Hearts That Stir & Spirits That Move

Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women…All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD. (Exodus 35:20, 29)

When I was younger, I spent many years playing horns in various symphonic, marching and jazz bands. I spent hours learning and practicing my part, teaching the members in my section, and rehearsing with the group to ensure we were all hitting our cues together. It required a lot of hard work and discipline, but when it all came together it was awesome. Everyone played their part, seamlessly blending with the other band members, and a group of goofy high school kids was able to create some truly beautiful performances.

In my last year of high school, our band was invited to a music competition several states away. We knew that we would be competing in multiple categories and we spent weeks preparing for the trip. We would stay after school to practice, sometimes until the janitors ran us out of the band room. Our director even enlisted a professor from the University of Illinois to bring some of his players over to do clinics with us. We did everything we could think of to prepare. When the competition finally arrived, all of our ensembles performed well, but it was our jazz band that outdid them all.

On the day of our performances, we played the songs like we always had so many times before, however this time was different. Everyone was moving and grooving together, perfectly in sync. There were no flubbed notes or missed cues, and even the soloists were hitting notes and adding flourishes beyond their normal ability. It was magical. We won our category and even took home the “Best In Show” for that jazz band performance. When we went back and listened to one judge’s commentary on the jazz portion of the competition, he sat through the entire performance without saying a single word of criticism, adding a simple “Bravo!” at the end. It was one of the highlights of my career as a musician.

There is something special about working “in concert” with others, when people from different walks of life come together for a common purpose or cause. We are so often caught up in the small things in life (the laundry, the lawn, the bills, caring for children, etc.), that it feels good to be involved in something bigger than ourselves. It is impressive when a group of people sets aside their differences to achieve something greater than their individual capacity. It can be a musical or athletic performance, a community program to help the less fortunate, or a missionary effort to build schools, orphanages, or churches on the other side of the world. When it all falls into place, it is a truly exhilarating experience.

Whenever I read this passage in Exodus about the Israelites coming together to build the Tabernacle, I imagine that they felt a similar excitement and pride about this project. They didn’t have to be forced to donate materials or time to the project. No one levied a tax, or guilted them into giving. The Bible says that their hearts were stirred, their spirits were moved, and the people joyously responded. In the next chapter, they brought so many offerings that Moses had to cut them off. It literally says that they had to be “restrained” from giving!

Like the conductor leading a band or orchestra, the Holy Spirit will move and direct God’s people. He will ensure that we are all playing our part and moving in harmony with one another. Throughout history, God has chosen to work through people that are willing to align themselves with his plan and purpose. Even today, he is inviting his people to join him in creating something beautiful, to manifest a little bit of his glorious future kingdom in the present hurting world. 

The question that remains is whether or not we will respond when he stirs our hearts and moves our spirits.  For me, it is a resounding “Yes!” and I pray it is the same for you!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray that you will stir the hearts and move the spirits of your people. Help us to align ourselves with what you are doing in our homes, our church, our city and nation, and be united in this single purpose. Let us be sensitive the direction of the Holy Spirit and lead us to situations of need. Give us the desire to minister to others, to be your hands of grace and mercy to everyone we meet. This is the desire of our heart, and we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Let Me Walk Upon the Waters”

(Genesis 39: 2-5, NLT) The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. 4 This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. 5 From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake.

Wherever Joseph was, whether in slavery to Potiphar, imprisoned with the warden, or in service to Pharaoh, he flourished.  His life was blessed, and others were blessed through him, because of his obedience to God.  To the naked, human eye, many of Joseph’s circumstances in life were difficult, and downright unfair.  Yet when we zoom out and see things from the perspective of God, we are able to understand that each moment of hardship and affliction was but a cog in the intricate clockwork of his life.  God was piecing it all together…a planned contrivance with a purpose that would endure for all of time. 

Joseph’s life is one of the most familiar and relatable histories from the Bible.  We can all, at some point in our lives, identify with being rejected, mistreated, lied about, used, and manipulated.  It is through our ability to empathize with Joseph, as we read of his afflictions, that we are able to receive the story of redemption and victory that is established as a result.  His life is an inspiration to all who read of it, because we know that if Joseph was able to stay humble and obedient throughout these trials, then we can certainly persevere in our own life battles.  When we see the fruit of his commitment to obedience, we begin to feel that God does have a purpose for our pain — that God will provide for and bless us. 

