Tag Archives: daily walk

(Judges 1-3) Failures

The Jews were failures. Manasseh failed. Ephraim failed. Zebulun failed. Ashar failed. Naphtali failed. The Danites failed. They all failed to obey God by not driving out the enemy from the Promised Land.

Judah didn’t drive out the enemy, using the excuse, “They have strong chariots.” Judah failed.

Benjamin didn’t drive out the Jebusites, but learned to co-exist with them instead. Benjamin failed.

All the tribes of Israel obeyed God to a degree. But Scripture doesn’t celebrate their partial victories. Scripture reports their failures.

I guess I’m understanding that mostly obeying God means I’m disobeying Him. The Israelites will pay dearly for their disobedience as we will see in the books of Judges, the Samuels and the Kings. The Jewish people are going to look and worship just like the enemies they didn’t drive out of the land. And God will judge them.

Our 21st century Church needs a wake-up call. Baptists are failures. Presbyterians are failures. Methodists are failures, Catholics are failures. We haven’t driven out the enemy, but have learned to co-exist with him. And we look and worship just like those who follow the enemy.

I think God would have us take a look at our level of obedience. Because if we aren’t obeying Him 100%, we are disobeying Him. If we aren’t obeying Him according to Scripture, we are failures.

(Joshua 24) Dads

Joshua, as the spiritual head of his family, declared: “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” In other words, no matter what the decisions the other Jews made concerning obedience to God, Joshua said emphatically that his family would choose obedience.

How could he make such a statement? Didn’t his kids and grandkids have minds of their own? Couldn’t they choose to worship idols, no matter what Dad said?

Of course they could. But here’s what I hear Joshua saying:

“My family will know the truth about God because I’m going to tell them. I’m going to raise them to fear God, to love God, to serve Him according to His Word – which I will teach them. If they choose to disobey God, they are going to know what that choice entails because I will tell them exactly what the consequences of sin are. And I will do everything in my power to help them choose obedience.”

I don’t see Joshua’s declaration so much a commitment for his family, as a commit for himself to be the spiritual head of his family.

So who is the spiritual head of your family? Many households depend on the mothers to read the Bible stories, say the blessing at mealtime, be sure the kids are in Sunday School. I’m thankful for women who take on this role in their families, especially if the husband doesn’t step up. I know there are lots of moms who have had the privilege of praying with their young children to receive Jesus as their Savior. What a precious moment that must be.

But there is something about a Dad gathering up the children around him to read and explain Scripture, to pray aloud with them, then boldly living his faith in front of them. The picture of family according to God places the husband as the spiritual head, like God is the head of His spiritual family.

I am not about to get into a gender role debate. I’m a woman. I know I am capable of guiding children in the truth of Scripture. I know mothers are an essential part of their families’ existence. I’m not discounting their importance. But if I believe the Bible, I must believe we women need to allow our husbands to lead. It’s God’s design.

So men, is it time you stepped up and became the spiritual head of your family? Your children are watching and learning, watching and learning. They see through you much more clearly than you think. What do they see?

Can you, with Joshua, commit yourself to raising your children to worship God, to choose obedience rather than sin? That is your calling, your responsibility, your privilege. Your child’s eternal soul may live in your home today. But one day, that little one will go out on his or her own. Are you preparing them? Or are you hoping someone else will do that for you?

Don’t drop the ball, Dads.

(Joshua 6-10) It’s Time To Pay Attention To The Signs

You can’t read these chapters and not realize how serious God is about unrepentant sin. He punishes – without mercy – the unrepentant heart.

I read the official statement and investigative report from RZIM, the apologetics and evangelistic organization started by Ravi Zacharias. I will say that personally, Ravi’s influence has helped me to think about and define what it is I believe according to Scripture. His radio program, books, lectures and debates have encouraged me to never take what I hear at face value, but to test everything through the lens of God’s Holy Word. The man knew the Bible.

So reading that the accusations against him are true, and even more depraved than what was initially thought has been shocking to say the least. How? Why? I am angry and sad.

The RZIM organization, according to their statement, is accepting responsibility. They ask for forgiveness, not absolution.

