Many people in the Bible had that choice. For example, Abraham led his army to a great victory. He brought back all of the captives and all the spoil. The King of Sodom showed up and said, "Abraham, you can have all this spoil. Just give me the people." But Abraham said, "Before this battle started, I lifted my hand to the Lord and said, 'When I win this battle, I'm not taking one thing from these people.' I would rather have the Word of God than have thousands of shekels of gold and silver" (see Gen. 14). Abraham kept his testimony clean.
But I also think of Achan in Joshua 7. God had commanded that no spoil be taken from Jericho. But Achan stole some silver and gold and clothing and buried them under his tent. He thought no one knew, but God knew. Achan wanted riches rather than God. Judas made the same mistake. He sold Jesus Christ, the greatest Treasure in the universe, for 30 pieces of silver.
If we love the Word of God, we'll make use of it; we'll read it, meditate on it and seek to obey it. We can even share it with others and it will never run out, as silver and gold will.
The parent that loves his child, sets boundaries. They are boundaries to protect the child, but also to train the child to live in a loving way with God and in a loving way with others.
One of the greatest gifts God ever gave man was His commandments, and it comes to us in the setting of a story, our story. God's relationship with us doesn't start with the Ten Commandments, but in a garden with a handful of directives, rules and laws: tend the garden, name the animals, hands off the tree in the center of the garden. But how quickly the laws are tossed aside. Desiring to be our own rulers, to be like God, to give orders rather than receive them, we violated the arrangement. From there we began pointing fingers, covering up, hiding, and murdering.
Fast forward to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, and we see God's promise of land and blessings, but because of our lying, deceit, and trickery we end up as slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh rarely makes it down to Goshen, but his law frequents the place. He barks out orders from his fancy throne. More bricks. Less straw. No vacations. No unions. No time off. And anytime we make a request, he figures we've too much time on our hands and ups the brick quota. Life in Goshen is drab, with little singing and dancing, and less laughter.
Late at night when no one else can hear our cries, God does. Late at night when no one else can see our tears, God does. We then witness our God taking our side in a show down with Pharaoh; and Pharaoh losing ten out of ten times, and we are free to leave. Freedom--it's a sigh of relief, but we have to be very careful with that word. Everybody serves somebody. We are lousy at being our own boss, and are thankful for God's gift, the Commandments, which by the way are nothing like Pharaoh's laws. These laws call us to love our Loving God and to love each other. No wonder the Israelites looked at the Commandments as a Great Gift from God. They clutched their copy of the law to their chests and danced with it.
In a move reflective of Exodus, God raised Jesus from the dead and gave to us the gift of His risen Spirit. In this act, the law of God is written, not on tablets of stone, but on our hearts. We are given the capacity to be faithful, not fickle. We are empowered to keep the law as an expression of wise gratitude for the gift of a way of life defined in the law. The Word becomes flesh. Jesus becomes for us the definition of the law. Everything the law says, Jesus is.
From the new book, "Dancing With The Law", by Dan Boone, we are learning that the Israelites loved God's law, and for us to see just how true this is, please read three passages in Psalm 119: verses 33-40, verses 97-112, and verses 129-135. You may never see the Commandments in the same way again. For your devotional thoughts today, focus on these five little verses from Psalm 119.
Psalm 119:35 "Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it."
Psalm 119:97 "Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all day long."
Psalm 119:103 "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
Psalm 119:111 "Your decrees are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart."
Psalm 119:129 "Your decrees are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them."
May the Good Lord bless and keep you today, and never forget that you are loved!!!
This week, Pastor Paul revisits a hunt from last year and points out that every time we take an animal it should be a reminder that life is short, a vapor that is here today and gone tomorrow. Would you be ready to die today? What is your attitude toward life in general? Have you come to know Jesus so you can die in confidence? These are some of the tough questions asked this week that are worth contemplating. Don't put off until tomorrow the things that can be done today.
"And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate."
May the Just Judge guide all of us today in our responses, and always remember that you are loved!!!
Psychologist say the most hurtful thing a society can do to an individual is to ignore him. Have you ever felt alone? Have you ever felt abandoned, even by God? Have you ever felt you have been left to face the world and its trials all by yourself? If so, you can join the rest of us and the writer of this psalm. He felt he had been abandoned by God, that he was all alone. The psalmist was concerned that he was not getting through to God, that his prayers were not being heard. God appeared to be unmoved by his prayers.
" But I, O Lord, cry out to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Lord, why do you cast me off? Why do you hide your face from me." Psalm 88:13
There is a small arctic seabird called the guillemot that lives on the rocky cliffs of northern coastal regions. These birds flock together by the thousands in comparatively small areas. Because of the extremely crowded conditions the females must lay their pear-shaped eggs side by side in a long row on a narrow ledge. All the eggs look alike, but the mother bird knows exactly which one is hers. If someone disturbs the eggs and moves one of them, the mother guillemot is able to find her egg among the thousands and return it to its original location. To the human eye the eggs appear as if they have been mass produced on an assembly line. To the guillemot, each egg is known personally, identified personally, and attended personally.
The Bible is clear that our heavenly Father is even more intimately acquainted with His own children than the mother guillemot is with her egg. He knows us, He knows us personally. He even knows the number of hairs on our heads. He can tell identical twins apart. He knows every thought and emotion we have, and He understands all the decisions we make. He gives personal attention to each of us in all our affairs from morning until night. How many times I've felt: "How could God hear me, when there are hundreds of thousands of Christians who live much closer to Him than I do, praying at the same time." But I've now come to believe that He can, because He is that big of a God. Remember, He created the guillemot. Trust Him, for He hears and He will answer in His time and in His way; so keep trusting Him!
