Oct 18 2011

Don’t move!

Subject: UncategorizedRLW3 @ 12:37 pm

Emotions are like waves crashing upon the beach. They ebb and they flow in a fairly predictable manner.

However, sometimes, when stirred up by a notable storm, they can be quite violent, even destructive. And just when you think the storm is over and the waves are growing more placid, a memory comes to mind of someone says something that reopens your wounds. Like an aftershock on the ocean floor, they reinvigorate the waves to once again resume their assault on dry land.

The voices of the three false comforters continue to cry out to your soul to do something!

 “You’ve got to fight! Don’t give up! Don’t quit! Fight”

“It’s not your fault! Somebody did this to you! You don’t deserve this.”

“Just cut loose!”

“Forget about God! Let’s try something new!”

Like the Sirens of Greek mythology calling sailors ever so sweetly and seductively to their death, so the world, our flesh and the devil play their varied yet ever so familiar tunes on the strings of our hearts.

But, the question remains. What are we to do when we find ourselves in the midst of miserable circumstances? Where do we go for shelter while the storm is raging?

If we have dug deep and laid the foundation of our lives on the rock of obedience to our Master’s words1, then there is only one thing to do:

…and having done all, to stand.2

Though it may not seem heroic, there are times when there is only one simple yet courageous action to take:  to stand our ground. Don’t be tricked into moving. During violent storms, the primary objective is to stay on safe ground.

The Holy Spirit sheds some light on the eternal consequences of this rather mundane action.

:21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled :22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight-– :23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel…3

We are always so eager to know God’s plan for our life. Here He lets us peek behind the curtains of eternity to see a part of that plan:

“to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight –”

What a moment that will be! But that glorious moment in eternity future depends upon small decisions that we make here on earth today.

…if indeed you continue in the faith,”

We were living by the faith in God and His Word before these storms suddenly appeared. Will we choose to continue?

“… grounded and steadfast,

We were walking by faith, leaning on God’s promises before the circumstances of our life were turned upside down. Are our roots still firmly planted in the soil of His Word?

“and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel

Will we continue to cling to His hope for our future with the same conviction? Or will we allow the waves of our emotions to move us to a “more reasonable” expectation?

The enemy constantly works to obscure our vision so that we can only see what is immediately in front of us. Pretending to be our ally, he cries aloud in a voice that sounds very much like our own,

“Forget about eternity! What about now?

He cries loud enough to make sure that we cannot hear him muttering his true intentions under his breath

“Your birthright for a bowl of stew!”4

We will forget the illusory comfort promised by that bowl of stew as soon as we partake of it!

As bad as things may be right now, in just a few short years, the moment will come when God the Son will present you to God the Father and He will pronounce you as blameless in His sight. At that moment, there will be no regrets that we stood firm and continued fighting the fight of faith. We must not let the Enemy bluff us out of our eternal future.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”5

  1. Luke 6:47-49 []
  2. Eph 6:13 []
  3. Col 1:21-23 []
  4. Heb 12:16 []
  5. 2 Tim 4:7 []

Oct 30 2008

Looking for a fight

Subject: UncategorizedRLW3 @ 5:52 pm

After reading the last post, you might be tempted to think that I avoided the question of why God told the children of Israel to turn back. I thought that it would be helpful to first consider A (as opposed to THE) reason why God led them on THAT particular path in the first place.

God knew that Israel was not prepared for war. But He was.

One of the reasons that God told Israel to turn back and camp at Pi-Hahiroth was to lure Pharaoh into attacking His people.

For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.’ Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. Deut. 14:3-4

However, God was interested in demonstrating His power in the earth on behalf of His people.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.” And God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I was not known to them. I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers.” Exodus 6:1-4

God wanted to reveal Himself to Israel as Jehovah. He wanted to show Himself strong on behalf of His covenant people. He was determined to keep His covenant.

So, he told Israel to “turn back.” God wanted to make certain that everyone knew that He had put them into this position.

And so He does today. When we find ourselves trapped at Pi-Hahiroth and we got there by trying to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, it just might be that God is preparing to show Himself strong on our behalf. Do you know that He is always looking for such opportunities?

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.       2 Chron. 16:9a

His eyes are ever searching to find those who will continue trusting Him when their circumstances tell them they are doomed; those who will not cast away their confidence in Him when things look bleak; those who will continue to believe that He is for them and not against them.

Oct 29 2008

Do you really want to know why?

