WE MUST STAND WITH ISRAEL
I’ve been reading in the book of Judges about the exploits of Gideon, and came across a passage which I believe I’ve read before in the reading of Judges, but certainly didn’t recall it.
This passage is concerned with Gideon’s battle against the Midianites, who had been oppressing Israel for some seven years, according to the will of the Lord, since Israel “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” The Lord raised up Gideon (somewhat against Gideon’s will) to fight against Midian. You may remember the story whereby the Lord reduced Gideon’s army from some 32,000 men down to 300 so that Israel couldn’t boast that they defeated Midian rather than the Lord.
In the context of fighting Midian, Gideon’s army of 300 (after much success) was augmented when Gideon appealed to the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh, who joined the fight and defeated two of the leaders of the Midianites, named Oreb and Zeeb.
The army of 300 then crossed the Jordan into the lands east of the river in pursuit of the kings of Midian, named Zebah and Zalmunna. When they crossed the Jordan, the army then was in the lands Joshua had given to the tribe of Gad, and Gideon fully expected support from Gad similar to what he had received from the other tribes. When Gideon appealed to the Israelites in two of the Israeli cities in the territory of Gad, asking for bread for his weary army, they refused! In response, Gideon vowed to return after defeating the Midianites to punish both cities, which he later did.
In one commentary that I read on this passage, the author says that, effectively, these Israelite cities had sided with Israel’s enemies—and effectively, had sided with the enemies of the Lord, since it was He who initiated this campaign against Midian through Gideon. The author goes on to say that the Gadite cities of Penuel and Succoth “were treated like Israel’s enemies, demonstrating the importance of maintaining one’s loyalty to the people of God.”
This story, and the idea of loyalty to Israel, got me thinking. As early in the Bible as Genesis, God promises to protect and provide for His special people, Israel. Speaking to Abraham, the Lord says, “And I will make of you a great nation… I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” [Gen 12:2-3] This, and similar passages such as Ps 122:6, Is 60:12, Zech 2:8 and Num 24:9, all show God’s special place in His heart for Israel. And in passages like Zech 12:1-14 (especially verse 9), God promises to defend Jerusalem against any aggressor nation. In God’s own words, He will “destroy” any such aggressor nations.
For us in this country, we have long held policies of arming and defending Israel, even though there are some segments of our society who oppose that position. I pray that we as a country continue to believe God’s words and continue to support Israel in every way. To do anything contrary will incur God’s anger, and, as He says clearly in His Word, His wrath will be great and punishing.
Enjoy serving the Lord, and he will give you what you want. -Psalm 37:4
I was pondering on the goodness of God as I took inventory of my life.
You see, I have always loved to write. I remember writing poems in grade school. Then in my teen years, I had a journal that I wrote in daily. Those writings were rather dark as I tried to figure out who I was and ‘why’ I was here. But even then, writing was my passion!
Now, God has put me in a position where I write three blogs for the church I presently attend, one for the ladies ministry, one for the teen girls ministry, and I co-author the main blog on our church website. The other blog is co-written with a friend from a church I attended in the past. Blogging is a great way to spread the Gospel and be a witness for Jesus!
When we submit our plans to the Lord, He is gracious to give us the desires of our heart! Do not hesitate to give your plans to Him!
Max Lucado puts it this way, and I quote...”As the wind turns the weather vane, so God uses your passion to turn your life. God is too gracious to ask you to do something you hate!”
Give your plans to Him…HE put those desires in your heart for a reason! Use them for His good!
As I anxiously awaited the return of my husband, fear began to overtake me.
He had left hours earlier to do a gig in the mountains. The snow had been falling for hours before he left, and had not stopped. Common sense took control, and logic soon followed. When it’s that bad outside…you need to stay home! But he had signed a contract, and had to do the job.
For quite sometime, I fretted and fumed…pacing back and forth to the refrigerator looking for something to comfort me. Then it hit me! All I needed to do was call on the Lord, and put my trust in Him! That simple. So I did, and my fears began to subside. Then, the following song came to mind….
Listen to the words. Then put your faith and trust in the God that NEVER fails!
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.-Psalm 19: 1-4
Did you know that scientists have discovered that stars don’t orbit in silence? They generate music. Similar to humpback whales, stars give off wavelengths and frequencies that may not be heard by the human ear but by using acoustic astronomy, the sounds and pulses of space can be heard!
The music of stars, whales, and all of God’s creatures create a symphony. They proclaim God’s greatness! Look at the verses above! God made all of nature to give Him praise!
I love how the song-writer, singer, Chris Rice puts it in the following song…take a listen!
Here’s a good one from our own Lee Pierce! Take a look… -anita
How important to you is going to church on Sunday? Is Sunday just another day in your life? These are some of the thoughts I encountered upon reading a great article on Sunday and its importance in Christian life.
