Numbers 33-36 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart:  His instructions will provide a blessed future for us

I really don’t like going to the doctor, but sometimes I just have to do it.  A while back a doctor diagnosed me with pharyngitis, sinusitis and some other itis and then ordered a prescription of antibiotic to kill all the infection.  His most important instruction was that I will be certain to take all the medicine even when I started feeling better because we want to kill all the infection or it could return.  And really, when those with experience and authority give instructions to us, it’s wise to follow them.  Sadly, the Israelites just didn’t see it that way. 

@ Numbers 33
The Israelites had finally finished their 40-year trek in the desert and sat poised to enter Canaan, God’s Promised Land.  Through Moses, God gave a prescription of sorts to the Israelites for them to enjoy a healthy and productive life in Canaan.  “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: When you cross the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, you must drive out all the people living there. You must destroy all their carved and molten images and demolish all their pagan shrines. Take possession of the land and settle in it, because I have given it to you to occupy.” (51-53)  The instructions seem clear enough, take all the medicine, drive out all the people and destroy all their idols.

Like my doctor explained to me, God let the Israelites know what would happen should they fail to drive out all the people, “But if you fail to drive out the people who live in the land, those who remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will harass you in the land where you live.  And I will do to you what I had planned to do to them.” (55-56)  And as we know, that is precisely what happened to Israel.

Because they failed to drive out all the Canaanites and destroy all the idols, the Israelites’ everyday lives were slowly infiltrated by them, and this brought about their downfall.  Eventually, the Assyrians and Babylonians swept in and drove them out of their land.  What part of all do we not understand?

I’m happy to report that I have taken all my medicine so that not even a little trace of infection is left to grow and infect my body again. What we don’t destroy could destroy us. And so it is with sin.  How foolish it is to preserve something that we know to be sin simply because it seems so harmless, because it is too beautiful to let go of or because it makes us feel good.  There’s no such thing as a little bit of pornography, a little bit of stealing or a little bit of lying because eventually it will grow, spread and easily affect our entire lives.

The lesson we learn from the Israelites today is to follow all of God’s instructions, and then we can be assured that we will live happily and healthily in the land He has given us.

Moving Forward: Lesson learned! Taking all my medicine and following all of God’s instructions. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Chronicles 16-20

Genesis 44-47 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: The guidance of His hand is just, merciful and good

Ah…the sweetness of reconciliation!  Books have been written about it, movies have portrayed its beautiful stories, and most of us have experienced it.  Outside of the amazing, and I do mean amazing, reconciliation with God that takes place when we accept Jesus as our Savior, the story of Joseph and his brothers tops the list for me.   “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place…God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.  So it was God who sent me here, not you!” (45:4-8)

Not only is this a story of reconciliation, but it is a strong and deliberate message about the providence of God, the intervention of the Divine into our lives to bring about His purposes for our good. “So it was God who sent me here, not you!”  When Joseph forgave his brothers and reconciled with them, he partnered with God’s will to bring about God’s Divine plan for a nation. Our obedience to the Word of God has ramifications beyond our imagination.  Had Joseph refused to forgive, God would have sought another vessel to accomplish His good. 

@ Genesis 46
“I am God, the God of your father,’ the voice said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again.’” (3-4)  I can only imagine the hesitancy in Jacob’s heart to leave Canaan, the land promised to his grandfather, Abraham, for the heathen land of Egypt.  When we think about it, this move changed the history of Israel.

Settled in their Promised Land, Abraham’s family was growing in size, wealth and power, and it just seems as though carting them off to Egypt for 400 years was somewhat counterproductive to God’s divine plan for His people.  After all, He could have abundantly blessed Jacob in spite of the famine years and brought the nations of the world to him.  In the natural, without the impact of the supernatural, we might wonder about His purpose in this.

Because of the move to Egypt, the Israelites would one day migrate back to Canaan and spend many years in war with the occupants of Canaan who had also grown powerful over the past 400 years.  But this is where we are challenged to trust the hand of God even when we don’t understand it.  Early on when God promised Abraham a son, He foretold of events to come, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years…After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.” (15:13-16)

God could not yet give Abraham his entire inheritance because He is just.  Abraham’s neighbors in Canaan did not believe in Jehovah, but God gave them 400 years to choose Him over their witchcraft and idols before He allowed Israel to destroy them for their wickedness. In the meantime, the family of Abraham was ever growing in numbers over in Goshen, all their needs were provided, and He was making them ready to step into their destiny.

