In our weekly Sunday evening Bible study, we’re examining the book of Joshua. While looking at chapter nine, I learned something I didn’t know before which blessed me. I want to share it with you, hoping it blesses you too.
In Joshua 5:1 (NLT) it says, “When all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings who lived along the Mediterranean coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan River so the people of Israel could cross, they lost heart and were paralyzed with fear because of them.”
During the conquest of the Promised Land, God had told His people in Deuteronomy 20 that when they approached a town to attack it, they must first offer the people terms for peace. If they accepted the terms of peace, they were to serve the Israelites with forced labour. If they refused the terms, the Israelites were to attack, killing every man, but keeping the women, children, livestock, and other plunder for themselves.
God told the Israelites the above instructions applied only to distant towns, “not to the towns of the nations in the land you will enter” (Deuteronomy 20:15 NLT).
In nearby towns, every living thing was to be destroyed. God’s reason for doing this was that it would “prevent the people of the land from teaching (the Israelites) to imitate their detestable customs in the worship of their gods, which would cause (the Israelites) to sin deeply against the Lord...” (Deuteronomy 20:18 NLT). “When the Lord your God hands these nations over to you and you conquer them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy” (Deuteronomy 7:2 NLT).
The Gibeonites came up with a ruse so they wouldn’t be destroyed. “But when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to deception to save themselves” (Joshua 9:3-4 NLT).
They dressed in old clothing and sandals, brought moldy bread and wineskins, told the Israelites they had come from a long distance, and asked Israel to make a treaty with them and they would be Israel’s servants.
The truth was the Gibeonites did not live far away but nearby. A very sad verse is in Joshua 9:14: “So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord” (italics mine). Therefore, they made a treaty with the Gibeonites in spite of what God had told them.
Three days later Joshua learned they had been deceived. When he called together the Gibeonites he said, “Why did you lie to us? Why did you say that you live in a distant land when you live right here among us? May you be cursed. From now on you will always be servants who cut wood and carry water for the house of my God” (Joshua 9:22-23 NLT).
The Gibeonites had to work hard. The Israelites used a lot of wood and water. Just the daily offerings in the tabernacle required huge amounts for burning and cleaning up. The Gibeonites weren’t dead but they were cursed to be menial slaves.
However, our God is a merciful God. And this is the part that blessed me. Because the Gibeonites cut the wood and carried the water for the Lord’s service, they were brought close to the Lord. In Joshua 21:17 (NLT), it says, “From the tribe of Benjamin the priests were given the following towns with their pasturelands: Gibeon, Geba, Anathoth, and Almon...” Gibeon became a centre for training in the Word of God and worship.
Under King Solomon, before he built the first temple, the tabernacle was at Gibeon. “Then he (Solomon) led the entire assembly to the place of worship in Gibeon, for God’s Tabernacle was located there” (2 Chronicles 1:3 NLT).
When the Israelites returned from captivity in Babylon, the list of those who could prove Jewish heritage included the Gibeonites. Nehemiah 7:5,25 (NLT) says, “So my God gave me the idea to call together all the nobles and leaders of the city, along with the ordinary citizens, for registration... The family of Gibbar” (Gibeon).
And lastly, the Gibeonites helped to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. “The Old City Gate was repaired by Joiada...and Meshullam... They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars. Next to them were Melatiah from Gibeon, Jadon from Meronoth, people from Gibeon... (Nehemiah 3:6-7 NLT, italics mine).
Thus is appears that God in His mercy allowed the Gibeonites to be absorbed into the covenant people. Like Rahab, who hid the spies, they transferred their allegiance from pagan gods to the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
This is an Old Testament example of God’s mercy and grace. In the New Testament, God’s mercy and grace has abounded to us in the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit...” (Titus 3:5 ESV).
When we miss the mark, if we repent, He will forgive us (1 John 1:9). Today, whatever you’ve done, turn to your heavenly Father, repent, and receive His mercy and grace.
