Friday, May 29, 2009

Day 148 when our sin leads to death of others..

When our sin leads to death of others.. knowing the value of keeping your mouth shut!

I was caught up in the story of Doeg the Edomite, head shepherd to Saul in I Sam 21&22
He was the only one out of thousands to respond to Saul's sulky "woe is me" speech. Where he tries to entice information from his troops on the whereabouts of David.

What would make someone do this? Maybe he wanted to win the favor of Saul. Maybe he was dissatisfied with his job and was a "wanna be warrior". If that was the case he got more than he bargained for... on one day he would slay the 85 Priests of Nob and their families. The town of the priests with its men women and children and infants cattle donkeys and sheep. I sam 22 :19 What a horrific day, all because Doeg couldn't keep his mouth shut.

It is interesting to note that Doeg had that information on David because he was "detained before the Lord" I sam 21:7. I am reminded that while God does not tempt us, he can test our hearts to "temper our mettle" to see how well we are really progressing in our walk with Him.

We always have the choice to weigh the merits of each situation before we act. What did Doeg know about Sauls evil intentions, his mental stability, what were others - perhaps wiser than himself doing in this situation? The refusal of others to take the bait should have been a guide if he was on the threshold of "should I, shouldn't I" kind of thinking. Doeg does have a psalm written about him, not the honor of a warrior trusting in God, but as a disgrace in the sight of God.

Psalm 52 gives us some insight on the sort of fellow Doeg was.
Ps 52: 1 Why do you boast of evil, you mighty man? Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?.... 7 "Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!"

The last word goes to Proverbs 13:16 "All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly".

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 147 Responding to Evil - with Prudence

I sam 19:9 But an evil [Harmful] spirit from the LORD came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.

This is an interesting concept. Was David correct in fleeing or should he consider that this was God's will and should submit to Saul's spear? What happens when we encounter something evil or harmful in our lives? I would have to admit that there was a time in my life that this was a serious question for me. If I was told that something came from God and it was dangerous/harmful I would submit, believing that if God sent it then I will be ok. I would have passed the test. Now thankfully, I am not so naive.

Amazing what reading scripture will do for our wellbeing...We look at Jobs life , and we learn that Satan does walk before Gods throne and set life up trying to entice us to "curse God". Later in Zechariah we read that Satan constantly condemns us.

Most of all, what I have learnt recently is what I call the "Smell of Hell". That anything which has as its hallmark Kill, Steal or Destroy (John 10:9) is from the Devil. Sometimes the situation calls for fleeing from the scene like David or Joseph or sometimes it's standing and resist the devil and he shall flee from you as in Ephesians 6. Learning the skill of "Devil Detection" will be a life long process from self-deception to undermining the character of God as a minimum.
I hope to be like the prudent person that turns from danger.
Proverbs 14:8
The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.
Proverbs 14:15
A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.
Proverbs 22:3
A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day 132 Wise questions of parenthood - Samson

Judges13: 5c "He will begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines"
From the outset this was YHWH's purpose for Samson as told to his mother.

8 Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: "Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born."......

12 So Manoah asked him, "When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule that governs the boy's life and work?"

13 The angel of the LORD answered, "Your wife must do all that I have told her. 14 She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her."

Here we have parents who know their inadequacies in nurturing and training a man who would deliver the Israelites from the Philistines.

Who should capture his heart but a Philistine woman! The first "rule of engagement" was more literal than Manoah or his wife imagined.

It is worth noting that God begins a work, picks a fight and lays out the enemy - How he achieves this may look odd to us. Usually when we consider Samson esp through the lens of Sunday school, we are shown a man driven by anger, vengeance and lust. Samson is an odd fellow, it will be interesting to hear his story in heaven! Would God say he has been misjudged or misguided?


Monday, May 11, 2009

Day 130 Rash Vows at Mizpah (watchtower)

Jephthah the Gileadite, was born the illegitimate son of a prostitute. Gilead, his dad brought him into his family. The child had a home with his father. I can't see this being a reality in our modern family life today, can you? At a time when polygamy and concubines seem to be the norm in Israelite family life, there was still the need for prostitutes!

