Saturday, November 20, 2010

Remembering the lessons of the Land Between

Remembering the lessons of the Land Between
S - 

2 "You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.3 "He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.4 
11 "Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes
15 "He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint.16 "In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end.17 "Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.'18 "But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth
       Deut 8:2-4, 11,15-18 (NASB)

O - 
When men possess large estates, or are engaged in profitable business, they find the temptation to pride, forgetfulness of God, and carnal-mindedness, very strong; and they are anxious and troubled about many thingsIn this the believing poor have the advantage; they more easily perceive their supplies coming from the Lord in answer to the prayer of faith; and, strange as it may seem, they find less difficulty in simply trusting him for daily bread. They taste a sweetness therein, which is generally unknown to the rich, while they are also freed from many of their temptations. Forget not God's former dealings with thee. Here is the great secret of Divine Providence. Infinite wisdom and goodness are the source of all the changes and trials believers experience. Israel had many bitter trials, but it was "to do them good." Pride is natural to the human heart. Would one suppose that such a people, after their slavery at the brick-kilns, should need the thorns of the wilderness to humble them? But such is man
        —Matthew Henry Concise
The lessons here are valuable that were experience in the wilderness and dessert.  The people of Israel, spent 40 years in the desert, learning to trust God for his provision, protection, justice, and love.   The nature of man if not daily focused on God, and remembrance of who is will degrade to self reliance, pride, and eventually separation.  This is the repetitive story that has been told since Adam and Eve in the old testament.  Thankfully we have a patient God, who is committed to His promises, and persistent in His pursuit of us.  The ultimate take away is that man's need to rely solely on that which proceeds from the the mouth of God as our sole provision.  The lesson for the Israelites had to be taught in the harshest of environments, so that when they entered the promised land they understand that the dependence still needed to be on the very word of God and not from their own hands.  Provision would be great from the land, and their physical concerns would fade away, but he spiritual battle would rage on with the neighbors and the world as God's people would continue to be a focus of the evil ways of the world.   The people of Israel were the chosen people to be the light to the world, and if that light got extinguished by the surroundings never, would God's plan for redemption of all God's children be possible.  Out of the the nation of Israel , came Christ, the savior of the world, and thus His promise to Abraham to make a great nation from Abraham's seed.  The prophesy remains that Christ will return to judge the world, and restore heaven to earth and thus continue with God's plan for destruction of evil, sin, and death.

A -
God has been leading me all along, since I have acknowledged him as my lord and savior.  He has taken me out of slavery, and first taken me through the land between through the trials, and and the valleys, so that I might learn to trust in Him, and depend on Him.  Today I feel He is sending me into the promised land, and really beginning to use me for His purposes.  For that I am every grateful and ever mindful of the need to follow the lessons outlined in this scripture.  
1.  Remember the lessons from the past -   This is critical to go back and make sure I have captured all that he has taught me during these trials.  For me this means to go back and re-read the devotions and words God has spoke to me make sure I am not backsliding to my old nature, especially in times of great provision and great trial.
2.  Humbly wait of God's provision -   The lesson is one of patience and trust.  Sometimes what we have is sufficient and we desire more.  Sometimes God is growing our trust and reliance on Him by allowing us to wait in need.  In each case we are to humbly wait, not complain to God.   When we seek Him and not His provision, the very word of God , or response to our request will be sufficient to meet our every need.
3. In great provision - guard against pride -  So it will happen, as success, victory, and provision surround me, my family, my ministry, my heart may will begin to rejoice.  The feeling or emotion is enough to allow space for pride to enter my heart.  Pride for what I have done, accomplished,  needs to be replaced with thanksgiving to God for all He has done in my life.

P -  Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you would continue to lead me, my family and your ministry in our lives.   I submit myself to your will, your provision, your guidance, and your discipline so that I might be the servant you need me to be.   I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Possessing the promised land

Possessing the promised land

S - 
1 "When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you,2 and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them.3 "Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons .4 "For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.5 "But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim , and burn their graven images with fire.6 "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth .7 "The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples,8 but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery , from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.9 "Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;10 but repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them ; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face.11 "Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statutes and the judgments which I am commanding you today, to do them.
Promises of God
12 "Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers.13 "He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you.
Deut 7:1-13 (NASB)

O -   The content and context of this word being spoken to the Israelites as they prepare to take the promised land is important to understand. God understands who his people are; their strengths and weaknesses.  They spent years in slavery, their confidence in themselves was low, and they needed to have a growing confidence in Him and of His promises. So as He prepares them to go overtake the people in the promised land for the second time (the first time they saw them as giants and not defeat-able, and therefore spent 40 more years in the desert preparing to enter).   God also knew that in order to completely sanctify His people in the promised land he needed to rid them of all outside influence, temptation to worship other God, but create for them an environment of pure and true fellowship and followership with their God.   Even the slightest contamination would prevent them from being a Holy nation,  a light on the hill.   In a sense that is what happened to the children of Abraham causing them to be driven from the promised land into slavery in Egypt (on an even more basic level what happened to Adam and Eve that caused them to be driven from the Garden of Eden.  
    Humbleness and dependence on God is another key trait God is trying to ensure here; that He did not choose them because they were a mighty people, he chose them because of His promise to Abraham, and He loved His people, and would always be faithful and true to them under any circumstance they might face.   The only exception He explains through the scripture is those who turn away from Him, are directly disobedient to His commmandments and direction (i.e. provision and guardianship come from a relationship with God in which we agree to allow Him to lead and provide for us).
   The promise comes with this :  If you will follow me and my commandments, you will be blessed in the promised land, your families will flourish, your crops will be abundant,  all needs for a fruitful lifre and proper reverance of God will be made available to you.