Subject: UncategorizedRLW3 @ 3:55 pm

When we last spoke, God had specifically directed the children of Israel to turn back and camp at a very vulnerable spot.

Why did God lead them by this way? As we shall see, there are many reasons.

In the first place, we must realize that God sometimes leads us in the way that He does because of our own weaknesses.

Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.  Exodus 13:17-18

God led Israel on this route because He thought the alternate way would discourage them into turning back to Egypt!

Unfortunately, our proud hearts are tempted to question His motives in the midst of a practical manifestation of His kindness and condescension.

As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

Oct 09 2008

Turn back

Subject: UncategorizedRLW3 @ 5:02 pm

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my just claim is passed over by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. There is no searching of His understanding. Isaiah 40:27-28 (NKJV)

Isaiah clarifies that God’s apparent lack of support in our life is not caused by fatigue or a lack of strength or ability on His part. He is the mighty God who does whatever He pleases. (Psa. 115:3)

One thing that we must keep before us is that God is not always expedient or efficient from a human perspective. Let’s look at one example that has been “written before…for our learning.” (Rom. 15:4)

Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea.”   Exodus 14:1-2

Turn back? Did God suddenly got a better idea? Was He preoccupied and missed the turn the first time? The natural human response would be to flee as far away from Egypt as possible as quickly as possible. Pi Hahiroth was not the next logical stop for Israel on their way out of Egypt. They had to turn back to get there! 

Let’s look at what God where God led Israel…

…Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon

“Migdol means “watchtower.” More specifically, it is believed to be the site of an ancient military watchtower. Ancient armies placed watchtowers on prominent hills overlooking strategic terrain, so let us assume that Migdol is a hill. If Migdol is a hill, then the Israelites camped between a hill and the sea. They camped “before” the hill, so it was nearby.1 

Baal-zephon means “Lord of the North.” Its name is perhaps derived from the Canaanite god Baal-zephon who watches over mariners. According to Dr. Kyle McCarter of Johns Hopkins University and Dr. James Hoffmeier of Wheaton College, Baal-zephon is believed to be a coastal mountain, a mountain that is next to the sea.The Israelites camped opposite and before a mountain that is next to the sea. If the Israelites camped on the shore between a prominent hill and the sea, yet were opposite and before (or in the presence of) a mountain that is next to the sea, the mountain was across the water, in clear view of the Israelite camp.”2 For a fascinating study of the location, please see “Only One Place.”

This was not a safe place to camp! Yet God specifically led them there. And He made led them in such a way that everyone would know that it was not an accident. The sole reason Israel camped at Pi-Hahiroth was for His purpose and pleasure. 

God seems to like places like Pi-Hahiroth. Why do I say that? Because He seems to direct me to them fairly frequently. Perhaps this is what King David was referring to when he said “He MAKES me to lie down in green pastures.” (Psa. 23:2)

Why would God have to MAKE us lie down in green pastures? Perhaps because us dumb sheep don’t recognize it as a green pasture? Perhaps, to a sheep, it looks like a place fraught with danger?

But to God, it looks altogether different.

  1. http://www.geocities.com/athens/parthenon/3021/redsea1.html, Oct., 2008 []
  2. http://www.geocities.com/athens/parthenon/3021/redsea1.html, Oct., 2008 []

Oct 03 2008

Rain from heaven

Subject: UncategorizedRLW3 @ 1:18 pm

For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven,            Deuteronomy 11:10-11

Frequently, when we hear that God wants to bring each of us into our own “Promised Land”, our carnal minds tend to interpret it as abundant wealth and a life of ease.

In Egypt, Israel watered their land “by foot”. In the wilderness, they drank water miraculously from the rock. But the Promised Land “drinks water from the rain of heaven”. How can our hearts read this and be anything but thrilled! God will take care of me! My life will be easier!

However, there is a real, practical “cost” that accompanies this blessing. We fail to hear that the “Promised Land” is a land of greater dependence on God, not less. In the “Promised Land”, they had to wait on God to provide rain for their land. Can He be trusted?

If He doesn’t send rain, then our crops will die. If the crops die, we will have no food. If we have no food, then we will either die of starvation or must make ourselves someone else’s servant. Fear presses me to return to the ways of Egypt and fend for myself.

Waiting on God is one of the most difficult things that God asks me to do. Will He come through or will He just show me where I have been wrong? My heart struggles to trust Him. It cuts against the Adamic habit of my heart to take care of myself.

