Saturday, April 30, 2011


"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Judges 11:1-12:15

"Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot, and Gilead begot Jephthah.  Gilead's wife bore sons; and when his wife's sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out, and said to him, 'You shall have no inheritance in our father's house, for you are the son of another woman.'"  Judges 11:1-2 (NKJV)

Jephthah was one of the great leaders of the Old Testament.  GOD RAISED HIM UP.  He stands as an example to us of how God can work. 

By human standards, Jephthah had some major set-backs to overcome.  We might say that he was socially unacceptable.  Remember -- this is by human standards. 

But, he was the very man God had chosen.  He was a great leader.  His half-brothers hated him.  They drove him out of the family.  Yet, God had chosen him.

We are so prone to qualify people on the basis of human standards.  We have this unspoken "pedigree" whereby we evaluate people.  Throughout Scripture, there is a pattern wherein God choses those individuals that no one else would have ever chosen!

DO NOT LET THE DEVIL TELL YOU THAT YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!  Do not let the enemy disqualify you when you are the very one that God has chosen.  Paul (and for good reason) was adamant about this.  "Who (what) shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulations, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"  (or past failures, or sins of our fathers, or injuries when we were children!!!!)  NO.  God is for us!  We, like Jephthah, can yet be used of God to "deliver Israel."

Friday, April 29, 2011

A God Who Feels

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Judges 9:22-10:18

"So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord.  And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel."  Judges 10:16 (NKJV)

Occasionally in Scripture, we get a glimpse of the heart of God.  Much of the time we read about what He says and what He does.  Occasionally, He will tell us of His attributes -- what He is like (all-knowing, all-powerful, and so forth).  But, then from time to time, we read of what God FEELS.  Some might think this is going too far.  God is God, and He doesn't feel things like man does.  That's true, but nevertheless, in whatever way you might understand this, Scripture occasionally tells how God is grieved or delighted, saddened or pleased.

This is one such passage.  And we not only read of what God felt (He could no longer endure watching Israel's misery), we can take from this something about the character and nature of our God.

Israel had done treacherously.  They had sinned willfully.  They had rebelled in every way.  God, in His justice, had every reason to wipe them out.  Yet, as Israel turned back to God, He then had mercy.

Our God is BY NATURE a redeemer.  He is not some cold principle of ethics.  He is not a philosophy.  He is not an angry deity seeking revenge or appeasement.  He is BY NATURE a lover.  He wants to show mercy.  We must never presume upon His mercy, but we can rest on the knowledge that He is a God who stoops low to build up the broken.  He is a lover who seeks ways to mend and heal.  That's our God!

James echoes this in James 2:13.  "For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.  MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGMENT."  God desires to deal with us not according to the severity of law and judgment, but instead according to mercy and its twin brother grace. 

If it were not for this, Judges would be a very short book in the Bible.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

No King but God

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Judges 8:18-9:21
"Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, 'Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.'  But Gideon said to them, 'I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.'"  Judges 8:22-23 (NKJV)

Gideon was a great leader.  He had led Israel to victory over the Midianites.  It was natural that Israel would acknowledge this and seek to make Gideon their permanent leader.  So why did Gideon refuse to take the office of king?  Was he afraid of such a pressure job?  Did he think himself to be unqualified?

I believe Gideon saw that Israel's request was more than just a desire for good civic government.  They wanted a dynasty led by Gideon, his son, and his grandson.  They wanted to be like the rest of the world.  They wanted something permanent so that they could become a nation like all the other nations. 

Gideon saw through their request.  He knew that only God could rightfully govern this people.  Therefore, he refused to take the office of king.

How often we seek outward circumstances that we can depend on so we don't have to depend on the Lord!  We want to be like everyone else, but God may not be so interested.  God's people must walk to the beat of a different drum.  We are called a "peculiar people" (Ex. 19:5-6).  Other people can make plans and seemingly order their lives according to their own will.  But God's people must trust the Lord.  We may want an earthly king we can depend on so that we no longer have to walk by faith.  God always sets up circumstances to that we must TRUST HIM. 

