ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC …PT 45

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Double Checking

Joshua 3

Joshua 22: 13-14 – Double Checking

… to go to war … they spoke with them …

These guys were already set for war; they had gathered the troops and collected weapons, all they needed were the orders to march and they would go over and mow down the target. But for some reason, they chose to open the communications channel and try to dialogue. Thankfully, they were able to discover that there was no need to attack their own people; what they initially thought was treasonous turned out to be a covenant aimed at binding the two settlements of the one nation together.

Many times, we find ourselves at odds with other people and we declare war and launch our attack but make the mistake of not verifying that what we have been told was said and done with malicious intent against us is actually fact and not some misrepresentation based on the reporter’s misunderstanding of what he saw and heard.

Many times, when a person lays a complaint, it’s usually with so much passion that one could get swept away believing as fact what the complainant has presented. Hearing one side of the story should never be enough to draw a conclusion and pass judgment even if this one side is coming from someone you trust.

Proverbs 18:17 The first speech in a court case is always convincing- until the cross-examination starts! (MESSAGE)

 

I have found that if we take out time to find out “the what and the why” from the other person’s point of view, things can, more often than not, be resolved amicably and a stronger bond of understanding and trust can be forged.

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How do I hear God clearly?

Someone asked me this question recently and he was only one of several who have asked me in person and they are merely a tiny fraction of the number of saints worldwide across all times who have been asking this very same question but not so many have found workable answers.

I have something for you and trust it would be of tremendous help to you.

First of all, let’s capture some basics.

1. God speaks.

God speaks to us all. This is one thing that distinguishes our God from other false deities around us. In fact, you can know that he spoke to someone because he can tell you as well.

2. God’s children do not have hearing problems

If you’re a child of God, you hear God. I didn’t say you can you God, I said you hear God. Many times you were about to make a decision and you had a thought and you changed your mind and things worked out, that was God. When narrating the episode to people, we use expressions like “my spirit told me” or worse, ” something told me”.

As long as we don’t consciously acknowledge that it t was the Holy Spirit who was guiding us, we will keep short changing ourselves in this regard not because He will get offended and hold back but because we will never consider him a valid resource person we can always turn to when were in a tight spot.

3. This is more than God speaking, it is a relationship

The implication is that if you do not put to use what you do hear from God, you will not ever get to build your confidence in the concept that you can hear from God. Christianity is a walk and one testimony builds on the last. If you haven’t listened or heard God on other non-critical matters, you will naturally panic when it comes to hearing him on the matter of choosing a spouse knowing how much risk is involved. We are on a journey of faith and panic won’t let us hear God.

Now, many Christians, knowing that the devil also speaks get scared that they might hear from the devil when they ask God to speak. As valid as we feel that concern is, it is actually baseless … or perhaps based on ignorance or fear. 

If you ask God for something by faith, the devil cannot respond, God is the one who will respond that’s how the spirit world works. People think that when they ask and God is bringing an answer, the devil will rush and give a misleading word. This assumes that Satan is faster than God. Well, Satan is fast but God made Him so He can’t be faster. Besides, God is omnipresent, Satan is not. God doesn’t need to even move to get to you. 

And you know what, He lives in you so communication between the two of you is not on telecom but intercom. Have you ever heard someone say they couldn’t communicate with a colleague via the intercom because network was down? It doesn’t happen.

There is a very real story of Angel Gabriel being waylaid by the prince of Persia for 21 days until Michael went and freed him. Christians remind themselves of this story and worry forgetting that in Daniel’s days, God did not dwell in man but by faith in Jesus, God moved house when you got saved, and you are his temple. So, nothing really can stand between you and God talking to each other. 

All this is fine and dandy but how do I now hear God? I never consciously heard him before how do I start? 

Here, I’ll tell you my story. 

I was in fellowship and Pastor George Woodbridge, who was obviously one kain spiro like that, was talking about what I can’t remember but every few minutes he would say, “be sensitive to The Spirit and ….” or “with a high sensitivity to The Spirit, you’ll get …” and along the way he said, “increase your sensitivity to the spirit” but he never said how. So after the service, I walked up to him and asked, “How do I increase my sensitivity to the Spirit?” His answer was, “Study the word” and he walked away. If you’re thinking along, you like me were expecting more but, guys, that’s all I got. 

At first, I was disappointed that he didn’t give me more but then, I thought “maybe that is all” so I went back to my hostel and started to study. I started with the notes I took from service and went through all of the scriptures quoted. I made this my routine. I noticed after some time that as I studied those notes, I was making new notes, writing down things that “came” to me that were not said in the service. And after a while, I got used to it, I always expected it to happen and it never failed. 

