A King Unrecognized

In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. ~(Judges 17:6, NLT)

Sorry, I’ve been away for so long, guys! It’s been pretty busy at work, since I was given two more responsibilities, and by the time I get home in the evenings I’ve been really tired and lazy. Furthermore, my weekends have been busier than I would like, so I’ve been trying to cut back on my TV time during the weekdays so I can be a better steward of my time and energy, and give you more material.

That being said, I have continued to study the Word on my own, and have finally gone back to participating in Wednesday night Bible studies this year—be it almost over. In my personal Bible study time, I’ve been reading through the book of Judges. Today as I read Judges 17-18, I noted a phrase that keeps popping up in this book: “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” I thought about these words for a few minutes and realized…but Israel did have a King!crown-of-life

God intended for Himself to be their God and King, and for Israel to obey His commands. However, Israel refused to recognize their King! We can’t be angry with Israel for doing this, though, because we’re often guilty of doing the same thing; but just because we can’t see Him, doesn’t make God any less real or sovereign.

Okay, let’s discuss the sovereignty of God for a moment. What does it actually mean? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines someone as sovereign as “possessing unlimited power or authority; not subject to the rule or control of another.” Thus when we say God is sovereign, we mean that He has unlimited power and authority and isn’t swayed by our opinions or desires. That means when we think things should go a certain way, if our ways go against God’s plan, then we’re the ones who are in the wrong.

Unfortunately, we live in a time, where just like Israel, we do what we believe is right in our own eyes, without regard for what is right in God’s eyes. And then we have the audacity to argue with and/or question God regarding the consequences of our actions. Israel suffered under both physical and spiritual slavery and oppression because they decided not to follow God’s leadership and direction, even when God told them beforehand what would happen if they turned their backs on Him.

We should look at Israel, during the time of the judges, as an example of what not to do and recognize that God is not subject to us, instead, we are subject to Him. He’s not a genie in a lamp that grants us our every wish and whim. We are His children, devoted to Him, living to glorify Him and to share His heart with the world; that they, too, may turn towards Him and allow Him to direct their paths.

God was Israel’s King; He’s our King. May our lives be a reflection of that.

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Lead Me, I’ll Follow

On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. DSC00059When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses. (Numbers 9:15-23, NLT)

Friday morning as I read over the above scripture I thought about how this is such a perfect picture of being at the mercy of God’s leading. The Israelites were in a position where they couldn’t move forward unless God lead the way. I thought about how difficult it must have been to set up and tear down their camp. There were millions of Israelites, by this time, and each time God said to move, they had to tear down their tents, gather their families, and the numerous animals they had with them, as well as dismantle the Tabernacle. Then when God told them to stop, they had to set everything back up; without knowing whether they would be staying a day, a week, a month, or even a year. They couldn’t see the future, they just had to trust the God who was leading them.

As I read this, I noted how difficult this must have been, especially for control freaks (like me!). Yet, Israel’s obedience to the Lord’s direction is representative of how we ought to be! How often we’re ready to move—perhaps, even with a plan that God has already revealed to us—without the go-ahead from God. We can get so caught up in making something happen, that we can become overwhelmed and frustrated when doors remain shut to us, and ready to give up before God has even prepared the way for us. (I think I’ve said this before, but God loves to place us in impossible situations, so that when He produces a miracle, He receives the credit! For more on this, check out Perfection in Weakness) Moreover, more often than not, we’re not even ready for what God has planned for us; or He’s using us right where we are and just isn’t ready to move us yet. Most of the time there are still areas of our lives that need developing or strengthening before He can lead us on to the next part of His plan.Faith is

If we could see exactly every detail of what God has planned for our future, following Him wouldn’t be considered faith! Remember, Hebrews 11:1 says “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is remaining steadfast to our hope in Christ regardless of what we see or feel, or how hard things get. It’s about not knowing what’s going to happen, or how something will happen, but trusting that God will take care of us, even if it’s in His timing. The Bible never says things will be easy for the believer; in fact, we know that there will be difficult times (Daniel 11:35; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 21:12; 2 Timothy 3:12; Revelation 14:12). There will be (and has been) persecution, imprisonment, and even torture done to our brothers and sisters around the world. But we also know that God’s plan will not fail and there is a future of everlasting life that awaits those who allow Him to lead!

It’s one of the most difficult things, to follow Christ. To truly trust, rely on, and cling to Him, believing that He has our best interest at heart, but that’s exactly what He asks of us: that we let Him take the lead.

Lead me by Your truth and teach me,

for You are the God who saves me.

All day long I put my hope in You.

Psalm 25:5

Justice & Love

I find it extremely difficult to understand why some individuals believe that because God is full of love and mercy, that He’ll simply overlook our sin.

I mean when you look back at the history of the Israelites, God punished them for their sins! And not just once or twice, but over and over again (because they were hard-headed–not much different from you and I).

God laid everything out for them in Deuteronomy 28:

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock–the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from seven. The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. Then all the people on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. The Lord will grand you abundant prosperity–in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground–in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you. The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land ou are entering to possess. The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed. The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.our carcasses will be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away. The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind.  At midday you will grope about like a blind man in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do: day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you…

That’s not all of it, but it you get the gist; it continues, naming curse after curse that will come upon the Israelites for forsaking the commands of the one true God. If God could allow all these bad things occur to the Israelites because of their sin, why wouldn’t He be a God that would do the same to the rest of us?

Justice is defined as the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness. Therefore, because God is truly just, He shows impartiality to all mankind; He is unbiased.

Nobody is perfect and our sin separates us from God.  But God sent His son–Jesus–into the world for ALL mankind, in order to restore that broken relationship with God, which we were meant to have from the very beginning. Why? Because He loves every single one of us, and wants a personal relationship with each of us.