Sometimes the hand of God in our lives seems to be without purpose and direction in life’s economy.  We may question what the kingdom of God gains through our loss, our dysfunction or our trial?  Well, so often we just don’t know, but through His Word, we understand all that He does is just, merciful and good for us as well as all others who live and breathe on the planet.  As He was with the Israelites in Egypt, so will He be with us in our Egypt.  “I will go with you down to Egypt…” 

Moving Forward:  In my obedience to Him today, I know I can trust His hand to guide me with justice, mercy, and goodness.  “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts…And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” (Isaiah 55:8) 

Tomorrow @ I Samuel 6-10

Genesis 20-23 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider 

@ Genesis 22
“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” (2) I remember a sermon my husband preached many years ago on the story of Abraham and Isaac, and it’s distinctive in my memory because of the touching illustration he used. Tom started to tell the story of the sacrifice of Isaac and called our young son up front to stand with him.  As the story unfolded, he asked our son to lie on the altar, and with tears streaming down his face, he spoke of the incredible anguish that Abraham must have felt as he raised the knife in obedience to God.  Now if you know my husband, the crying is not so significant, but because I knew him so well, I could tell he was shaken by the thought of sacrificing someone he loved so much.

When I read this story, I can’t help but focus on the journey to Moriah.  Abraham had traveled across that entire region of the world to live in Canaan, but I would imagine that journey did not compare in intensity to the 50 miles to Moriah.  While Isaac was enjoying an outing with his dad, Abraham was facing the greatest testing of his life.  We know little about the conversation on the journey, but what we do know speaks volumes to us.

As Moriah came into view, “Stay here with the donkey,’ Abraham told the servants. ‘The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.’”  Then we will come right back, not I will come right back, but we.  Abraham’s statement wasn’t trickery or deceit, but somewhere during the journey, he resolved in his heart that they would both return.  The writer of Hebrews expressed it this way, “Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again.” (Hebrews 11:19)  We will come right back. No wonder Abraham is listed in the Faith Hall of Fame!

Then, as they continued up to Moriah, “As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘We have the fire and the wood,’ the boy said, ‘but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?’” (6-7)

I’ve imagined Abraham pondering every promise from God as he took each step to Moriah > God would make him a great nation> his descendants would be like the dust of earth that couldn’t be counted > as many descendants as the stars in the sky > God would make him the father of nations.  With confidence, Abraham could reply to his son, “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,’ Abraham answered.  And they both walked on together.” (8)  Isaac was the son of promise, and God would provide.

We may walk through situations that seem to be completely unlike what our loving God would allow His children to endure.  It is then, like Abraham, we are challenged to act on what we know the character of God to be, not on how the circumstances may dictate His character to be.  I’ve lived long enough to know that things are rarely as they seem.  Our resolve to walk in obedience and faith will be undergirded as we think over the promises of God and remember that He doesn’t lie and that He can only be faithful. Jehovah Jireh, our Provider – God will provide. 

Moving Forward:  “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith. He was even called the friend of God.” (James 2:23)  I want to be like Abraham. 

Tomorrow @ Judges 1-6

Joshua 16-20 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He expects us to possess the land He’s given to us

Generally speaking, individuals approach a difficult task in one of three ways:  A) Tackle the project head on, get it done and move on to easier tasks.  B)  Walk the dog, munch on snacks, shuffle papers, check email, ponder the existence of dust and finally, when it’s truly unavoidable, get it done.  C)  Do all of point B, add a few other unnecessary tasks and finally…save it for another day.  After all, why should we do today what we can put off until tomorrow?

As a student, I was a Type A – did the homework first, before television, before the phone and before dinner, leaving the evening free to do anything I wanted to do.  Having just taken down my Christmas decorations two days ago, I think I have digressed. Procrastination plagues all of us from time to time.  The more difficult or undesirable the task, the easier it is to save it for another day, and attempting to motivate a procrastinator to get the job done is like pulling teeth. Joshua had seven tribes of procrastinators to deal with.  Ugh.

@ Joshua 18
The walls of Jericho had fallen and the Israelites filled the land of Canaan.  Many of the tribes had already conquered and possessed their assigned territories, and the Canaanites had lost a great deal of control and were weakened through the advancement of these tribes.  But a large portion of the land was still in the hands of the Canaanites because seven tribes appeared to be Type C individuals.  Joshua gave them a little pep talk, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given to you?” (3)  In some circles, this would be called a guilt trip.