"On Christ the solid Rock I stand....all other ground is sinking sand." 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stand in Your Place

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Judges 7:1-8:17
"And every man stood in his place all around the camp; and the whole army ran and cried out and fled."  Judges 7:21 (NKJV)

On April 17, 1521, Martin Luther stood alone against the rallied forces of the Church and virtually all political power in Europe.  He stood to defend his writings concerning "justification by faith."  He there uttered the now famous words:  "Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.

Against incredible pressure, Luther took his stand, and the course of world history was altered.  There is nothing more awesome than a man or woman standing despite great pressure against spiritual darkness -- standing for truth -- standing for right.  Surely, Satan fears such a person.

On June 4, 1989, a lone young man stood against a columns of tanks in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.  His act of heroism has inspired the continuing efforts for freedom around the world.  This is a fight that takes place in every area of life -- but the most important is the spiritual realm.

Gideon's men were such men of courage.  Scripture says that Gideon's army was whittled down from 32,000 to 300.  They then faced an enemy "as numerous as locusts ... without number, as the sand by the seashore."  These heroes "stood in their place."  As a result, God gave a great victory. 

This is the call of our day:  "STAND IN YOUR PLACE."  Stand strong.  Hold to truth.  Do not back down.  Such are people that God will defend.  He Himself will rout the enemy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fleeced by a Fleece

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Judges 6:1-40

"So Gideon said to God, 'If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said -- look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by hy hand, as You have said.'"  Judges 6:36-37 (NKJV)

Have you ever asked God to confirm His will to you?  "Lord, just show me a sign."  Most of us can be pretty good at striking bargains with God.  We may very well know what God wants, but we just need a little extra nudge.  Sometimes its more than a nudge; God practically shoves us into His will.  We promise God all kinds of things if He will just meet us half way -- or maybe three-quarters. 

I certainly do believe that God often confirms His will to us, but too often, our need for confirmation is nothing more than a cover for our unbelief.  We should never be led by signs or circumstances.  We should be led by the voice of God. 

Gideon is a classic example.  He asks God for a sign -- a fleece that becomes wet with dew while all the surrounding ground stays dry.  His true form shows itself when God gives him the sign he asks.  Rather than accepting the confirmation, he asks for a second one!  He is a little boy standing on the end of the diving board seeking some kind of assurance that everything's going to be ok before he's willing to jump.

God's highest way for us is not that we require multiple signs before we obey.  He wants us to hear Him and move out BY FAITH on what He says.  Gideon ALREADY knew what God had said.  Notice the end of verse 37 -- "as You have said."  God in His graciousness is patient with our hesitations.  But, His best way is INSTANT OBEDIENCE GLADLY GIVEN.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Value of Good Leadership

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Judges 4:1-5:31

"When leaders lead in Israel, when the people willingly offer themselves, bless the Lord!"  Judges 5:2 (NKJV)

True, godly leadership is one of the most valuable commodities of our day.  Leadership is built on trust and track record.  It carries moral authority and provokes the respect of even its enemies.  Jesus is the greatest leader that ever lived.  He knew how to take people to new places.  He was both demanding and also understanding.  He called people to exploits of strength and courage.  Yet, He also comforted the weak.

People can not be forced to do the will of God.  It might work for a while to coerce them into action, but in the final analysis, they must WANT IT.  When true leadership functions, a willing heart rises up in people.  Instead of saying NO, they find themselves saying YES.

Harry Truman once said, "Leadership is getting people to do what they don't want to do, and liking it."  Leadership turns arduous, monotonous jobs into joyful accomplishments.  Leadership should not be manipulative.  It should not trick people into fulfilling jobs.  It should point the way bringing inspiration to do exploits in the Name of Jesus.

Such will bring great glory to God.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why God Allows Opposition

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Judges 2:10-3:31

"Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan . . . And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses." Judges 3:1,4 (NKJV)

Anyone who has ever sought to get themselves into good physical shape knows the law of resistance. We only grow stronger through resistance. You MUST push your muscles and your system to the point of pain and exhaustion. Opposition makes you stronger...and healthier.

