Archive for April, 2015
“For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:26).
For David, it is incomprehensible that an assessment of any battle, or any other circumstance in life, would be done apart from the providence of the one true living God. David offers a theological reality that shapes his view and interpretation of all things; that ours is a present and active God; engaged in the affairs of his people. If we really believe God is alive then we must live as if it is so.
“Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night” (Exodus 13:20-21).
The road to Etham was a familiar and well-traveled path; requiring no miraculous intervention. It’s another reminder, much like the command of Jesus to remove the stone from the tomb of Lazarus and to unbind him (John 11), that God will never do by a miracle what he expects us to do by obedience. It is in the unknown wilderness wanderings of life that we experience the timely provision of God for the future that he has set before us.
“Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, ‘God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you’” (Exodus 13:19).
As believers, we are but a prolonged legacy of those who have experienced the faithfulness of God. We are not the first to be called forward; to walk into the unknown; to leave behind the comfortable and familiar. We are inextricably bound to the generations who have come before us; whose faithful example God uses to guide us into His future.
“Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, ‘The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt’” (Exodus 13:17).
There are some things I would never do and places I would never go without a guide. A guide possesses knowledge and insights that make the experience more rewarding. The life of faith cannot be accomplished apart from the guidance of our Heavenly Father. While a northeastern track would have been the shortest route to the Promise Land, God lead them, instead, on a longer, southerly way; knowing the Israelites were not prepared to face the Philistines. How often it is that God leads us by protecting us from what we do not know. His way is rarely the shortest and the quickest.
“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” (Romans 8:1-2).
Can there be any more significant words in scripture? Can any two words better communicate the significance of God’s loving grace and mercy? Is there any better combination of words to explore the future that God would have in store for us? NO CONDEMNATION! Though the Accuser would try, and while past failures attempt to whisper in our ear, and while our enemies would certainly try, the work of Christ Jesus and the promise of His Word come to say, “NO! THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION!” In Christ Jesus there is only life. Live it! Experience it! Share it!
“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Every facet of life operates more efficiently and effectively with a plan. Oh, I know that life never goes as planned, but where there is no plan to, at least, point us in the direction we would like to go, we are left to flounder and wander aimlessly. A plan is an intentioned approach to living life that offers a good start toward an ever unfolding future. God has a plan for you. It is a plan for your good. It is a plan that when embraced gives hope for the present tense of today and the certainty of a future prospered by God. The plan of God is not a mystery but plainly revealed in His Word; it is a life of simple obedience lived in accordance to His teachings. Study the plan; work the plan; live the plan. Herein lies your future.
“Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground” (Numbers 22:31).
For someone who made his living as a seer and soothsayer, Balaam exhibited a spiritual insensitivity that had previously failed to recognize the angel of the Lord. When the life of faith and God’s presence is limited to one’s personal experience and understanding, or to sanctuaries, rules and regulations; “religious” contexts of any kind, we miss out on the myriad ways that God manifests himself each day in the world around us. Encountering God doesn’t require our going off. He is best found in the muck and mire found at the intersection of human lives.