28.5 Revelation – Tendrils of Distraction

Living according to God’s will for us is hard.  We are called to be salt and light to the world.  We are called to rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all, to be thankful, and alert.

I think that for most of us that last one is the hardest. Following biblical teaching, we often think of sin as a lion crouching in wait for us.  We think of a beast grabbing ahold of us and pulling us under. A leviathan of the deep with tendrils choking and crushing our bodies.

But, in my day-to-day life, the bigger issues are not the direct attacks that I can see and those around me join together to pray through.  It is not in the big bully beast wrapping around me in attack.  Instead, it is in the little taps of distraction on my shoulder.  It is more like a buzzing fly, drawing my alertness away.

I sit down to read or pray and my mind goes a million directions.  I stand in worship at church and feel a cramp in my foot or hear an instrument out of tune or feel cold or just start day-dreaming.

Even the chosen 3 apostles who went with Jesus to pray fell asleep time and again.

We are powerless.  But God is not powerless.

Do you start your bible study with a prayer for peace and alertness and focus?  Do you ask God to keep your mind and body focused on worship time?  Do you call on the power of the Holy Spirit in each of these situations?

These tendrils of distraction are real evil things.  Yes, everyone has them.  They are completely “the norm”, but the norm is a fallen world permeated by sin.  Normal and right are not the same thing.

I think this is an area that all of us can ask for God’s help in our journey to eternal holiness with Him.

My Answers:

10.
M28: Go – make disciples of all nations – baptize them (father, son, holy spirit), teach, obey, walk with Jesus, every day, every single day

J13: Understand that while Jesus is gone He is still glorified with and in us.  Love one another, be known for love. We will follow Him.

1T5: Rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances, accept God’s will, be in Jesus Christ. Trust, not doubt, rjct evil

H12: Be thankful, worship God (acceptably with reverence and awe), look forward to a kingdom that cannot be shaken

1P1: be alert, set hope on grace brought by Jesus, be obedient, do not conform to the evil desire, be holy because Christ is holy

11.
fear and doubt and worry.  It is not in my belief, but in my unbelief.  It is in the little ways and thoughts and temptations and words that are not the witness that they need to be.  It is in my failures to pray continuously, but intermittently, to run ahead of God, instead of walk beside Him, to ask Him to save me instead of asking for direction in advance.

13.2 Revelation – Stopping the Wind

Stopping the Wind

Who can stop the wind?

Wind is an unseen but very real force.  It is constantly moving with both benefits and harm.  It helps cleanse the earth, move and dissipate smoke and polution.  It drives the rain clouds. It also produces tornadoes, hurricanes, down-gusts and micro-bursts.

Whether you see the stopping of the wind as a form of wrath in itself (by removing the beneficial properties of the wind) or a delay of wrath (by holding back the destructive power), either way, the power and ability to perform such a task in outside of our comprehension.

We can deflect the wind.  We can make shelters from the wind.  But we can’t hold it back.

But God can.  And Revelation 7 says that He will for His purpose.  He will send angels to hold back the wind and then another angel to seal 144,000.

Righteous harm will befall the earth.  It is inevitable and part of God’s plan of purification for the stain of sin on creation.  But God is in control even of the inevitable.  He can hold back even the wind for His purposes.  We see it in the end times and we see it in our daily lives.  All sin is against God and all of us sin.  We pile up debts of sin with no way to repay even the smallest.  God is not unjust.  He does not leave sin unpunished or unreconciled, but He holds back His right or setting the accounts right, so that the ones He love can be drafted to His service.

My Answers:

3.
standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds

4.
a.
destruction, invasion, wrath, power, anger

b.
Patience – protection of the earth, land, sea, trees and people to be sealed

c.
every day I sin and deserve the wrath of God.  All sin is against God.

24.4 Moses 24, Day 4

Subversion, perversion, aversion and reversion

What happens next in the story of the Moabites and the Israelites speaks volumes of both groups of people.

Subversion has always been and is today a common strategy used to overthrow an enemy.  Identify the weaknesses of your enemy and use that to weaken their positions of strength.  Weaken the walls.  Play to the things they want to keep hidden and secret.

For the Israelites, that weakness was a temptation of the pervisions offered by the Moabite women.  They quit thinking with their heads and began bowing down to the gods of Baal.