Show me a person who has no challenges and I will show you a person who is not growing. In order to climb the mountain, you must push yourself. The reason God commands REST is not so that we can be leisurely, but so that we can be renewed to re-enter the fight - the advance.

God allowed enemies to hang out near Israel. And the reason was that He wanted Israel to never forget how to fight. He didn't want His people to go soft. While we are in this life, we must always be ready for war - because we always have an enemy who seeks to do us bad. BE STRONG TODAY IN GOD.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Next Generation

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Judges 1:1-2:9

"When all the generations had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which he had done for Israel."  Judges 2:10 (NKJV)

The great Christian statesman of many years ago, David DuPlessis, often said, "God has no grandchildren."  What he meant by this was that God meets and knows every man directly.  You cannot know God through someone else.  You cannot know God simply by being a part of a "Christian family" or even a Christian church. 

Every person must know God directly.  We are aided in this knowledge by many good ministries, but still we must know God in our own hearts.  This became the prevailing problem for the children of Israel, and it is the problem of our day, too.  How can a vital, wonderful, life-filled relationship with God be passed on to the next generation?

Let me suggest several steps that all of us should take.  First, PRAY.  Pray for those who will follow us.  Pray that they will surpass us in zeal for God, in dedication, in exploits for Christ's Kingdom.  Pray daily that those valuable things that God has given us be real to them, too.

Second, TELL STORIES.  Tell of the mighty things God has done.  Don't bore people with endless reminiscences, but tell them how God came through for you.  Tell them of the times God worked mighty works.  Israel did not pass on to the next generation all the great things God had done.  Are we guilty of doing the same.

Lastly, PROMOTE.  We must actively look for ways to promote the next generation into action.  If we keep all the activity to ourselves, if we keep all the important activities within our control, the day will come that those activities will cease and die when we pass from the scene.  If we promote the next generation into important roles, by the time we end our race, they will be running full speed.

Our job is not to fulfill only our own destiny, but instead to cooperate with God in the advance of His Kingdom.  To that end we labor.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Time to Choose

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Joshua 24:1-33

"And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the God's which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the God's of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. Bu t as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15 (NKJV)

This is a favorite verse that adorns the mantles of many a home. It is a powerful statement of commitment to God. Let's look a little closer however. This is not just a statement made by Joshua about how he will lead his household. It is also a passionate and compelling call to Israel.

If we read the entire chapter, we will see that there is a serious problem in Israel. Idolatry exists right alongside the worship of God. Joshua is laying down the gauntlet. Israel is "sitting on the fence". Joshua is saying "Either get in or get out". That may sound too severe, but it is exactly what Joshua says.

There comes a time where each of us must make a decision. Will we trust or will we doubt? Will we pay the price or will we draw back? To refuse to make a decision is to make a decision!

Where do you stand today? Are you giving it your all, or are you half-hearted? Are you taking new ground or resting on excuses? Today is the day of advance. It is the day of clarity. It is the day of decision.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Most Powerful Force on Earth

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Joshua 22:21-23:16

"One man of you shall chase a thousand,for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you. Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the Lord your God." Joshua 23:10-11 (NKJV)

The most powerful thing ON EARTH is a man or woman who is right with God. He says that you can chase a force 1,000 times larger than you are! A righteous person CANNOT BE DEFEATED. Please note that this does not mean a PERFECT man. It means a righteous man - a man who stands in right relationship to God.

This is the simple key to victory. The just shall live by faith! If we love the Lord, if we trust in Him, the Bible says that He will fight for us. Satan trembles at the man or woman who trusts fully in God. Therefore, Satan's major trick is to turn our eyes away from the Lord and to get us to focus on ourselves. Satan wants us to stand on our own merits. He can then easily defeat us.