Whatever Gilead's reputation was, he showed integrity by having his son part of his family. It did cause problems, but then, that can only be expected. Jephthah was a leader in many ways, he attracted people around him and they followed him. His leadership was noticed by his elders and they sought him out even when "they had driven him from his fathers house". 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the LORD in Mizpah (means Watchtower). (This is the same place where Samuel was later to judge from. Further reading Genesis 31:48-50 & I Sam7 :6). He had a clear focus of his nations history and could talk it through succinctly with other tribal leaders. More importantly he brought the matter to the Lord.

29-31Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: "If you give the Ammonites into my hands,whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering."

The sad part of the story was making an unnecessary vow to the Lord. It was an overzealous response to the "Spirit of the LORD". He should have put a "watchtower" over his mouth! God did not require the vow, but Jephthah nevertheless made it, and his daughter paid it. "Whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me" Maybe he thought his dog would be the first to greet him, would he seriously have sacrificed a dog to God? I can't see that being the case. Jephthah may have thought of "whatever" but with God, sacrifice is always a "whoever". God is never glib about a life, be it human or animal.

The bargaining appeal to the Lord is not lost on church settings that encourages rash vows by inducing guilt "for the unreached" or throw "seed/greed money" for the grandeur of "prosperity living". They do not honor the gospel of grace.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Day 129 Conceit leads to Deceit & ultimately Death

The typical pattern in Judges is that the Israelites get themselves in various states of oppressions and distress, God sees their misery and sends a judge. The nation learns their lesson, changes their behavior until that judge dies and the pattern repeats itself. Here we have the people clinging onto Gideon's family for leadership by descendancy and deceit.

Remember in Judges 8:22 The Israelites said to Gideon, "Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian." Well, Jether was the eldest and I assumed that he would be the natural choice but here we have Abimelek son of Jerub-Baal to be the ruler after Gideon's death. Not only did he usurp authority but extended the intention of rulership, he got himself crowned king! This is a great example of where conceit leads to deceit. Furthermore, we are to learn that Abimelek, was the son of his female slave (verse 18) and therefore not through marriage. Abimelek went to the family, who at some level agreed to give/sell his mother into slavery, and appeals to them to appoint him their king! From the perspective of 1000's years after the fact, it's incredulous. I wonder what we do today in our relationships that would incur a similar response!

Jotham pipes up from
Mount Gerizim the sarcastic tale of the thornbush and the trees. This is typical of a prophet. I also think that calling from the mountain which Moses pronounced the blessings and not curses (Mount Ebal) was significant. Truth, no matter how painful to hear is always a blessing. (See Deuteronomy 11:28-30) His pronouncement seems to fall in somewhere between "may you get what you deserve" "reap what you sow" and "you deserve one another".

Next, God pipes up by working in the background, he stirs up trouble between the two parties, Abimelek and the people of Shechem. When we truly realise that the"wages of sin is death" the progession of the downward spiral of sin becomes clearer. Gal 5:26 reminds us "Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other".
This is played out very vividly in the next part of the story. God brings in an outsider Gaal son of Ebed to liven things up and bring trouble to a head. Gaal derides the leadership in the land, and Zebul its governor. Zebul sends a message to Abimelek to get ready and ambush this outsider.
It is worth mentioning that one of the themes in Judges, is that "everyone done what was right in his own eyes".
Zebul the governor of the city encourages Abimelek "do whatever your hand finds to do" then later in the story at the Tower of Sechem he orders the men with him, "Quick! Do what you have seen me do!" Abimelek ends up slaughtering people and salting the earth, just as the midianites done in Gideons time. v 55 "When the Israelites saw that Abimelek was dead, they went home". What a pointless exercise and waste of human life..... unless we learn from their ways!

verses 56 -57Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. God also made the people of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them.