We all know the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, renamed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ther young Hebrews removed from their homes in Jerusalem in 605 B.C. during a siege by King Nebuchadnezzar, and carried off to Babylon.
Interestingly, their Hebrew names had something of God in them. Hananiah means, ‘the grace of the Lord’; Mishael, ‘He that is the strong God’; and Azariah – ‘The Lord is a help’. Their new names, probably given to make them forget the God of their fathers, favoured Chaldean idolatry. Shadrach means, ‘the inspiration of the sun’, worshipped by the Babylonians; Meshach, ‘of the goddess Shach, worshipped as Venus; and Abednego – ‘the servant of the shining fire’, which was also venerated.
The Hebrew meaning of the name of their friend Daniel, carried off with them, was ‘God is my judge’. His name was changed to Belteshazzar – ‘keeper of the hidden treasures of Bel’. While in Babylon, the four young men endured ‘tests of faith’, first regarding their diet (see Daniel 1), and secondly, regarding King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which he demanded that his magicians, wise men, and counsellors (Daniel and his three friends among them) tell him the dream and interpret it. If they couldn’t, they would be destroyed. To find out what happened, read Daniel 2.
The third great test of faith for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is the one I want to examine more closely. Daniel is not mentioned in this test and the Scripture does not say why. The three men apparently faced it on their own without Daniel’s help.
King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold in the plain of Dura and commanded that when music was played, all his subjects had to bow down to the image. Anyone who didn’t obey was to be thrown into a fiery furnace. The king taunted, “And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” (Daniel 3:15).
King Nebuchadnezzar got wind of the fact that the three Hebrews were not bowing
down to his statue. They would not bow their knees because that would be a violation of the
“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God...” (Exodus 20:3-5 NIV).
The king hauled the three men in for an accounting. They answered him with boldness.
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, ‘Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up’” (Daniel 3:16-18 MSG).
I so admire the three for telling the king that even if God didn’t deliver them, they still wouldn’t worship the image.
King Nebuchadnezzar was not happy, flew into a rage, made the furnace seven times hotter, and threw the three men inside. The fire was so hot, the men who tossed the three into it were killed by the heat.
Suddenly, after they’d been thrust into the fire, the king jumped up. The men were not harmed. And there was a fourth Person with them. “Well, look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire, and they aren’t even hurt by the flames! And the fourth looks like a god!” (perhaps better translated “a son of the gods”) (Daniel 3:25 TLB).
Having observed the miraculous protection of the three men, the king told them to come out of the fire and made a decree that no one should “speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego...” (Daniel 3:29 NLT).
Why did I review this when most of you know it? I did it for three reasons.
1. To be ready for the big trials, we need to be obedient in the smaller ones
2. Tests of faith can often rest on resisting the influence of the world. As our culture becomes increasingly anti-God, this is truer than ever. The Scripture tells us, "SO COME OUT FROM AMONG UNBELIEVERS AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord, "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will graciously receive you and welcome you [with favor]..." (2 Corinthians 6:17 AMP).
3. Although it isn't stated, I believe the fourth Person in the fire was the pre-incarnate Christ. He didn't spare the three men from the fire but was with them in the fire.
My dear friend, whatever you’re going through today, Jesus is with you. When
circumstances and situations come crashing down on your head, when your health is in jeopardy, when friends you trusted betray you, He is there. He is not on the outside looking in. He is with you, right where you are.
And He is with you to deliver you, to give you the victory, to lead you in triumph. Believe His Word, stand on His promises, and you cannot fail. He has promised it. “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life” (2 Corinthians 2:14 MSG).
Today, march in Christ’s victory parade.
When I asked the Lord what I should write about for the blog, the word that came to my spirit was “voices”. H-m-m-m, what can I say about voices? This is what I believe the Holy Spirit brought to my mind.
Our voices are very important. We use our voice to get saved. Romans 10:9-10 says, “... if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
Salvation occurs in two places – in our hearts and in our mouths.