The Bible doesn’t record their answer as to why they had waited to take possession of their land.  After 40-plus years in the making to get to this point, they did not take the final step to conquer and possess the land.  Perhaps they didn’t have an answer that would justify their behavior other than why do today what we can put off until tomorrow.

Many factors could have caused their procrastination.  The seven tribes may have been just a little too comfortable in their present situation and the motivation wasn’t there to move forward.  Possibly fear of an unknown territory and the dangers they would face from the enemy paralyzed them to no action.  After a difficult journey, perhaps the challenge of rebuilding, repairing and replanting in this new land seemed overwhelming or maybe they were too lazy to do the work.  It’s even possible they were waiting for the perfect moment in time, perfect weather, everyone healthy and strong, Jupiter aligned with Mars. However, Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 11:4, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest,” and this probably applies to soldiers as well.  Well, we don’t know the reason, but we know they were not getting the job done.

If we are moving forward at all in this life, God has put before us a task to gain new ground or claim a promise He has given.  It may be gaining spiritual ground, new heights in the Spirit; it may be a mission, new souls for the kingdom; or it may be a personal achievement, more fit in body and soul.  When we neglect the task to possess the land, we put ourselves in a vulnerable position, as James wrote, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”(4:17)  Not good.

Whatever our task, whatever our assignment, whatever our promise, we can be stirred to action by Joshua’s probing question, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given to you?” 

Moving Forward:  I’m not waiting for better weather or the right mood, I’m moving forward today towards all He has promised. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 9-11

Numbers 33-36 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart:  His instructions will provide a blessed future for us

I really don’t like going to the doctor, but sometimes I just have to do it.  A while back a doctor diagnosed me with pharyngitis, sinusitis and some other itis and then ordered a prescription of antibiotic to kill all the infection.  His most important instruction was that I be certain to take all the medicine even when I started feeling better because we want to kill all the infection or it could return.  And really, when those of experience and authority give instructions to us, it’s wise to follow them.  Sadly, the Israelites just didn’t see it that way. 

@ Numbers 33
The Israelites had finally finished their 40-year trek in the desert and sat poised to enter Canaan, God’s Promised Land.  Through Moses, God gave a prescription of sorts to the Israelites in order for them to enjoy a healthy and productive life in Canaan.  “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: When you cross the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, you must drive out all the people living there. You must destroy all their carved and molten images and demolish all their pagan shrines. Take possession of the land and settle in it, because I have given it to you to occupy.” (51-53)  The instructions seem clear enough, take all the medicine, drive out all the people and destroy all their idols.

Like my doctor explained to me, God let the Israelites know what would happen should they fail to drive out all the people, “But if you fail to drive out the people who live in the land, those who remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will harass you in the land where you live.  And I will do to you what I had planned to do to them.” (55-56)  And as we know, that is exactly what happened to Israel.

Because they failed to drive out all the Canaanites and destroy all the idols, the Israelites’ everyday lives were slowly infiltrated by them and this brought about their downfall.  Eventually, the Assyrians and Babylonians swept in and drove them out of their land.  What part of all do we not understand?

I’m happy to report that I have taken all my medicine so that not even a little trace of infection is left to grow and infect my body again. What we don’t destroy could destroy us. And so it is with sin.  How foolish it is to preserve something that we know to be sin simply because it seems so harmless, because it is too beautiful to let go of or because it makes us feel good.  There’s no such thing as a little bit of pornography, a little bit of stealing or a little bit of lying because eventually it will grow, spread and easily affect our entire lives.

The lesson we learn from the Israelites today is to follow all of God’s instructions and then we can be assured that we will live happily and healthily in the land He has given us.

Moving Forward: Lesson learned! Taking all my medicine and following all of God’s instructions. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Chronicles 16-20

Genesis 44-47 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: The guidance of His hand is just, merciful and good

Ah…the sweetness of reconciliation!  Books have been written about it, movies have portrayed its beautiful stories and most of us have experienced it.  Outside of the amazing, and I do mean amazing, reconciliation with God that takes place when we accept Jesus as our Savior, the story of Joseph and his brothers tops the list for me.   “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place…God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.  So it was God who sent me here, not you!” (45:4-8)

Not only is this a story of reconciliation, but it is a strong and deliberate message about the providence of God, the intervention of the Divine into our lives to bring about His purposes for our good. “So it was God who sent me here, not you!”  When Joseph forgave his brothers and reconciled with them, he partnered with God’s will to bring about God’s Divine plan for a nation. Our obedience to the Word of God has ramifications beyond our imagination.  Had Joseph refused to forgive, God would have sought another vessel to accomplish His good. 

