Pastor’s Blog

The people came up out of Jordan

Joshua 4:19-24 Twice the LORD had taken Israel over a body of water on dry ground. The first time God parted the Red Sea in order to deliver Israel for their enemies; the Egyptians. The second time the LORD cut off the Jordan River in order to lead Israel into battles through which the Canaan would be given them. As I contemplated this I realized a beautiful picture of the Christian life. We understand that the Passover and departure of Israel from Egypt represents the sinners deliverance from sin and his translation from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Just as Pharaoh was pursued after by his former captor, Satan pursues after his lost prey and God always provides a way of escape for “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in this world.” God then took Israel to the base of Mt. Sinai where He gave them His law, taught  them how to worship Him, and told them how to live in the land He would give them. You might say that God took a bunch of former slaves and made them trained soldiers. In similar fashion after a person is delivered from sin and Satan the Lord Jesus instructed that they are to be taught “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” This discipleship process is intended of the Lord to prepare His children for battle! It is clear that God’s desire is to send every believer across the” Jordan River” to do exploits for Him. By Paul’s pen God says that we are to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” He further states that “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” Our process of discipleship is intended of God to separate us from the world so that we are prepared “unto every good work.” May we be helped of the Lord to see our lives in such terms. May we be faithful to receive our training. May we be faithful to cross the river and do exploits for God that results in other precious lives finding the deliverance from sin and Satan. May we then be faithful to “teach them to observe all things” so they may then join us across the river serving the Captain of the host!


Every word

Proverbs 30:5-6 “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
Amazing, life-changing, realities are found in these few words! Thank God that we have an every word Bible. Familiarity breeds contempt: thus many of God’s children are prone to pass over, with little consideration, the genealogies, the long list of God’s servants of old, the intricate details of seemingly non-relevant commandments, judgements and statutes of the Old Testament, the details of Israel’s fighting’s with Gentile Kings and nations. Yet EVERY word of God is pure! ALL scripture is given by divine inspiration and is profitable to the diligent student. Every word is like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. What other book be found upon earth that so readily exposes and denounces every impurity of man’s sin? There is no other “sacred” writing like your precious Bible! Therefore, may we be careful to give diligent heed to its every pure word. It contains not one vain word, useless word, or filler word; God has carefully and purposefully placed every word in its proper place and not one will return void. Let us be careful of imbalanced favoritism. One disciple may like prophecy best; another the tales of Israel’s exploits and history; another the miracles of Jesus; another the churches body of doctrine. All such favoritism leads to an imbalanced and unfruitful life in Christ. While the prophecy lover looks to future he is inclined to neglect present duty. While the historian looks to the past he too is inclined to neglect present duty. While one wonders at the miracles of Jesus he may be inclined toward an experiential, feeling based way of living that is imbalanced. The strict lover of doctrine may become critical and harsh toward others that do not espouse his position and strong beliefs. Let us not approach God’s word as anything but a complete volume, equally pure, and to be equally loved, studied, and understood. In approaching God’s word thusly we will grow to be implicitly confident in its author – God, our Father. Then will we find Him to be a shield for every circumstance of life. His word, being perfectly pure, perfectly sufficient. Let us therefore not add unto it.
James 1:21 “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”
1 Thessalonians 2:13 “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
Acts 17:11 “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”


Ye have not obeyed my voice

Judges 2:1-3 It is amazing how quick man is to disobey God after tasting a bit of victory. God had taken Israel across the Jordan River, delivered Jericho and Ai into their hands, and driven out those inhabiting the immediate area. Under God’s leadership Joshua divided the land by lot and instructed the tribes to go occupy the land by driving out the remaining inhabitants, but they did not. Chapter one of Judges chronicles their disobedience. There may be many reasons for Israel’s disobedience: perhaps they were tired of war and it’s desolation; perhaps the idea of fighting as lone tribes birthed fear; perhaps they decided negotiating leagues was easier than wielding swords; perhaps the prospects of gathering taxes from tributaries overcame their senses. Whatever the reason, it was unjustified rebellion against God’s clear command. In response to their disobedience God sent His angel with a four part message.
   I. They were reminded of what God done for them.
   A. God had delivered them from Egypt, a place of slavery, abuse, and hard toil. “I made you to go up out of Egypt” God said. This reminds us of how God has delivered us from our slavery to sin, self and Satan. Our days in the flesh were miserable, wretched days. We did not necessarily realize how miserable and wretched we were because everyone else was just like us. Nonetheless, our days without Christ were miserable days with no help from God.
   B. God had brought them into Canaan, a land of peace, prosperity, and rest. “and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers;”. God had been gracious and kind to them.
Certainly, in some way, this provides a picture of our wonderful position of being accepted with God in The Beloved – Jesus. Ours is a position of tremendous favor, splendor and spoiling!
In Christ we are made heirs of God; we have received all spiritual blessing; we have exceeding great and precious promises that enable us to be partakers of God’s own divine nature! What a life is ours in Christ!
   II. They were reminded of the faithfulness of God. Truly God is a faithful God. Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments” including those of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Though we are unfaithful, God cannot be, for to be unfaithful would be to deny Himself. He said to Israel “I said, I will never break my covenant with you.” May we be reminded that God has promised that none who come to Jesus will ever be cast out! Let us consider how that God said “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
   III. They were reminded of God’s expectations of them.
   A. They were to make no leagues with the inhabitants of the land.
Those who were then living in the land of promise were the enemies of God, and therefore the enemies of God’s people. They were not to make any treaties with God’s enemies. Having been translated from the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s Dear Son, the world is now our enemy and we are hated by it. We are told to walk as children of light and to have no fellowship with the works of darkness. We are told that the friendship of the world is enmity against God. We are told to not love the world, neither the things that are in the world. Let us make no league with this world, but rather make it the object of our evangelistic endeavors.
   B. They were to tear down the altars that were built there. They had set up God’s altar and there was no room in the land for another; they were to throw down every altar the former inhabitants had erected so as to avoid the temptation of having other gods. Jesus is our only legitimate altar: Hebrews 13:9-15 “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the
camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Our allegiance is to be sworn and given to Christ alone!
   IV. The results of their disobedience were revealed.
We should be reminded that all disobedience has a just recompense of reward. God deals with us as children, and disobedient children receive correction.
   A. They sacrificed their victory.
God said “I will not drive them out from before you;” Since Israel chose to make leagues with them instead of driving them out in God’s power, God would now not drive them out. Their sin, it might be said, would be their chastisement. We are told to mortify our members with the lusts thereof. If we refuse, why should we expect God to grant us victory? If we choose to fail of God’s grace, we fail. If we refuse to resist the devil what right do we have to expect God to bruise him under our feet? If we refuse to bring the tithe into the storehouse we have no reason to expect God to rebuke the devourer. If we are cozy with the world, why should we expect our faith to overcome it?
   B. They would be continually troubled.
God further said to Israel “but they shall be as thorns in your sides,” The world, the flesh, and the devil are the Christian’s primary source of trouble; how much more so when we refuse to “throw them down”! What insanity to expect blessings and good-will from one’s enemies.
   C. They would be continually tempted.
God also told them that “their gods shall be a snare unto you.” Since the altars were not thrown down, they were tempted to turn to alternative gods, and frequently did. There is only room for one God in any land. They would find themselves frequently in the noose of false gods.
Proverbs 22:5 “Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.” God is good all the time! May we allow His love to constrain us at all times to walk in humble subjection and obedience to Him. Might we learn from the example of Israel that the proverb “the way of transgressors is hard” is indeed true. Might we, for God’s glory and our good, walk worthy of our vocation, our calling, in Christ!