This September, Jonathan, Benjamin and I will have been in Louisville for seven years.  We moved here with no home to settle into, and no jobs from which to earn money to support ourselves.  We literally just packed our things and came here — totally and completely at the mercy of God’s purpose and plan for us.  The only things we knew for certain were that God specifically told us to come here, and that He would never fail us in the process.  We didn’t come with any intentions other than being obedient to His call on our lives.  SpiritLife church, as many people see and know it today, did not even exist.  Some months prior to our decision to come here, Jonathan’s mom and dad had been placed (by God) into what looked like an impossible situation — a church that was facing both financial and spiritual bankruptcy.  When they shared with us the story of this church (what we all now know as SpiritLife Church), and the task that lay ahead, we knew that God was leading us to join them in this monumental labor of LOVE.  We didn’t know why, and we never questioned God on it.  We just hit the road!  There was no promise of employment at the church, or even any sort of ministry position.  There was no plan in place at all.  We were simply on a mission to help love this hurting body back to life.  We arrived on September 10, 2010.  Jonathan’s parents were living in a two bedroom patio home — so we all hunkered down and made the best of it.  Everything that we owned was placed in a storage unit.  We often had to drive over and climb around inside to find things that we needed from time to time.  We drove all over this large, unfamiliar city from one job interview to another…often several within one day.  We enrolled our first grader into a school system that scared the living daylights out of this small town mama!  I have to tell you, it was a little daunting and somewhat depressing at times — but we never stopped praying and trusting.  We had made a decision to operate in obedience, and we stuck to it. 

By September 20th (a mere 10 days later), we had secured a home in a neighborhood we felt reassured with, and within the month we both had jobs.  They weren’t the best jobs, but we had work and that felt like a huge victory to us!  The next few years brought on a lot of heartache and struggle for us as an immediate family, as well as in our collective families.  Financial strain, disease, death, marital strains, heartbreaking doctor reports — just a lot of loss and hurt was being served up in every facet of our lives. It was hard.  Yet in every tear that was and has been shed, lies a reminder that our pain has a purpose.  So we soldier on…because one day we will harvest the abundance that comes from every seed that we have sown.  One day we will see the blessing that is on the other side of the mountain.  For now?  For now we continue the climb.  There have been many blessings already, and we are beginning to see the fruit of our love and obedience to God. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father,  You have been so faithful over the years.  You promised that if we will just humble ourselves in obedience to You, You will never leave us to fight alone.  I pray today that my life will always be a testament to what You can and will do when we believe.  Like Joseph, may my heartaches always serve their purposes — to encourage others, and to bring honor and glory to Your name.  Amen.

Any Ol’ Voice Will Do

(1 Samuel 28:6-7 KJV) 6 And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. 7 Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

While Saul was never a spiritual giant, he did have a relationship with God and had walked in relationship with him. But, Saul had traded his communion with God for the pleasures of the flesh.

Saul had fallen from grace. A long way from grace…

One of the obvious indicators of Saul’s severed relationship with God was the loss of privileged communication. Sometimes God is speaking but because of our hardened heart our ears close to the voice of our shepherd. But that is not the case here. Saul was trying to communicate with God, but God was not answering. We are told that, “when Saul enquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.” Notice, it does NOT say that God was not listening. Neither does it say that God was absent. No! God was present and He was listening. He simply refused to answer. He was not saying yes, no, or maybe. He was silent. No secret messages embedded in Saul’s dreams. Nothing from the spiritual method of the day (Urim) to obtain answers from God. Not even the prophets had a word for Saul. It was a big, fat NOTHING!

History uncovers seasons when God chooses to refrain from speaking. For instance, God was silent for 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament. He didn’t leave, nor was He unaware of earthly happenings. He was simply silent. I would suggest that in times of divine silence, we should wait patiently until He chooses to speak. Often, when God is silent, we try to force the issue. We may think that God wants us to turn over every rock, to put the glass to the wall to eavesdrop on what He might be speaking to others. But, when He is silent, it is for a reason. To wait patiently requires trust!

