Our God goes before…

 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Joshua 2:15-24

 

 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall.

 And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.”

 The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear.

 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household.

 Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head.

 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.”

 And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

 They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing.

 Then the two men returned. They came down from the hills and passed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them.

 And they said to Joshua, “Truly the LORD has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”

 

Whatever form the danger may take our God protects us and prepares a way out. He does this for His glory. This provision gave assurance to the people of God that He would give them the land. His name was glorified and feared in Jericho ahead of them. God goes before us and He wins the battle. We keep our eyes on Him alone and follow His lead. We don’t follow our own ideas. That would be like getting off the path He’s already laid out. We are overcomers as long as we stay behind Him not attempting to lead Him. We are able to go into our promised land, that place of abundant life given to us now as we depend upon Him and follow His lead.

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Protection, prosperity and health…

Ezekiel 41:13-26

So he measured the temple, one hundred cubits long; and the separating courtyard with the building and its walls was one hundred cubits long; 14 also the width of the eastern face of the temple, including the separating courtyard, was one hundred cubits. 15 He measured the length of the building behind it, facing the separating courtyard, with its galleries on the one side and on the other side, one hundred cubits, as well as the inner temple and the porches of the court, 16 their doorposts and the beveled window frames. And the galleries all around their three stories opposite the threshold were paneled with wood from the ground to the windows—the windows were covered— 17 from the space above the door, even to the inner room, [fn2] as well as outside, and on every wall all around, inside and outside, by measure.

18 And it was made with cherubim and palm trees, a palm tree between cherub and cherub. Each cherub had two faces, 19 so that the face of a man was toward a palm tree on one side, and the face of a young lion toward a palm tree on the other side; thus it was made throughout the temple all around. 20 From the floor to the space above the door, and on the wall of the sanctuary, cherubim and palm trees were carved.

21 The doorposts of the temple were square, as was the front of the sanctuary; their appearance was similar. 22 The altar was of wood, three cubits high, and its length two cubits. Its corners, its length, and its sides were of wood; and he said to me, “This is the table that is before the LORD.”

23 The temple and the sanctuary had two doors. 24 The doors had two panels apiece, two folding panels: two panels for one door and two panels for the other door. 25 Cherubim and palm trees were carved on the doors of the temple just as they were carved on the walls. A wooden canopy was on the front of the vestibule outside. 26 There were beveled window frames and palm trees on one side and on the other, on the sides of the vestibule—also on the side chambers of the temple and on the canopies.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=41&v=1&t=NKJVP>

Lets consider the use of cherubim with two faces, one of a man and one of a lion and the use of palm trees to decorate the interior.  Jesus was God come to us as a man; he was also called the Lion of Judah.

“…1John 4:2 and 3 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,  and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the [spirit] of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

John 1:10 – 12, 14 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.   But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth….”

Revelation 5:5  But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”…”

The palms were used at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem to pave the road.  They are seen as a symbol of health and prosperity.

“…Psalm  92:12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon….”

Through Christ we have protection, note reference to the lion, and we have prosperity and health, note the palm.  We have much to be thankful for as His people.  The promise is so genuine and lasting the symbols are used to decorate the temple, reminders of His faithfulness to us.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Protection provided, order established

Acts 23:23-35

And he called for two centurions, saying, “Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night; and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” He wrote a letter in the following manner:

Claudius Lysias,

To the most excellent governor Felix:

Greetings.

This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council. I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains.  And when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him.

Farewell.

Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. The next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks. When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.  And when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia, he said, “I will hear you when your accusers also have come.” And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium.

Protection is provided for Paul from outside the Jewish nation.  His accusers are instructed to present their case in an orderly manner before the governor.  God is a god of order.  All of creation follows an order set by him, following an intelligent design.  So two things jump out at this time, one, the extent to which protection is provided for one who is faithful and the demand for order that is in keeping with the nature of God.  We don’t always know where the protection will come from.  In this case it came from outside the people of God, outside the Jewish nation.  But as we trust in God, He is faithful to keep His promises.  We can trust in Him.  We can also be sure that if confusion reigns in any situation we find ourselves in, that it is not of God.  It is a principle we can use to understand when any thought, plan, action or idea has become contaminated by the mind-set of those outside the kingdom of God.  These ideas and plans can creep in without much warning.  It takes constant contact with the Spirit of God and with His Word to sense when something, anything is turning away from His will.  Paul was in constant touch with the Spirit and found continually doing the will of God.  It counted for him and kept him for God’s purpose.  He was able to continue the assignment he had been given.  Let us also be found faithful to the task we have been given and let us continue in constant touch with the Word and Spirit of God, knowledge of who He is and what He does.  Believe Him, not just believe in Him.