Their aversion (turning away from the correct path) and reversion (inability to maintain a higher state), resulted in dire sin and the wrath of a just God.

God had prepared this generation their entire lives to enter the promised land.  A people set apart, fed, clothed, cared for day and night.  Their enemies fell down in terror before them.  They enjoyed freedom to grow and multiply and look forward to the great gift and reward to come.  And, they were willing to sacrifice all of that for food and carnal lust.

But think about what that also says about the Moabites.  Balaam counsels them on the Israelite weakness, but the Moabites are the ones who willingly pimp out their mothers, wives and daughters for military gain.  Who does that?  Most societies protect women and children, not send them out to sleep with the enemy.

God could not allow this.  In every way it was wrong, destructive and undermined the very nature of a holy people.  Found guilty by multiple witnesses and by the judgment of God, a sentence of death was imposed by God and a plague began.

 

My Answers:

8.
a.
Sexual immorality with Moabite women, invited them to sacrifice to their gods, yoked themselves with Baal

b.
To reject God

c.
Chose to delay worship rather than putting God at the beginning of every day.  I also chose to trust in him for housing and care of mom/uncle : missed blessing of daily walk, frustration, trust and peace in things I have turned over to Him

9.
God said to – it is always wise to be obedient.  God also was teaching them through this, the consequences of yoking themselves to the heathen people and their gods

 

03.4 Moses 3, Day 4

Insecurity, Inadequacy and Fear

Insecurity, Inadequacy and Fear are three of the top 10 barriers that those of us called to serve the Lord allow to stand in the way of serving Him fully and whole heartedly.  Some will read the verses in our study today and see an impertinent or obstinate Moses.  But I think this is far deeper and more meaningful.

When we stand in the presence of God we will speak the truth.  Scripture tells us that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

I think what we see is Moses revealing his heart and soul layer by layer in the presence of a loving and patient God.  Yesterday we discussed the first 2 barriers.  I don’t know who I am and I don’t know who you are, God.  God addressed those.  Now we move deeper past the surface.

1. I am insecure.  What if they don’t believe me?  What if I lay myself out in front of them and they reject me?  God answers this by making Moses more secure and teaching him about God’s plan.  God shows him how to perform miraculous signs.  He doesn’t just tell him these signs, He allows Moses to practice the signs and to experience there impact first hand.  He teaches Moses what he is to do and enlightens him that they may not believe the first sign or the second sign and they may not listen to Moses, but they will believe the third.

2. I am inadequate.  I am not eloquent.  I am slow of speech.  What if I don’t have the words to convince them?  What if I don’t know what to say or how to say it?  God patiently reminds him not of Moses power but of Gods.  Who made it so men can speak?  This is not a barrier, because it is not a barrier to God.  God tells him again, “now, go” and reminds him that God will not only help him speak but actually teach him the very words to say.

3. I am afraid.  No one likes to admit we are afraid, but we all experience fear and it can paralyze us.  I believe Moses’ final request, that God send someone else, is an expression of his fear.  And how does God address this?  In two ways.  First, if you are going to have fear in your life, let it be a reasonable fear of the Lord.  God’s anger burned against Moses.  The shift from petty fears to righteous fear that Moses must have experienced at that moment must have been palpable.  But God did not use fear to be the motivation for Moses to obey.  This is very important.  God revealed Moses’ fear for what it was in comparison to the fear of God, but He didn’t leave Moses with something to move away from, He gave Moses something to look forward to.  The conversation between God and Moses reveals that Moses and Aaron knew each other as brothers.  Moses knew that Aaron could speak well.  Moses had been away for 40 years, away from home and family, and God overcomes his fear with a promise of hope and love and reuniting.  He tells Moses that Aaron is already on his way to meet him.  (Don’t miss that.  God didn’t yield to Moses’ fear, he had sent Aaron on his way before this conversation happened.)

God helps and is patient of us in exactly the same way.  He overcomes our feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.  He overcomes our fear with hope and love and reuniting.  He has given us the promise of a promised land that makes the land of Canaan look like a wasteland.  He has given us a promise of his presence that makes the pillar of fire look like a flashlight with weak batteries.

Like Moses, He has given us a sign and a promise: when our mission here on earth is done we shall return to a holy place to worship Him.