Saul was accustomed to having his way. As King, he felt a sense of entitlement. But, he quickly discovered how Inferior he was in comparison to God. In a moment of frustration, Saul determined that “any ol’ voice” will do! “Then said Saul to his servants, seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her.” And just that quickly, Saul went from waiting on the voice of the Lord to opening his mind to a voice of darkness. The witch of Endor, filled with the spirit of the devil, counseled Saul with wisdom contrary to God’s will.

I get weary with rules and regulations. The Old Testament is full of them. At the same time, we must realize that we are influenced by many voices trying to lead us away from God’s best for our lives. We often spend time listening to music that comes out of the spirit of ungodly performers. No matter how pleasing the beat, when a woman sings, “I kissed a girl, and I liked it…” an anti-God theme is being reinforced in the ears of the listeners. The lyrics are written so as to send a message contrary to godly wisdom. We also watch television programs whose writers season the script with concepts contrary to holy living. When we consistently view shows that portray sex acts in hospital storage closets, or “friends with benefits” we are supporting an unholy and damaging message being thrust upon society. “Any ol’ voice” will do is the mantra of the day!

Please don’t write me off as an old fogey who needs to step into the new age of grace. Grace is great! It is wonderful! It is amazing! But it comes with a price. That price? Obedience…

(Romans 6:12-14 ESV) 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Tune your ears to the voice of God’s Spirit. Communicate with Him through prayer… Read His precious and powerful Word… Sing aloud songs of worship… And when it seems He is being silent for a season, trust him. Wait for Him to speak again because “any ol’ voice” WON’T do!

PRAYER: Father, Your voice is what I desire. Help me wait patiently until You have made Your will clear. I desire to train my ears to hear the only voice that will build, encourage and edifying my spirit. Speak Father, for I am listening. Amen.

Heel, Please.

(Galatians 5:25 ESV) If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

At Christmas last year (2016), I added a member to our household. I’ve always loved dogs, and have enjoyed their company through the years. Enter Boom Choca-latte Baker, better known as Boomer. He is a multi-colored, chocolate and white, labradoodle. At the time of this writing, he is 4 months old and in the middle of being trained. He picked up the house training very quickly and also knows where his “home” is and willingly goes to his crate when asked.


Because he is a puppy, his impulses are sometimes too much for him to contain. For instance, he just can’t control himself when the grandchildren come into the house. He jumps, and whimpers, and barks until I have to physically restrain him and make him “go home” until he calms down.

I’m training him to “heel” right now. For a puppy to heel means that he knows to walk beside the owner without biting and pulling against the leash, or running ahead of the pacesetter. He actually is progressing very nicely, except when those pesky puppy impulses bubble up. Because he will grow into a large dog, it is important for him to learn this discipline. He must become comfortable with the perimeters established by the leash, the pace of the leader, and the ability to ignore distractions that capture his attention. Like most puppies, he struggles with the necessary focus to accomplish the task.

As I read the passage of scripture in Galatians 5, I thought about how much I can be like Boomer. I want to live by the Spirit… it’s the keeping in step with Him that is sometimes a challenge. Like Boomer, I sometimes want to be the pacesetter instead following the pace of the Spirit. I find myself biting the leash in an attempt to free myself from its restraint. I’m maturing, but my impulses still have to be controlled.

Maturity is a wonderful thing! As I have grown in Christ, I have found it much easier to respond to the voice of the Spirit. I’ve learned that His restraints are not to control me, but to direct me. His perimeters establish a “safe zone” for me to live in. He is developing (training) me to become more like Him. And, it is working! They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I beg to differ! For the Spirit-filled follower of Christ, we learn new disciplines every day which serve to make us more like Him.

As you live in the Spirit TODAY, learn to appreciate keeping in step with Him. It will create a pleasant experience for you and the Spirit!

PRAYER: Father, teach me to walk in Your ways. My ears are attentive to Your loving voice which often commands, “Heel, please!” Help me to be willing to obey so I can experience Your best blessings each day. Amen.

Stand Firm In Your Faith!

