Archive for » July, 2013 «

July 17, 2013 – Joshua 24

Click here to read Joshua 24 on BibleGateway.com

commitmentIgnorance can be bliss. If you don’t know exactly how a twinkie is made, you can just sit back and eat a dozen with no thought for what exactly you’re putting in you gullet. If you don’t know about tetanus, you can play in that deserted junkyard all day without a care in the world. If you don’t know Leia is Luke’s sister, you can avoid that slightly creepy feeling when she smooches him before swinging across that pointless chasm in the Death Star.

Unfortunately, once we gain knowledge, then we are held responsible for it. Once we know what’s true, we can’t pretend not to know anymore. Not only that, it seems in the Bible that God is actually willing to cut people slack for ignorance, but once they commit to serving Him, his standards go way up.

THINK CAREFULLY

It’s kind of ironic in our age of…oh, let’s saying begging… people to come to God, that Joshua actually almost flat-out tells the Israelites not to commit to serving God. Why? Because he knows they won’t be able to, and they will bring judgement on themselves if they commit now. It seems a far cry from our “raise your hand with no one looking” type of mentality.

It seems that we have a very light view of commitment in our modern world. If we have a bad day at work, we just quit. If we don’t pass a test, we drop out of school. If we have a fight with the spouse, we call a divorce attorney. If something is hard, we just figure it’s time to move on to something that’s a little less stressful.

DO OR DO NOT

Joshua tells the Israelites to carefully consider the promises they make. If they have no intention of serving God, they shouldn’t commit to serving him. We should follow the same advice. If you have no intention of being faithful to your spouse, don’t go down the aisle. You will have days that you consider it a terrible mistake; be prepared to stick it out through those days. If you have no intention of working hard, don’t apply for that job. You will have days when it seems the boss has an intellect rivaled only by garden tools; follow his authority anyway.

If you have no intention of submitting to God, don’t call yourself a Christian. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that a one-time hand raise is the same as serving Jesus as your Lord. Jesus said no one who looks back is worthy of being his disciple. It’s a serious thing, and should not be undertaken simply because an emotional moment. God will hold us to that promise; are we ready for that commitment?

What commitments are you taking lightly today?

July 16, 2013 – Matthew 26

Click here to read Matthew 26 on BibleGateway.com

secretIs there anything that fills the common man with a sense of drunken power more than knowing a secret about somebody else? Let’s say you know that Bob in Cubicle A113 is going to be fired on Friday, and he doesn’t know yet. Doesn’t that give you the feeling of an omnipotent deity? We stroll around the office, “burdened by our terrible knowledge.” We are dying for someone to ask us why we are suddenly so mature-looking with our majestic countenance, just so we can sadly shake our heads as if to say “oh poor pathetic mortal; I would not dream to cast such a heavy weight upon thy shoulders.”

Have you ever kept a secret? Not about your wife’s birthday present, but about yourself. Do you keep that one activity under wraps? Do you make sure to watch that TV show after everyone else is in bed, with the volume turned way down? Do you clear your browser history after visiting that one site? If we find ourselves keeping secrets, one of the questions that we try to avoid is exactly Why are we doing it.  Do we really think God is fooled?

A SECRET PLOT IS A FOOT

Notice that the Pharisees in today’s passage started “plotting in secret.” Why? If they were doing what was right for the whole people (as they claimed), if they were doing “God’s Work,” why would it be necessary to keep it a secret? Perhaps they should have taken a few minutes and asked themselves Why it was necessary to meet at night?

Secrets make us feel powerful. They make us feel that we are in control of what people know about us, that we are the ones with ultimate authority. Yet ask yourself, when was the last time somebody told you a secret that really surprised you? Isn’t the normal reaction “yeah, i kinda figured something like that was going on.” Perhaps people know more about us than we really think. Maybe keeping secrets isn’t so much giving us power, as taking away the strength and comfort that we might in another.

GO INTO THE LIGHT

We need to ask ourselves the reason for keeping the secrets that we do. Is it to protect someone else? There may be some legitimately valid reasons to keep a secret. Is it to spare ourselves embarrassment? Maybe others would say “yes, I deal with the same thing.” Is it to keep on doing the things we know we shouldn’t do? The bible says that evil loves the dark; perhaps we keep secrets for the same reason?

What secrets are you keeping today? Are you willing to bring them into the light?

July 12, 2013 – Joshua 16-17

poutThere’s always a bit of tension between God’s blessings and our own work.  Jesus tells us that we should not worry about the future because God will provide all our needs, yet he also tells us to be wise with money. Will God bless us or does it all depend on us? How do we reconcile these two seemingly dissimilar ideas?

Imagine with me, if you will, a wee lil puppy (warning: shameless attempt at cutess in the illustration). If one is teaching a puppy to trust his owner, do you just fill a giant tub up with dog food and throw the dog in so he knows his needs are met? The answer is no; even if you tried it a bunch of times. Hypothetically. In order to teach a puppy to trust, you put the food in a dish on the floor, and the puppy wags and wiggles his little way over to the smorgsabord.

“BUT THAT HILL IS SO FAR AWAY”

In the book of Joshua, the descendants of Joseph faced a similar quandry. After the conquest of Canaan, they were all given a certain piece of land, but the Manassites (joseph’s decendants) felt that they had gotten ripped off with a parcel that was too small for them, and they asked Joshua for more land. Joshua answers “sure, you can have all the land over that hill over there, just go get it.” But the people said, “umm…there’s other people there. and they have cool rides. Can’t we just have land right here from one of the other Israelites?”

See the problem? God was providing a blessing for them, but they had to go take it. They had to put forth the effort and trust that God would give them victory; God did not just hand it to them.

BEHOLD, I AM THE GREAT GENIE OF THE LAMP

What is it about us that wants God to just provide our needs without any effort? We seem to have this idea that if God loves us, he should give us money to get out of debt; He should give us a new car (doesn’t he know how bad it stinks?); he should take care of that boss (doesn’t he know what a jerk he is and how much better we could run the company?). Would you give your children any and every thing they wanted? Is that what a loving father teaches his children?

Perhaps our concept of God’s Love needs a little rethinking.  Maybe He’s asking us to go take the hill with Him, instead of giving us the easy life in the plain.  Sometimes the best lessons come with a little struggle. Maybe He’s not so interested in granting our every wish and desire as helping us mature and, gasp, learn to trust Him more.

Are you willing to put forth the effort to find out?