@ Genesis 46
“I am God, the God of your father,’ the voice said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again.’” (3-4)  I can only imagine the hesitancy in Jacob’s heart to leave Canaan, the land promised to his grandfather, Abraham, for the heathen land of Egypt.  When we think about it, this move changed the history of Israel.

Settled in their Promised Land, Abraham’s family was growing in size, wealth and power, and it just seems as though carting them off to Egypt for 400 years was somewhat counterproductive to God’s divine plan for His people.  After all, He could have abundantly blessed Jacob in spite of the famine years and brought the nations of the world to him.  In the natural, without the impact of the supernatural, we might wonder about His purpose in this.

Because of the move to Egypt, the Israelites would one day migrate back to Canaan and spend many years in war with the occupants of Canaan who had also grown strong over the past 400 years.  But this is where we are challenged to trust the hand of God even when we don’t understand it.  Early on when God promised Abraham a son, He foretold of events to come, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years…After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.” (15:13-16)

God could not yet give Abraham his complete inheritance because He is just.  Abraham’s neighbors in Canaan did not believe in Jehovah, but God gave them 400 years to choose Him over their witchcraft and idols before He allowed Israel to destroy them for their wickedness. In the meantime, the family of Abraham was ever growing in numbers over in Goshen, all their needs were provided, and He was making them ready to step into their destiny.

Sometimes the hand of God in our lives seems to be without purpose and direction in life’s economy.  We may question what the kingdom of God gains through our loss, our dysfunction or our trial?  Well, so often we just don’t know, but through His Word we understand all that He does is just, merciful and good for us as well as all others who live and breathe on the planet.  As He was with the Israelites in Egypt, so will He be with us in our Egypt.  “I will go with you down to Egypt…” 

Moving Forward:  In my obedience to Him today, I know I can trust His hand to guide me with justice, mercy and goodness.  “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts…And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” (Isaiah 55:8) 

Tomorrow @ I Samuel 6-10

Genesis 20-23 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider 

@ Genesis 22
“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” (2) I remember a sermon my husband preached many years ago on the story of Abraham and Isaac, and it’s distinctive in my memory because of the touching illustration he used. Tom started to tell the story of the sacrifice of Isaac and called our young son up front to stand with him.  As the story unfolded, he asked our son to lie on the altar, and with tears streaming down his face, he spoke of the incredible anguish that Abraham must have felt as he raised the knife in obedience to God.  Now if you know my husband, the crying is not so significant, but because I knew him so well, I could tell he was shaken by the thought of sacrificing someone he loved so much.

When I read this story, I can’t help but focus on the journey to Moriah.  Abraham had traveled across that entire region of the world to live in Canaan, but I would imagine that journey did not compare in intensity to the 50 miles to Moriah.  While Isaac was enjoying an outing with his dad, Abraham was facing the greatest testing of his life.  We know little about the conversation on the journey, but what we do know speaks volumes to us.

As Moriah came into view, “Stay here with the donkey,’ Abraham told the servants. ‘The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.’”  Then we will come right back, not I will come right back, but we.  Abraham’s statement wasn’t trickery or deceit, but somewhere during the journey, he resolved in his heart that they would both return.  The writer of Hebrews expressed it this way, “Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again.” (Hebrews11:19)  We will come right back. No wonder Abraham is listed in the Faith Hall of Fame!

Then, as they continued up to Moriah, “As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘We have the fire and the wood,’ the boy said, ‘but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?’” (6-7)

I’ve imagined Abraham pondering every promise from God as he took each step to Moriah > God would make him a great nations > his descendants would be like the dust of earth that couldn’t be counted > as many descendants as the stars in the sky > God would make him the father of nations.  With confidence, Abraham could reply to his son, “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,’ Abraham answered.  And they both walked on together.” (8)  Isaac was the son of promise, and God would provide.

We may walk through situations that seem to be completely unlike what our loving God would allow His children to endure.  It is then, like Abraham, we are challenged to act on what we know the character of God to be, not on how the circumstances may dictate His character to be.  I’ve lived long enough to know that things are rarely as they seem.  Our resolve to walk in obedience and faith will be undergirded as we think over the promises of God and remember that He doesn’t lie and that He can only be faithful. Jehovah Jireh, our Provider – God will provide. 

Moving Forward:  “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith. He was even called the friend of God.” (James 2:23)  I want to be like Abraham. 

Tomorrow @ Judges 1-6