Archive for April, 2015
“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.
“So Balaam arose in the morning, and saddled his donkey and went with the leaders of Moab” (Numbers 22:21).
While Balaam may have saddled his donkey it was he that was saddled by his own spiritual blindness; deceived by the duplicity of his heart. He has rationalized that he can serve both God and himself at the same time; praying for Divine counsel when he has already predetermined the action he is going to take. The guise of such “prayer” deceives us to believe that our will and God’s will are one and the same.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward’” (Exodus 14:15).
It’s hard to imagine a time when praying is actually inappropriate. Crying out to God in prayer, Moses is but delaying the obedient response God is expecting from his people. That the Hebrews are to be delivered from Egypt has been unequivocally mandated by God. It’s a reminder that God’s directives are not given for our prayerful consideration but our obedience. The pretense of praying to know God’s will in matters clearly dictated in his word is but a “spiritualized” form of disobedience.
“Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:12).
The ill-conceived notion of returning from whence they came would have brought fatal consequences. To have gone back would have cancelled Israel’s history, dismissed the providential blessings of God already experienced; leaving them to be a forgotten people as they were absorbed into Egyptian culture. God’s history is dependent upon his people moving faithfully forward into the future he is continuing to write.
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10).
The work of satan is to accuse; to divide and separate. “Kategoros” is the Greek word translated as “accuser.” From this we also get our word “categorize.” It is the means by which we diminish others and elevate ourselves. By accusing others we seek to justify our behaviors. To accuse or categorize someone, with no intention of seeking reconciliation or understanding as is directed by Jesus, is to be deceived into doing the work of satan. Christians unite and build up while the evil one seeks to divide and destroy.
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth” (Isaiah 42:16).
While we are blind and unaware of what the new day holds in store, we need not enter in with fear or dread for the One who said, “I am the Light of the world,” illuminates the path before us. And not only this, but as we walk and abide in Him, we become a light for those who live in darkness; for He said, too, of His followers, “You are the light of the world.”
“I will run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free” (Psalm 119:32).
Running to the cadence of one voice is so much more freeing than trying to run and respond to all the competing voices vying for our attention. To declare Jesus as Lord simplifies life; what life will be about; how we will approach life and to what we will give ourselves. Instead of seeing our lives as being fragmented; stressed because we are pulled in so many directions, we discover freedom by bringing all things under the umbrella of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. By this approach one of two things occurs: either the things we put our hand to are done with a greater excellence or, they are eliminated from our life completely because they are deemed irrelevant to the call of Christ upon one’s life. Run Free today.