Then one day, a though occurred to me that was not tied to the noted I took or the scriptures in them. The thought was this, “When you’re studying and things seem to be jumping out at you, it’s because I am there with you, as though standing over your shoulder pointing them out to you”. 

It was a first person comment to me. It was a thought but it claimed an identity of its own and I understood that the Spirit of God had spoken to me. I even did a painting in my drawing pad back then capturing that idea.

And friends, that is how my journey with God took off. All those times I was studying and getting new stuff, it wasn’t because I was so smart, it was because the author of the scriptures was giving me tutorials in His work first hand.

See the word says, every good gift comes from God so I concluded that if anything good was happening in me, it’s not me but the treasure of heaven inside me. So each time I got a good idea, I’d say thank you to the one who gave me the idea, not because I was being spiritual but because I was being real giving credit where it was due. That way, I kept Him front and centre of everything I did.

The more I spent studying, the more time we had together, the more He spoke and the more I heard his voice and gradually got used to how He “feels” and sounds in my spirit. Then in the place of prayer, He would tell me stuff about my siblings at home and I would pray and some days later, I’d get a message that something did happen about that time but God intervened.

From then on, since I’d become used to having Him around, I could talk to Him about anything at anytime I wanted and He always … always … always talks back. So, choosing a spouse was just one of those things two good friends talked about between me and Him. Two good friends …  just that one is all knowing and all wise and the other is a mere jar of clay that knows nothing really but together, we come off as one good team and I look good.

This story began in 1995 and till today, I have never heard the voice of God in my external ears and I really don’t need to. But those who know me can attest that they see signs that I am a man led by God and full of the wisdom of God. Am I boasting? Well, maybe I am but I am merely boasting in the friend that I have had all these years who walks and talks with me every time every where.

If you want to be led by God, pray in the spirit, study the word and you’re good to go. But practically speaking, start by asking small innocuous questions that have no risk attached so that fear will not build. For example, “what shirt should I wear today, what should I have for lunch, should I even have lunch?” Use what He tells you and the testimonies will build your confidence. From there, grow on up and don’t be afraid to say, “God told me”.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC …PT 44

Lessons from the book of Joshua

The Church and The State

Joshua 3

Joshua 22: 13-14 – The Church and The State

… the priest … and with him ten rulers…

There was an obvious threat to the nation. The threat was a religious threat. But the leadership of the day sent both the religious delegate and the political delegates. The “church” and the “state” were one team, I think even one government.

It seems clear that when Christ shall return, He being God will be worshipped as God but he would also rule on the earth like any other political ruler. In His government, the church and state will be one.

If one were to connect the dot of Joshua’s government to Jesus’ government, I think it would have been one nice line of inter-dependence, interrelationship, and inter everything between the heart of people and their daily affairs.

But alas, in our quest for self-realization, we seem to always seek to remove the source of what we have. We forget our point of origin as we travel farther and farther into uncharted regions. We don’t know where we are going and we have disconnected from home.

When Israel demanded a king, it hurt the Prophet Samuel and God was displeased as well. Separating the influence of the church from the affairs of state was a mistake God didn’t want his people to make, not at that time and not in this time, but it seems for a long time coming, mankind has always been bent on removing God from society.

There is hope though, because there are those of us to whom The Lord God is both God and King; He owns our hearts and directs our affairs. We are the first fruit of the new creation, the samples of how things will be when the new heaven and earth are finally created and man is returned to where he was originally intended to be.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC …PT 43

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Joshua 3

Joshua 22: 9 – Superset

… the land of their possession which they had obtained according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses.

The land of promise, of which they had heard spoken of since birth, was before them finally and it was a matter of laying claim to it and possessing it but it is obvious they still had to wait for the Lord to tell them who is to possess what. It wasn’t an arbitrary free-for-all grab what-you-can business. There was an order to the process and it was God’s order albeit it by the mouth of Moses, the prophet of God.

I can’t say why but this line of scripture reminds me of another

Philippians4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

I think it’s because of some similarities in the two situations; I can do all things but I still have to wait for Christ because He’s the one who will provide the strength. So it’s not an arbitrary free-for-all grab what-you-can do-whatever-you-want affair, I still have to wait for marching orders on what exactly I am to do and it has to be God’s orders.

I think the first part of the thought indicates that nothing is impossible for me so that whatever task I am asked to perform will meet with a ready confidence in me that “I can do this” and the second part deals with the power source, the logic source and the ethics source. Meaning, I can do all things and I need God’s power to get it done but what’s the reason for doing this and should I do it at all right now?