But if we stand fully on the merits of Christ, we are already conquerors. This thread of truth runs throughout Scripture. So today, will you trust in the Lord. If so, "this is the victory that overcomes the world - even our faith" (I John 5:4).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Sure Promise of God

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Joshua 21:1-22:20

"Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel.  All came to pass."  Joshua 21:45 (NKJV)

Is this your testimony?  Has God fulfilled all His word to you?  Most of us would say that this is a process that is still under way.  Israel had a promise.  God told them that He would take them into the Land of Promise and that they would possess it.  God then led them into the realization of that promise. 

God does the same with us today.  We must be careful to know what God truly has promised.  Too often we add to God's word or embellish it with our own desires.  But, we should remain absolutely confident of this one thing:  that which God truly promises, He will bring to pass.

The timing may not be according to our wishes.  God is never late and He is rarely early.  We just don't always know His timing.  Therefore, we are called to TRUST. 

There is an old song entitled "Trust and Obey."  It has a very simply message, but it is one we come back to often.  "Trust and obey -- for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus -- but to trust and obey."

Israel received the fullness of God's promises to them.  It took far longer than some had expected (40 years in fact).  But the word of God is true.  "All came to pass."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cities of Refuge

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Joshua 19:1-20:9

"Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses'". Joshua 20:2 (NKJV)

God is by NATURE a mercy-giver. So many people see only the severity of God and do not understand the ways He always seeks to redeem and restore. Right from the outset of His judicial system He established ways that the accused might find mercy and protection. He designated cities to which the accused might run. These were called "cities of refuge".

Jesus is our "city of refuge". This does not mean that He will ignore our failings. He will never CONDONE rebellion or sin. He will allow us to see refuge in Him so that we can mend our ways in an atmosphere of grace rather than condemnation.

The church is also to be a "city of refuge". The accused and even the guilty should be able to run into the church and find a place to repent and reform in an atmosphere of healing and grace. This does not mean that we should excuse and condone sinful behavior. Instead, it means that sinners can find safety among us as they turn from their old ways and walk in the new. May the church be a city of refuge in our day to be the instrument of healing in the hands of a loving, redeeming God

Monday, April 18, 2011

Coming to Shiloh

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Joshua 16:1-18:28

"Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there.  And the land was subdued before them."  Joshua 18:1 (NKJV)

Must have been quite a sight!  After years and years of "set-up/tear-down", the tabernacle finally came to a resting place.  Entire clans within the Levites had been assigned to oversee the laborious process of setting up the tabernacle and then tearing it down when the cloud began to move.  They had done it for years.  They must have sighed a great sigh of relief when the tabernacle came to Shiloh.  No more moving around.  It was now settled. 

The tabernacle was indicative of the place of worship.  It was the place of communion with God.  It was the place where the upward dimension was lived out.

There is something in every one of us that wants to find the place of security in Christ.  Our souls long to rest in God.  We seek a place of refuge and sanctuary.  It is interesting that the name of the place where the tabernacle was finally set up was SHILOH.  This name is a variation of the Hebrew word "shalom" which means "peace."

Our souls seek a place called Shiloh.  Three things happen at Shiloh:  gathering, peace, and worship.  I believe this is what Jesus was talking about in Mattew 11:28-30:  "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." 

The only place of true peace is in Jesus.  He is our rest, and it is to Him that we come.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Taking the Hard Places

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Joshua 15:1-63

"As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem to this day". Joshua 15:63 (NKJV)

Joshua is a book about conquest. It is a story of how God's people entered their promised inheritance. But, the story is incomplete. Israel never took ALL of the land God said was theirs. A glaring example is a place that later came to be called Jerusalem.

Right in the middle of the Promised Land a small, insignificant, weak tribe called the Jebusites barricaded themselves in a high stronghold and the tribe of Judah could not dislodge them.

This is indicative of those areas in our lives that seem so hard to bring under the Lordship of Jesus. We may enjoy great victory and blessing in 95% of our life, but that remaining 5% gives us fits. It's called a stronghold, and it defies God's rulership and denies you of full joy and blessing.

