Archive for March, 2010

Never Failing Nor Forsaking

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Joshua 1:5

In this passage, the mantle of leadership is passing from Moses to Joshua.  The Lord, in this verse, assures Joshua that He will be the same God for him that He was for Moses.  He is going to be with Joshua just as He was with Moses.  “I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee”.

These words make me think about all of the times in my life when I have had problems.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that He has never failed me and He has never forsaken me.  There have been many, many times that I have failed Him and there have been many, many times I have forsaken Him.  But He has never failed nor forsaken me. 

That should draw us closer to Him- the knowledge that, though we have failed Him over and over, He will never forsake us.  He won’t fail us.  Ever.  What a wonderful thought!

Description of Church

And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God.

I Samuel 9:27

As I read this verse, I couldn’t help but think about church and the pastors, preachers and teachers that God puts into our lives.  Samuel is in the process of passing his leadership role to Saul and here he decides to take an opportunity to teach Saul something.  The last part especially stands out to me: “stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God”.  That should describe at least part of our experience at church.  Although we don’t literally stand, we usually sit, we do stay still a while and let the man of God show us the Word of God. 

With all of the hustle and bustle of life, sometimes we forget to take the time to just stand still for a while and allow the Lord to speak to us through His Word.  The Psalms speak often of meditating in the Word.  Often the Lord will use these quiet times when we are still to speak to us. 

We should be thankful for the pastors and teachers that the Lord has put in our lives.  Can you imagine Saul in this position?  The great man of God, Samuel, is having him just stand still and listen while he shows him the Word of God.  We may not have Samuel expounding on the Word of the Lord, but we do have good preachers and teachers from God who show us what the Bible says.  We should be thankful for that every day.

Read. Fear. Obey.

And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests and Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them.

Deuteronomy 17:18-19

This passage is talking about the way a future king of Israel should carry himself and the things that he should do.  In these verses, he is told to write out a copy of the book of the law.  And after he has written a copy of the law, he is supposed to read it and obey it for the rest of his life.  He is supposed to do all of this so that he will “learn to fear the Lord his God”. 

We may not be kings of Israel, but we can gain some wisdom from these verses.  I have heard of people copying parts of the Bible just to help them study it and remember it, but even if we don’t go so far as to actually take a pen and write out parts of the Bible, we would do well to follow the rest of the verse- “read therein all the days of our lives” and “learn to fear the Lord our God” and “keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them”. 

We see a natural progression here: 1. Read the Bible.  Reading the Bible will will allow us to see the nature of God and will naturally flow into: 2. Fear the Lord.  Once we have a healthy fear of the Lord, we will naturally want to: 3. Do what He says.

Read.  Fear.  Obey.  Good advice for kings of Israel and good advice for average folks like us.

Isaiah 40:18-19

To whom then will ye liken God? Or what likeness will ye compare unto him?  The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.

Isaiah 40:18-19

To whom then will liken God?  Good question.  Of course there is no one to whom we can liken God.  But how often have we tried to liken God to a man?  How often do we think of God like we think of ourselves or others?  How often do we, in our minds, try to bring God down to our level?

All through the world you can see the products of people trying to make images of God to worship.  These “gods” are just the creation of mens’ hands.  We see statues of Buddha and others like him that people worship.  But how can an omnipotent, omnipresent God be reduced to a simple image made my sinful, fallen man?  These “gods” that the workmen make with gold and silver are just that- gold and silver.  Elements that were created by the true and living God.   How can the creation (man) use another inanimate part of the creation (gold and silver) to try to fashion a god to rule over the Creator?  When we think about it, it really is a silly question.  But how many people down through the centuries have lived their lives worshipping an idol fashioned by the hands of a man?  Even in the Old Testament, we read over and over about God’s own people turning away from Him to serve idols.  We may not actually set up an idol made of gold or silver in our lives, but how often do we let things come between us and God?  Anything we give more love and more devotion to than God could be looked at as an idol. 

To whom will we liken God?  There is none like Him!

Isaiah 40:13

Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him?  With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding.

Isaiah 40:13-14

How often do we think that we know better than God?  Of course we would never actually come out and say those words and we probably would never even think those words.  But how often do our lives betray us and show that, deep down, we think we know better than God?  These are good verses to help us remember just how great God is and just how small we are in the areas of wisdom and intellect.

Just look at the questions asked in these verses- “Who… being his counsellor hath taught him”, and “with whom took he counsel”, and “who instructed him”, and “who… taught him in the path of judgment”, and “who… shewed to him the way of understanding?”.

Isaiah 40:12

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Isaiah 40:12

As we continue to go through Isaiah 40 looking at the imagery it provides of the greatness of God, we are brought to this verse which deals with the physical aspects of the earth.  God “measured out the waters in the hollow of his hand”.  As we would cup our hands to gather a few ounces of water, the Lord tells us that He took all of the waters in His hand.  I’ve never seen the oceans, but I can only imagine how much water that would include.  The biggest body of water I have ever seen is Lake Superior.  It is a vast expanse of water, but to think that the Lord gathered that water in His hand to put it there blows my mind.  When I was about ten years old, my family went to Lake Michigan.  The sky was grey and kind of blended in with the water on the horizon.  As we pulled up to the lake, I asked my dad where it was.  He said “it’s right there”.  I stared in disbelief as I had never seen a body of water take up the entire horizon.  All of that God is able to put in the hollow of His hand.

