Sunday, April 30, 2017

CONSULT WITH GOD



Josh. 9:14  …..So the Israelite leaders examined their bread, but they did not consult the LORD.

      A group of Gideonites had come to the leaders of Israel and had pretended to be from a land far away when they in fact lived close by.  The Israelites were in the process of conquering the land God had promised them and the Gideonites tricked them into making a peace treaty so that they would not be overcome by them.  As it turned out because the Israelite leaders failed to first seek God’s council, they were unable to completely conquer the land the Lord had promised to them and commanded them to take.

      We are faced with decisions to make.  Seek the Lord first and you can be assured that you will have a much better chance of making right decisions.  Ask the Lord for wisdom and the perceptions you need before you decide what you are going to do.  Don’t be a fool and think that you are smarter than God.  Bad decisions can be avoided if we stop, pray, and listen to God before we plunge ahead.

       We can’t see beyond the moment.  We don’t know what might happen as a result of the decisions we make.  We don’t know how our decisions might affect ourselves and others.  We need to trust the eyes that can see all things of the past, present and future.  Seek the wisdom of God and He will give it to you.  And when you sense peace in the decisions you make, trust the Lord with them.  We don’t always understand why certain decisions must be made, but God does and that is good enough.   He works out for good all things that are entrusted to Him.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

HIDING SIN FROM GOD



Josh. 7:10-11 But the LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? Israel has sinned and broken my covenant. They have stolen the things that I commanded to be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them; they have also lied about it and hidden the things among their belonging.”

      You can’t hide anything from God. You may think you have gotten away with things in your life, but the Lord knows what you have done. You may bury things out of the sight of others, but the Lord sees it all and will not ignore it. He still holds you accountable for your sins, unless they have been turned over to Christ and you have been forgiven. All of us have done shameful things we wish we had not done, things we have buried and perhaps even forgotten about. All of us are in need of Christ’s forgiveness and cleansing. Without it, every sin will be brought into the light and exposed before God.

     You may even be doing things today in your life that are breaking the covenant you have made with God. When we confess our sins and proclaim in our hearts our allegiance with Christ, we are entering into a covenant relationship with God. We are declaring before Him that we are not going to continue to live a life of sin. We are vowing to go and sin no more. Don’t think for a moment that you can continue to sin and it doesn’t matter because you are under grace and not the Law. It matters a great deal because God sees what you are doing and will hold you responsible for your actions. Sin affects our relationship with God. It drives us farther and farther away from God.  It also affects our relationships with others since when we drift from God we no longer have the ability to treat others with the kind of love and respect that God enables us to do.  When we are miserable, we make those around us miserable too.

        Hidden sin can also cause us health problems.  We are very complex and all of the parts of our bodies work together to keep us healthy and whole.  When we allow sin to fester and grow in our hearts, our emotions and minds are directly affected.  How we think and feel about ourselves affect our ability to function in life.  When we are not at our best, the rest of the body suffers and soon is damaged.

      Do you have sin in your heart that you are trying to hide? Don’t wait another moment, confess it to Jesus and let him take it away from you once and for all. You will be glad you did.

Friday, April 28, 2017

SIN LEADS TO DEFEAT



Josh. 7:4  So approximately three thousand warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the city gates as far as the quarries and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events and their courage melted away.

       God was merciful to Israel. If all the soldiers had gone to Ai and fought the battle, they would have all died. Ai was the second city on the agenda of the Israelites to conquer the Promised Land. God had given the Israelites specific instructions on what they were to do and not do at Jericho. Achan disobeyed God and took some plunder that was forbidden for his own. Because of his sin, God did not help the Israelites when they fought the city of Ai. Instead, He caused the Israelites to suffer defeat. They had no chance at all for victory. But, they were so confident of themselves after the victory at Jericho that they sent only a small army to fight against Ai. No matter how big of an army had gone into battle that day, they would have been defeated.

      There is a very important lesson for us to learn from Israel’s defeat at Ai. Whenever we try to contend with Satan on our own and with sin in our hearts, we will lose. There is no victory over sin when sin is in our hearts. Sin breeds sin. We cannot expect God to come to our aide when we aren’t willing to obey Him and keep from sinning. The Lord helps those who help themselves by obeying Him.

     We are overcomers only when we take sin seriously. When we intentionally sin against God, His protective cover over us is withdrawn and we become vulnerable to even more sin. It is imperative that we not allow sin to linger in our hearts. When we sin, and we all do, we must flee to Christ and seek His forgiveness. We will only aggravate our problem if we deny our sin, hide it, or pretend it doesn’t exist.

      Victory only comes to those whose hearts are right with God and obey Him in all things. Take sin seriously, because God does.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

STRONG AND COURAGEOUS



Josh. 1:9   “I command you---be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

      How strong and courageous are you? Do you face life boldly and with confidence, or are you afraid and discouraged? Isn’t it interesting that God commanded the Israelites to be strong and courageous as they prepared to go into battle? He expected them to not be a bunch of wimps, but to be mighty warriors. He expected them to not be hesitant as they faced their enemies. He expected them to fight with purpose and zeal.