It is interesting to note that years later, when David became king, the very first thing he did was conquer the stronghold of the Jebusites (II Samuel 5:6-10). He turned a place of continual embarrassment and defeat into a place of victory. And he renamed it. He called it the City of David. This can be your story, too. God takes broken places and makes them power places!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Joshua 13:1-14:15

"Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified.  It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said."  Joshua 14:12 (NKJV)

Caleb was an incredible individual.  We speak often of Joshua because he was the top leader, and a book of the Bible is named after him.  But Caleb was just as strong an individual.  He and Joshua were the lone voices that had spoken FAITH when Israel was at the crossroads of Kadesh Barnea. 

Now 40 years later, Caleb is still speaking FAITH.  At the age of 85, he is still taking ground.  At the age of 85, he still has a right heart toward God.  At the age of 85, he is still claiming the promises and ready to "take his mountain."  Here are a few reasons I believe Caleb remained strong:

1.  He knew how to live off of ENCOURAGEMENT.  Imagine what he and Joshua said to each other for 40 years!  They knew that Israel had failed the test even thought they themselves had passed it.  Yet they had to walk through 40 years of judgment.  I think they emailed each other every day speaking faith and encouragement.  "Remember what God said."  "Only 35 more years now."  "Hey, I know today was rough, but better days are coming."  THEY KNEW WHAT GOD WANTED TO DO.

2.  He kept himself STRONG.  When it finally came time to take the mountain, he was ready.  He could easily have let himself go, failed to prepare, gotten out of shape, and been physically unable to complete his journey.  Caleb kept himself ready.  This involved daily disciplines of mental, physical, and spiritual preparation.  The Bible says that he kept his heart right.  I believe he kept his mind and body right, too.

3.  He knew his PLACE.  Caleb is rarely spoken of in the story of the children of Israel.  Joshua gets all the ink.  Joshua is front and center while Caleb works behind the scenes.  There is never a hint of insecurity or jealousy in Caleb.  He knew how to fulfill his task. 

Caleb is a hero.  May we all remain faithful to what God has spoken to us.  Even though it may take longer than we thought, yet the day will come that each of us too can "take our mountain."

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Source of Adversity

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Joshua 11:1-12:24

"For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the Lord had commanded Moses."  Joshua 11:20 (NKJV)

This is an amazing truth!  God allowed opposition to rise up against Israel.  It says here that He even planned it!  GOD WANTED TO SHOW HIMSELF MIGHTY THROUGH ISRAEL! 

Have you ever wondered why God allows adversity to come into our lives?  Some people think adversity comes ONLY from the devil.  No doubt, there is such a think as spiritual warfare wherein our spiritual enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  So why doesn't God just banish Satan to hell and be done with it?  HE ALLOWS OPPOSITION BECAUSE IT BUILDS STRENGTH IN US!  Adversity and opposition comes not only from satanic attack, it also is a part of God's plan for you.  He brings it about because of His high estimation of you. That is why the Book of Revelation continually says, "To him who overcomes..." (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21).  He wants to show Himself might in your behalf. 

Psalm 110:2 says, "The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.  Rule in the midst of Your enemies."  That's God's plan for conquest.  He does not pre-empt the battle.  He allows it to come in full so that He might send His strength right in the middle of the action.  We learn to rule "in the midst of our enemies."  Some people spend great energy in "battle avoidance."  We would do better to not fear the battle, but instead to be built up on God so that we overcome "in the midst" of it.  That brings God great joy, and it makes each of us stand taller.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tricked into Compromise

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Joshua 9:3-10:43

(Forgive my absence for "the blog" for the past days.  I have been out of town and have not had the ability to post anything.  But, I'm home now, and look forward to regular entries here.  Also, some may know that I WON an IPad at the All Access Conference I attended last week. Therefore, remote entries will now the possible.)

"Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord."  Joshua 9:14 (NKJV)

Joshua had led the children of Israel to cross the Jordan River and begin possessing their Land of Promise.  They had taken Jericho by miraculous intervention of God.  They had learned lessons in their conquest of Ai.  They were fulfilling the call of God!  It was exciting days for them.

God had given them clear instructions:  "Drive out the inhabitants of the land; do not make a treaty with them."  This was another way of saying "Do not compromise."  The inhabitants of Canaan were idolators who worshipped demons.  God told Israel that no remnant of such paganism could be left in the land.