With our voices, “we destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ...” (2 Corinthians 10:5). With our words, we triumph over the enemy. “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11 NIV).
We defend the Gospel with our voices. “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15-16 ESV). “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16 ESV).
Our voices bring deliverance. “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NKJV). Esther took her life into her hands, spoke up for her people the Jews, and God delivered them.
When we use our voices to speak the truth in love, we grow up in Jesus. "Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church” (Ephesians 4:15 NLT).
With our voices, we praise the Lord. “So I will not be silent; I will sing praise to you. LORD, you are my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:12 GNB). Praise removes chains and opens doors. “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose” (Acts 16:25-26 NIV).
We can use our voices to defend the rights of the downtrodden. “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9 ESV).
May the Lord help us to examine ourselves to discern how we use our voices. Do we use what we say to tear down or to build up? “Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (Colossians 4:6) MSG). We need to remember, with our voices we can kill or give life. “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose” (Proverbs 18:21 MSG).
In closing, Psalm 119:130 NKJV says, “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple”. When we use our voices to speak God’s Word, we bring light to the world.
As humans, we are made in the image of God. We are a three part being. The essence of who we are is our spirit. It is with our spirit that we connect with God. We have a soul, made up of our mind, emotions, and will, and we live in a body, our earth suit.
Before we are born again, our spirits are in a dead state toward God and alive to sin. Ephesians 2: 4-5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)...”
When we accept Christ as our Saviour, the old sinful nature is crucified and buried into death with Christ. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—” (Romans 6:6 NIV). Colossians 3:3 says, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (NKJV).
Now, as born-again believers, our spirit is alive to God. “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11, NKJV). When we put our faith in Jesus, our born-again spirit is recreated in the righteousness of Jesus, holy, with the very nature of our Saviour.
God made Jesus to be sin in our place so we can receive His righteousness as a free gift. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (NKJV). This reborn spirit in us does not change – it has been made righteous forever. This is amazing news!
The soul consists of the mind, emotions, and will. When we are born-again, this part of us does not change instantly. It still carries with it the old thought patterns and habits we had before we accepted Christ. It is the part that is constantly being made holy. “For by the one offering He has perfected forever and completely cleansed those who are being sanctified [bringing each believer to spiritual completion and maturity]” (Hebrews 10:14 AMP).
The soul is the part we spend a lifetime renewing. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).
This requires setting our minds on things above. “Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]” (Colossians 3:2 AMP). As we do this, we will starve our old sinful patterns of thought and bring our minds into agreement with our reborn spirits.
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, He purchased us and when we are born-again, our bodies become a temple of God. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NKJV).
As born-again believers, we are to give our bodies to righteousness rather than to sin. “Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” (Romans 6:19, NKJV).
God’s Word tells us to put to death the misdeeds of our body through the power of the Holy Spirit. “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).
WITHOUT FOOD, WE DIE
Just as we need physical food in order to survive, we need spiritual food to grow spiritually. The Word of God is our spiritual food. If we don’t meditate on it day and night, we lose our spiritual strength. That’s why Satan works so hard to keep us out of God’s Word. He wants weak, anemic Christians. His desire is for Christians to feed their minds with the things of the world, and their bodies with the lusts of the flesh.
To overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16), we need to do what God told Joshua before he led the Israelites into the Promised Land to conquer it. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall read [and meditate on] it day and night, so that you may be careful to do [everything] in accordance with all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will be successful” (Joshua 1:8 AMP).
The Apostle Paul tells us to, “...walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]” (Galatians 5:16, AMP).
We are to live our lives from the inside out, not the outside in. As we feed our re-born spirits with the Word of God, our bodies and souls will walk more and more in line with our spirit and we will become committed to the righteous purposes of God. I want that, don’t you?
Someone recently sent me an “in Christ” ID Card. It had my name on it and stated that I have been identified in Christ’s death, resurrection and victory, with the privilege of receiving every benefit provided in Jesus Christ.
