Right In His Own Eyes

Deuteronomy 12:8
“You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes—”

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Ignoring the Word of God, and doing whatever we determine to be right, has always been a problem for mankind, and is a reoccurring theme within Scripture. It was the driving force behind the problems recorded in the book of Judges, and was the ultimate cause of Israel’s civil war, and their fall to Assyria and Babylon. Here, this self-reliant attitude is used as it related  to the way people chose to worship. God declared, once Israel entered into the promised land they were to set the tabernacle in a designated location, and there the people would congregate to worship God. No one was allowed to set up his own altar on a hillside or under a tree. God established a centralized location for worship that would unite the people to one another. Years later, Israel would experience a civil war that resulted in the kingdom being divided. Ten tribes formed the northern nation of Israel, and two tribes the southern nation of Judah. The first thing Jeroboam, king of Israel, did upon taking the throne, was to set up new places of worship so the people would not go back to Jerusalem. He understood the way to unite people was to worship God together.

Sadly, this same attitude is all too common, today, among followers of Christ. Way too many Christians are separating themselves from the church, and attempting to worship God apart from congregating with other believers. Among the more common excuses for this behavior include: I can’t find a good church, those people are all hypocrites, or we might allude to how our feelings were hurt by the way the church treated us. It is important to keep in mind, the church is not a perfect entity, but has been designed by God as the means in which believers grow, and the gospel is declared to the world. Instead of isolating ourselves, we should seek to surround ourselves with others who will be used by God, to both encourage and challenge us to become more like Christ.

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

Pastor Jim

 

Testophobia 

Deuteronomy 8:2
“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

Like most of us, much of my childhood was spent in school, and one of the worst words for any student to hear is “test.” For some of us, this word  still conjures up feelings of fear, defeat and humiliation. As a student, I was never quite sure why we had to take so many tests. Years later, and much to my own surprise, I actually became a teacher and had a totally different view of the purpose of all those tests. They were not to make the children suffer as much as they were to show, student and teacher alike, what they already knew and what we needed to work on. The tests God put Israel through had a similar purpose. He allowed them to walk through some difficulties to show them what was in them and what work He still needed to do.

Trials are designed to show us how much or how little we have grown in Christ. When we face a difficulty and we are filled with fear, we know that we need to get to know the faithfulness of God better and learn to trust Him. When the trial reveals our impatience, we understand it is time to begin to trust in the purposes, will, and timing of God. It is not as though trials make us afraid, impatient, angry or anxious, as much as they reveal that those things are still within us. When trials expose the weaknesses of our humanity, it is time for us to cling to Christ and allow Him to mature us.

The next time you fail a test, instead of getting discouraged, realize that God has just revealed to you the thing He wants to work on. Take time to carefully seek Him in His word, to help you mature through your difficulties.

Pastor Jim

 

Victory In Battles 

Deuteronomy 2:37
“Only you did not go near the land of the people of Ammon—anywhere along the River Jabbok, or to the cities of the mountains, or wherever the Lord our God had forbidden us.”

Israel’s journey through the wilderness serves as a vivid illustration of the believers walk with God. Here we find that God led them away from some battles and into others. This reminds me of the words of Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:13),

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” 

As we walk with the Lord, we find that He leads us away from many temptations. We will also find that more of our time is spent around the people of God and involved in the things of God. However, there are times when He will lead us directly into battle. We will be forced to face struggles head on and learn to rely upon the Word of God, and the Spirit of God, for victory.

Years ago, Newsweek magazine released a publication called “The Conquerers”, which gave a synopsis of the great military leaders throughout history. Each of these leaders had one thing in common, they introduced a new form of combat that their enemies had never seen. A careful observation of Israel’s victories will reveal the exact opposite. They did not defeat their enemies because they were stronger, smarter, or larger, but because they obeyed the Lord and relied upon His Spirit.

When we come face to face with temptation, obstacle, or difficulty, we need to understand that the same God who leads us away from temptation, will sometimes lead us into battle. When those times arise, we must always lean on the Word for direction and the Spirit for strength.

Pastor Jim

 

Big Shoes

Deuteronomy 34:9
“Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

I can remember times when my children would slip on a pair of my shoes and attempt to walk around the house. Their little feet were so small, and the shoes so large, that not only did they look ridiculous, but it made the simple task of walking from one side of the room to the next, almost impossible. Suffice it to say, attempting to fill someone else’s shoes is often a very difficult task. That concept would be greatly compounded as it relates to Joshua and Moses, of whom we are told, 

 

Deuteronomy 34:10-12

“But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. “

 

I think it is important to keep in mind, God never intended for Joshua to fill the shoes of Moses. Instead, He wanted to do a new work and raise up a new leader. Moses had been uniquely trained and gifted for the ministry he was called to perform. His education in Egypt, coupled with his time in the wilderness, gave him a skill set that helped him effectively lead the people out of Egypt, and through the wilderness. While at the same time, he established the foundation for a new nation. Joshua, on the other hand, would be called to an entirely different area of ministry, and would need a whole new array of giftings. Joshua was called to lead the people into the land, drive out the enemy, and establish Israel in their new homeland. More than anything else, Joshua would need to be able to discern the voice of God, for a game plan for victory. The training for this took place years before when he chose to make the tent of meeting his home. Early on in the wilderness journey, we read that Joshua was the assistant of Moses, and he never left the tent of meeting. His training for leadership was found in meeting with the Lord,  learning to discern His voice, and follow His leading.  