God has the last word on wickedness!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Day128 Overcome evil with Good

Proverbs 11:27 "Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to those who search for it".

"Ask and it shall be given to you
Seek and you will find
Knock and the door will be open unto you"

What are we looking for?
What will we do when we get it?

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 127 Gideon's boot camp experience

The Story of Gideon depicts the type of warfare we are engaged in. Gideon's Training Ground is one of questions, a need to clarify what he was taught to believe about YHWH and His exploits. Gideon needs to check that he is hearing the angel of the Lord correctly, and has a personal insight into the character of God as shown by "The Lord is Peace" verse 24.

Here is the progression of the bootcamp experience.
Judges 6 11 The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."

13 "Pardon me, my lord," Gideon replied, "but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian."

God speaks first and proclaims some aspect of encouragement

The recipient, in this case Gideon, has questions about God's presence and purpose in the situation. Gideon initially misses the "mighty warrior" greeting. He may have thought the angel/prophet was "taking the mick" as we say in Ireland. Downtrodden Israelites having a impotent mighty warrior at hand, who is the "least"(not youngest) person and in the "weakest" (not smallest) of the clans. Sounds incredulous to any but God!

Gideons assessment was in the realm of power and leadership and the lack thereof. He had a warrior's outlook on the situation and this probably marked him out from the others.

Gideon was open to the suggestion that he was indeed a "mighty warrior" 16 The LORD answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together." I doubt if Gideon missed the "I will be with you" "and you will"...... God goes with us but we also have a job to do, its rarely that God works indepentantly of us. We are the ones learning, not Him!

Gideon needed to know he wasn't being deceived and so prepared a sacrifice for the angel of the Lord which was accepted. I thought about Cain and Abel , not all sacrifices are acceptable! So its important to make "acceptable" sacrifices so that they will be received.

This then put front and center the issue of who was God in the land. Baal had the popular vote, and YHWH would need to topple the false god if He was to save the Israelites from their distress. YHWH goes for the heart of the people, what they worship - often that is where the battle is won or...lost. Gideon makes his stand, demolishes his fathers altar to Baal, and erects an altar to YHWH. The response of Gideon's father shows that he was open to correction and accepted this very physical statement of truth. Gideon may have drawn courage from his fathers stand against those who wanted his life.

These essential acts of knowing God personally and putting a truth statement in the center of our relationships is the foundation to waging war in God's Kingdom. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds.

The issue of "Worship" is the first weapon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Day 126 "Because of the course you are taking"

Judges 4 Deborah says to Barak "But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman."

I wonder did Barak think that Deborah may have been speaking about herself? After all when would a woman and a prophetess at that, join the leader of the army in war. No one would have expected the turn of events, that Sisera hid in a womans tent.

Was the death all the more poignant that someone so cruel was waylaid and deceived by a woman? Barak "the macho" could have been his fame but that was the beginning and end of his story. Let's look at another player....Jael. She went out to meet Sisera. We read that Jael was a Kenite, not an Israelite.

Judges 1:16 The descendants of Moses' father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms with the people of Judah to live among the inhabitants of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad. Judges 4:11 Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses' brother-in-law and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.

So now, we have someone, a woman not a man, and not an Israelite slaying the enemy of YHWH's people

The fact that there was an understanding between her husband and the people's enemy opened up the potential fury of an "unhappy" husband. Jael had alot to calculate and she was courageous. She even gave Sisera milk when he asked for water. She was not a stingy woman even to the enemy. This shows me the confidence and poise she must have had to kill such a powerful enemy.

It seems YHWH has answers for HIS people and they are often found in the unexpected places and with unexpected people.

Is YHWH saying to us today, "Because of the course you are taking"...... are we are taking a lesser courageous path than we know we are being asked to? Barak did fight, but God didn't give him the honor he could have had or another job to do in HIS kingdom.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day125 Relief or Righteousness.