(Isaiah 7:1-9 HCSB) 1 This took place during the reign of Ahaz, son of Jotham, son of Uzziah king of Judah: Rezin king of Aram, along with Pekah, son of Remaliah, king of Israel, waged war against Jerusalem, but he could not succeed. 2 When it became known to the house of David that Aram had occupied Ephraim, the heart of Ahaz and the hearts of his people trembled like trees of a forest shaking in the wind.  3 Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Go out with your son Shear-jashub to meet Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, by the road to the Fuller’s Field. 4 Say to him: Calm down and be quiet. Don’t be afraid or cowardly because of these two smoldering stubs of firebrands, the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram, and the son of Remaliah. 5 For Aram, along with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has plotted harm against you. They say, 6 ‘Let us go up against Judah, terrorize it, and conquer it for ourselves. Then we can install Tabeel’s son as king in it.'” 7 This is what the Lord GOD says: It will not happen; it will not occur. 8 The head of Aram is Damascus, the head of Damascus is Rezin (within 65 years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people),  9 the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.

The historical account that we read in Isaiah 7 relates a very common theme in the Old Testament. God’s people are threatened and attacked, they respond in fear, and the Lord sends a word of encouragement through one of His prophets. It seems that after this cycle had repeated itself enough times that the people of God could respond with some confidence. But, once again, we see them giving in to fear.

God spoke very clearly to Isaiah. In response to the threat He said, It will not happen; it will not occur.”  Shouldn’t that be the end of the story? Hadn’t God proven Himself faithful? Didn’t He deserve the trust of His people? Surely so!

Before we condemn these fearful people, let’s get honest about our own responses to God’s commands. Isn’t it true that God has made His will very clear to us? We really don’t have to guess about what constitutes sinful attitudes or actions. And yet, how many times do we just choose to disobey? When it comes to issues of the heart, do we not often do what we know violates His will. What about our finances? Have we become generous tithers and givers in accordance with His word? What about our words? Do we allow cursing and praise to come out of the same mouth? And yet, His word clearly states that this should not happen.

The people in our reading had a direct word from God. It was not ambiguous. Read it again…Calm down and be quiet. Don’t be afraid or cowardly because of these two smoldering stubs of firebrands…” 

To summarize, God had told them to be calm and quiet; don’t be cowardly. Why? Because everything their enemies had threatened “will not happen; it will not occur.” BOOM! There ya go! The Lord has spoken!

But the Lord knew they needed one additional instruction. “If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.” The victory would become evident in an atmosphere of faith. If they didn’t believe, they would not receive.

This concept is revisited in the New Testament as well. James writes, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8 HCSB)

Does the devil have you backed into a corner? Are you fearful of some threat that has come your way? Take the words of the Lord seriously…. Stand firm in your faith!

PRAYER: Lord, I’m trusting You today and every day! I can do so because I believe Your promises cover every area of my life. Your hand is not shortened that it cannot save and deliver. My hope is in You! Amen.

Come To Your Senses!

(2 Chronicles 6:36-39 HCSB) 36 When they sin against You — for there is no one who does not sin  — and You are angry with them and hand them over to the enemy, and their captors deport them to a distant or nearby country,  37 and when they come to their senses in the land where they were deported and repent and petition You in their captors’ land, saying: “We have sinned and done wrong; we have been wicked,”  38 and when they return to You with their whole mind and heart in the land of their captivity where they were taken captive, and when they pray in the direction of their land that You gave their ancestors, and the city You have chosen, and toward the temple I have built for Your name,  39 may You hear their prayer and petitions in heaven, Your dwelling place, and uphold their cause.  May You forgive Your people who sinned against You.

Have you ever done something and then said, “Why in the world did I do that? Or, “I should have known better than that! I have. Many times!

I remember deciding I would cut and hang some crown molding in our house. I had done all the prep work–I had bought the molding, measured the lengths, set up the saw–In my mind, I had really thought this project through. I had even watched some DIY videos on Youtube so I would be thoroughly prepared for this simple little job.

When it came time to cut the wood, I messed it up terribly. I could not remember which way to turn the wood so the saw would cut the necessary angle on the proper side. I’m sorry to admit that I tried several times and FAILED EVERY TIME! I was embarrassed, and a little angry that I had ruined the pieces of molding I had paid good money for.

I went back to the store to buy more wood when the employee at the lumber yard asked, “Weren’t you just here?” I sheepishly admitted that I had been there earlier and shared with him what I had done, and how frustrated I was that I could not do the job properly. He chuckled and shared with me that I was not alone; that this simple job was messed up by most of the amateurs who tried to do it. He said, “Let me show you a simple trick that will enable you to make the proper cut EVERY TIME! He continued, “Anyone, with a little common sense can do it!” He had more faith than I did!

