Our Sunday meals from God’s word serve as reminders that God works in the lives of His people to expand His glory. When we cooperate with Him we experience blessing, and when we don’t we experience heartache and defeat. What thoughts do you have as you reflect on Sunday’s message? How is the Holy Spirit actively working in your life?
Personally, the Spirit challenged me to consider folks who wear the label “Christian” yet live in Old Testament Israel. Just like the difference between wilderness Israel and Promised Land Israel, there is a difference between the Old Testament Christian label and the New Testament, Spirit filled, gospel centered Christ follower. Many wear the label Christian, but they follow from a distance. What about you? What evidence do you have in your life that the Holy Spirit lives within you?
As you listened to the message did you take time to consider how the Holy Spirit teaches us? What if any thoughts do you have about how the Holy Spirit teaches you? Would you spend some time making real inquiry into your spiritual life? Do you learn from the Holy Spirit or simply from the teaching of others?
Taking time to think about the Holy Spirit’s work in our life can be frightening, but taking the time is necessary if we are to advance into blessing. Don’t fall into the old patterns of doing what comes natural. Get up and go. Be strong and courageous as you move forward in your walk with Christ.
Please leave some comments and thoughts about what the Lord is teaching you over the last few days.
God gave Joshua several instructions in Joshua 1. Obviously there would be challenges as the Israelites obediently move forward with courage. An important part of the message is clearly identified in Joshua 1:8. Through the entire journey Joshua (and Israel as a whole) must remember to keep the Word of God top of mind and close to heart. This challenge calls for more than a casual look at God's word. This challenge calls for more than an occasional look at God's word. Meditation requires focus, stillness, determination, and devotion.
Jesus also spoke of remaining in John 15. Would you spend some time today reading John 15 and making notes about Jesus' comments on remaining in Christ. What does it mean to remain? What is the result of remaining? Why do we often interpret Jesus' words as a suggestion and not a command?
Imagine for a moment that you are one of the many getting ready to cross the Jordan River. You have so much to remember. You are about to fight a battle that will take you away from family and friends. You want to be fit and alert. Now, you hear from Joshua that you should also remember the commands of God and meditate on them to have success. What about all of the battle plans? What about your weapons? What about all that you have prepared? How do you tend to respond when someone challenges you to spend more time in God's word? How strong is your belief that meditating on God's word and remaining in His presence is the foundation of success in Christ?
Thanks for comments this week. Please continue to comment and share what God is teaching you this week. Sunday's message will focus on Israel crossing the Jordan. Can't wait to dig into the meal God is preparing for us.
Think of a time when you were less than courageous. That sounds so mighty doesn't it? Think of a time when you were down right scared and couldn't make a move if you wanted to. That's more like it, right? We tend to overstate our strength as Christ followers. We find ourselves repeating phrases like "trust in the Lord," and "He will see you through it" as if they were lines in a recipe for mom's apple pie. The reality is that we all face times when we are afraid.
Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness because of fear. They failed to recognize that God was more powerful than anything they might face. What do you believe about the power of God? How does what you believe change your actions?
Spend some time today reflecting on circumstances of your life and what it means to be strong and courageous.
Now consider your children or grandchildren. How will you teach them to be strong and courageous in the midst of suffering? Will you teach them to act in the power of Christ?
Good morning, my friends. Yesterday we heard from the Lord together as we dug in deeper to Joshua 1. Moving into the second part of Overcoming Barriers to Blessing, we examined three signals that help usher us into blessing. We will find nourishment this week by considering each signal more personally.
When God told Joshua to "arise and go ...." He signaled a new beginning for Joshua. The opportunity required him to take some action and to lead the children of Israel into their blessing. Time in the wilderness had been difficult, and finally the Israelites recognized that the pain of staying the same was greater than then pain of change. Seeing this reality was not enough for the Israelites, and seeing this reality is not enough for us, either. We must get up and go to the land of blessing on the modern day "right side of the Jordan."
Go back to Numbers 13 and 14. Make some notes about wilderness Israel's response to the get up and go message (report from the spies).
Once you see how Israel responded, take some time and draw from last week's nourishment. Based on the blocks you identified last week, where is God leading you to "get up and go." Not only where is He leading you, what are you doing about it?
There are two generations highlighted in Numbers through Joshua. One generation (Wilderness Israel) is the generation waiting to die before God would bring His blessing. The other generation is the generation that God would bless once they acted obediently on His direction. Which generation are you are part of? No one but you will see your notes or thoughts so please be honest about where you are in the journey. Will you make a choice to get up and go, thus becoming part of Promised Land People?