That got me thinking. What are the benefits of being a Christian? When we interview for a new job, we like to know what benefits we’ll receive. Is there vision and dental coverage, prescription and pharmacy benefits, specialist services, mental health coverage?
Today, I would like to look at five benefits of being a Christian. There are many, many more , but I have chosen these five in the interest of brevity.
1. We are washed clean by the blood of Jesus. “From John...and from Jesus Christ the Faithful witness, the Firstborn from among the dead...(who) has loosed us from our sins by his own blood, and...has appointed us as a kingdom of priests...” (Revelation 1:4-6 TPT).
Through Jesus, our sins are forgiven, and we have freedom from the power of sin. “
2. We are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. "...the Anointed One, who had never experienced sin, became sin for us so that in Him we might embody the very righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 VOICE).
Think about that. When God looks at you, He doesn’t see someone dressed in rags. He sees someone clothed in the very righteousness of His Son, Jesus. Take off those old rags, and put on the righteousness Jesus died and rose again to give us.
3. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin)” (Ephesians 4:30 AMPC).
In Paul’s day, the sealing he refers to was an official mark of identification placed on a letter, contract, or other document of importance. Usually made from hot wax, the seal was placed on the document and impressed with a signet ring. This identified the document as being under the authority of the person who owned the signet ring. God has sealed us with the Holy Spirit that we are His own, beloved children.
4. We are taught and directed by the Holy Spirit. We are not rudderless. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13 NKJV).
As you can see from the NKJV quoted above, some English translations say the Holy Spirit will guide us into “all truth”. However, the Greek New Testament includes the definite article - the Holy Spirit will guide us into all the truth.
Truth today is relative. But Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). When we listen to and obey the Holy Spirit living inside us, then we know real truth.
5. We have the hope of eternal life. “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages. [To all eternity they shall never by any means be destroyed.] And no one is able to snatch them out of My hand (John 10:28 AMPC).
Not only do we have the hope of eternal life, but through Jesus, we have victory here on earth. “But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere...” (2 Corinthians 2:14 AMPC). It doesn’t say that sometimes or maybe He will lead us in triumph. It says always.
In conclusion, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:58 (EXB), “So my dear [beloved] brothers and sisters, stand strong. Do not let anything move you.” As we stand firm and immovable, our feet stuck in the cement of God’s Word and His promises, we will be victorious. Praise the Lord for His amazing benefits.
Do you want to be a mighty man or woman of God? I know I do. In our home group Bible study, we will be looking at the Book of Joshua. There are three things I have noticed about Joshua, which made him a mighty man of God.
1. He believed God
In Joshua 1:2-3 (NIV), God said to Joshua, "“Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.”
You know the story. Twelve spies went to explore the land. Ten came back with a bad report – the cities are fortified, there are giants, and we’re like grasshoppers in their sight.
Joshua and Caleb brought back a good report. I like the Message translation of Numbers 14:6-9: “Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, members of the scouting party, ripped their clothes and addressed the assembled People of Israel: “The land we walked through and scouted out is a very good land—very good indeed. If God is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land that flows, as they say, with milk and honey. And he’ll give it to us. Just don’t rebel against God! And don’t be afraid of those people. Why, we’ll have them for lunch! They have no protection and God is on our side. Don’t be afraid of them!”
Joshua believed God would give them the land. All they had to do was believe what He said, not be afraid, and go in and take the land.
At the end of his life, in Joshua 23:14 (MSG), he said, “As you can see, I’m about to go the way we all end up going. Know this with all your heart, with everything in you, that not one detail has failed of all the good things God, your God, promised you. It has all happened. Nothing’s left undone—not so much as a word.”
2. He sought God
Even after Moses left the Tent of Meeting, the Scripture says Joshua would continue to stay. “So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle” (Exodus 33:11 NKJV).
