Monday, May 05, 2008
In response to an email I sent to the Christian Living Team, I have created another Team called the Church Health Ministry Team. This team is for those who currently have a church that has a health ministry and for those who are looking at creating a health ministry.
There were scores who replied that they would like to start such a ministry in their church. Hopefully, SparkPeople can be the catalyst to start such ministries all across this nation.
The team page is:
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I would have changed my icon pic from 30 pounds to 35 pounds lost, but after 30 pounds, the pics increase by 10's. So, I have a couple of pounds to lose before I can change it to 40 pounds lost.
Today, we close on our house. We have been leasing if for a few months, but now we are purchasing it. Today will be a very good day.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Gideon Becomes a Judge – Judges 6:1-40
Judges 6:1-40 (New Living Translation)
Gideon Becomes Israel’s Judge
1 The Israelites did evil in the LORD’s sight. So the LORD handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. 2 The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, marauders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel, 4 camping in the land and destroying crops as far away as Gaza. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys. 5 These enemy hordes, coming with their livestock and tents, were as thick as locusts; they arrived on droves of camels too numerous to count. And they stayed until the land was stripped bare. 6 So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites. Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help.
7 When they cried out to the LORD because of Midian, 8 the LORD sent a prophet to the Israelites. He said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of slavery in Egypt. 9 I rescued you from the Egyptians and from all who oppressed you. I drove out your enemies and gave you their land. 10 I told you, ‘I am the LORD your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.’ But you have not listened to me.”
11 Then the angel of the LORD came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. 12 The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!”
13 “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The LORD brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the LORD has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”
14 Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”
15 “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”
16 The LORD said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”
17 Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the LORD speaking to me. 18 Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.”
He answered, “I will stay here until you return.”
19 Gideon hurried home. He cooked a young goat, and with a basket of flour he baked some bread without yeast. Then, carrying the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out and presented them to the angel, who was under the great tree.
20 The angel of God said to him, “Place the meat and the unleavened bread on this rock, and pour the broth over it.” And Gideon did as he was told. 21 Then the angel of the LORD touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff in his hand, and fire flamed up from the rock and consumed all he had brought. And the angel of the LORD disappeared.
22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he cried out, “Oh, Sovereign LORD, I’m doomed! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”
23 “It is all right,” the LORD replied. “Do not be afraid. You will not die.” 24 And Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means “the LORD is peace”). The altar remains in Ophrah in the land of the clan of Abiezer to this day.
25 That night the LORD said to Gideon, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one that is seven years old. Pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole standing beside it. 26 Then build an altar to the LORD your God here on this hilltop sanctuary, laying the stones carefully. Sacrifice the bull as a burnt offering on the altar, using as fuel the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.”
27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD had commanded. But he did it at night because he was afraid of the other members of his father’s household and the people of the town.
28 Early the next morning, as the people of the town began to stir, someone discovered that the altar of Baal had been broken down and that the Asherah pole beside it had been cut down. In their place a new altar had been built, and on it were the remains of the bull that had been sacrificed. 29 The people said to each other, “Who did this?” And after asking around and making a careful search, they learned that it was Gideon, the son of Joash.
30 “Bring out your son,” the men of the town demanded of Joash. “He must die for destroying the altar of Baal and for cutting down the Asherah pole.”
31 But Joash shouted to the mob that confronted him, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!” 32 From then on Gideon was called Jerub-baal, which means “Let Baal defend himself,” because he broke down Baal’s altar.
Gideon Asks for a Sign
33 Soon afterward the armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east formed an alliance against Israel and crossed the Jordan, camping in the valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. 35 He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded.
36 Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, 37 prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” 38 And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water.
39 Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” 40 So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew.
This passage is so full of truth. The first thing I see is that the angel called Gideon a hero and Gideon saw himself as the least in his family. I see Moses here all over again. But we need to realize that we are heroes in God’s battle. It seems that God frequently uses the lowest of people to do mighty things. This way all of the glory can be attributed to God. I can vouch that this principle of God is true as I have done things that I could have never done without God. So, did you know that you are a hero in God’s eyes?