God bless, and remember also, that you are loved!!!
We had another great day with the Lord at Dogwood Community Church yesterday. Many times our pastor prays at the end of the service: "God dismiss us from this place, but never from you presence. As we face a new week, hopefully this little thought today can make us realize how possible that is.
Leviticus 26:11 "I’ll set up my residence in your neighborhood…I’ll stroll through your streets."
What a promise, think about that for a while.
Now there’s a bit more to Leviticus, but this section is really the grand finale. Chapter 26 is the “blessing and the curse” chapter. Here, God says, “If you do this…then I’ll do that. If you do that…then I’ll do this.” To them, the finest part of the blessing is God’s promise to move into their neighborhood and stroll through their streets with them. This is the Creator promising to be fully engaged with his Creation. They wouldn’t go to visit God down at the Tent of Meeting, and He wouldn’t just make special appearances at big events like the Passover observance. This is the promise of continued fellowship with their Creator in all the affairs of life. It had very simple, uncomplicated conditions.
Amazingly, God wants to walk with us even before we’re aware of him and certainly in spite of the truth that we’re not worthy of such a relationship. What we see promised here is fulfilled to a great extent in Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us. This also has very simple and uncomplicated conditions if we are to have that unbroken fellowship with Jesus.
It’s further fulfilled when we receive the fullness of God, the Holy Spirit into our life. This also, has very simple and uncomplicated conditions to be met.
It will be gloriously completed when I experience the last pages of the book of Revelation, and it is all possible because of the Lord Jesus' sacrifice.
"Lord, make yourself at home in my life now, and forever."
God bless and always remember that you are loved!!!
Universal Health Insurance, Single-Payer Health Care; do we understand this system? Here is something we all can understand, and fully trust in.
Sin is the disease that blights us all, but grace is the medicine that the Great Physician offers, first, to heal us, and then, through us, to heal the world. Who was the single-Payer? Was it not the Great Physician Himself, Jesus?
"For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:20
If you are trying to cure yourself of this disease called sin, you will fail; you can't earn your way out, or work your way out; for it's by Grace that we are saved. Just cast your sins on Jesus; for He's already paid for you!!!
Now, if you have already accepted His grace, Saturday is a good time to gently share your faith with someone who still has the disease, or gently nudge them toward a church where the gospel is preached.
God bless, and remember that you are loved!!!
Much like that train, we are not designed by God to travel the roads of sin and unrighteousness. Rather, we are created and empowered through His Holy Spirit, to travel the highway of holiness, and that because of His righteousness. The Law was bondage to many who continually felt the frustration of conduct failure. They couldn’t stay on the track. The fulfillment of the Law’s true purpose is culminated in Christ by confession and belief in Him. We are no longer condemned by the Law, but are empowered to fulfill its moral intent. That’s freedom the Son brings.
"Who shall separate us from-the love of Christ?" Romans 8:35
After all the possible obstacles and enemies have been mentioned, one by one, the triumphant answer comes: "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." (v. 37).
Are you going through some great trial right now? Can you look back on situations that Christ has already brought you through. Our trials will be turned to helps; our enemies will be taken prisoners and made to fight our battles. Our very difficulties will prove incentives to faith and prayer and opportunities for God to become more real to us. We can draw from our troubles not only deliverance but triumph, and in all these things we shall be even more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Remember our security does not depend on our unchanging love but on the love of God in Christ Jesus toward us. It's not the clinging arms of the baby that keep it from falling, but the strong arms of the loving mother. God loves us with an everlasting love, and although all else may change He will never leave us, never forsake us. Whatever you are facing, know that you are in Jesus' arms.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Romans 8:35
Don’t play with fire!
Proverbs 6: "Can you build a fire in your lap and not burn your pants?"
King Solomon is credited with writing Proverbs. I guess a man married to as many women as he was either knows a lot about women or nothing at all about them! But it does seem to me that he knew a lot about the harm from extramarital affairs. In some ways his comments on this topic may be considered out of date. His picturing the man as some foolish, gullible fellow being seduced by some worldly woman just covers part of the situation today. For it's just as common today for the shoe to be on the other foot and it’s the female who is fed a line. In fact, I have the idea that often it’s both who are victims of an entertainment media and popular culture that treats sexual intimacy as something far less than was intended by God when he gave it to us as a wonderful gift. However, whatever took place that led up to the infidelity, the consequences never change. The loose lifestyle causes terrible emotional pain. Couples think they’re entering into “no fault” relationships, and when one is ready to call it quits they’ll both just move on. It never works that way. My favorite minister to teens, Joe White, wrote the illustration of tape being placed on your arm. This representing a close, intimate relationship; and then it's separated. It happens again and again until the tape is no longer able to stick. It is so sad, for both involved in any premarital or extramarital affairs are cheapened by the experience. They’ll never know the depth of what might have been.
Our society has been sold a bill of goods that’s supposed to be freeing and fulfilling. Instead, to use Solomon’s description, many are being burned and will spend a lifetime dealing with the scars of their so called freedom.
Guard yourself today against a sexually promiscuous culture. May God bless and remember that you are loved!!!
Henry D. is from Southern Indiana and writes these wonderful daily devotionals to encourage those at the Dogwood Community Church located in Paoli, Indiana. Henry has graciously agreed to share these wonderful devotionals here at Without Excuse Ministries to encourage you our valued guest!