When Moses and the elders of Israel ascended Mount Sinai to see God and eat in His presence, Joshua was with them. And as Moses’ assistant, he and Moses ascended still further. Exodus 24:16 (NKJV) says, “Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days...” Joshua experienced the glory of God.
Deuteronomy 34:9 (NKJV) says, “Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him...” The Holy Spirit passed from Moses to Joshua to enable him to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.
3. He obeyed God
a) God gave Joshua a strange battle plan for taking the city of Jericho. March around it once for six days. On the seventh day, march around seven times. Have seven priests blow the trumpets as they walk in front of the Ark of the Covenant. Then have them give one long blast on the ram's horn. The people were to shout and the city wall would collapse. When that happened, they were to go in and take the city.
I wonder what went through Joshua's mind when God gave him this plan. He didn't let his reasoning get in the way. He did what God told him to do and the result was victory.
b) “Joshua renewed the Covenant at Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. “Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instruction. Every word of every command that Moses had ever given was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among them” (Joshua 8:34-35 NLT)
c) Everything God commanded Moses to do, Joshua did. Joshua’s obedience encouraged the Israelites to follow the Lord. “And Israel served the Eternal faithfully for as long as Joshua lived, and then throughout the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had seen all the mighty things that the Eternal One did for Israel” (Joshua 24:31 VOICE).
Dear Lord Jesus, I want to be a mighty woman (man) of God like Joshua – to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and my neighbour as myself. Enable me, in the power of Your precious Holy Spirit, to believe Your Word, seek Your ways, and obey Your commands. As I follow You, I expect to see walls coming tumbling down – in my own life and in the lives of others and the power of darkness to be replaced by Your light as ground is take for the Kingdom of God. I pray this in the precious Name of Jesus, Amen.
“The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell; it goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell.” The hymn, “Love of God”, was written by Frederick Lehman in 1917 in response to a sermon he heard about God’s love. He had lost everything through business reversals and the words came to him as he packaged oranges and lemons in a packing house.
In a book I am currently working on, one of the main characters has just miscarried a baby she and her husband wanted very badly. She questions God’s love for her and ends up searching the New Testament to find concrete examples of Jesus demonstrating love while here on earth. There are many, many, many instances but here a few that she found:
1. When Jesus received word His cousin, John the Baptist had been beheaded, He went away to a lonely place so He could be by Himself. But the crowds found Him. Instead of getting angry and telling them to leave Him alone, He healed them.
2. Twice He supernaturally fed the multitudes who had been listening to His teaching for a long time so they wouldn’t faint on their way home. He showed concern for their bodies as well as their souls.
3. In Matthew 8, a leper knelt down before Jesus and said that if Jesus was willing, He could heal him of his leprosy. Jesus reached out His hand and touched the leper, told him he was willing and commanded him to “Be clean!” The passage goes on to say that “immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy” (Matthew 8: 3 NIV).
4. The woman taken in the act of adultery. Jesus treated her with love and compassion, when the Pharisees wanted to stone her. He told her He didn’t condemn her and to go and sin no more.
5. Mary and her sister Martha showed Jesus where His friend Lazarus was buried. Jesus wept when He saw the place. The Jews present commented on how much Jesus loved Lazarus. Jesus proved His power and His love by raising Lazarus from the dead.
6. On the cross, Jesus told John to take care of His mother. He was in spiritual and physical agony, but He wanted to make sure she was provided for.
7. Instead of maligning those who put Him on the cross, He asked His Father to forgive them
8. He forgave Peter who cussed and swore and said he never knew Jesus, after travelling with Him for more than three years.
9. In the Garden of Gethsemane He submitted to those who came to arrest Him, and later He yielded to His executioners as they nailed Him on the cross. In the Garden He asked them, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53 NIV). A legion was a military term from the Roman army which denoted a group of at least 6,000 soldiers. Should He have chosen to, Jesus could have summoned 72,000 dazzling, mighty, glorious angels to deliver Him. But He didn’t, because of His love for you and me.