 

My Answers:

7.
a.
1. What if they don’t believe me or listen to me?
2. Pardon, I have never been eloquent… I am slow of speech and tongue.
3. Pardon, Please send someone else

b.
v2-9 foresight into miraculous signs
v11-12. who gave human beings their mouths?… Now, go; I will help you speak and teach you what to say
14-17. The Lord’s anger burned against Moses – gave him helper, Aaron

c.
I don’t know what to say.  I don’t want to offend.  I’m not the right person.  I’m too sinful to be believed.  I’m not holy enough.  God has been patient with me, taught me, and has taken up residence in my heart.

27.2 BSF Matthew Week 27, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

A large crowd had made its way to Jerusalem for celebration of the passover.  They had begun arriving the week before.  5 days before Jesus had been all the buzz and a large crowd had gone out to find him at the dinner at Lazarus’ house.  This was when Mary had anointed Jesus with the perfume.  4 days before Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowd.  Hosanna!  Blessed is the King of Israel.  Tonight they show up as an armed mob with torches and clubs and betrayal and hatred on their lips. Tomorrow they will be screaming for his execution in the most brutal and demeaning manner possible.

What did Jesus do in less than 4 days time that went from triumphant and joyful arrival to rejection and hatred of him?  It isn’t what He did that was the problem.  It is what He didn’t do.  He didn’t change who He was to become who they wanted him to be.

God is immutable.  Unlike the crowd and popular opinion, He doesn’t change; never has, never will, and we humans get frustrated by that.  Why doesn’t God…?  How can God….?  That… may have been true back then but we know….

Our challenge today is the same challenge of that day.  All too often the basis of our perception of God is in what we think or what we have been told rather than what the bible actually says.  According to a 2013 research study by the Barna Group, more Americans had read Twilight, the Hunger Games and 50 Shades of Grey than had read the bible cover to cover.  Of those who do read the bible only 26% read it regularly with 57% touching it less than 4 times per year.  Yet, we have no limit to our opinions about who God is and how He should behave and what He would or should say!

Beware of crowds.  Beware of the “wisdom of our age”.  Beware of popular opinion.  Beware of your own strength and your own opinion.  There is only one place in which to place your trust, one source that will last beyond both earth and heaven because it is true and unchanging: the word of our Lord.

We are quickly approaching the end of our study of Matthew – what will you do this summer to not fall into temptation?

My Answers:

3.
a.
Peter

b.
battle between the large crowd with sword and clubs and the handful of apostles

c.
Jesus had outlined what would happen – He was in control, but Peter was in denial of that control over the situation

d.
mostly in the form of worry and stress. They don’t yield results but submitting to God does

4.
a.
betrayed with a kiss, captured with swords and clubs, deserted by apostles

b.
attackers drew back and fell to the ground

c.
let these men go, I have not lost one of those you gave me, healed the man’s ear

d.
shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?

22 BSF Matthew Week 22, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

I think it is interesting that the bible says that Jesus is the cornerstone and capstone.  It doesn’t say that He “can be” the cornerstone and capstone, it says He is.  The foundation has been laid.  The cornerstone is in place.  The capstone will be put in place.

All of that is fact.

But that doesn’t mean we have to build on lives on that foundation.  That is the choice.  We can build anything we want.  A shack, a tent, an ice-palace.  But unless we build on the foundation of faith, the foundation of the apostles with Christ as the cornerstone, our building will not last.  It may season a few storms of this life, but it won’t survive past.

The cornerstone doesn’t go away.  Imagine if there was a large perfectly square and level stone right outside your front door, right in the center of your driveway.  If your house isn’t built with Christ as the cornerstone, that doesn’t mean He goes away.  He is in the way of you living the way you want.  You can never ignore Him.  He is Immutable.  Unmovable.  A fact.

But step back – recognizing that stone is in each of our lives.  If you had such a stone on your property, you would not be so stubborn.  You would build on it.  You would not be so blind or in denial that you think you could just ignore it, it is a rock, the Rock.

We are called to build.  We are given the gift of a foundation and cornerstone.  It is only logical to build on that firm foundation.

