But once Moses is out of sight, Aaron chose to listen to the people complaining and lead them down a very destructive path. Stephen, in Acts 7:39 speaks of this event.  He says that Israel “thrust (Moses) aside, and in their hearts, they turned to Egypt.” Aaron didn’t try to stop them. Though some were destroyed, Aaron was not. God can redeem anyone of anything so don’t live in the past regrets (or victories even). 

                DID YOU KNOW? God wrote the 10 Commandments on both sides of the stone tablet (v.15). Don’t you always picture them on one side only, like in the movie?  

Oct. 3 – (Ex. 33) This chapter describes the difficult time following the golden calf episode, as the Lord says He no longer will go among His people.  Even though He has said this, hope remains because of His presence in the pillar of cloud and His continued relationship with Moses, to whom He speaks face to face. We end this chapter with God showing mercy and promising to go with them.  Let’s thank Him for the mercy God shows us every day. In His mercy, He sent His Son to die for our wrong doings (sins). “Thank you, God that You show us mercy!” 

Oct. 4 – (Ex. 34) Moses goes up to the mountain a second time for the 10 Commandments. Things are done just a little differently this time but never the less they are delivered safely back to the people. Verses 6-7 contain the Lord’s proclamation of His name and description of His character. We would do well to remember His description of Himself.   “The Lord, The Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”  We also would do well to remember the warning. “Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” Let’s get rid of those iniquities so our children don’t have to deal with it as well!

                DID YOU KNOW? Cast metal in verse 17 is the same Hebrew word used of the “golden” calf.  

Oct. 5 – (Ex. 35) Bezalel and Aholiab were not only gifted in making things out of wood and metals, they were also teachers. Can you imagine only two men creating all that was needed for the Tabernacle? There were many others who just needed instruction and God provided all that was needed for His dwelling place.  Does God do any less today? Let’s take it to a personal level today. God has put gifts in each of us. Though we are not all teachers, it is important to use any gift (or ability) for God’s glory. If you can’t think of a God-given gift (or gifts), why not ask the Lord to show you?  It’s there! 

Oct. 6 – (Ex. 36) The people brought so many supplies for the construction of the Tabernacle that Moses had to tell them to stop bringing more.  What does that say about their attitude? At this point they trusted Moses and ultimately God for provision and for a purpose they had yet to fully understand.  When God asks us to bring “what we have”, do we give so much, we are told to stop? This is another one I will ponder. 

Oct. 7 – (Ex. 37-38) Bezalel has begun construction of the articles. Every piece of furniture in the tabernacle was crafted according to God’s plan.  Each item represented something about God’s character: His sovereignty, His generosity, His presence with His people. They were reminders of how God met their needs and forgave their sins. As you read about each item, think about what it represents and thank Him for it even in our lives today.  

Sept. 24-30 How Is The Temple Relevant Today?

Sept. 24 – (Ex. 24) As a child who grew up in Sunday School, I heard the “10 Commandments Story” many times. My perception until I read it today was…God gave 10 commands to Moses while the people broke probably many of them during that time (40 days). Then God got mad and punished them. (My perception of God as a policeman.) Today I see things so differently. Though lengthy, let me try to explain.

                Verses 1-18 describes three different aspects of the covenant that God made with Israel (chapter 19), being confirmed: (1) Moses leads the people of Israel in sacrificing to the Lord and in reconfirming the covenant (2.) Moses, Aaron and His sons and the elders worship the Lord and share a meal in His presence; and (3) Moses and Joshua go further up the mountain so that Moses can enter the cloud of the Lord’s presence. The rules about who can enter the Lord’s presence on Mt. Sinai will prepare Israel for the similar rules regarding the tabernacle (v. 1-2). Verse 4 is one of three references in Exodus to Moses writing or being commanded to write. God is giving further explanation about burnt and peace offerings (giving more info when we need it). Throwing blood against the altar and on the people probably signifies cleansing and atonement.  The blood links the altar and the people, symbolizing the union of God and Israel in the covenant (shows God’s covenanted connection with us).  God gave Israel a covenant of devotion to trust in. He then gave them rules that would help Israel know what that would best look like. When Israel chose to break those rules, it brought sorrow to the people. When Israel chose to keep those rules, it created closer communion with God and joy. God’s love never changed but Israel’s choices to sin made them feel unloved at times.  Is it any different today?  

Sept. 25 – (Ex. 25) God wanted to build a tabernacle where He would reside. This shows me He no longer wanted to be only “out there” (a cloud by day or fire by night) but He also wanted to reside “among them”.  Yes, it was set apart that only high priests could enter the Holy of Holies, but it went from just “out there” to also “down here in a physical house”. God is moving closer to “His people”.  When Jesus comes and dies for our sins, God moves even closer (as we accept Him) in the form of His Holy Spirit living in us. Of course, the final step is Eternity in His presence. Hallelujah!!