     We ought to be strong and courageous as we live out our lives for the Lord. We ought to live like we were soldiers in war instead of spoiled citizens living in comfort. A soldier is always on alert, ready to face his enemy in a life or death struggle. He is aware of the dangers of battle and refuses to give in to his fears. He is well-trained and prepared to face whatever he may face.

      Most of us live like we are spoiled citizens of the Kingdom. We like our comforts. We don’t want to live like we were soldiers. We try to ignore the fact that we are at war with Satan. We would rather cozy up to the darkness that surrounds us than be lights that shine in it. We would rather run, hide, or cave in when confronted by Satan than stand up and fight.

      The Lord wants you to be strong and courageous today. He wants you to not cower in fear or let Satan discourage you. The Lord wants you to live like you know He is with you each step of the way. He wants you to have some guts and resist Satan. The Lord has already won the war you are in! The little skirmishes we face are but a futile attempt by Satan to keep us from claiming the victory that is ours in Christ. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Let us act like it today.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

READ, STUDY AND MEDITATE



Josh. 1:8  Study this Book of the Law continually.  Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it.  Only then will you succeed.

     For the most part, we are not very familiar with our Bibles.  We have a hard time finding passages that we are encouraged to look up.  We have a hard time understanding a lot of the basic truths of the Bible.  We often are clueless as to what some of the basic concepts of the Bible mean, let alone how to apply them to our lives.  We try to live like we think God wants us to live, but are clueless as to a lot of the things we are to do. 

     We do not spend much time in God’s Word.  We are prone to grab a quick couple of verses a day, say a brief prayer, and jump into our day thinking that we have done well.  We spend very little time studying or meditating.  We convince ourselves that we don’t have the time.  We pay our pastors to do that for us.  We don’t live godly lives because we don’t invest our lives in pursuing knowledge and understanding of God’s Word like we should and need to.

     Notice that we are to study the Word continuously.  Meditating on what God has to say is not just a Sunday thing.  We need to open our Bibles for us every day and seek guidance from it.    

      God does not withhold from us guidance on how to live.  He gives us both the time and opportunity we need.  We just need to get our priorities straight and do it.

      We fail to grow into maturity of faith because we have such a warped perception of our need for greater faith.  We are content with little when we need so much more.  It should concern us when we are not wanting more time with the Lord and in His Word.  The more time we spend in the Word and digesting it, the healthier our souls will be.

      There is no better time to turn things around than right now.  Make a commitment to become a student of God’s Word.  You will be glad you did.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

LIFE OR DEATH?



Deut. 30:19 Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live!

God does not force his way into any heart. He lovingly makes himself known to us and then lets us choice whether or not we want him in our lives. We are in control of the choices we make, but with control comes responsibility and accountability. The choices we make about our relationship with God is a matter of life and death. We choose to let God control us and influence the choices we make and enjoy the good life he has promised. We can choose to let Him have partial control and only partially enjoy the life he offers us. Or, we can choose to not let Him have any control over our lives and suffer the consequences of spiritual death. Each of us chooses which option we live with.

The only option that makes life worth living is to choose to let God have control of our living. The second option is a slow death, and the third option is a living death. We have no one to blame but ourselves when we are denied God’s blessings and are plagued with life’s curses. The Lord promises to be with us and help us when we live in him, but without him we are on our own. Jesus is our protector from the curse of sin. He gives us the power and desire to overcome sin. He gives us calmness and strength in the storms of life. He enables us to withstand the attacks of Satan on our souls.

Oh, but that we would choose life and not death, blessings and not curses! Today you have a choice to make. You must choose whether or not you are going to let Jesus be your Savior and Lord, or whether you are going to try to wing it on your own.

Monday, April 24, 2017

CHOOSING YOUR LIFE



Deut. 30:15-16  “Now listen!  I am giving you a choice between prosperity and disaster, between life and death.  I have commanded you today to love the LORD your God and to keep his commands, laws, and regulations by walking in his ways.”

Bottom line is that we choose the quality of life we live.  We choose whether or not we allow the Lord to influence the way we live.  If you are a Christian and you are not enjoying your life, I would suspect it has a lot to do with how much you allow the Lord to have a part of your living.

We need to daily worship the Lord.  We need to daily seek His guidance and favor.  We need to daily seize opportunities to serve and be a witness for Him.  We need to daily meditate on God’s greatness and goodness.  We need to tell Him often from the depths of our hearts that we love and adore Him.  In other words, you and I must make a conscious investment of our time and energy in developing an intimate relationship with our Lord.  If we choose to do it, the Lord will bless us with His presence and give us all we need to cope with life victoriously.  We have no one to blame but ourselves if we settle for anything less in our lives.

You must make a choice.  God does not make anyone love and serve Him.  You will either choose to live in an intimate relationship with Christ and live life to the fullest, or you will choose to live life without Him and live a slow and miserable death.  If you choose to not live in Christ, you are playing Russian roulette with your soul.  You may not have another chance to choose Christ.  By not choosing Christ you are choosing death over life. 

A true child of God loves Him, obeys Him and walks with Him in all his ways.