My Answers:

9.
a. God, heavenly Father
b. The nation of Israel and the people of Judah
c. Jews, teachers of the law
d. Prophets
e. Jesus
f. The Romans destroyed the temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD
g. His share of crop at harvest time

10.
a.
Psalm 118:22, 23

b.
1 Peter: precious to believers, stumble by disobey the message
Romans: pursued not by faith but by works = stumble
1 Cor: Christ crucified=stumbling block to Jews, foolishness to non-believers

c.
They build their life and faith on something other than the foundation of Jesus and the apostles

d.
builders, who build in faith on the roots of Jesus to produce fruit and offer the first fruits back to God

22 BSF Matthew Week 22, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

People often misunderstand the term “Fear of God.”  I don’t think this means a fear of punishment, viewing God as someone to cower from or to avoid so as not to anger him.  Instead, I think it means fear of disappointing.

I grew up in my father’s home town.  When I went someone, anywhere, the odds were very high that someone there knew my dad and knew I was his son.  My actions, and my mis-deeds, reflected not only on me but on him.  I did not fear so much his anger or punishment, but that I would dishonor or disappoint him by my callous behavior.

I think having that same type of fear of God is important and that it reflect love and honor and respect for our Heavenly Father.  But that is not whom the spiritual leaders in the temple feared.  When Jesus challenged them about John the Baptist, there was nothing in their thought process about God or truth.  It was all about fear of men.

Whom you fear reflects whom you honor and respect.

 

 

My Answers:

5.
a.
show us your qualifications, license, certification, authority – Union card, who died and made you the messiah?

b.
Every day Jesus taught in the temple – teachers of the law and the leaders were trying to kill him

6.
a.
They decided to not believe John the Baptist, the prophets, the prophecies of scriptures

b.
seeing don’t see, hearing don’t hear, hear don’t understand, see, not perceive, calloused heart, blind

7.
a.
Gentiles, tax collectors, prostitutes – others that were considered blatant sinners

b.
The jews, particularly the teachers of the law and pharisees

8.
a.
Said no, but did: Same, drugs, prostitution, open sin.  Said yes, but no: Church going hypocrites

b.
I was the later, but now am the says yes and does

02.4 BSF Matthew: Week 2, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

I was convicted by the obedience that Mary and Joseph demonstrated as parents.  There is an interested contrast in Adam and Eve and Joseph and Mary.  We see disobedience in the first leading to the fall of man, the first sin wasn’t an accident, it was an intentional act of disobedience of the one rule given in the garden.  But time and again we see the man and woman entrusted with the responsibility of raising the infant Son of the Living God with act after act of obedience.  Joseph gets direction in a dream and he obeys, even getting up in the middle of the night rousting his wife and child and setting off to a distant and foreign land.

We think about demonstrating strength and leadership as parents of our children.  We want to provide for them, educate them, lead them, help them.  None of these are bad or wrong, but listen to these inspired words in Matthew about the man and woman God chose for His only Son.  He doesn’t talk about any of those things – He talks about obedience.

I was also challenged with the question about Nathanael and his views of Nazareth.  (In the process of researching this I found this website about why people looked down on Nazareth) Like him, I am filled with preconceived notions about people.  These are prejudices, but not in the way we often use the word.  I clearly, however, pay more attention to a well dressed and monetarily successful, highly educated leader than I do to someone on the opposite end of the socio-economic spectrum.  God reminds us it is the heart that counts – not what we can see on the outside, but what He puts on the inside, that really matters.

My Answers:

8.
a.
Angel said – he obeyed.  Joseph and Mary both demonstrate amazing obedience.  A lack of obedience afflicted Adam and Eve (1st parents), but Mary and Joseph model obedience as parents of the holy One.

b.
Herod’s son, Archelaus,  was now ruler.  Having been warned in a dream he withdrew to Galilee, Nazareth

9.
a.
Differences between Northerners and Southerners.  Race, dialect, prejudices, etc.  http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/08/17/7-differences-between-galilee-and-judea-in-the-time-of-jesus/

b.
God turned everything upside down.  All our prejudices and ideas about how “we would do things” – He did the opposite.

c.
Beings of might and power, in human thought, do not sacrifice that, even unto death, for those without any power and might.  There is nothing in it for them.  But God loved the world.  Love is not human ration – it is divine.

BSF Genesis: Week 31, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

11.
God will come to your aid and be true to promise ==> go home

12.
a.
God will come to aid, take my bones

b.
Ex 13:19 Moses took Joseph’s bones, Joshua 24:34 Joseph buried in the cave in Canaan

13.
God will come to your aid

My Daily Journal:

I know many people find comfort in the words of Genesis 50:24 that God will come to your aid.  But, as a husband, father and provider to my family, church and community I find special promise in these words and a comfort, a real lifting of a burden through these words.