The Lord chastises the disobedient and disciplines sons. We can make life more difficult for ourselves or submit to the training in righteousness. We either submit to our foolish ways or to the Fatherhood of God. If shall we say "meet the devil half way" and like a "dog returning to its vomit" repeat our foolishness, we will be treated as such and we reap what we sow - unnecessary hardship and distress. Deuteronomy 28 the Blessings and Curses makes for good reading. God does fulfill his promises.

Submit to our foolish ways and reap what we sow.
Judges 2 & 3 10 "After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel". ....
14 In his anger against Israel the LORD gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist....They were in great distress..... 18 Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways...... I will use them (their enemies) to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their ancestors did." The LORD had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.

Submit to the Fatherhood of God and treated as sons.
James 1:2
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Heb 12 7-11Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.....No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

The difference between the two pictures is threefold,
  • Cause of the trials: Self,being part of sinful and selfish world, powers and principalities behind the scenes of every relationship (world flesh and the devil)
  • Response to the trials: Repentance (short term) v's Perseverance (trained for eternity)
  • Result of the trials: Relief from the distress vs Righteousness

God is not interested in hassle-free-holiness!
Whatever the day holds for us, may we submit to the Father's hand that leads us in the path of holiness.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Day 123 Living in the Light - Transparency

John3:21 ...."Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. All those who do evil hate the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.But those who live by the truth come into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God".

When I got up this morning , I wondered what scripture meant when it says, "The fool says in his heart, there is no God". I have been given part of the answer here in this scripture.

The fool believes that no one else sees what he's doing because he disregards consequences of his actions and is prone to repeat the same folly time and time again. The lack of taking responsibility for our actions mean that they don't care and what they do doesn't really matter. The trite sayings of "don't sweat the small stuff", and the stress management advice that says, if you ignore the problem today, in three months time it is less important and therefore it wasn't important to deal with after all! This may be the advice for people living with paranoia but surely not for most of the people trying to live with purpose. For people with little perspective and sense of responsibility this encourages procrastination and irresponsibility. They are saying, our actions today will mean nothing in 10 years time.

How do we know if we are playing the fool? We have scripture pictures of dog returning to his vomit - graphic hey and before breakfast! Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

The above scripture doesn't say that their actions are perfect, or even correct only that they acknowledge they live in the sight of the living God. There is hope for us all by getting the first step to knowing God right. Have a blessed transparent day, and the "small stuff" matters!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Day121 Water to wine - So what was Jesus showing us?

John 2:1-25. I smiled when I recognized that Mary, Jesus's mother, and I have something in common! Make a statement but are really asking "what are you going to do about it"? Mary draws attention to the fact that there is no more wine and that is all she says. Jesus gets all defensive and asks "what is it to do with me"? Then she says to the servants, do what he tells you to do. This interaction may have prompted Jesus to begin his ministry with miracles, he had to begin somewhere and here was an opportunity.

At this point, Jesus had been baptized by John. John's disciples and his own disciples are with him. So what is the lesson Jesus was teaching? The Jars were used for ceremonially cleansing, to wash the outside of people and utility items not for consumption. Now the wine will be drunk and be on the inside of the person.

"What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory" That was the purpose, to "reveal his glory" but how did that happen? The response of the master of the banquet when he tasted the water that had been turned into wine, was that it was the "best wine" that was kept for last.

I can't help thinking that there is a connection with Numbers 18:26 "Speak to the Levites and say to them: 'When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD's offering. Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the winepress. The wine spoke of Jesus the perfect offering and also the "firstfruits" of the new creation.1 Corinthians 15:19-21

Romans 8:1-4 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Lets look at Exodus 7. Moses represents the old covenant, he turned water into Blood, Jesus turned water into Wine. Jesus's blood is the wine of the new covenant. Luke 22:19-21 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you...

It is significant that Jesus signaled his offering of himself at a wedding feast.
There will be a wedding feast one day and groom's glory will be totally revealed.

Rev 15:2-4...They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb:"Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.Just and true are your ways,King of the ages.Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy.All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." (Read Rev19)