The thing that hit me is that, in hindsight, there were signs. The people who worked with Zacharias had questions. But they rationalized Ravi’s behavior, trusted what he said, and went as far as discrediting his accusers because, after all, Ravi was their founder, a seemingly godly man, a man who knew the Bible better than the rest of us.

They couldn’t, or wouldn’t, believe Ravi could commit such awful sins. But the investigation reveals that this renowned Bible expert lived a very sinful private life. I only hope that before he died Ravi, like the thief on the cross, humbled himself and accepted the grace Jesus died to give him. If he didn’t, according to Scripture he knew so well, Ravi’s hell is more agonizing than we can imagine.

Here’s what I believe God would have us see here: He is serious about sin no matter who is sinning. And unrepentant sin is judged without mercy.

We can criticize the RZIM organization for not recognizing the signs. But are we guilty of ignoring the signs in our own lives, in the lives of our family members, in the lives of fellow believers, pastors, and teachers? Are we any less guilty of rationalizing certain behaviors than RZIM has been?

Let this be a wake-up call. If Ravi’s sin had been confronted, dozens of women could have been spared the harassment and abuse. Ravi could have repented years ago. His victims, family, friends, and the cause of Christ might not be living with the aftermath of such a devastating blow.

But I wonder what level of pain we are inflicting as well, when we turn a blind eye to sin? We need to see sin as God sees it. We need to hold each other accountable. We need to address it today, before more time passes, before more people are hurt and more consequences are faced. We need to call sin sin and, if a person refuses to repent, separate ourselves from them. We don’t do anyone any favors by ignoring sin.

If we can learn anything from the Ravi Zacharias scandal, we should see the need for calling for true repentance of believers. We (not the unsaved) need a revival in our hearts and in our churches. We (not non-believers) are too often guilty and need to confess our own sin.

We can’t continue to ignore the signs. We can’t continue to allow sin to co-exist within God’s Holy Church. We need to not only know what the Bible says, but we need to live accordingly, and demand other believers do the same.

It’s time.

(Deuteronomy 29-30) Exempt?

We’ve got a problem. Too many of us live like we believe that if we identify as Christians, if we prayed the prayer and confessed our sins, if we read our Bibles and are good people, we are somehow exempt from the consequences of sin. We believe our sins are “under the blood,” so that sin we commit has already been dealt with. But I wonder.

Too many of us are comfortable with sin in our lives, and in our churches. Listen to what God says through Moses about this in 29:19a:

When someone hears the words of this oath, he may consider himself exempt, thinking, “I will have peace even though I follow my own stubborn heart.”

Is reading God’s Word or hearing a sermon that golden ticket to exemption? Read on:

This will lead to the destruction of the well-watered land as well as the dry land. The Lord will not be willing to forgive him. Instead his anger and jealousy will burn against that person, and every curse written in this scroll will descend on him. The Lord will blot out his name under heaven, and single him out for harm… (19b-21a)

If you are a Christian the bar set for obedience isn’t lowered. In fact, God requires more of us. Didn’t Jesus tell us we commit murder if we hate, we commit adultery if we lust?

Dear one, we are not exempt. I hope you’ll read 30:11-20. God hasn’t hidden what he demands. We are blessed when we obey and cursed when we disobey.

…love the Lord your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to him. For He is your life… (30:20a)

We must remain faithful. That means confessing every sin, praying God will create clean hearts in us and renew steadfast spirits in us. It means dying daily, fleeing temptation, and surrendering our stubborn hearts at the earliest sign of rebellion.

God, through Moses, tells us He has put it all out there. He has told us and shown us life and death, blessing and curse. Then He tells us to choose life.

That’s my prayer for all of us today.

(Numbers 33) Unnecessary Detours

If I counted correctly, the Israelites moved 44 times during their forty year romp through the wilderness. God had brought them right to the door of the Promised Land, but because of their unbelief, they were forced to turn away and roam the countryside.

I taught school for almost forty years. During that time I made eight moves. One was during the worst snow storm Ohio had ever seen. None of the moves I made were fun. I can’t imagine picking up and moving 44 times. That’s more than one a year! No thanks!!

