Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It was anything but a brilliant battle strategy. It was comparable to sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan with nothing but trumpets and horns. But the amazing thing is, IT WORKED!

Joshua 6 records the famous story of the battle of Jericho. Anyone who has ever attended Sunday School as a child learned how "Joshua 'fit' the battle of Jericho; Jericho ...". But there is lots more here than just an interesting children's Sunday School lesson.

The evidence of the leading of God in the story is abundantly clear because of the repetitive use of the number "seven", a number of completion associated with God:

"seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets." (Joshua 6:4)

Imagine if Joshua had rejected this seemingly-absurd plan and resorted instead to "conventional" warfare? The results would have been disastrous! God's work was designed to be done according to God's plan. As Zechariah 4:6 says,

"Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts."

The story of the battle of Jericho calls us to consider: What "battles" am I waging according to my own plan and design rather than through the plan and power of God? The most sophisticated and powerful weapons in a military arsenal are woefully inadequate for the battles designed to be waged with the Spirit of God.

Perhaps your battle is shrinking finances, or job loss. It may be a family crisis or need, or possibly health issues. For the believer each of these battles is the Lord's battle and must be waged according to His plan and power. His power will be manifested in our weakness and simple obedience.

Ultimately the battles of life are most effectively waged on our knees. It is there that we enter his presence boldly and remind Him of His word and promises to us. Armed with His word and Spirit, the victory is ours as we surrender our battles to the One to whom they ultimately belong to anyway.

May your day be gloriously victorious.


Monday, February 09, 2009

The WHAT isn't nearly as important as the WHY.

"I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the LORD." (Exodus 10:2)

God performed mighty miracles through the hand of Moses in the process of setting the people of Israel free from captivity in Egypt. On the surface, it appears that the purpose of the signs is to make Pharaoh and the Egyptians believe in the Lord God Yahweh. But a closer look reveals that the purpose of the miracles wasn't for the unbelieving Egyptians but for the chosen people of God: "that YOU may know that I am the Lord" (emphasis added).

The Book of Revelation contains similar signs and judgments as those performed through Moses. It's easy to assume that the purpose of these events is to change the hearts of the disobedient but their reaction is similar to Pharaoh's: "they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory." (Revelation 16:9)

There is no doubt that God would like nothing more than for sinners to repent in the face of His mighty works, but His express purpose for His great works is for our benefit: "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4)

Romans 15:4 provides the greatest incentive of all for reading the Bible and learning about the great signs and works of God. It's all designed to give us staying power and keep us hopeful! There is nothing we need more.

All of God's mighty works and actions are on display in the pages of the Bible for our benefit. Everything He has done in the past is for our benefit today, if we are willing to read and learn. It's not so much a record of history as it is incentive for hopeful living today.

May your hope be strong and your faith sure as you consider the mighty acts of our amazing God.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It's a lesson in economics, much needed in today's economy:

"He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?" (Luke 16:10-12)

The big picture of our lives is the sum total of all its parts. Stewardship and management of every area contributes to the whole. Faithful stewardship, as well as unfaithful stewardship, has a ripple effect that touches all areas of our lives.

Financial stewardship is inseparably tied to spiritual life: "if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?" Many believers "compartmentalize" their lives and separate business and financial dealings from their Christian walk. According to Jesus, it cannot be done; financial stewardship has a direct bearing on one's status in the coming Kingdom.

In modern times it has never been harder to make sound financial investments and decisions. But good stewardship in hard times is at least as important as in prosperous times - both materially and spiritually.

Jesus introduces a concept that runs much deeper than financial. Faithfulness in all the little things is indicative of the big picture of faithfulness. That which is done in private or in obscurity tells the true story of one's life. How we pay our bills, invest our time, and conduct relationships speak volumes about our character.

An airline pilot was recently heralded as a hero for sparing every life on a plane he piloted when it crashed. Details have since emerged of a very detail-oriented, perfectionist individual. The tedium of training and preparation became abundantly evident in a moment of crisis. There would be no accolades were it not for faithfulness in the small but vital details.

What have you been entrusted to manage today? Whether a broom or a boardroom, it is a sacred trust and figures prominently in your future role in the King's cabinet. Stewardship in this life is a determining factor in the life of the Age to Come.

Serve well today, fellow servants.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Little is much when it's in the Master's hands. That's the lesson of the feeding of the five thousand, recorded in Mark 6.

"And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish. There were five thousand men who ate the loaves." (Mark 6:41-44)

Most of us are aware of decreased resources and assets these days. Homeowners have seen house values shrink at an alarming rate, and increasing numbers are facing an even harsher reality with increasing unemployment. Making ends meet has never been more difficult.

Similarly, christian workers and resources have nearly always been in short supply. There is a vast world to reach and needs to meet but there seems to be a mere handful of workers. How can so few accomplish much?

The Lord's work never lacks the Lord's provision. In the hands of Jesus, twelve men turned the world upside down - a seemingly impossible task; comparable to feeding over five thousand people with five loaves and two fish.

What would the Lord do today with your life and your resources if they were firmly placed in His hands? If the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is any pattern, He would likely begin by breaking us as he did the bread. There was abundance through brokenness.

Some of us are smugly whole and in need of brokenness while others are almost impossibly fractured and broken. Whether broken or in need of brokenness, the Lord can perform His work and use us. And in that work He can multiply our lives, our efforts, and our resources.

We are the proverbial widow's mite - a mere pittance of an offering even though given totally and completely. And yet our Lord Jesus specializes in miraculously multiplying that which seems woefully inadequate and limited.

The abundance of our life will never be enough when only given partially, but the limitations of our life will never be too little when given completely.

Place what you have and are in the Lord's hands today - without reservation or hesitation - and watch Him perform the miracle of multiplication to meet the needs He sees best.