The Rev. Joe Thorn, a pastor in Illinois who wrote this article, avers that we Christians, with all the federal and other assorted holidays we observe (many of them observed without fail, I might add), often treat our most holy day—one given to us by the Lord Himself—“as a good option so long as there isn’t anything better going on that day.”
If you are like me, going to church on Sunday is inviolable—I want to attend, I need to attend, I owe that act of worship to my God and to fellow believers. Rev. Thorn goes on to say that, failure to observe the Lord’s Day , “tells the world that even if Jesus rose from the dead, it has little impact for us…. He says further: “…gathering with the church on Sunday is a testimony to the world….” [Heb 10:25] I dearly love how he characterizes Sunday worship: “When the church gathers on the Lord’s Day, heaven itself is breaking in to the darkness in which we live….”
So, are we limited to going to church on Sundays, and must do nothing else on that day? There are many places, especially in the OT, where all work is decried on the Sabbath [Neh 13:15-18, Ex 31:14-17] (the Sabbath is considered to be Saturday in Jewish law and custom, whereas early Christians began to observe Sunday as the Lord’s Day since Jesus arose on that day). Here again, in researching this topic, I’ve come across some interesting and, I believe, deeply important thoughts concerning “working” on Sunday.
An interesting organization—Scripturally consistent and biblically conservative, I believe– found atwww.gotquestions.org, comments extensively on this subject. They cite Col 2:16-17 where Paul says that most everything, including observance of the Sabbath day, is a ”shadow of the things that were to come,” namely the coming of the Lord Jesus. The rest that the Sabbath was to provide is no longer a once-a-week event; that rest is now permanent in our relationship to Christ Himself. Various Bible-believing organizations espouse many views on the Lord’s Day and keeping it holy. Not to work for profit or personal gain, is one example, yet they allow that some believers in critical roles in society (think police, firemen, doctors and nurses) must work to serve our society. Jesus, who is Lord of the Sabbath [Matthew 12:1-8], allowed His disciples to gather grain to eat on the Sabbath, which, of course, threw the Pharisees into a tizzy.
Ultimately, then, Jesus is our rest, and while our Lord still wants us to spend Sunday reflecting upon and worshipping Him, some aspects of life must go on. When Jesus came He fulfilled the Law and He provides our rest. And not just for one day a week but for eternity! Anything we can do on any Sunday (or any other day for that matter) to glorify Him is worth doing—even if it looks like work to the outside world.
I’ve been reading in the book of Joshua recently and have gotten bogged down in one of the greatest mysteries in the Bible: the time that Joshua prayed and God made the sun and moon stand still for nearly 24 hours.
I don’t know about you, but I find this fascinating, but perplexing, all at the same time.
In Joshua 10, as Joshua is following the Lord’s command to continue the conquest of the promised land, the Bible describes a very unusual event. The Israelites were contending with the Amorites and the Lord had caused great confusion among the Amorites, and also had slain many of them by causing a great hail storm to fall, killing many. Given that the Amorites were being killed in great numbers, it’s curious that Joshua then prays to God to stop the sun and the moon in place [verses 10:12-13]. Joshua’s stated purpose for this request is so that the army of Israel could complete the conquest of the enemy. In doing so, they would be obedient to God’s command.
The Bible uses very clear wording here: “So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped [verse 13a].” Further, this stoppage wasn’t momentary, as verse 13 continues: “And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.” A somewhat similar event, where the path of the sun was altered, is recorded in Isaiah 38:8. Here the Lord says to King Hezekiah that, as a sign to the king, He would cause the sun to backtrack and move its shadow back 10 steps on the stairway at Ahaz.
Some science here is useful. The sun (nor moon) doesn’t actually move across the sky; that movement is due to the rotation of the earth. For the sun to stop “moving’ means that the earth had to stop rotating for most of a day. Now, from the minimal research I did, the rotation of the earth is critical in some important ways. The rotation affects things like the motion of the tides. It also helps control the temperature on the earth – if the sun stays stationary in the sky, that part of the exposed earth would become unbearably hot while the opposite side of the planet would begin to freeze deeply. Both are conditions anathema to human life. There’s also a factor of gravity: without centrifugal force, which comes from the earth’s rotation, the force of gravity on us might be crushing.
Various explanations have been given for this event: maybe it was an eclipse, or maybe it was a “local miracle” where God caused light to remain only in the Gibeon area. The former doesn’t make sense to me because an eclipse only lasts for minutes not hours, and it takes away the sunlight rather than sustains it. And the latter argument doesn’t seem to hold up given the Bible’s clear language that the sun in the sky “stood still.”
I like the suggestion of one commentator who posits that maybe we should just take the biblical language at face value and agree that God stopped the earth and, therefore, the sun in the sky. He says, “There are objections to this explanation, based on the physics of motion, but the God who created the world and established natural laws is perfectly capable of compensating for any collateral complications.”