The next thing he did was to destroy the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole. How soon the children of Israel forgot about God. We are only in the book of Judges and we are reading about them turning away. Gideon is wondering why they weren’t experiencing the miracles that their ancestors experienced. Well, the angel reminded Gideon that there was sin in the camp. He was reminded of what God had said about worshipping the gods of the land and that God would leave them if they ever did that.
We have to remove all allegiances to other gods if we are to be successful. We have to look closely at what we are putting before God. There are many things that we can put before God that have noble qualities. We can put our job, our family, ourselves, our hobbies, and our free time before God. If we put priorities on things higher than God, then that has become a god or idol to us. We need to readjust our priorities and make God first and foremost in our lives.
Another thing God did was to look for a sign. Not only did he look for one sign, but he asked for a second and a third. I don’t think God has a problem with us asking God to validate His calling. If he is going to use an insignificant vessel, then I think He expects us to ask for His approval or validation. But, we can go overboard. Once we know that God is behind the calling, then we need to get marching.
We see in verse 34 that the Spirit of God took possession of Gideon. It was then when Gideon took action against the enemies. We may have the Spirit of God in our lives and he may have a residence, but if we don’t allow him to have full ownership, then we don’t have access to the power of the Spirit. The Spirit doesn’t rent, He owns. We have to give Him full ownership before we will see the miracles of the ancestors. If you aren’t operating in the power of God, then make sure you have given yourself over to God fully in every area and you aren’t just renting to God.
Tomorrow: Gideon and the Midianites – Judges 7:1-25
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Judge Deborah – Judges 4:4-24
Judges 4:4-24 (New Living Translation)
4 Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time. 5 She would sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would go to her for judgment. 6 One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam, who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. She said to him, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: Call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor. 7 And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.”
8 Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.”
9 “Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the LORD’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 At Kedesh, Barak called together the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, and 10,000 warriors went up with him. Deborah also went with him.
11 Now Heber the Kenite, a descendant of Moses’ brother-in-law Hobab, had moved away from the other members of his tribe and pitched his tent by the oak of Zaanannim near Kedesh.
12 When Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 he called for all 900 of his iron chariots and all of his warriors, and they marched from Harosheth-haggoyim to the Kishon River.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get ready! This is the day the LORD will give you victory over Sisera, for the LORD is marching ahead of you.” So Barak led his 10,000 warriors down the slopes of Mount Tabor into battle. 15 When Barak attacked, the LORD threw Sisera and all his chariots and warriors into a panic. Sisera leaped down from his chariot and escaped on foot. 16 Then Barak chased the chariots and the enemy army all the way to Harosheth-haggoyim, killing all of Sisera’s warriors. Not a single one was left alive.
17 Meanwhile, Sisera ran to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because Heber’s family was on friendly terms with King Jabin of Hazor. 18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come into my tent, sir. Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
19 “Please give me some water,” he said. “I’m thirsty.” So she gave him some milk from a leather bag and covered him again.
20 “Stand at the door of the tent,” he told her. “If anybody comes and asks you if there is anyone here, say no.”
21 But when Sisera fell asleep from exhaustion, Jael quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg in her hand. Then she drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and so he died.
22 When Barak came looking for Sisera, Jael went out to meet him. She said, “Come, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So he followed her into the tent and found Sisera lying there dead, with the tent peg through his temple.
23 So on that day Israel saw God defeat Jabin, the Canaanite king. 24 And from that time on Israel became stronger and stronger against King Jabin until they finally destroyed him.
We see another battle that belonged to the Lord. Deborah told Barak that God had commanded him to go and fight Sisera and God would give him victory. That is exactly what happened.
Have you ever had a pastor or other church leader give you an instruction from God that seemed a little strange? Have you ever heard a teaching that challenged your belief system? Sometimes God has us do things that are a little outside our comfort box. God is always going to stretch us and mold us in order for us to grow in Him.
