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.

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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