An outrageous example is that I can’t create my own heaven and earth and my own Adam and Eve and become my own God, can I?

I can do all things but there is a limit to what I should do and a way that I must do it. This reminds me of universal set and subsets: there is a whole all-encompassing world of possibilities and opportunities out there, not all have been apportioned to me but, of course, if I am involved in combinations and intersections with God and other people of God, I will have access to it all.

That is how the nation of Israel possessed the land of promise … that is how the body of Christ can possess the world.

Interestingly, I don’t feel limited by this understanding but rather I feel guided and supported.

Mark 10:27, John 15: 5

How Jesus Trains Husbands

by Guy M. Richard

Most of us know that Ephesians 5:25 calls husbands to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” but I am not so sure that we know what this Christlike love is supposed to look like in practice. There are no details given in Ephesians 5, no list of ten ways that husbands can accomplish this challenging command. There are no pictures showing us exactly how to do it and no warning lights to alert us when we are missing the mark. There are no indicators to encourage us when we are in the general vicinity of Christlikeness.

My marriage would certainly benefit from these kinds of helps. It has taken me far too long to understand even a little of what Ephesians 5:25 is calling me to as a husband. And my experience as a pastor tells me that most men are struggling at least as much as I am to understand what it means to love their wives. That is why I would like to take up this difficult subject and to talk about it here. I want to spend some time exploring, first, what it means to love our wives in a Christlike way, and second, how we can evaluate whether we are succeeding. My hope is to encourage husbands to give themselves more energetically to the work of loving their wives in a Christlike way.
CHRIST’S STANDARD

So, in the first place, let’s consider what it means for husbands to love their wives as “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” When we look at the text before us, we can say for sure that our love for our wives must be sacrificial. And this means that we must be willing—should it be required of us—to lay down our lives on behalf of our wives and thereby make the ultimate sacrifice. But, as important as this is, most of us will never be asked to make this kind of sacrifice. So while we can readily acknowledge our willingness to love our wives in this way, it remains only theoretical and hypothetical for the vast majority of us.

It is far more difficult to daily sacrifice our pride, our reputation, our selfishness, our perceived “rights,” or our desires to be served than it is to sacrifice our lives. And yet, these daily sacrifices are part and parcel of what it means to love our wives sacrificially. I have never met a husband who would not willingly lay down his life for his wife. But I have met many who refuse to sacrifice themselves in the smaller ways and, therefore, make life very hard for their wives on a daily basis.

Jesus paid the ultimate price, laying down His life for the sake of His bride, the church.

Jesus exemplified both aspects of sacrificial love. He did not come into the world in order “to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He laid down His “rights,” setting aside many of the prerogatives that belonged to Him as the God of the universe (Gal. 4:4), emptying Himself (Phil. 2:7). He laid down His own will and subjected it to that of His Father in heaven (cf. Matt. 26:39). He came to serve rather than to be served. And He paid the ultimate price, laying down His life for the sake of His bride, the church.

God has given those of us who are husbands a tremendous privilege to model Christ to our wives and our families: to lay down our lives every day, to serve them rather than seeking to be served by them, and to give ourselves on their behalf. That is a tremendous privilege. I often hear men say that they feel like they are giving more in their marriage than they are getting out of it or that they are giving more than their wife is giving. My response is usually something like this: “Congratulations! That is exactly the way it is supposed to be.” God calls us as men to give ourselves every day in service to our wives, to lay ourselves out sacrificially—to spend and be spent—just as Christ gave Himself sacrificially in every way for His bride.

Now I will be the first to admit that I fall short of achieving this standard in my marriage. I do not consistently love my wife in this kind of Christlike way. I am far too often prideful and selfish. Frequently I want to have my own needs met and to get more out of my marriage than I give. And so I need to be reminded that Jesus’ sacrificial love for me covers over all of my own failings to love my wife sacrificially. I need to be reminded that He loved me to the end despite my sins and my failings. And I need that love to “train” me to love my wife in a way that reflects His love for me (Titus 2:11–12).
THE BRIDE’S SANCTIFICATION

In the second place, consider how we can know if we are actually succeeding in loving our wives in a Christlike way. Some of us go through life convinced that we are fulfilling Ephesians 5:25, either because we have watered down Paul’s command to mean only that we should literally lay down our lives on behalf of our wives or because we are judging ourselves by our intentions rather than by our actions. Either way, we are fooling ourselves. How can we know for sure? Is there something we can look for in our wives to know whether or not we are loving them in a way that even remotely resembles the love of Christ? I believe that there is. And I think we see that in Ephesians 5:26–27. These verses indicate that the result of Christ’s sacrificial love for His bride is that His bride becomes sanctified, “holy and without blemish.”