When your pastor or minister tells you something, do you take it as coming from a man of God or do you question him? We see the Christians at Berea taking what Paul preached and validated it against the Scriptures. Other than validating the Biblical truth, we need to obey our pastors and ministers. They are there to help us grow more like Jesus. There is a reason why they tell us to tithe other than the church needs money. We are the ones needing to tithe. It will help us be prosperous.
So, remember when you hear something new, don’t immediately dismiss it, but go to the Scriptures and validate it. If it is in line with Scripture, you now have a decision to make. Do I keep my old tradition or way of thinking or do I now subscribe to the new insight I just received?
Tomorrow: Gideon Becomes a Judge – Judges 6:1-40
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Joshua’s Last Words – Joshua 24:1-31
Joshua 24:1-31 (New Living Translation)
The LORD’s Covenant Renewed
1 Then Joshua summoned all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, including their elders, leaders, judges, and officers. So they came and presented themselves to God.
2 Joshua said to the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River, and they worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your ancestor Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him into the land of Canaan. I gave him many descendants through his son Isaac. 4 To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir, while Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
5 “Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I brought terrible plagues on Egypt; and afterward I brought you out as a free people. 6 But when your ancestors arrived at the Red Sea, the Egyptians chased after you with chariots and charioteers. 7 When your ancestors cried out to the LORD, I put darkness between you and the Egyptians. I brought the sea crashing down on the Egyptians, drowning them. With your very own eyes you saw what I did. Then you lived in the wilderness for many years.
8 “Finally, I brought you into the land of the Amorites on the east side of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I destroyed them before you. I gave you victory over them, and you took possession of their land. 9 Then Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, started a war against Israel. He summoned Balaam son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I would not listen to him. Instead, I made Balaam bless you, and so I rescued you from Balak.
11 “When you crossed the Jordan River and came to Jericho, the men of Jericho fought against you, as did the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the G i r g a s h i t e s, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I gave you victory over them. 12 And I sent terror ahead of you to drive out the two kings of the Amorites. It was not your swords or bows that brought you victory. 13 I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build—the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them.
14 “So fear the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD alone. 15 But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”
16 The people replied, “We would never abandon the LORD and serve other gods. 17 For the LORD our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us. 18 It was the LORD who drove out the Amorites and the other nations living here in the land. So we, too, will serve the LORD, for he alone is our God.”
19 Then Joshua warned the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you abandon the LORD and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you.”
21 But the people answered Joshua, “No, we will serve the LORD!”
22 “You are a witness to your own decision,” Joshua said. “You have chosen to serve the LORD.”
“Yes,” they replied, “we are witnesses to what we have said.”
23 “All right then,” Joshua said, “destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.”
24 The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God. We will obey him alone.”
25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day at Shechem, committing them to follow the decrees and regulations of the LORD. 26 Joshua recorded these things in the Book of God’s Instructions. As a reminder of their agreement, he took a huge stone and rolled it beneath the terebinth tree beside the Tabernacle of the LORD.
27 Joshua said to all the people, “This stone has heard everything the LORD said to us. It will be a witness to testify against you if you go back on your word to God.”
28 Then Joshua sent all the people away to their own homelands.
Leaders Buried in the Promised Land
29 After this, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110. 30 They buried him in the land he had been allocated, at Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
31 The people of Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him—those who had personally experienced all that the LORD had done for Israel.
Talk is cheap. The Israelites told Joshua that they would follow God and would destroy all of their idols. We know that at some point in time that they will turn away from God. They do, however, remain faithful while Joshua and the other elders who personally experienced the greatness of God lived. Once they died all bets were off. We see that they had personal examples of God’s greatness.
It is easier for us to remain faithful to God while we have had a personal experience. Sometimes we slip, but we know we can come back to God because He is always faithful. If your relationship with God isn’t personal, then may I suggest that you make it personal? Some people go to church because it is the right thing to do or because it makes them look good in the community. If you aren’t reading your Bible on a daily basis, may I suggest you start today? Start by reading a verse a day or a passage a day. Work your way up to a chapter a day and then a section a day. By reading God’s Word, you will develop a personal relationship with God and He will not seem so distant.
Tomorrow: Judge Deborah – Judges 4:4-24
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