 

As time moves forward, men and women of God will pass on. In their place, we will find vast ministry opportunities. Instead of lamenting the loss of a leader, we should be seeking, in every way possible, to become a person whom God can use to carry on the work of the Lord. Perhaps it is time to follow the example of Joshua and begin to set up a meeting place where you daily spend time God, and learn His Word, His ways, and his voice. 

 

Pastor Jim 

 

 

 

Shelter From The Storm

Deuteronomy 33:27
“The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms…”

Israel stood on the edge of the Promised Land. Soon they would cross the Jordan and face the giants. After forty years in the wilderness, their task had not become any easier. Knowing he was about to die, Moses reminded the people of their true source of strength.

The eternal God is their strength. ‘Eternal’ carries the idea of being both timeless and limitless. Before time existed, there was God. He is what the philosophers call the “uncaused cause.” It is through Him that all things were brought into being. According to Paul, it is in Him that all things are held together (Colossians 1:17). Although Moses would not be able to lead the people into the land and against their foes, the eternal God would be their refuge and strength. No matter what they faced, the eternal God would provide for their needs.

Notice, Moses reminds the nation of Israel, the eternal God is a source of refuge. A refuge is a hide out. It is a place we go in the midst of the storm, the battle, or the times of confusion. Moses promises that God is the hiding place for all who are facing the storms of life.

A few years ago, we had a large hurricane coming straight at our town. People began to “button up” their homes, to withstand the coming storm. Those with hurricane shutters installed them, while those without, began to fashion plywood, to cover their windows. It did not take long for all the available plywood to run out. I remember seeing one individual, in a panic, covering his windows with drywall. His fear created a panic which caused him to run to a refuge that would not support him in the midst of the storm.

Whatever you are facing, no matter how large or small, remember the eternal God is your refuge. He desires you would run to Him for shelter and security.

Pastor Jim

 

What’s In It For Me? 

Deuteronomy 32:9
“For the Lord’s portion is His people; 
Jacob is the place of His inheritance.”
 

I am sure we have all heard the phrase, “What’s in it for me?” In fact, in all likelihood we have probably used the phrase ourselves. We might ask this as it relates to an investment or work related opportunity. Some suggest, the most important principle in business marketing, is to be sure to let the consumer know what’s in it for them. When it comes to salvation, the answer includes, but is not limited too: forgiveness of sin, restored relationship with God, a transformed life, and the free gift of eternal life. Without doubt, we would be exercising the height of folly to fail to receive all that is offered to us through a relationship with Christ. 

 

That being said, Moses is focussing on the other side of “What’s in it for me?” He is referring to that which God gets out of the deal. Because we accepted Christ, we get Him, and in return He gets us. 

 

“For the Lord’s portion is His people;

Jacob is the place of His inheritance.”

 

God hand-selected Abraham, miraculously worked in his life by providing a son, put his protection upon the children of Israel, delivered them from Egyptian bondage, and carried them through their wilderness journey. As a result, they belonged to Him. They were His possession and His people. In the same way, Christ hung on Calvary’s cross, bore the weight of human sin, breathed His last, was laid in a cave, and rose from the dead, all to provide atonement for sin, and bring us into relationship with God. The result is, we belong to Him, we are in fact, His inheritance. The proper response is, we understand the great value He places upon each of us, and we seek to live all out for His glory and purposes. 

 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

 

Pastor Jim 

 

 

Life Lessons

Deuteronomy 31:4
“And the Lord will do to them as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites and their land, when He destroyed them.”

As the wilderness wanderings came to an end, Israel came face to face with two formidable foes. Sihon and the Amorites, and Og and the soldiers from Bashan. Both of these enemies seemed too great a force for the children of Israel, yet they found strength in the Lord and overcame these obstacles. As Moses prepares Israel to enter the Land without him, he reminds them of these victories. In fact, as a reminder of these events, Sihon is mentioned twenty-two times in the Old Testament, and Og nineteen times. God never wanted Israel to forget the victories they experienced in the early years.

I wonder what victories have you accomplished in your walk with the Lord? Are there times when you faced insurmountable odds, chose to trust in the Lord, and saw Him accomplish the impossible? We work so hard to ensure that we never get to a place where we need to trust the Lord. We want to have all the comforts and ease, and keep ourselves from any sort of difficulty that requires the miraculous. It is in the times when we face obstacles beyond ourselves, and determine to trust the Lord, that we will have victories that will bear fruit for a lifetime.

Whatever your are facing today, lean upon the Lord for your strength, peace, comfort and direction. He will not only support you in your time of need, but will bring lessons that will last a lifetime.

Pastor Jim