What makes this a tragic tale is the fact they didn’t have to have moved at all. If they had only trusted God, He would have given them the land He’d brought them to. It was right there. It was so close. It’s what God wanted for them. But they just couldn’t trust Him, and God closed the door. Such an unnecessary detour.

As you look back on your life, do you recognize the unnecessary detours you’ve taken because you hadn’t trusted God? It happens. God brings us right to the door of blessing, but we hold back. We try another route. We question, and doubt. And God closes the door.

We find ourselves taking that detour that includes hardships and heartache. Yes, there are blessings in the detours. Yes God can and does use us during those times. But we miss what was beyond our doubt at the time God wanted us to accept it.

God is speaking to me about trust today. Are there areas of my life I keep to myself, things I think I need to handle on my own, ministry opportunities I decline because I think the hurdles are too high? What am I missing if I don’t trust God with it all?

I want God’s perfect will in my life. Not just because there are blessings there, but because it’s God’s perfect will for me. I would rather not take unnecessary detours to get there.

(Genesis 32-40) Submission

Here’s where I think we have failed God.

As I was reading every detail of Bezalel’s work in the making of the tabernacle, once again I was frustrated. Didn’t we just get done reading those same details in the previous chapters? Why put us through that torture again? Why not simply report, “Bezalel obeyed?”

As I was forming that question in my mind somewhere around chapter 37, God seemed to challenge me to pay attention. There is a lesson to be learned from Bezalel’s obedience. I slowed down my reading and looked carefully at the level of Bezalel’s obedience and it dawned on me. The lesson here is…

submission.

We don’t see Bezalel going rogue. We don’t see him adding to or skipping over even the tiniest detail. He was an artist. I’m sure he was creative and imaginative in his own right. But he submitted to God. He laid aside his own desires and fulfilled the plan God designed exactly as it was told him.

Scripture tells us repeatedly that the tabernacle was made “just as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

Oh, that we would be as diligent, as careful to build the Church in 2021, just as the Lord commanded in His Word. I’m not sure we have submitted our wills as completely as Bezalel submitted his.

If we’re honest we have overlooked some important details. We’ve tweaked some details to be less offensive, more politically correct. Haven’t we turned our worship into entertaining productions? We are more concerned with what our worship looks like than in the condition of our hearts. We rationalize sin in our church and in our individual lives, and it’s getting harder and harder to recognize a follower of Jesus because we look very much like unbelievers.

The result of Bezalel’s level of obedience was blessing. Read chapter 40. It must have been an amazing spectacle as God revealed His Presence. There could be no question. God was in this. There is reward for carefully following what God says: HIS PRESENCE!

So today God is asking me to submit, to lay aside what I think, and look into His Word to find out what He commands. He is asking me to stop listening to christian-sounding ideas and plans, and to obey what He has made so clear in the pages of my Bible.

I realize my level of submission isn’t where it needs to be. Submitting to God isn’t merely a prayer, or an intention. If I truly submit to God it is going to be evident in my talk, my walk, my thoughts, and ultimately in my choices today. It’s going to be driven by God’s plan, not mine.

Have we as the Church failed to submit to God? If so, maybe it’s time we do.

(Exodus 26-31) Plans and Blueprints and Details

Why did God think it was important to have every tiny detail of the tabernacle spelled out? My brain doesn’t work like this. I honestly don’t care how many rings held a pole or if the covering hung over six inches or six feet or not at all.

I’ve shared my church is in the middle of a building project. There are plans and blueprints and details I don’t understand – or care to understand. But before I walk through those doors and sit in a chair under that roof, I’m going to be very glad someone thought about the feet and inches and materials and placement, and cared enough to not only understand those details, but made sure they were carried out to the letter so the building doesn’t come crashing down on my head.

Now, I know every detail God recorded here in these chapters in Exodus have symbolic meaning and draw a beautiful picture of God’s Sovereign plan of salvation. But when I read this I can’t help but think, not so much of the plan, but the Planner, not so much of the building but the Architect, the Master Designer who not only drew up those plans, but oversaw the process of turning His plans into an amazing place of worship there in the desert. That tabernacle would not come crashing down on the Israelites because it was designed by God Himself and built by people who followed His blueprints to the letter.