Everything changes; nothing remains the same…

Luke 6: 17-26

And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. 

Jesus looked on his disciples.  He is teaching opposites, nothing stays the same.  He is teaching the temporary nature of our existence. He is teaching where our focus must remain.  We experience emotions attached to our present status as viewed by ourselves and others.  Those emotions change as the status changes.  Nothing remains as it is.  When we are up we say there is no way but down.  When we are down we say there is no way but up.  Jesus says that here; it is similar to what is spoken in the old testament.  Are we at the effect of our circumstances?  Yes.  How much depends upon how much weight we give circumstances.  How much depends upon the attitude of our mind.

 When we keep looking to the Lord for strength, provision, guidance we can rejoice and leap for joy no matter the circumstances.  We rest in Him and what He provides, not in ourselves and what we provide.  In all things give thanks.  Change is coming…we can count on it.

Ready to work?…Think again…

Matthew 10:1-10 

He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10 take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.

At first glance this is what I see:

  1. Go first to Israel
  2. Take nothing with you
    1. No money
    2. No clothes
    3. No food
    4. No staff
    5. No sandals
  3. Share the message
  4. Heal the sick
  5. Raise the dead
  6. Cleanse the leper
  7. Drive out demons

This is a passage I’ve paid little attention to or so it seems.  I noted that the disciples have spent time with Jesus, listening, watching and now they were to put it into practice. Today we would call this a practicum experience.  You take your courses, listen to the professors, take your exams, and do a practicum.  Practice what you’ve been taught.  The first item the disciples were taught was to let go of material goods and dependency on earth bound drives.  Then they were given authority to spread the word, do the deeds of Jesus.

So first leave all material possessions behind.  Take no money, no change of clothes, no staff for protection and assistance with walking, no sandals.  It was expected they would be fed, given a place to rest, given clothes as needed, given a new staff when needed, given new sandals when needed.  Their physical needs were to be met, their place of rest provided, and their transportation taken care of.

Jesus final words in this passage are: The worker is worth his keep.  Do we take that charge seriously?

Questions that come to mind: How well do we keep our workers?  Grumble as the plate is passed?  Do we hear the charge given to the people of God to care for the workers of God? Are we willing to be His vessels to provide as He prompts?  Are we able to let go of material stuff and totally rely on God to provide? 

In this group where do we find ourselves?  Are we given the assignment to go and share the message? Are we given the assignment to provide for those who do?  How well do we carry out that assignment?  Where are we on the continuum of growth?  Are we still sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening.  Still in the classroom?  Have we learned to unload the material possessions we seem to feel we need to have?  Are we learning to turn off the drive to have?  Are we learning to rely totally on God’s provision?  It’s hard to let go of stuff, it’s hard to let go of being strong, earning our keep, our independence…Greater things than these?…will we see them?…if we are still sitting at His feet, listening, watching, and haven’t made it to our ‘practicum’ yet?

gnome’s home

The cookstove is an elaborate affair.  To the left are the burners for pots and to the right is an oven.  The firebox is in the middle.  The stove is stuccoed and brightly painted in folkart decor using reds, blues, yellows and greens.  At the right of the stove the wood is stacked neatly on top of which is a basket full of pine needles for air freshner.  The cookstove is used for baking, cooking and warmth.  This is the focal point of view when entering the house proper.

To the right of the door, as you enter is a long table with two end chairs and two benches.  This is elaborately carved from wood and boasts a Christmas centerpiece that is left there year round.  To the left of the door is a large area rug for the children to play upon.  In the wall to the left are the doors that open to reveal the sleeping alcoves. There are two along the wall, one for mother and father and one for the children.  Between each is a series of drawers.

This alcove is used for the children, usually two, twins.  There is a covered bench in front of the doors to allow the children to step up into the alcove.  The sleeping alcove is recessed into the wall, filled with bedding and the doors closed at night.  There is another sleeping alcove to the left of the throne room available for guests.

On the right and left of the stove are two doors.  The left opens to the washroom and the right opens to the throne room.  But that is for another time…:)

Purpose of church…what are we to be?

Matt 16:15-19

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”    16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”      17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.        18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.        19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

What are we to be as a church? (Who and what are we?)

 We are to stand firm in what we are equipped to do, in what we determine His commission for us is, we are to be dependable, committed, reliable, a rock, easy to find.  We are to provide a refuge, stability and  a place that is there for them.

 This will require soul-searching to see if we are willing to commit to a ministry that may require us to place what God has commissioned us to do as first priority over those things in our lives that we a. like to do, b. want to do, c. are asked to do, anything that would hinder us from His work.  Are we ready for this?