It has been said that we are more often pulled away from God by our "friends" than by our enemies.  It is those who like us that so easily distract us from our destiny in God.  Israel's first permanent defeat in Canaan did not come from those against whom they fought.  The first defeat came from those who came wanting friendship -- the Gibeonites. 

This Canaanite tribe lied to and deceived Israel.  They tricked Israel into making a covenant so that they (the Gibeonites) could survive. 

This is the way sin works in the life of the believer.  It does not usually come with a frontal attack.  It comes with words of friendship.  It seeks to deceive you so that it can live another day.  Sin wants you to compromise so that it can "assist" you to have a better life in your Promised Land. 

How can we avoid such deception.  Scripture gives one simple answer.  Israel was tricked into compromise because "they did not ask counsel of the Lord."  They did not wait for God's answer.  God would have warned them.  He says that if we need wisdom, He will provide it (James 1:5).  If we will ask, He will answer.  This is the best quarantee any of us have of fulfilling our calling.  So, are you asking for God to speak to you today?

Friday, April 8, 2011

God's Underlining System

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20

"These are the words of the covenant which the Lord made with Moses ot make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb.  Now Moses called all Israel and said to them, "You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharoah and to all his servants and to all his land...." Dt. 29:1-2 (NKJV)

The meaning of the title "Deuteronomy" is "second naming of the law."  Deutero- means "second."  Nomos means "law."    God UNDERLINES what He has already said.  As the children of Isreal gather at Moab (just across Jordan from the Promised Land), God says that he wants to REMIND them of what He has already told them.

He even goes further.  He says to them that they should remember what they have seen with their own eyes.  Remember the miracles that happened in Egypt as a part of their deliverance. 

God, in His grace, always UNDERLINES the important parts.  He reminds us.  He wants to be crystal clear about what He has said to us.  Like a good teacher, He keeps hammering home the lessons He wants us to learn.

Have you ever felt like a "slow learner" in the Kingdom of God.  It is amazing how much we require that God tell us again what He has already told us.  We constantly need reminding.  Graciously, God does just that.  But, we should not miss the point here.  God does not lie like men do.  He speaks to us and we readily acknowledge it at the time.  Then, over time, we begin to doubt what we think He may have said.  We don't necessarily doubt God -- we doubt our ability to hear clearly.  So, God says it again.

Has God spoken to you?  Was it clear?  Then why are you doubting it today?  Why do you require that He speak it to you afresh (as if He had never spoken it before).  God is constantly UNDERLINING to us those things that He has already spoken to us.  Let's believe Him today -- not because He coaxed us again by re-stating His will -- but because we believe that what He originally said to us is still true today.  Our God does not lie!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Our Covenant with God

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Deuteronomy 28:1-68

"And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord our God."  Dt. 28:2 (NKJV)

Deuteronomy 28 is one of the classic passages in Scripture describing the blessings upon obedience and the curses upon disobedience.  It is well worth our careful consideration.

We have entered into a covenant relationship with God.  It began by grace without our help.  Salvation is of the Lord!  We have attained a standing before God based on the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ alone.  We have passed from death into life and now know God as Father!  Wonderful!

This however does not deliver us into a realm of passivity.  As sons, God calls us to relate with Him in covenant.  The blessings and the curses are "covenant language."  We should not interpret them as the basis of our relationship -- they are the result of our relationship.  Blessing does not mean acceptance and cursing does not mean rejection.  Blessing means that Father is able to pour out all that HE IS into our lives because we are lining up with Him.  Cursing means that the Father has called us to a high way, but if we persist in our own way, then we will reap the fruit of OUR WAY.