That gives me peace and joy today as God’s tabernacle in 2021. Because as interested as God was in every detail of that Old Testament tabernacle, He is infinitely more interested the details of my life. And if I follow the blueprint, if I build according to the plans He has laid out in His Word, I won’t come crashing down even in the middle of a virus scare, or a job loss, or a medical setback, or a change in government.

So I am thankful God included these details I read today here in the book of Exodus. It reminds me how invested He is in the details of my life. The Master Designer is my peace and joy and hope.

(Genesis 1-2) A New Year, A New Study of God’s Word

For some time now I’ve had the conviction that having faith, being a follower of Jesus is not enough. Oh, it’s enough to get me into heaven. But it’s not enough to be obedient. I believe we all need to study to show ourselves ready to do God’s work, to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus.

Now, I am not an intellectual. I am not a deep thinker. There is more to this life that I don’t understand than do. But I bought a Christian Standard Apologetics Study Bible, and I intend to dig in this year.

My prayer is that as I look at God’s Word in light of opposing views, and with the help of men who have studied much more than I, I will be able to defend what I know to be true. I don’t want to be satisfied with merely believing, I want to be able to express why I believe in a clear and factual manner. I think God wants that of me.

Did God create the universe with a word? Is the earth thousands or billions of years old? Was Adam a physical man, or a symbol for humankind? Is there Truth, morality, a standard of right and wrong? Is God real?

I don’t intend to write an apologetic study guide this year. I won’t be posting my thoughts every day. And I seriously doubt I’ll finish my study by this time next year. But I will touch base every now and then to let you know what I’m learning. Pray for me.

As with any commentary, I will listen to what these people have researched. But I will let God’s Word be the final authority. I want nothing more than to know God as He is, and to be able to share Him with people who don’t.

I pray you will be reading the Bible every day in 2021. I pray that you will ask God to challenge and encourage you, to reveal Himself to you more and more, and equip you to be the obedient servant He intends for you to be.

It’s a new year. Let’s make it a year to grow in grace and knowledge of our dear Savior. One day at a time.

Without Ceasing (Jude)

Do you pray in the Spirit? What does that even mean? Jude encourages us to build ourselves up in our most holy faith and pray in the Spirit. (Vs 20).

As I was sitting here thinking about this and asking God for insight, I looked at the verse printed at the bottom of the page in my journal:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)

I’m sitting here at the kitchen table with my sister. I’m very aware that she is here. If I have a thought, I can share it and hear her response. Her presence next to me is a comfort, and brings me joy.

I think praying in the Spirit is similar to that. It’s an awareness of the Presence. It’s the natural impulse to share a thought or ask a question, or just to stop and listen. It’s intentional communication with the Spirit who lives in me.

It’s the choice to love God with all my heart, down deep in my soul, not just an emotional feeling of love. It’s loving God with my thoughts, my intellect, my careful reading of His Word.

Paul puts it like this: “Pray continually.” Or in another translation: “Pray without ceasing.” (I Thessalonians 5:17) That is God’s will for you and me.

What a privilege to have the Spirit of God living in me. May I never take that for granted, but always be aware of the Presence. May my thoughts and words include Him, intentionally, lovingly…

Without ceasing.

My Response (Hebrews 10)

Mom would have been 96 today. I would have enjoyed celebrating with her. But since she’s in heaven, she has no age, no birthday, no need for candles or cake. She’s in glory!

Reading her Bible today gave me a special connection with her. I love that woman! I was touched my some verses that touched her. Chapter 10 talks about the amazing work Jesus did on the cross, His sacrifice and what it means for my life and my eternity. Here is what she underlined:

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (22-25)

I want my response to Jesus to be exactly that! A sincere heart, full of the assurance of my faith in Him, a guiltless conscience because of the decisions I make as His representative. I want to hold unswervingly to the hope I have, even when my hope is not politically correct or “woke.” I want to encourage you even more as we see the very real possibility that the end of life as we know it may be coming to an end. Let’s stand together in the Truth that is Jesus!

I hope you’ll read Hebrews today. It always makes me love Jesus more every time I read it. He did it all. The old is gone, the new is come. I want my response to His sacrifice, to bring Him joy.