                Notice God begins explanation of constructing the Temple starting with the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies represents our spirit or “God conscious” and responding to Him (Worship).  In the Ark of the Covenant was placed Aaron’s rod, some manna, and the 10 Commandments. This is the constant reminder of God’s covenant to Israel.  It is also the specific spot where God will reside (between the Cherubim). Cherubim are traditional guardians of holy places. Once a year the High Priest would apply the blood of a lamb onto the Mercy Seat to cover the sins of the entire nation. So, the commandments were in the ark. Lamb’s blood covered the Mercy Seat which was between the Law and God’s Presence.  Doesn’t this remind you of our lives today as we accept Jesus? Jesus shed His blood and as it covers us at salvation, we are now righteous before Father God! Hallelujah!!!

In the Holy Place are the Table with the Bread of Presence, the Golden Lampstand, and the Golden Altar of Incense.  This represents our soul or “self-conscious”. We respond here in praise for who He is. The Table of Showbread would contain 12 flat loaves of bread, symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel. It also represents the soul of man or will.  The will is the primary force of the soul. The Golden Lampstand provides light within the tabernacle. The priests will be instructed to keep it burning regularly.  This represents our mind or intellect.  It was a 7-branch candlestick with bowls of oil set afire to give light to the area (Light to our mind). Though we won’t read about the Altar of Incense until chapter 30, I want to give a brief explanation for it significance. It represents our emotions (aroma).  So… the Holy Place represents our soul with our will, mind, and emotions.   

Sept. 26 – (Ex. 26) Chapter 26 describes the curtains, frames, and bars that would make up the tabernacle. Notice verse 30. God gave this to Moses on the mountain. As we listen for His voice, He will provide all that we NEED when we NEED it!  

Sept. 27 – (Ex. 27) This chapter begins to describe the outer court. It represents our body or 5 senses to be “world conscious”. This area reminds us to be thankful for what He has done. The brass altar was covered with polished brass, so you could see your reflection. Here animals were sacrificed for the sins of the people. This stands for the blood of Jesus shed for us. Here they confessed sins, found forgiveness, and was redeemed for the price of the animal given. Can you correlate that with what Jesus did on the cross?

                DID YOU KNOW? The sanctuary (v. 13), like the garden of Eden, is entered from the east (Gen. 3:24). 

Sept. 28 – (Ex. 28) This chapter describes what the priests should wear.  Since we are now all priests before God, let’s read it as applying to us. Their garments were to be holy for glory and for beauty.  We are to represent the glory of the Lord not just in a church setting but everywhere we go. The priests’ work of mediation goes in two directions: from God to Israel and from Israel to God (vv. 9-30). Should we do any less?

                Aaron and his sons wore linen undergarments so that they would not bear guilt and die (vv. 42-43).  This relates to the rule in 20:26 about not approaching God’s altar naked.  Adam and Eve had to wear clothes in God’s presence after the fall and so must the priests in the tabernacle.  

Sept. 29 – (Ex. 29) This chapter describes the consecration of Aaron and his sons to be priests and offer sacrifices. We may get into the types of offerings later but what I see is a pattern for consecrating our lives to the Lord so that we, today, act as priests before a world that may still “be in Egypt”. No, we won’t be sacrificing animals, but it would be prudent to see what sacrifices in our heart are necessary.  This is your homework!     

Sept. 30 – (Ex. 30) Let’s remember that the Golden Alter of Incense represents our emotions (aroma) which involves our soul and our self-consciousness.  Verse 9 says “you shall not offer unauthorized incense on it…”  What “unauthorized emotions” do we try to offer back to God? Selah!

                The Bronze Basin or Brazen Laver was in the outer court. Remember that the outer court represented our body – the 5 senses to be world conscious. The priests were to wash the dirt of the world off themselves before entering the Holy Place. We remove the dust of the world by reading His Word. As we read it, it reads us! The Laver was polished, so you could see your reflection. Selah!

So much to ponder…so much to apply! Don’t get overwhelmed. Remember how to eat an elephant- one bite at a time!  😊

Sept 17-23 How Are You Getting From Here To There?

Sept. 17 – (Ex. 17) The Israelites still have so much of “Egypt” in them. One commentary brought this to light in a way I had not seen before. When the people again quarreled with Moses, he wondered why they continued to test the Lord (vv. 2,7).  They showed a hardness of heart like Pharaoh and the Egyptians, which is how Ps. 95:7-9 describes these events.  Here is the phrase that hit me: “Is the Lord among us or not?”  That really hit home.  When I see things happening that I don’t understand or like in the church, I tend to pretty much ask this very question.  “Lord, forgive me for not trusting you in all things.  I repent. Renew my mind.” 

