Joshua 9-10 Have you ever made a snap judgment only to find it blow up in your face? The Israelites did just that when the Gibeonites entered the Israelites camp and deceived them by wearing rags and carrying moldy bread, along with a tale of their journey. Their deception included meekly approaching the camp of the Israelites who accepted them at face value.
But as quickly as they deceived the Israelites, they now found out that their cleverness just might be their undoing and the Israelites will learn a hard lesson in accepting others without checking in with God. This unlikely friendship has turned the Gibeonites into enemies in the land and others seeing them as betrayers. Without Israel’s help, they would have been defeated. Even though the Israelites were not happy with the leaders for their rash decision to accept the Gibeonites, they fulfilled their promise of protection and God will use this experience to bring Him glory and teach the Israelites never again to accept others on what they see rather than checking in with God.
Remember the truth of Romans 8:28 “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” God used Joshua’s error in not seeking God’s wise counsel regarding the Gibeonites to bring honor to Himself. God can and will use our mistakes to honor Himself. We often only see the cloud’s underside, but the silver lining, although hidden, will be revealed, so God gets the credit, not us.
When was the last time you didn’t check with God? Did you stop and give Him praise for how He used your mistake to bring about His good?
Numbers 1-2 It has been two full years and still, the people are no closer to the Promised Land than the last experience of the Passover night or their exodus from Egypt. Yet, God’s plan is to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land. As part of that plan, He has Moses begin numbering the men twenty years and older to be His servants in peacetime and in war. What we lack in comprehension, the Holy Spirit reveals to us in our understanding. God wants us to know that He is a God of details. He knows when a sparrow falls; He knows each hair on your head. God has a plan, and your name was on it from eternity past.
God knew that Moses needed others to serve, and God devised a plan for His people. From every tribe, men were to be ready to serve in whatever capacity God had planned. That was then, and it is the same today. God cares for you, and He has chosen you for His kingdom’s work. He calls you His servant. A servant serves others even when inconvenient, whether he or she dislikes the duty. The circumstances are unimportant. God is looking at our heart’s attitude towards His work.
In eternity past, He chose you and me for His work, and God did all of that so men who are in spiritual darkness will hear the good news. He uses people like you and me. Amazingly God wants to be glorified through us. Stop and think about that today and praise God for His lovingkindness that He chose you for His work. It is called evangelism.
What work are you doing today that will glorify Him?
Exodus 31 The Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity who gifts men for the purpose of ministry. He gifted Bezalel with four gifts: in skill, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship. However, the Spirit did not leave Bezalel to do this work alone. He also gifted Oholiab from the tribe of Dan to work under Bezalel. Paul expands this idea in Romans 12 where he explains that each member of the church community has a gift specifically apportioned for the work of the ministry in the church. To the Ephesian church, he told them that we are “equipped for the work of the ministry of God that is to build up the body of Christ.”[Eph 4:12]
It is often heard people say one of two things: (1) I don’t know what my spiritual gift is OR (2) I don’t have a spiritual gift. To say either is to deny the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. This nothing more than a false idea; instead stop and consider yourself blessed to be given your gift so you can serve the ministry.
Exodus 22 to 24 God has set down the laws for a perfect society, and He starts with laws that men are to keep and the consequences for breaking those laws. The people had just said they would obey all that God has said, but that will be short-lived, and so this is why God wrote these. His attention to detail is so that they people have a benchmark to follow. Next, God institutes the three feasts that are to be held with directions for all males to be in attendance.
Two chapters entailed these directions that men may know how God will determine their integrity. Now God moves from the social justice theme to the promise of the angelic messenger to go before them in their travels. “Take heed and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my Names is in him.” [Exodus 23:20] Why is this important? It is because they had lived ‘under’ slave masters who determined all their rules and regulations. Now God will show them the difference between what is holy and unholy, what is sanctified, and what is impure. The purpose is to set them apart from the nations around them and be the guiding light of the gospel to the pagans they will encounter.
God has given us His “rule” book that ensures we will be blessed if we obey. How do you feel about God’s Rules and will you obey them?
Recently our church lost not one but three pastors, which has left a void along with the recent pandemic lockdowns. Like “Pastor” James, our church is seeking to keep the ties to the flock. This letter is chock full of wisdom to the dispersed regarding the tests they are sure to experience.
Satan would like nothing better than to destroy the flock through our tongues. Therefore, James encourages choosing wise words because the tongue is a deadly evil and needs the gift of self-control. There is a principle here; we can either draw listeners close to the Lord or drive them far from Him just by the words we choose as well as our countenance that is revealed behind the words. He reminds them not to forget the mirror example. You can see who you are in the mirror, but it is up to you to take heed to the image you see.
Knowing what to say and how to say it requires wisdom. If you need or want wisdom, all you need to do is ask God in full faith and He will provide the answers you are seeking. Twice he reminds his audience that true wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical.
Today listen to how you are speaking as well as how you respond. Ask yourself if you are quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. Remember, if we are merely listening but not applying, then our faith is futile and without merit.
If you are still in need of help try reading C.S.Lewis’ book: The Screwtape Letters in which he crafts a dialogue to show how Satan strategizes to fool and to disarm the believer.
C.S.Lewis wrote a book on how Satan works. Along with James we can learn his strategies so we can be wise
God in his sovereign love directed the runaway slave Onesimus from Colossae to encounter Paul, an aged prisoner, somewhere in Rome. Watching Paul and hearing his story, he would see, not fear but a peace that passes all understanding. He would learn the truth and power of forgiveness that would forever change his heart and soul. You too might be just like Onesimus, a runaway. You are fearful of today and tomorrow but God is calling you to Himself. It was because Paul took Onesimus and discipled him that he moved from being a willing slave of the evil kingdom of fear and bondage to being a bondslave of the heavenly kingdom.
Yes, Onesimus would have to return to Colossae and Philemon to “face the music.” However, before he was useless, but now he was useful not only for Paul but also for his earthly master. Don’t you want to meet him in eternity?
Are you like Onesimus? Are you running away from God? Are you living in fear of what lay ahead? Jesus says: Come follow Me and I will remove all your fears and give you the peace that passes all understanding!
Our world is consumed with protecting investments. Seminars are replete with: give me your money and I will invest it and bring you dollars untold. As Paul closes this personal letter to Timothy he leaves him with one charge and it has nothing to do with the investment of money. Instead, he charged Timothy and us in turn, to invest and protect the gospel message. We are to “protect what has been entrusted to [us].” [2Tim 1:14]
He has entrusted us with the precious gospel message. We are to protect it because it is the life-giving message of hope. Practically we protect or guard this investment by being vigilant or intentional to stand firm in the faith. We conduct ourselves as a model of purity and righteousness. We are to be a Christ-like model in speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity being conscious about how we live and what we teach. Intentionally we are to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness.” [1Tim 6:11] And we are to do it until “the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ…” who is “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”[1Tim 6:15-16]
We, who are believers, are charged with being the guardians of the TRUTH. How are we at guarding the investment Christ has left us?