Remember that Augustine defined perfect beauty in terms of God Himself. For Augustine, God is the source of all beauty and the standard by which all beauty is to be measured. That which best reflects the image of God is the most beautiful. The Scriptures teach us that Jesus is the perfect image of God: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3); “He is the image of the invisible God,” and “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:15, 19). This means that Jesus is the most beautiful person, the standard by which our beauty is to be measured. If we understand the process of becoming “sanctified” as a process of becoming more like Christ, then Ephesians 5:26–27 suggests that the result of Christ’s sacrificial love is that His bride, the church, becomes more and more beautiful over time.

I have found this to be especially helpful in diagnosing the condition of my own marriage and in determining how well (or not) I am loving my wife in a Christlike manner. If I am giving myself sacrificially to my wife, then I should expect that over time my wife will become more and more beautiful. Her beauty is the test by which I know how I am doing as a husband. If she is bitter or beat down with discouragement or feelings of insignificance, then this is an indication that I am probably doing something wrong. I remember the day when I saw this for the first time in Ephesians 5 and I realized that I was not loving my wife in a Christlike manner. It was a difficult day, but it was a good day. It was a day in which I could repent for my failures and seek God’s and my wife’s forgiveness, a day in which I could begin striving to understand more and more of Christ’s sacrificial love for me and start applying that love to my wife. If you have been struggling to love your wife, I pray that today will be that day for you.
Dr. Guy M. Richard is executive director and assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta. He is author of What Is Faith? and The Supremacy of God in the Theology of Samuel Rutherford.
I came across this article and I thought to share it with you. – Unlimited

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC …PT 42

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Joshua 22:5 – Love Works

Joshua 3

But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of
The Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

 

Joshua reminded the people of what was most important, to love the Lord.

But loving the Lord is not some vague notion or feeling; it translates into certain actions and philosophies. It means to do things His way, to do what He says, to be devoted to Him even in the heart.

Many times, we meet people who say they love God but when we look at their lives, it is tough to believe that they know what they are talking about. Granted, our relationship with God is not based on external actions or works and we are quick to point that out when challenged on occasions when our actions do not seem to conform to what is expected of one who claims to have a relationship with God but I can’t help notice the pattern in scriptures that our love for God always demands that we show it.

Matthew 7:20  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

John 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:21  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For Paul to have confidently said “follow me as I follow Christ”, it must have meant there were physically visible things he was doing that could be emulated, unless we would want to suggest that the early church Apostle expected us to read his mind. If faith without corresponding action is dead, then love makes a similar demand of us.

 

John 15:10, 1 John 5:3, 1 John 4:19-21, 1 John 3:14, I Corinthians 11:1

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 41

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Joshua 22:5 – Re-empowering

Joshua 3

But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of
The Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Interesting.

At this point, I don’t know for how long the people Joshua was addressing had been following their brethren around as a matter of commitment to the commandment of The Lord, risking life and limb to fight along their brothers in selfless service to see their brothers established in their ordained places of rest (22:2-3) but at the end of their service, here is Joshua reminding them to be committed to obeying the commandment of The Lord.

Quite often in talking with people, there are things we feel are unnecessary to mention especially when it is apparent that the person is already aware of them and is already doing them. Sometimes, however, it is merely an assumption that the person should know them. But whether our assumption is right or wrong, Joshua sets an example here to remind people, as the need arises, of what we know they already know.

Remind good people to continue to do good, remind husbands to love their wives, remind wives to respect their husbands, remind mothers to take care of their children, remind Christians to be light, remind saints to be holy. All these seem redundant but apparently “repetition is the law of lasting impression” is a steady rule of thumb for Joshua and other characters in the bible. I guess this is why we have things like constitutions and rule books in our society; to remind us of what we already know.

I’ve been tempted before to ignore a certain sermon once I heard the topic and got a drift of where the preacher was headed simply because I’d been there and done that but I learned with time that listening again means your heart is still open to further advancement even on a subject you’re already very familiar with. It also serves as a security in that it reminds you of what you may have forgotten cos nobody knows what he has forgotten until he is reminded of it.

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.”

 

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”

If knowledge is power, then I guess reminding myself of what I know, even if it seems like stating the obvious, is re-empowering myself.

When you get the chance to teach people, don’t assume they know what you know.

Philippians 3:1, 2 Peter 1:12-13, Jude 1:5, Hebrews 2:1