Oh, I believe that He is good. If you were to tell me the difficulty that you face, the Scriptures would freely flow from my mouth with conviction to encourage your heart to trust Him. Oh, I know that God is good!

However, my heart struggles to believe that the same God will be good to ME!

God knows my weakness. Therefore, He carefully leads me step by step to places where I must trust Him…

and then He makes me wait!

Sep 01 2008

Mea culpa!

Subject: UncategorizedRLW3 @ 9:29 am

I sincerely apologize for not writing on this blog recently.

Let me pick the ball up where I last dropped it…

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)

As I look over my life, the cause of much of my internal anguish over the years has been caused by a fear of failure. I don’t so much mean failing in the eyes of men. Although that would be painful, it is bearable. However, my heart breaks at the thought that I might fail Him who gave His life for me.

I not only want to live in a manner “worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him” (Col. 1:10) in all respects, but I want to give Him all of the “power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing” that He is so worthy of. (Rev. 5:12)

Over the years, I have been plagued by the thought of just messing up, of missing His will, of not launching out when He wanted me to or of launching out when He didn’t tell me to.

It seems to me that the Holy Spirit is addressing just such fears in the passage cited above. He tells us to “humble ourselves the mighty hand of God.” The phrase “the mighty hand of God is used nowhere else in the Scripture. What does He mean by this?

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’  Isaiah 46:9-10 (NKJV)

“Indeed before the day was, I am He; and there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I work, and who will reverse it?”  Isaiah 43:13 (NKJV)

The inescapable reality of life is that if God does not want us to succeed, we are not going to succeed no matter how hard we try. However, the Scripture paints a very clear picture that God wants to bless the righteous. We have evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt that God wants to bless us.  

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Romans 8:32 (NKJV)

Therefore, I want to be blessed. I want to be great. I want to excel in everything that I put my hand to. Not to boast. Most of the time, I could not care less if men ever notice anything that I do. Occasionally, it would be nice. However, I do not wake up in the morning wondering if men think well of me. Does He think well of me? Is He who sits on the throne happy with my life?

The Holy Spirit is telling us to submit our lives under the mighty hand of God, to trust Him, to yield to Him, to know Him in all of our ways, to practically acknowledge that His ways are higher than ours. Practically, we do this by casting all of our care upon Him.

Why does He want us to do this? That He may exalt you in due time.

Why would the Father do that? Because He cares for you.

Jun 28 2008

Software you can eat!

Subject: UncategorizedRLW3 @ 1:18 pm

This morning, while eating a slice of watermelon, I had an epiphany. It seems to happen more with watermelon than any other fruit.

This wonderful fruit that I am eating grew from a seed. Everyone knows that. However, it is worth a little more consideration.

A seed is essentially a little package of software. The shell is comparable to the CD/DVD etc. that carries the software. As we insert the disk into our computer, so we put the seed into the ground.

Just as computer software will not be installed until triggered, so the program inside the seed’s shell remains unused and undiscovered until the heat and moisture of the soil crack open the hard shell. When that happens, the program inside the seed begins the installation process.

Once installed, computer software’s programming begins to interact with the operating system. Likewise the seed’s program, once the shell is cracked, begins to draw nutrients and moisture from the soil.

After software loads on our computers, it waits to take our input, energy and thought and convert them into something more useful (a design, a painting, a document, a chart, etc). The seed’s plant breaks through the soil into the sunlight and begins to convert energy from the sun and into matter! The particular program that I enjoyed this morning (watermelon seed) converted the sun’s energy into an intricate, fleshy, sponge-like web that absorbed up this very sweet tasting water until it was completely saturated!

Software is usually valued by two primary factors: what it does and how easy it is to use. When we witness the amazing things that a good piece of software will do, we indirectly honor the programmers who created the software by buying the software. The easier it is to use, the more people that will honor the programmers by buying the software.

How delicious and nutritious are the edible “documents” that the Great Programmer’s software produces every day, year after year! How difficult would it be to make the same things without His incredible programming and special, protective packaging? How easy is it to both install and use the Great Programmers innumerable software programs (seeds)?

Yet He offers them at such a deeply discounted price!

We would surely question someone who regularly used great software on their computer yet concluded that this particular configuration of electrons just happened by random chance; that no programmers were involved. Yet, everyday untold numbers of people partake of God’s brilliance and goodness and conclude that He does not exist.

The next time that you are in the company of such a person, share a great piece of fruit with them!