10. In his Gospel, Luke wrote that in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was in such agony of spirit that His sweat was like great drops of blood falling on the ground.
11. In Luke 22:42 (NIV) Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” In love, He put aside His will for the Father’s.
You may say, “Why enumerate these? We already know them.”
I ‘ve written them down because when the answer to our prayers is delayed, when nothing in our circumstances seems to change, when God doesn’t answer as we thought He would, one of Satan’s tactics is to tell us God doesn’t love us and that He’s not a good God.
We need to remind ourselves from the Scriptures of the many times when God in human flesh demonstrated His love for us while here on earth. The whole life of Jesus was a message of love. Love Himself sent His Son to purchase our redemption.
Dear God, whatever problem we’re facing today, may we not be like Peter who grabbed a sword and started swinging in the might of his flesh to deal with trouble , but may we remember the God we serve has the power and the resources to fix any problem which comes our way. When we doubt You, bring to our minds examples of Your unfathomable love. In the precious Name of Jesus, Amen.
I usually head to my desk around eleven a.m. After checking my email, I go to my Twitter account, do some posting, and respond to posts. Then I check Facebook to see what’s happening there.
If I’m honest, it’s easy to spend too much time on Twitter. My monitor is divided into two sections. My work in progress (WIP) is on the right, other things on the left. That work in progress keeps calling to me, telling me to get going. But it’s easier to look at Twitter than to figure out what comes next in the plot line. Pulling myself up by the bootstraps, I move my eyes to the right.
Once I get back into the WIP, I’m totally immersed. In fact, when I stop writing, it takes me a minute to get my head back into reality. While writing, there is constant rewriting and going back over what you’ve written. For example, I don’t want to leave my main character standing by a window in one paragraph and have them outside in the next, with no explanation of how they got there.
After finishing a chapter, I read it back to myself out loud. It helps to hear the flow of the writing. If somethings jars me, I go back and fix it.
I write for two-and-a-half to three hours. Then I take a break. I leave the house and have a cup of tea at my favourite donut place. Those of you who know me know where that is. While there, I read. The more I read, the more I learn from the pros.
In the early evening, I return to my writing. I find this is usually a productive time. During my break, my subconscious mind has been thinking about characterization, setting, mood, and potential conflict. After writing for one-and-a-half to two hours, I quit for the day.
Then I get up the next morning and start all over again.
In Genesis 17:5, God changed Abram’s name. “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.” Abram means “exalted father”; Abraham, “father of many nations” or “father of a multitude”.
Every time someone called Abraham’s name, they were calling him a father of many nations, when as yet, he had no children and he and his wife were old.
In changing Abram to Abraham, God added the Hebrew letter ‘hey’ (ha). ‘Hey’, the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, when spoken, sounds like our letter ‘h’. Every letter has a meaning in Hebrew, and the letter ‘hey’ means “breath, sigh, look, reveal’. When spoken, it has a very breathy sound. It is said to represent the breath of God, which we understand to be the Holy Spirit.
I believe when God changed Abraham’s name, He breathed into him His Holy Spirit, reviving Abraham’s old body and enabling him to become the father of many nations.
God also changed Sarai’s name. “And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be” (Genesis 17:15) . Sarai means ‘honoured mother’ but Sarah signifies ‘mother of a ruler of nations’.
Once again, God added a ‘hey’ (‘h’) to Sarah’s name – thus empowering her old, barren body to conceive a child.
God changed the name of Jacob (cheater, deceiver, supplanter) to Israel (one who struggles with God) after Jacob had put away his idols and purified himself and struggled with God at Peniel. “Because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28).
In the New Testament, Jesus changed the name of his disciple, Simon to Peter. Simeon in Hebrew means, ‘the one who hears’; Peter (‘Chepas’ in Hebrew, ‘Petros’ in Greek), ‘a rock’. In the Scripture, we see the transformation of Peter from a brash, vacillating, foot in his mouth, Christ denying man to the rock who stood up and preached on the day of Pentecost.