I guess I would have to agree with that commentator. God is the same one who put the sun and moon in the sky in the first place. If He chose to stop earthly motion I’m quite sure He 1) has the power to do so, and 2) could mitigate any damage from earthly temperature change and the tidal motion. After all, this is the same God who, through Jesus, brought dead people back to life. That, to me, is every bit as astonishing as seeing the sun halt in the sky!
In sum, I would have to say that I have no idea exactly how He did it, but I believe everything in His Word, and I fully believe He could, and did, halt the sun. For me, believing His Word is a big part of living out my faith. I trust what He says—I hope you do, too.
Read 2 Chronicles 14-16. This will give you the whole story.
Yesterday in church, the sermon was on, What it takes to make a difference for God. Pastor reiterated the life of King Asa of Judah. The first fifteen years of his reign were done with dependence on God-entirely! There was peace and prosperity in the kingdom for the following twenty years. ….But in the thirty-fifth year of his reign, he got angry at the words of the prophet, and decided to do things HIS own way. That was the beginning of his downfall. Instead of calling on God for help during a battle, he called together a counsel and depended on human help.
In 2 Chronicles 16:9, the Bible says this:
For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose hearts are completely His. You (King Asa) have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”
Some of us start out great when we first come to meet the Lord. We do wonderful things…miraculous things in HIS name. But humans tend to forget rather quickly that our success comes from God Almighty. We become arrogant and self reliant. We think we are “self made men” and forget that we are blessed because we relied on God as our strength. That’s when trouble begins. We do it “our way” without consulting God.
We need to ask ourselves…
- Where is my heart? Does it completely belong to God?
- How will I end? Will I still follow God and His lead? Or will I do it “my way”?
- How far have I moved from my starting point with God? Am I going forward? Or have I regressed?
- Do I want peace in my life? Or do I want to constantly be at war?
I want my end to be better and more fruitful than my beginning was. I want to be a difference maker in this world!
Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to place a fire in us! A fire that burns so bright that ALL can see! Let’s be contagious for God and the things of His kingdom!
Now, let’s go out there into the world and be a difference maker!
Do You Feel the Need for Forgiveness?
Here’s a good one from Lee! Enjoy! -anita
Every month I receive a newsletter from World Challenge, David Wilkerson’s ministry, now headed by David’s son, Gary Wilkerson. In the December newsletter, Gary’s words spoke to me in a strong and convicting way.
Gary made the statement that “No one likes to think of themselves as a stereotypical Pharisee—rigid, moralistic figures who mostly opposed Jesus.” He went on to note that “several Christian writers,” however, believe that many of the Pharisees’ lives “most resemble our own.” What? That stopped me in my tracks. He clarified his point by saying that it’s not because we oppose Jesus, “… but because we strive hard to lead upright lives the way [the Pharisees] did.” And then the clincher: “And … because we rarely feel the need for forgiveness.”
That last point really got me thinking. I believe I feel the need for His forgiveness every day…because I sin terribly every day. I know I’m a well-practiced sinner who is very much in need of a Savior. But Gary continued to make his case. “For most of our waking hours, we aren’t moved or stirred to love on God.” Gary made this point in the context of discussing the story of the woman who anointed Jesus’ with expensive oil at the house of Simon the Pharisee. Here was a disreputable woman who took the time to love on Jesus, and our Lord responded with great forgiveness toward her. And He took Simon to task for Simon’s lack of similar acts of love and hospitality toward our Lord, whom Simon had invited to his home for dinner.
Gary Wilkerson wraps up this newsletter with some very penetrating questions; questions every professing Christian needs to ask of themselves. “Why don’t I feel Jesus’ love more? And why don’t I feel more love for Him?”
Wilkerson’s point is that, while we’re called to represent Jesus here on earth and spread His love to others around us, we can’t give what we don’t have or feel. “I urge you, receive His love—and love Him right back,” he says. I’m saying this mostly for me, but it may fit you, as well.
As I’ve said before, I need to do a better job of including Jesus in my whole day. Maybe then I’ll more readily recognize just how much I need Him and, in turn, love Him that much more for His great love and forgiveness toward me…and toward you.
I’ve shared this before, but was just now thinking about it again. Thanks for allowing me to share this again… -anita
“For God so loved the WORLD, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Going “global”, is nothing new…
It was done long ago for me and for you.
Jesus died for mankind
Upon a cruel cross.
He did it for us…
He suffered the loss.
He loved the whole world,
And the color of skin,
Is not what He died for…
It was the part within;
The heart and the Soul
Of each one here on earth,
Was offered the same…
A new chance…a new birth!
He cared not the color
or slant of the eyes,
His only concern
Was that men would rise
From the ashes of sin
That fettered their minds;
From the chains of darkness,
That cleave and bind.
He wanted relationship,
His desire for us
Was that we would mend
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