Sept. 18 – (Ex. 18) It’s interesting to note that God used the names of Moses’ sons to remind him (and Israel) of his time as a sojourner (2:22) in another land and that Yahweh, the God of his father was his help and delivered him from the sword of Pharaoh (3:6-8). I know we don’t usually name our children according to how we are feeling at the moment or what our victories are in the Lord at that time. But we would be wise to do something to remind us of what God has done in our lives.  You might call them memorial stones, but they can take so many shapes. I would love to hear what you plan to do or have done to remind you of God’s work in your life.   

Sept. 19 – (Ex. 19) In verses 4-6, the Lord calls Israel to be faithful to His covenant with them even before He has fully revealed it to them.  God is giving them a choice of trusting or having faith in Him without really knowing what that would look like.  Isn’t that our journey as well?  We have to choose to trust that God will be faithful and work all things for our good and His Glory even when we don’t have the full picture.

                Verse 6 also reminds me that when the Lord calls Israel a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, He is referring to what Israel’s life as a whole is to represent among the nations.  By keeping the covenant (v.5), the people of Israel would continue not only to set themselves apart from the surrounding nations but also to mediate the presence and blessing of the Lord to them (Gen, 12:3; Isa. 61:5-7). When Peter applies these terms to the church (1 Pet. 2:5,9), he is calling believers to faithfulness so that those around them “may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:12).  Are we not to do the same as we go “From Here to There”? 

Sept. 20 – (Ex. 20) This chapter includes the 10 Commandments. We could write books just to understand what they mean.  I will only make a few statements that have impacted me lately.

1.       “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.”  Pastor Torry reminded us recently that in creation, God “worked” 6 days which included creating Adam on the 6th day. He took the very next day off just to spend time with Adam!

2.       “Honor your father and your mother…  I am reading a book that discusses a man who is working with his mother who has Alzheimer’s. Defining a line that means “honoring” is very difficult and takes God’s wisdom and patience.

3.       …. the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”  This was the wrong kind of fear.  Verse 20-21 explains what this kind of fear is supposed to accomplish.  God wants a healthy relationship with each of us…individually. He wants us to hear His voice alone.  Yes, it might be through a friend’s words or a pastor’s message but ultimately, He wants us to hear Him for ourselves.  Selah!  

Sept. 21 – (Ex. 21) This is a hard chapter to understand and accept. Some of it stems from our culture and past history.  Let’s seek to understand their times a little better which will help us understand what God wants to tell us through these verses. 

                The word translated “slave” can refer to several types of persons.  Debt was the most common reason that people became slaves.  To employ a poor person as a slave could be an act of kindness because it guaranteed him food, shelter, and a small income.  The security provided by a good employer lead some slaves to choose to remain in that status permanently.  People could not be bought and sold at will, as was the case with the awful slavery practices in the United States for many years.  

                Verses 20-21 provide a general rule relating to cases in which a slave has been severely beaten by his master.  The instruction not to avenge a slave who survives such a beating because “the slave is his money”, relates only to the financial circumstance of the one he serves; it is neither a description of how a slave as a person is to be understood, nor a prescription for how a slave is to be treated.  The expectation for how Israelites were to treat one another (and particularly those who were typically oppressed or overlooked) is indicated in the repeated statements at the end of this section of laws: “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him”. If a sojourner (resident alien) is to be well treated, how much more an Israelite. I hope this helps with your understanding.  

Sept. 22 – (Ex. 22) WOW! This chapter is full of some hard rules. Some of them(again) are due to American thinking.  I will give only one commentary that brought just a little more understanding. Verses 16-17 discusses rules pertaining to a man seducing a virgin.  ESV commentary explains it this way: Although “seduces” probably implies mutual consent, the man must provide for the woman he has seduced, both by marrying her (unless the father utterly refuses) and by paying the “bride-price”, even if the father forbids the marriage.  Since the bride-price was equivalent to several years’ wages, this amounts to a huge fine for premarital intercourse.  Again, WOW!  Our culture certainly doesn’t agree with the definition of the word “seduce” nor follow that rule! What if every guy had to pay several years’ salary for breaking this rule! 

Sept. 23 – (Ex. 23) “You shall not spread a false report.”  This is the very first sentence of this chapter.  A false report can mean several things. Gossip is one of those things. That is all I will say about this verse.

                I will finish this chapter and this week with verses 30-33. “Little by little I will drive them out from before you…  They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.” God will renew our minds “little by little” as we choose to allow Him to drive out “the Egyptian idols we allowed in”. That’s how we go from Here to There!  

Sept. 10-16 If Only You Remembered Now, What You Heard Then!

