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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Inspired by . . . God has no grandchildren

The cold, icy tendrils of air swoop down from the north leaching the color from my garden, blackening and curling leaves. Soon the wind will follow, sending the leaves hurtling through the air and leaving branches bare.  Like skeletons exposed.

It is a bit like reading about Israel's descent into disobedience.

The book of Judges can be tedious reading and often confusing at times. But there are valuable lessons to be gleaned from studying the text and none more important than what we learn in the first two chapters.

At the beginning of Judges, we find that Joshua has died leaving the tribes of Israel to complete their conquest of Canaan on their own. Yet, they were not alone. God was with them and He gives them specific instructions. He calls Judah first. However, instead of relying solely on God to deliver the enemy into their hands as He has promised, Judah immediately turns to their kinsman, the Simeonites for help. 

The arm of flesh will always fail where the hand of God beckons us forward in faith.[click to tweet]

The rest of chapter one lists the failures of the tribes to drive out their enemies from the land God wished them to conquer.

We often think we are getting away with our evil because God is so patient with us. 

We're not.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Gal 6:7)

The disobedience of Israel's founding fathers opened the door to a future of calamity. God keeps His word. Both the blessings and the curses.

At first glance, it may appear that the failure to drive out the enemy from the land was Israel's biggest mistake. It wasn't. Verse 10 in chapter 2 reveals their greatest failure.
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)

Despite God's warning in Deuteronomy 10, the parents failed to communicate to their children the power and work of God. Rarely does a powerful work of God move into the next generation. Each person must have their own relationship with God.

Without this personal relationship, Israel quickly descended into chaos. Each person doing what was right in their own eyes. 

We see the tragic, ping-pong effect, Israel's sin results in enslavement and they cry out to God for help.

We see sorrow but not repentance. Sorrow for the consequences of their actions but no repentance for the actions themselves.

This may not seem like a relevant subject to discuss as we approach the season of Advent. Yet what better time of year to fulfill the edict of Deuteronomy 6:7 and 11:19?
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  (Deu 6:6-7)
The holiday season often provides an opportunity to slow down and gather with family and loved ones. Why not share how the Lord has worked or is working, in your life?

Be a light in the darkness, pointing the way to the Person of Jesus Christ. It may save a life or even a future generation.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Inspired by . . . Confident in Our Hope

Praise the Lord, O my soul!
While I live I will praise the Lord;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 
(Psalm 146)


We all know the saying, "Hindsight is 20/20." Looking back, it's easy to see the path we should have taken, choices we should have made, and how God worked it all out for us.

It makes sense then, that our gratitude is often in hindsight as well. We look back and are grateful for all God has done for us. Nothing wrong with that!

But what if we were to practice being grateful first . . . and through?

"While I live I will praise the Lord!"

The Psalmist decided he would worship before he knew what would befall him. He was confident in his hope. Hope that comes only from our Creator.

We can be confident because God is first and foremost, faithful (vs. 6), He is just (vs. 7). He frees us from bondage (vs. 7), and has compassion on those who are bowed down (vs. 7-9).

We can determine to thank God now, with grateful praise because we know, no matter what happens, we can trust Him to do and be what He has promised.

May our praise and gratitude come from a wellspring of faith and trust in our Lord and Savior, rather than our emotional responses.

Emotions are fleeting but faith endures.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Inspired by . . . Where are the nine?

Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.

17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” 


Ten were healed, yet only one returned thanks. One out of ten. By any account, those are not glowing statistics. When you stop and think about it, the enormity of ingratitude is overwhelming.

Leprosy was no minor affliction. Those who had it were not allowed to worship in the temple. They had to maintain a certain distance from other people. Essentially they were cut off from all human contact and even believed that they were cut off from God.

They called Him Master. They had heard the rumors about Him, certainly, but had never expected to see Him here so far from Jerusalem. Yet, here He was entering the same town. Embolden, they cry out, acknowledging Him as Master, awaiting His command.

They asked for mercy not healing. Did they sense that their affliction was more than skin deep? or did they simply hold to the Jewish belief that leprosy was, more than any other disease, a mark of God's displeasure? a particular punishment for sin?

Go, show yourselves. Jesus not only heals them, all of them, but He sends them to the priest so that it may be declared publicly that they are healed. 

Seeing he was healed, he returned. The Samaritan Leper. His life had just been completely changed and his first desire is to acknowledge and praise the One Who changed him. 

Were there not ten? The praise of the one only magnifies the ingratitude of the nine. You can almost hear the hurt in our Lord's voice. To have His great kindness so slighted must have grieved Him deeply.
"[It] intimates how justly He resents the ingratitude of the world of mankind, for whom He had done so much, and from whom He has received so little." ~Matthew Henry
The truth is, what Jesus did for those ten lepers is nothing compared to what He has done for us. They were ostracised, we were dead. Jesus restored them to the community, He has restored us to LIFE!

How many of us are guilty of the sin of ingratitude?

How many of us who call Him Master acknowledge and praise the One Who has saved us so completely? We sing the songs and pray the prayers and then walk away like nothing has happened.

May we, like the Samaritan Leper, recognize the enormity of His mercy as it unfolds in our lives day after day. May we develop a pattern of thankful praise and always remember the lesson of the lepers.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Inspired by . . . more and more

But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more. 15 
My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness 
And Your salvation all the day, 
For I do not know their limits. 16 
I will go in the strength of the Lord God; 
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only. 
(Psalm 71:14-15) 


A fog shrouds everything in a moist blanket this morning. The arthropods have been busy during the night. Fine threads stretch between stalks and petals forming a highway of tiny diamonds.

Mother nature is following the calendar closely this year as she shifts from the golden sunrises of October to the damp, cool mornings of November. Leaves already litter the ground, barely having time to change their coats before the wind sends them flying.

The beginning of November, with the Thanksgiving Day holiday looming in the not-so-distant future, always brings a shift in my focus.

What am I thankful for? Am I living with an attitude of gratitude? What does it really mean to be thankful? to give thanks?

I seem to revisit these questions every November. And that's okay because scripture has enough answers, when it comes to thankfulness, to last a lifetime.

With the Psalmist, I acknowledge that there is no limit to God's righteousness, no limit to His strength, His power to save. It follows then, that there should be no limit to our praise.

I will praise Him yet, more and more.


Sharing inspiration here:
#TellHisStoryFaith On Fire, Grace & Truth,
Inspire Me Monday, #HeartEncouragement,
Thoughtful Thursdays#w2wwordfilledwednesday,
Sitting Among Friends, #Glimpsesofhisbeauty
Counting My Blessings, Grace Moments,
#DanceWithJesus; Imparting Grace; Image-in-ing