Please leave comments below to encourage and challenge others as we consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds.
This week you have spent time considering the old patterns and the ominous presence that blocks your blessing. A few of you have taken the brave step of interacting here on the blog to help others see that we are all on this journey together. Today, let's close out the week by considering the low provisions that often block our blessing.
Joshua told the leaders of Israel to gather their provisions because in three days they would be crossing over the Jordan River. This group of Israelites were not willing to be Wilderness Wanderers any more. They were going to end up on the right side of the Jordan. We don't know all of the provisions they gathered, but we do see their response. They gathered what they had available and prepared for the battle ahead.
This preparation was different from the preparation of their parents and grandparents. In the past, all Israel could do was think about what they didn't have. Not enough food. Not enough shelter. Not enough water. Not enough of anything actually. They remembered the plenty that the Egyptians had and forgot that even in Egypt Israel didn't have much to call their own. Their grumbling over what they didn't have cost them their blessing. Our grumbling over what we don't have costs us our blessing, as well.
Why do we spend so much time looking at what others have and evaluating our usefulness based on those standards? Why do we underestimate the skills and provisions we have? In Sunday's message I mentioned the slow response of folks for Compassion 329. Since then, I have had a few reach out wanting to participate, yet we still need more help. Even now, folks have not been willing to say, "yes, I can help one month by teaching a 4H group how to cook a dish, sew a button, work with wood, can tomatoes, make jelly." I know we have folks with these skills, yet still so many are letting perceived low provision block their blessing. Who among us has the skill to organize? Could that skill be used to organize shelves for our new Compassion Center? Who among us can smile and greet someone in need? Who among us will make the move to the right side of the Jordan and remove the block to his or her blessing? What about you? What about today?
In Sunday's message, I referenced the ominous presence that overshadows our lives. As a child, that presence was with me every night as I tried to fall asleep. Then, in many ways the presence still lurks trying to paralyze me with fear or uncertainty. What ominous presence exists for you? Would you spend some time today considering the possibility that a bigger than life presence could be blocking your blessing?
Let's start by reviewing those voices that speak to our self esteem and self confidence. How loudly do those voices speak in your mind?
Let's move to that expectation of a parent, a teacher, a coach, or even a child that you are still trying to live up to. Could it be that even as an adult, you are driven by or hindered by the approval or disapproval of someone very important in your life or from your past?
How about the ominous presence of God? Perhaps you grew up seeing God as someone who was always looking to catch you doing something wrong. Once caught, you would certainly be embarrassed, called out, or disciplined. Maybe you live in fear of disappointing God based on some perception you might have. How does the ominous presence of God affect you every day?
What about the past? That addiction or mistake? The failed relationship? The financial loss? The ruined project? What from your past dogs you still?
The ominous presence - whatever it is for you - blocks our blessing. The children of Israel in Joshua decided to turn that ominous presence into a source of power for good. God was on their side, and God is on your side. He wants you to inherit the fullness of His blessing. Would you spend some time today writing your thoughts or voicing your prayer specifically referencing the ominous presence in your life? Ask God to take that presence and turn it into good for His glory!!!
When I was growing up, my mom and my Mamaw sewed many of their own clothes. Dresses, pant suits, aprons ... whatever they needed they could sew. They would trade patterns with friends and other family members who also sewed. As you can imagine, every person who used the same pattern got the same dress. Maybe a different color or a different size, but the dress was the same. Even today, if we were to pull out those patterns from the cedar chest, pin them to material, cut them out, and then sew the pieces together, we would get the same dress. Patterns always produce similar results.
As we read the wilderness journey of Israel in Exodus through Deuteronomy, we begin to notice patterns in their lives that held them back from inheriting the Promised Land. We heard in Sunday's message that old patterns of grumbling, fear, doubt, negativity, and living in the past kept Israel wandering the wilderness for forty years. Take some time and read Numbers 13-14. Make some notes in your journal about key findings you uncover. Take your time and meditate on the scripture, asking God to show you some truths that will help you find nourishment over the next couple of days.
Now that you have made some notes from Numbers 13 and 14, do the same thing for Joshua 1. List some common phrases and ideas you discover.