In dedicating the temple, Solomon prayed and asked God to have mercy on the people. He said, “When they come to their senses…” and “When they return to you with their whole mind and heart…may you hear their prayer…may You forgive Your people…”

How many times have you messed up? You may be dealing with problems right now that are a direct result of poor choices on your part. I have good news to bring! God will always forgive and help those who come to their senses! John wrote, (1 John 2:1 HCSB) 1 My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ the Righteous One.

That is very good news!

PRAYER: Lord, please be patient with me as I bring my thoughts back in to proper alignment with your will. Many times, I’ve been guilty of not using common sense. But, with Your help I will come to my senses so that I can be forgiven and restored. Amen!

I Had Made Preparations… But God Said

(1 Chronicles 28:2-3 HCSB) 2 Then King David rose to his feet and said, “Listen to me, my brothers and my people. It was in my heart to build a house as a resting place for the ark of the LORD’s covenant and as a footstool for our God. I had made preparations to build, 3 but God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood.’

This passage of Scripture is proof that, as God’s people, we are to adjust our sails to the winds of His voice. For too long, we have presumed God’s blessings upon our own fleshly desires. I say fleshly, because no matter how spiritual, or good, or righteous our intentions seem, they are selfishly motivated unless they originate from God’s heart.

Notice David’s words…

  • It was in my heart…
  • I had made preparations…
  • But God said, “You are not to build…”

David possessed passion for the project, and had made proper preparations for its completion; he had two vital ingredients, but he lacked the most important component. God’s approval.

We don’t always receive God’s approval to do the things we want to do–even when it appears that it would bring Him glory. Sometimes we don’t really know God’s reasons for withholding His approval; we just have to trust that He has a better plan.

In this instance, God explained to David that he would not be allowed to build the house of God because he had been a man of war and bloodshed. The interesting thing is that David was ok with it. He didn’t seem to be upset at all. David’s contribution to the kingdom of Israel, and ultimately, the Kingdom of God was well-known and stood on its own merits. Nothing could detract from the significance of His contribution.

Rather than become and bitter, David decided to accept and officially bless God’s plan to use Solomon to build the house of God. “As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. 10 Realize now that the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong, and do it.”  (1 Chronicles 28:2-3, 9-10 HCSB)

And, of course, history records that Solomon did just that.

It’s not sinful to have passion. Neither is it wrong to make plans to do significant things for God. Just make sure you have the most important thing–God’s approval! Only then will you have His provision!

PRAYER: Father, My heart is full of dreams and aspirations that I believe will bring glory to Your name. Help me to listen carefully to Your voice, and to move forward only when You have placed Your approval upon the plan. I trust You to know what’s best! Amen.

Don’t Despise Structure

(Judges 17:6 ESV) 6 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

God created mankind with an innate desire for independence. God’s design was meant for good; to motivate us to labor and have a fruitful life; to grow us up and move us on to maturity. On the other hand, when sin entered into the equation, this desire for independence turned into rebellion. And, rebellion is always contrary to godly obedience.

In Judges 17, we are told of a time when the people of Israel had no king. The absence of national leadership caused the people to self-regulate; to determine what they wanted, what was best in their eyes, at the expense of anyone else. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” described an attitude and lifestyle that was driven by the whim of the moment without regard for how their future might be affected.

I grew up in the age of rock-n-roll. The genre was borne out of a rebellious mindset that preached a lifestyle of absolute freedom from any type of structure. Rules be gone!

Looking back now, it seems so benign compared to the raucous lyrics found in so many modern genres of music. Television programs and contemporary movies herald a message of “do what you want, when you want, where ever you want, with whomever you want!” The mantra of the day is not only, “If it feels good do it,” but also, “don’t you dare oppose my right to live anyway I see fit.”

In recent years, our society has adopted the same mentality of ancient Israel. A blatant disregard for the structure established by our Creator has us in a precarious position once again. As has always been the case, self-regulation always leads away from God’s holiness, rather than closer to Him.

I’m not trying to be negative; a holier-than-thou mindset is not present in my thinking or writing. With that said, a casual reading of Scripture reveals patterns of divine discipline for those who consistently reject God’s commands.