I want to provide for those I love.  I want to protect them and care for them.  I want to serve them and model the love of God to them.  But how do you continue to do that after you die.  There is, obviously, financial planning that should take place and seeds that are planted throughout the years, but how can you possibly know if the best laid plans will be enough?

But, the reassurance that God will come to their aid is a huge relief.  And, as it was when the Holy Spirit was sent after Christ left, this verse tells me that there is actually a special outpouring of blessing that God will send to the ones I love and care for to specifically fill the void that would otherwise be present with my inevitable passing some day.  What a powerful and reassuring promise!

BSF Genesis: Week 30, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

3.
a.
Firstborn, my might, my 1st sign of strength, first in rank and power.  Turbulent as the water, unruly as a flood, you will no longer excel (you will be first no longer).

b.
Reuben followed his eye (his lust) into a situation he knew to be wrong.  He wavered and did not hold strong to his conviction to his father or God.  As such, he became a person with divided loyalty, unstable, tossed.  Do not expect to receive anything because loyalty is divided between God and the world

c.
Protect your eyes to not draw you into a temptation to waver in faith.  Eyes are either filled with light or darkness, but can’t be both.  If try to do both, we are as unsettled as a wave with divided loyalty and will receive no reward from God.

4.
a.
weapons are instruments of violence.  May I never join in their meetings or be party to their plans.  Curse on their anger, curse on their wrath – they are fierce and cruel.  I will scatter them among the descendants of Jacob, disperse them

b.
Slaughtered all the men of Shechem after the rape of their sister Dinah.

c.
Ex 32:27, After Moses returns from the mountain to find the golden calf he draws sides and the Levites side with him and go from one end of camp to the other killing 3000.  Part of the role of the priests is to guard the temple and the laws even against their own brothers.

d.
In my youth I did not make wise decisions in friends or activities.  My education suffered, my faith wavered and my ability to witness for God was tarnished.  While none of those things can be reversed, it does not mean that God can’t use them in me now to make me a dedicated learner, to associate with Godly friends and to lead my family to not repeat my mistakes. Had Levi not dishonored Jacob, the Levites may not have learned from that mistake and may not have stood with Moses.

My Daily Journal:

What tough love Jacob showed to his sons.  None of us have difficulty giving blessings of good news and we tend to gloss over the negatives or avoid them all together.  Jacob knew the habits of his sons, particularly the older sons, and, on his deathbed he told them the truth.  He did it not in hatred or spite but in love.  Notice that he doesn’t curse Simeon or Levi, he curses their anger and their wrath.

Are they locked into this?  Is this just “who they are”?  The story of God’s redemptive love tells us otherwise.  The example I am using in my children’s lecture is to not allow your cow paths to become canyons.

Cows in a field have the ability to walk anywhere.  The land is generally flat and grass grows throughout it.  But if you look at any pasture where cows have dwelt for some time you will find “cow paths.”  They develop habits and walk the same path over and over again, wearing a trail.  However, with a single step they can step out of that rut.  However, if they don’t then, over lots of time, that rut grows deeper and deeper and could eventually grow to be a deep canyon.

Jacob saw the cow paths his sons had formed in their lives.  While he was inspired by God, it did not take divine intervention to see where those paths lead.  By speaking the truth to them he entrusted to them the wisdom to see for themselves and either continue along the same rut or step out of it.

For many of us the ruts of decisions in our lives already run very deep.  We likely don’t have the strength to climb out on our own.  The good news of Christ is we don’t have to.  He will lift us up and carry us on his shoulders.  He sends others into our life to help us and gives us his church on earth to work together to help each other.

I’m reading a book by John Maxwell and one section of the book asks the question, “what is the most important day in your life?”  The empowering answer to that question is always, today.  The past is with us and we need to assess and learn from it, but there is nothing we can do to change it.  The future is worth planning and preparing for, but living in the future is called procrastination.  The key is to live in today, to make the right decisions today, to love God and His people today and honor and server Him today.  When Moses came down from the mountain and drew sides, the Levites had learned to choose that day whom they would serve.  Not a few, but every single man of the tribe, every descendent of Levi, and learned the lesson and chose wisely.