Sept. 10 – (Ex. 10) As we look at the 8th plague (locusts) and the 9th plague (darkness), I am reminded again, how very awesome God is!  He knows us all so very intimately. He knows what we are thinking and our motivations for all that we do. His purposes are perfect. Let us not fight against what He allows but rather trust that He brings all things to His perfect purpose and glory. 

Sept. 11 – (Ex. 11) God told Moses what He was going to do (harden Pharaoh’s heart for a while) at the very beginning of this process. He gave him the general information that Moses needed to know at the time.  He is now telling Moses even more specifics.  They have one more plague to go and how to prepare for the move after that.  God tells Moses what he needs to know as he needs to know it.  I think we all struggle with this process. The amount of trust in Him will determine how much anxiety we have for each “tribulation”. Selah

                Did You Know? God calls Israel His firstborn son. He wants Pharaoh to know what will happen if he does not let “His firstborn son go.” (Ex. 4:22-23)

Sept. 12 – (Ex. 12) Let’s continue with the reminder that God tells us what we need to know (if we are listening) when we need to know it.  God told Moses at the burning bush (3:22) that when they came out of Egypt, they would come with “silver and gold and clothing”. Let’s go back even farther. As God covenanted with Abraham, He told Abraham that this would happen to his descendants. They would be slaves, but God would bring them out of slavery to the promised land with “great possessions” (Gen. 15:14)!  Let’s remember to listen to the Lord’s direction and remind ourselves that we can trust Him in not only His ways but also in His timing!

                One other thing. When the sons of Jacob and their families arrived in Egypt there were 70 persons (1:5).  The people of Israel who were going out of the land now numbered more than six hundred thousand…besides women and children.  This would suggest a total of about 2 million people.  We can survive…no thrive even in hard times!  That’s how we get From Here to There! Selah

Sept. 13 – (Ex. 13) God wants Israel to remember what He did for them in the final plague that caused Pharaoh to release them.  He saved and redeemed their first born, both animals and children.  It is definitely something they should remember and appreciate.  The way they were to remember was to consecrate their first-born child and donkey to the Lord. A lamb was sacrificed in their stead. All the other first-born animals were to be sacrificed.  Why do you think only the donkeys were consecrated? Could it have to do with Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem to be sacrifice for our sins? Selah

                In keeping with “getting from here to there”, notice verses 17-22.  First of all, God was with them the whole way… evidenced in a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day. Next, He could have led them by way of the Philistines. That was certainly shorter to them.  God knew they were not ready to battle them yet (that time would come much later) so He led them the longer, more difficult way.  What if Moses had disagreed with God’s direction and went the shorter route? What happens when we want to “take a shorter route?  Selah

Sept. 14 – (Ex. 14) Are there times when there is nothing more you can think to do about a situation or maybe even a person? “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today.  For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.  The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” The fear of man…any man is an idol God wants to tear down. As we live what He says above what any human might say, that idol is being destroyed. 

Sept. 15 – (Ex. 15) Now that the Egyptians are no longer a threat to them, the Israelites are learning how to make God their Master. They will continue this lessen as they journey to Canaan…and even to this day. We see this as they are barely out of the sight of the Red Sea where God powerfully protected them and are already “mumbling”.  They are not trusting that the Lord’s presence is sufficient for their protection and provision. Verses 25b-26 show us one-way God taught them about this.  “There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there He tested them., saying, ‘If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in His eyes and give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer’.”  Today, I am trusting that the Lord’s presence is sufficient for my protection and provision! “Lord help me remember this every moment of this day…and forever!”

Sept. 16 – (Ex. 16) Have tried to lead someone somewhere (like disciple someone) and all they did was complain (grumble)? Maybe you were the “grumbler”.  Verse 7 gives us a reality check.  All grumbling is dissatisfaction with something in our lives.  It is blaming someone or thing for something we don’t appreciate.  It is forgetting who “allows all things for our good” as we seek His face and His will for our lives. I am thinking even now of a recurring thing that happens and I admit, I grumble against the Lord (“Lord when will you make it stop?”).  Forgive me Lord. Maybe it keeps coming around because I haven’t learned to stop grumbling when it happens…or I just don’t respond with trust that God is in control and does all things for our good and His glory!  Selah

                One other thing I want to revisit. In 15:25b-26 we found that God’s Presence brings protection and provision.  When God provided bread from heaven (16:4), it met Israel’s physical needs and showed that their whole lives were to be sustained by the Lord and governed by His Word. The people responded to the Lord’s power as if it was disconnected from who He is (v.3). Moses says that they will see the glory of the Lord (v.10), which was a sign of His presence. They saw provision but did not recognize it was through His Presence with them.  SELAH!