Why have I mentioned these name changes? Because in changing their names, God infused the natural with His supernatural. And as born-again believers, we’ve been given His precious Holy Spirit, Who indwells us – Almighty God, creator of the universe, living in mortal men and women.
And that brings me to another question. As a born-again believer, what do you call yourself? Do you call yourself an old sinner, or the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus? “For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness]” (2Corinthians 5:21 AMPC).
Do you see yourself sick, old, and deteriorating, or healed by the wounds Jesus bore? “Yet it was our suffering he carried, our pain and distress, our sick-to-the-soul-ness. We just figured that God had rejected him, that God was the reason he hurt so badly. But he was hurt because of us; he suffered so. Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed him. He endured the breaking that made us whole. The injuries he suffered became our healing” (Isaiah 53:4-5 VOICE).
Do you view yourself as poor, just barely getting by, living pay cheque to pay cheque? Or are you abundantly supplied, as the Scripture says you are? ““For you are becoming progressively acquainted with and recognizing more strongly and clearly the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (His kindness, His gracious generosity, His undeserved favor and spiritual blessing), [in] that though He was [so very] rich, yet for your sakes He became [so very] poor, in order that by His poverty you might become enriched (abundantly supplied)” (2 Corinthians 8:9 AMPC).
Instead of saying what the world says about us, we need to start saying what God’s Word says. God is faithful to His Word, which WILL come to pass in our lives, IF we continue to stand on it, no matter what we see around us.
And lastly, Revelation 2:17 says the following, ““Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. I’ll give the sacred manna to every conqueror; I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name” (Revelation 2:17 MSG).
Yes, believer in Jesus, we will have a new name, only we and God know. It will be a name signifying the new creation we are in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). It will reflect who we’ve become because of God’s grace. And that’s how we’ll be known for all eternity!
So dear friend, see yourself as God sees you. Call yourself as He calls you. See yourself with a new name – more than a conqueror, chosen, royal, holy. See yourself as the special possession of God you truly are.
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Genesis 3:8-10).
After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God asked them where they were. They hid and told God they were afraid. Today, I would like to look at four Bible characters who didn’t hide when God called their name.
After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." Right after Abraham said, “Here I am,” God said to him, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Mori'ah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you" (Genesis 22:1).
We know Abraham was obedient and put his son on the altar of sacrifice. We hear Abraham responding again to God’s call in Genesis 22:11-12 – But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
In 1 Samuel 3, God called to Samuel three times. Each time, Samuel said, “Here I am.” Finally, Eli, priest at the tabernacle in Shiloh, and the second-to-last judge of Israel, told Samuel that when God called again, he should tell God to speak and that he was listening. Samuel did so and God said, “Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle” (1 Samuel 3:11).
Samuel was called by God at a very young age, and was faithful to that call throughout his life.
Isaiah had a vision of the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne. He heard the voice of the Lord asking a question.“…Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8 NLT).
Isaiah took the call of God personally and said he would go. This was the beginning of God’s commission to him. Isaiah’s name, which means “YHWH (the Lord) is salvation”, is widely regarded as one of the greatest prophets of the Bible.
“Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord” (Acts 9:10 NRSV).
In the New Testament, this is the only occurrence of someone responding to God with “Here I am.” From the account, we know Ananias wasn’t thrilled about going to see Paul, a persecutor of the Body of Christ. But Ananias was obedient because God told him Paul was a chosen instrument to proclaim God’s Name to the Gentiles, their kings, and the people of Israel.
Today, when God calls our name, how will we answer? Will we run and hide like Adam and Eve or answer, “Here I am” like Abraham, Samuel, Isaiah, and Ananias? God has a purpose and a plan for each day of our lives. And we have a choice. Dear Lord Jesus, today, and every day, in the power of Your precious Holy Spirit, may I respond with, “Here I am, send me.”