As you consider both of these passages, take some time for personal inquiry, recognizing that between the two passages, God's promises remained the same. God's person (Joshua/Moses) changed physically but had the same spiritual determination. The difference between the two passages is that God's people (Promised Land Israel) in Joshua 1 were physically and spiritually different. They were ready to get the taste of disobedience out of their mouth. To remove this taste, some old patterns had to break. For you to move forward in your walk with Christ, some old patterns need to break as well.
Take some time as you ask yourself key questions about old patterns to make notes about patterns that keep you on the wrong side of the Jordan, wandering in the wilderness. What tendencies and cycles block you from advancing in your blessing? Write these in your journal, and then spend time praying over them, asking God for the wisdom and strength to break these patterns this week as you consider your role in your own spiritual journey, in spreading the gospel, and in Compassion 329.
Have you ever wondered why the cook seldom comes to the table as hungry as everyone else? One day it dawned on me watching my Mamaw cook and then sit down to a meal. She never seemed to be as hungry as others gathered around the table, and on this particular day, I realized the reason for this crazy situation. Mamaw nibbled a lot while she cooked, tasting and seasoning, and of course, stirring. All of her nibbling made her almost full well before the true meal began. As a result, her food began to settle as she ate smaller portions. Then, when everyone else was filled with the plentiful feast, she was ready for a healthy portion of dessert. Others, just a small piece. Now I know the truth. The reason she was always ready for dessert immediately following the meal is because the main part of her meal happened an hour or so before.
I'm like Mamaw when it comes to my spiritual life. I do a lot of nibbling. A podcast here and there. A 20 minute message. A challenging quote. A quiet time rushing me into my day. I wonder if you nibble as well.
Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Mathew 5:6). Hungering and thirsting for right standing with God paints quite a different picture from the nibbling that simply tides us over to the next snack. Too often, my commitment to a right standing with God is like deciding to get healthy and quit eating ice cream. I do it for a while, but then I start to miss the ice cream. I know that the spare tire around my middle won't go away without discipline, yet the allure of Gold Medal Ribbon, Rocky Road, or a Spanish Sundae pulls with greater intensity the more I resolve to stay away.
Satan knows just how to get us full before we are satisfied. He soothes our hunger with relationships, with reading posts on social media, with random quotes and devotions that pop up from time to time. He fuels our hunger with politics, with press, with piety, and with petty arguments. In the end, we settle for tidbits of God rather than transformation from God. Or at least I do. Do you? Satan is a professional when it comes to tricking our spiritual hunger into feeling satisfied by the nibbling, tasting, and stirring that happens occasionally in our lives. We think that because we got small pieces of something healthy we must be well nourished. Jesus disagrees, and I desperately want to be on His side of spiritual health.
Sunday in our worship gathering we talked about three keys to being satisfied, and this week I am trying to meditate on those and consider how to make them more of a reality in my life. The three keys were
1. Satisfy desire with substance - stop nibbling, and dig into the main dish - the living and active Word of God.
2. Seek perfection over pleasure - stop reading posts and press for agreement - instead look deep into the word for challenges to our current way of thinking - generational sin and biased can be changed if we will open our minds to what the Spirit teaches from His Truth.
3. Season truth with love - Spices make foods a lot more palatable - who eats a plain potato and really enjoys it? The seasoning of love can make truth more palatable to the world around us. Truth is essential for health, and love is essential for hearing. I pray that I will cease being bland and instead will be a pleasing tasting of Christ to those around me.
Blessed - satisfied - those words sound ever so sweet. Are they possible? Jesus offers a resounding "YES." Hunger and thirst after righteousness, and you will be both blessed and satisfied. Amen.
Here we are on the final day of our Run the Right Race with the Right Pace challenge. Hopefully you have been nourished by the Spirit this week as you engaged with Him on a daily basis to grow to be more like Christ. Would you take a moment and read Philippians 3:12-14? Then take your journal and make notes about what the Spirit draws to your attention.
Paul talked of pressing on to obtain the prize for which he was running. He pressed on, or reached far, to run in a manner that was worthy of his calling. How would you describe your race? Over the last week have you made an effort to cooperate with the Holy Spirit for your growth? Are you merely waiting to come back to the building before engaging with Christ again? Take some time and record your thoughts from the week in your journal. Perhaps you will be willing to share some of these thoughts when we return to a worship gathering in a few weeks.
Running the right race with the right pace demands our full attention to the baggage we carry with us as we run. We will share more Sunday about the baggage we carry as human beings, but for now would you take some time to journal some thoughts in preparation for Sunday about the weights that you bear as you seek to follow Christ? For me, the weight of condemnation combined with the pressure of performance are two such weights. What about for you?