He “comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure”.  As we would measure flour or sugar for a recipe, God is able to measure the dust of the earth.  We often can not even see dust, but God knows exactly how much of it there is in the entire world.

He “weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance”.  As I drive through the mountains, I am always amazed at their sheer size.  But God is not amazed at their size.  God knows the weight of them and has the power to pick them up and put them in a balance. 

Reading passages like this should really give us a greater appreciation for the power of the God we serve.

Gratitude and Ingratitude

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house…

Deuteronomy 26:11a

Because thou servedst not the Lord the God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

Deuteronomy 28: 47-48

In Deuteronomy chapter 26, the Lord tells the Israelites that they are to be thankful and grateful.  They are supposed to rejoice in all that the Lord has done for them and given to them.  He has delivered them out of bondage in Egypt and He has given them a land flowing with milk and honey.  He has given them numerous promises that He will be with them and bless them if they will obey Him.  Literally everything they have they received directly from Him.  They are told to rejoice in this.  In chapter 28, they are told what will happen when they aren’t thankful and joyful and grateful: they are going to serve their enemies, they are going to be destitute- hungry, thirst, naked and in need of “all things”.  They are going to have a yoke of iron put on their necks and they are going to be destroyed.  What was going to bring about all of this severe punishment?  Not serving the Lord with gladness and not being thankful and joyful for all He had done for them.

The Bible is full of dire warnings about the sin of unthankfulness.  Sometimes we take for granted just how good the Lord has been to us and just how much He has blessed us.  Not having a heart of gratitude toward the Lord is one sure way to get the blessings taken away. Let us serve Him with joy and gladness!

Unmindful of Him?

Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.  And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them…

Deuteronomy 32:18-19a

We are forgetful people.  We forget where we put the car keys.  We forget to buy milk at the store.  We forget to put our socks in the laundry basket. (Or maybe that’s just me)  Sometimes we forget important dates such as our anniversary or a loved one’s birthday.  But we should not forget our God.

God created us and He saved us from our sins.  How could we forget such a person?  I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that I have forgotten Him more times than I would like to admit.  The Israelites were unmindful of Him.  They didn’t even think about Him.  How often do we go through the motions of our lives without even thinking about Him? 

Of all the things we forget and all the things that we just don’t think too much about, we should never let the Lord be one of those things.  We should strive daily to keep Him in mind in every moment of every day.  We should strive to never forget Him in any decision that we have to make.  We should strive to keep Him in mind always!

God Helping Lions?

The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.  The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.

Psalm 104: 21-22

You will have to forgive me for a minute- I like animals.  I like them a lot.  In fact, lions are among my favorite animals.  I have always been fascinated by wild animals, and the Bible does have some things to say about them.  As with anything that interests us, we tend to sit up and pay a little closer attention when the subject of our interest comes up.  I was reading in the Psalms the other day and came across this verse and the ones around it which deal with basically the same subject.  I read about the lions in verses 21 and 22 and one phrase really struck me and I’ve been thinking about it for a few days: “young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God”.  I can easily understand the first part of the verse; that young lions roar after their prey.  My wife and I were in a zoo once and started hearing this very loud noise; after a while, we discovered that it was the lion who was about to be fed and he was roaring.  But it’s the second phrase that stuck with me: “(they) seek their meat from God”.  A lion seeks his meat from God?

The I started looking at the verses around it and I was struck with a very simple truth- whether we know it and realize it or not, we are all “seeking our meat from God”.  If we have food on our tables, it is because of God- there are some in the world who don’t have food on their tables.  If we have money to buy food at the store, it is because of God- there are many in the world who have no money.  If the grass grows for the cows and deer to eat, it is because God allowed it to be so. If the fox catches a mouse, it is because God gave it to him.  God not only feeds us, He feeds the lions and every other creature on the Earth.  I don’t know if animals are cognizant of the fact that their food is coming from God, but it is true all the same.

Reading these verses just gives us a small glimpse of how great of a God we serve.  We do not serve an impersonal God.  Not only does He help and provide for us, He helps and provides for all of His creation as well!

Subduing Our Iniquities, Pt II

He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:19

I know that I just wrote about this verse yesterday, but there is so much in it that I wanted to write a little more about some of the other parts of it.  Isn’t God’s Word amazing?  You could take one book or one chapter or even one verse and never exhaust the riches of truth contained in it.  Sometimes  the Lord will bring out a different word or phrase in your mind and sometimes He will help you to apply it to yourself and your life a little differently.  This verse is one of those that is infinitely deep. 

Today, I would like to look at the first and the last parts of the verse: “…he will have compassion on us…” and “thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea”.  I am daily reminded that we have a very compassionate God.  I am daily reminded of this because I have to deal with myself on a daily basis.  And I know that I deserve no goodness nor compassion from a holy God.  But that does not change the fact that the Lord is merciful; He is compassionate, and He is good to us though we do not deserve it.  I also love the imagery of “casting all their sins into the depths of the sea”.  I hate my sin and want to be rid of it, but there is nothing that I can humanly do about it.  It is stuck to me and it is part of me.  But the Lord can do something about it- He has the power to take the whole vile, disgusting lump of it and cast it into the depths of the sea.  Every day that I live I am thankful for that truth!