Friday, September 24, 2010

Moving Forward

I was reading in Joshua 1 this morning along with a few other passages and the phrase "be strong and courageous" is an obvious theme throughout Joshua 1. Something that I hadn't really noticed before is that when the Lord spoke to Joshua in verse 2-3...
Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.
After telling him several times to be strong and courageous and promising to be with Joshua, it is really cool to see how Joshua responds.
Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, to possess it.
He did not delay at all! He listened to the Lord speaking to him, had confidence that He never fails and proceeded with immediately following His direction and leading the others to do the same. Three days is pretty quick after waiting so many years... but when God says "go"... you go! It is also neat seeing how God had worked in the people's hearts in order to respond to Joshua correctly.
They answered Joshua, saying, "All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. "Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you; only may the Lord your God be with you as He was with Moses. "Anyone who rebels against your command and does not obey your words in all that you command him, shall be put to death; only be strong and courageous."
Talk about taking this seriously... to put to death anyone that was disobedient to his lead (knowing that ultimately it was the Lord leading). God also spoke through these people to Joshua to be strong and courageous. It is such a blessing that not only does God give us encouragement through His Word, but He speaks through people as well to spur us on to obedience and submission to His ways along with leading in the ways that He would have us lead.

God, may we be strong and courageous in following Your ways. Give us no peace and no courage to move outside of Your boundaries, but help us by Your grace to run boldly in the path that Your Word is lighting for us.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Manning Up

In the last post, I talked about Eli and his lack of taking responsibility as a father to his sons and how important it is that we take full responsibility when it comes to sin. Eli definitely messed up in a big way, but Eli also was willing to "man up" and take God's judgment for his lack of responsibility. Take a look at 1 Samuel 3:10-18.
Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for Your servant is listening." The Lord said to Samuel, "Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. "In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. "For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. "Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever." So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. Then Eli called Samuel and said, "Samuel, my son." And he said, "Here I am." He said, "What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you." So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, "It is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him."
I was reading in Galatians 6 earlier today which talks about how we reap what we sow. Eli was no exception to this, he sowed irresponsibility and God severely punished him for it. At the same time, Eli humbly realized his fault and even though he did not do anything about it, he was willing to accept God's perfect will... which in this case was judgment. The first step is to take responsibility, but the reality is that we all will fail at times. In these times of failure, it is essential that we humbly confess our sin of irresponsibility to the Lord, start taking responsibility while accepting whatever punishment the Lord brings our way knowing that it is best for us.

David was called a man after God's own heart. Take a look at how he took recognized God's sovereign hand working through someone else in 2 Samuel 16:5-11.
When King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera; he came out cursing continually as he came. He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and at his left. Thus Shimei said when he cursed, "Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow! "The Lord has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!" Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head." But the king said, "What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the Lord has told him, 'Curse David,' then who shall say, 'Why have you done so?'" Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, "Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him.
God says that we are to honor the king, so this was clearly not something that Shimei should have been doing; however, David recognized the extent of his own sinfulness and that he was completely deserving of the things that Shimei was saying. Rather than having Abishai cut off his head (which he could have done), he spoke humbly, knowing the reality of his own sinfulness and that he was deserving of far more than just these insults being cast his way. David's sin was great, but he humbly "manned up" and took responsibility for his sin without shifting it to others (even if they were wrong in what they were doing). May God give us hearts of humility to "man up" or "woman up" and take responsibility for our own sin regardless of what others are doing. May our sin cause us to realize how great our savior is!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Taking Responsibility

This week has been a good one, but challenging as well. It felt like I was constantly battling to trust the Lord fully. That is not by any means a reflection on His faithfulness, because He is altogether faithful and has given me no reason to not trust Him; yet, I still struggle to do so fully. I am so thankful that He is not done working on me yet! Today was a good day of refocusing. I am ready for a new week!

A couple of my friends are leaving, one for school, the other off to the army. Both of these young men are guys that I care much about... and in some regards, it is hard to see them go, but I know that God does all things for His glory in His perfect timing. May God's faithfulness be their standing place regardless of where He puts them.

I was reading tonight in 1 Samuel 2 and was thinking through what it means to really take responsibility.
Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. He said to them, "Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? "No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the Lord's people circulating. "If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?" But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the Lord desired to put them to death. ... Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, "Thus says the Lord, 'Did I not indeed reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in bondage to Pharaoh's house? 'Did I not choose them from all the tribes of Israel to be My priests, to go up to My altar, to burn incense, to carry an ephod before Me; and did I not give to the house of your father all the fire offerings of the sons of Israel? 'Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?' "Therefore the Lord God of Israel declares, 'I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever'; but now the Lord declares, 'Far be it from Me--for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed. 'Behold, the days are coming when I will break your strength and the strength of your father's house so that there will not be an old man in your house. 'You will see the distress of My dwelling, in spite of all the good that I do for Israel; and an old man will not be in your house forever. 'Yet I will not cut off every man of yours from My altar so that your eyes will fail from weeping and your soul grieve, and all the increase of your house will die in the prime of life. 'This will be the sign to you which will come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them will die. 'But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always.
God used people to tell Eli that his sons were doing things that were very displeasing to the Lord. He did what most of us would do and went to his sons and confronted them about their actions. However, when his sons didn't respond, Eli obviously just let it slide. First off, Eli probably knew about his son's actions before people told him and had chosen to ignore those actions. Second, Eli didn't take his responsibility as their father and take action. God said that he honored his sons over God Himself! God will be glorified regardless of if you and I do it or not. I don't know about you, "but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!" So often we like to ignore the sin of those around us to avoid conflict, but be careful that you are not honoring that person over God! Friendship with the world is enmity toward God. Light does not mix with darkness. We must take full responsibility for not only our actions, but also the actions of those God has placed within our sphere of influence. I am not advocating that you go point out every sin that anyone you know has ever committed, but I urge you to not ignore your sin nor excuse the sin of others, because God most definitely does not! He is a God full of compassion, but we must walk as His children in obedience!