I’m afraid we are in for some difficult days here in America unless we return to God. We need a revival. No, I’m not talking about a series of church services where we Christians get together to dance, scream, shout, and spit. But, a return to walking in step with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit every day of our lives. Remember, His pattern of living is what will produce the best results.

PRAYER: Father, help me to develop a desire to follow the godly structure that produces eternal life. For Your glory! Amen. 

Look To The Book!

(Joshua 1:6-9 ESV) 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

From the very outset of the leadership transition from Moses to Joshua, God established His promises to Joshua, and the requirement to obey the Book of the Law that had been passed down by Moses. Notice the commandments of the Lord to Joshua…

  • Be careful to do according to all the law.
  • Do not turn from it.
  • Don’t let it depart from your mouth.
  • Meditate on it day and night.

Every promise was contingent upon Joshua’s willingness to prioritize the Word of the Lord as it was given by Moses. Twice, God instructs Joshua to “be careful to do according to all…” Not some. Not a modified, or personalized version. But, the exact interpretation of the law as it was passed down.

As a pastor, I can relate to the responsibility that was placed upon Joshua. God told him, “YOU shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.”  The level of Israel’s inheritance would be directly proportional to Joshua’s ability to effectively lead the people. He would have to find ways to clearly communicate all the Book of the Law.

Let’s be clear, Joshua could only teach and declare the content of the Book of the Law–he had no power to make them do it. Even when warned, Achan still disobeyed and brought judgment upon his family and the nation of Israel.

One of my great frustrations in ministry is when people live in open rebellion to Scripture. Or, they make up their own version of what they think Scripture means. By doing this, they forfeit divine blessings and open themselves to judgment.

While it is true that we are no longer obligated to keep the law, we are obligated to know and do the things that are required in Scripture. Here’s the kicker… When we realize that being obedient is beneficial, we will feel honored to obey rather than forced to obey.

PRAYER: I feel honored and blessed to be Your obedient servant. Help me to know and do what Your word commands so others may be blessed through my obedience and leadership. amen.

Someone Needs You

(Deuteronomy 24:19-22 ESV) 19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 22 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.

Because we are born as the offspring of Adam, our nature (flesh) is contrary to the things of the Spirit. When we experience new birth in Christ Jesus, our old nature passes away and all things become new. We become like Christ. He places His nature in us and we begin living a very different kind of life than we did before Christ.

In the Old Testament, people lived according to the Law; principles that were established by God for the purpose of training His people in righteousness. Most of what God required through the Law was contrary to natural inclinations.

Generosity is something that must be developed over a lifetime. Very few people are naturally generous. This is because we have a greater drive toward self-preservation. God wants us to work. He is pleased when we gather the harvest He has provided for us. In our Scripture passage God says, (1) When you reap your harvest, (2) When you beat (shake) your olive trees, (3) When you gather your grapes. Notice, there is no if–just when.

However, God also wants us to consider others as we are laboring for our own needs. He instructed His people to leave behind a portion of the harvest for those who were homeless, orphaned, and widowed. The command was clear. This action was to be done purposely. Consider these observations concerning this command.

  • The obedient acts of the harvesters served to establish a spirit of generosity in their own heart. The more they obeyed, the more giving became second nature to them. Never forget that your continued blessing is tied to your generous giving. “That the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”  (Verse 19)
  • There are people who genuinely need assistance. God was very clear about who the recipients were to be. (Homeless, Orphans, Widows)
  • The “receivers” were to glean their own “pickings.” It was not meant to be a handout. The fruit was to be left for them, but they were responsible to gather it.

God has blessed me abundantly. I don’t mean to suggest that I’m among the “rich” in material goods. But, neither am I destitute. I have the ability to make a living that is sufficient to provide for my family. I’ve learned how to work hard and pillow my head each evening with a sense of satisfaction in my labor.

But, I want more. I want to be a generous distributor to those who are less fortunate than me. I want others to be blessed because of my obedience to Christ. And, I want to always realize that everything passing through my hands is a gift from God, meant to bring glory to His name and to encourage and edify others.

PRAYER: Thank you for being so generous with me. Your blessings are evident in every area of my life. Help me to pass Your goodness along to others who are need, so that together we may experience Your divine providence. Amen.

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