1. (verse 2) Seven nations (cf. Josh 3:1024:11). In such lists elsewhere the number varies from three to ten. The "seven" specified here possibly is a figure for completeness. 2. The Hebrew root ḥrm, translated utterly destroy in the major English versions, means primarily devote and hence "ban" and "extirpate." The ḥērem principle comes to full and final manifestation in the judgments of hell.
Some people take offense at God's command to Israel to exterminate the Canaanites, as though it represented sub-Christian ethics. Actually, they are taking offense at the theology and religion of the Bible as a whole. The New Testament, as well as the Old, warns men concerning the realm of the everlasting ban, where the reprobates, devoted to wrath, must magnify the justice of the God whom they have hated. Since the OT theocracy in Canaan was a divinely appointed symbol of the consummate kingdom of God, there is found in connection with it an intrusive anticipation of the ethical pattern that will obtain at the final judgment and beyond.
Moreover, the extermination of the Canaanites and their cultic installations (destroy their altars... burn their... images; v. 5) was necessary if Israel's calling to positive consecration to God in living service was to be fulfilled. For, because of Israel's frailty, the proximity of the Canaanites would lead to the dissolution of Israel's spiritual distinctiveness (v. 3), to foreign and idolatrous allegiances (v. 4 a), and hence to Israel's own destruction (4b). The program of conquest (ch. 7) is thus a consistent application of the principle of consecration (ch. 6; esp. 6:12-15).
6-16. The purposes of Israel's election which were to be protected by the elimination of the Canaanites are here elaborated. 6. Chosen... to be a special people. This recalls Ex 19:5, 6, the classic formulation of the unique theocratic status for which Israel was chosen. High calling is attended by temptation to boasting (cf. Moses' concern with this problem in chs. 8-10). Therefore, Israel was reminded to glory only in the name of God. 8. Because the Lord loved you. In his sovereign love and faithfulness alone was to be found the explanation of Israel's election (4:37), certainly not in the nation's size. For God chose their father Abraham, being only one, and the family of Jacob, which descended into Egypt as only some seventy souls (7:7; cf. 10:22). It followed from the sovereignty of God's grace that Israel had no claims upon him that might encourage carelessness with respect to his covenant demands and sanctions. 9. Keepeth covenant... to a thousand generations. Alluding to the sanction formulae which are affixed to the second commandment, Moses declared that though unmerited grace would be continued to the thousandth generation (5:10), apostate despisers of grace and holiness would discover that the covenant curses were not idle threats (7:9-11). 12. The Lord... shall keep... covenant. The faithful might be confident that the covenant blessings were not empty promises (vv. 12-15; cf. Gen 12:2, 3Ex 23:22-31). The God of Israel, the Creator, not Baal, was the bestower of fertility in field, flock, and family (Deut 7:13, 14). 15. The Lord will take away... all sickness. It was the Lord who had subjected man to nature's curse for his sin, and he could therefore deliver the Israelites from Egypt's notorious diseases (e.g., elephantiasis, dysentery, and ophthalmia) just as he had rescued them from Egypt's infamous Pharaoh (v. 15; cf. v. 8Ex 15:26). Verse 16 summarizes, repeating the command and its purpose. 17-26. Though in respect to the privileges of election the Israelites were tempted to vanity, in the face of the responsibility of their commission they would be tempted to timidity (v. 17; cf. Num 13:31 ff.).
—Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The

A -   The application for me, my family, and my ministry is to recognize I am in a season of entering the promised land.    Just recognizing that causes me to be greatly excited and even a little nervous about the uncertainty of the what that means.   But I need to apply the biblical principles here that God is showing His promised people:
1.  Humility -  God is about to take this whole thing to the next level and fullfill promises for my life that can only come from Him.  The challenge I must stand up to is to as victory after victory is encountered I must be sure to give God all the glory.   Enemies much bigger than my capacity will be overcome and the ability for pride to sneek in and take away God's glory is there, and in those cases in which I don't show proper humility I can guarentee God will eventually humble me.
2.  Dependence - Because I will be facing giants bigger than my self, I must be sure not to back away from challenges God has commanded me to take on.  His strength is sufficient, and the lesson for me is one of dependence on Him.
3.  Sanctification/Consecration -   As we move into this next phase of our life, I know God is saying to me to be sure to keep my family and my ministry sanctified.  I must remember some of what God is doing is for the next generation of our family, and to keep Ashlyn and Chloe sanctified and consecrated, so that God may use them for His purposes is something I cannot lose sight of.
P - Lord, thank you for this deep and meaningful lesson, on what it means to be entering the promised land.    I pray for guidance step by step, courage to be obedient to you call,  and pure of heart and mind in my pursuit of your will in this abundant period.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.