This requires that we grow up in Him.  It's something like the way we raise our children.  If they will prove responsible, we will let them drive the car.  But, if they persist in rebellion and misuse of the car, we withhold permission to use it.  But we do not refuse to love the child.  Instead, our standards are a reflection of our love.  So it is with God.  This is covenant relationship.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Two-Way Relationship

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Deuteronomy 26:1-27:26

"Today you have proclaimed the Lord to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice.  Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, and that He will set you high above all nations which He had made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken."  Dt. 26:17-19 (NKJV)

Relationship with God is a two-way relationship.  In our weakness, we often want to make it a one-way relationship:  Him toward us.  But it is a two-way relationship.  Many people get confused about this and think that man can have NO RESPONSIBILITIES toward God.  We fear this lest we fall into WORKS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  In no way can we EARN the blessing of God.

But wait.  There is a really fantastic place to which God calls us.  This is not works righteousness or "earning God's favor."  But it is rising to the high place He wants for us.  It is a "covenant relationship" with the Living God.  Here's how it works according the passage above:  WE PROCLAIM HIM TO BE OUR GOD and HE PROCLAIMS US TO BE HIS PEOPLE.  Sounds simple.  But it is more than just a formula. 

We become UNASHAMED.  We own up to Him in all areas of life.  We boast in Him and confess Him openly.  When we are unashamed of Him, He is unashamed of us.

This does not require perfection.  Far from it.  We will find that many times we may fall or fail.  But in all these things we still seek to make Him famous.  Such a people will rise to the fullness of their destiny.  Later, in Dt. 27:9, God says, "This day you have become the people of the Lord your God."  In other words, you have lived up to who you REALLY ARE.  We own up to Him just as He owns up to us.  That is the place of richest blessing.  Jesus said it:  "If you confess Me before men, I will confess you before My Father" (Matt. 10:32)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

God in the Midst

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Deuteronomy 23:1-25:19

"For the Lord your God walk in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you."  Dt. 23:14 (NKJV)

The definition of holiness is the presence of God.  It is not simply rules and regulations.  It is not our human understanding of right and wrong.  The definition of holiness is the fact that God is in our midst.  He "walks in the midst of your camp." 

Morality and ethics is always a good idea.  Living with honesty, integrity, and virtue is really the smartest way to live.  Even atheists benefit from living right.  But, we who know and follow God are called to a higher way.  God is in our midst.  He walks among us and our highest desire should be to please Him -- to be in agreement with Him.  His presence changes everything.  Morality is not compliance to an impersonal code of conduct; it is relationship with the living God!

Holiness is not a matter of what you DON'T do.  It is a matter of Who you know.  Holiness flows out of a love relationship with the living God.  It is not a matter of "touch not, taste not."  It is a matter of enjoying our God to the full!  When we live in connection to Him, He then defeats our enemies.  He is in our midst!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Prophetic Ministry of Jesus

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Deuteronomy 18:1-20:20

"The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren, Him you shall hear."  Dt. 18:15 (NKJV)

The center of the Bible is Jesus Christ.  The Old Testament looks forward to Him.  The New Testament teaches us of Him.  The writer of Hebrews states that God spoke to us in various ways in the Old Testament but now in these last days has spoken to us in His Son (Heb. 1:1-2).  Jesus is the clear communication of God to man. 

Jesus has essentially three ministries to us.  He is Prophet, Priest, and King.  This is so very important for us to understand.  He is my king in that He guides me, directs me, rules me, and protects me.  He is my priest in that He brings me to God.  He performs all that is necessary for me to come boldly into God's presence.  He represents me totally before the Father.  He is my Prophet in that He brings God to me.  He is God's voice to me.  He speaks clearly of God's will for my life.  He guides me and gives me wisdom.  He is my Prophet.

Much is said these days about prophetic ministry.  It is a vital and needed dimension of ministry.  Prophecy, however, is aimed beyond the mending of personal problems or comfort in crisis.  It is aimed at glorification of the one true Prophet.  Prophecy and prophetic ministry is not simply a feel-good experience of confirmation that God is with us, valuable as that may be.  It is GOD SPEAKING TO US telling us of His will for our lives. 

God's clear word to us today is found in the person and work of Jesus.  He is our Prophet.  And the Bible says, "Him YOU SHALL HEAR."  That will always bring breakthrough into new realms of faith, blessing, and power.