J-No’s REAP


A Word about Callings
March 9, 2009, 1:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

R: I Samuel 3:10

 10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

 

E: A lot has happened since Joshua.  So much that I am going back through a big portion of it.  Joshua leads the Israelites into this new era of war and battles (some following the Lord’s command and at other times not).  As Israel grew and began to take over this Promised Land the Old Testament has been referring to since early Genesis, they continued this constant cycle of pursuing God and then falling away and doing what was right in their own eyes.  The book of Judges was about the individuals that God’s Spirit came upon to draw His people back to Himself.  One of the last judges in the book of Judges was of course one of the more famous, Samson who dies after pushing over the load-bearing columns in the Philistine temple (an engineering flaw that I hope was fully insured).  This scene is set for Samuel to enter.

As God does so many times, He uses a barren women who pleas for a child to bear the significant leader that will lead His people.  She promises to dedicate whatever child God gives her to Him, which she does when Samuel is born.  Even at a very young age, Hannah leaves Samuel in Eli’s care (the priest).  While sleeping in the temple, Samuel hears a voice calling his name and thinks it is Eli, whom he wakes up. This happens twice before Eli realizes that it is the Lord calling Samuel.  Eli tells him to respond the way he does in verse 10 above.

 

A: Recently, Morgan and I have been talking a lot about “callings.”  I have heard it explained that there are two predominate callings we have on our lives.  The first being the specific call on one’s life to be a son or daughter in the family of Jesus Christ.  This is a call that happens at a specific point in time that cannot be taken away, changed, altered, or amended.  I have been called into God’s family, not by any work or standard that I have been able to live up to, but solely by the saving blood of Jesus Christ my Savior who lived, died, and rose again to make payment for the sin and wickedness in my heart.  This was my calling “To Jesus.”

I believe there to be another type of calling which is a calling “For Jesus.”  Discovering why we are here, what we are gifted in, and the influences around us is a great start for revealing what the call on your life is.  Samuel’s response is so humbling when he hears the voice of God in verse 10.  Currently as we seek what God is calling us to, our prayer is that of verse 10.

 

P: Lord, thank you so much for the call “To Jesus” for Morgan and myself.  We could never fully express how blessed we are to hear our names called to be in your family.  Please reveal to us what it is You have planned for us for the short time we have here.  “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Amen.



The Ultimate Formula for Success
February 9, 2009, 7:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

R: Joshua 1:7-8

7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

 

E: In the book of Joshua, the Israelites will finally enter into the “Promised Land.” The preceding three books of the Bible were dedicated to writing out the law, counting and organizing the people, and then giving them the law again.  The law must be pretty serious if Moses takes the time to write it down twice for us. 

One thing that is important to address is the fact that people of the Old Testament did not go to heaven by keeping the law just as people today do not (luckily for us).  Back then, they went to heaven the same way we do, by faith in Jesus Christ to save them from their sin.  Having this as our foundation, this verse can reveal some great truths to us about life.  Success and prosperity are a result of meditating on the words of God so much that we act according to His commands in the trials we face every day.  We are instructed not to turn from it to the right or to the left.

 

A: The word success is very interesting.  If God were looking at your life, what would He say were the things you are successful at?  Would it be the sporting events you led your team to victory in? The big house with a garage full of expensive cars? Would it be defined by the school that you attended and the career that it launched you into? Possibly the amount of money you earn? It is interesting because I think our society looks to all of these things do determine whether a person is successful or not.  But what does the Bible teach us? If you want to find true success in life, read your Bible every chance you get, memorize its Holy words, and store them in your heart.  In every situation that you encounter in life, test the situation against the things you have learned from the Bible and act accordingly.  Then you will be successful. 

 

P: Lord, I admit that I do not meditate on your words enough.  I want to be successful in life the way that your Bible defines it.  Please give me strength to continue learning about you and to remember them as I face the challenges of life.  Thank you for all your wonderful promises that you always keep.

Amen.



Daily Battles
January 30, 2009, 1:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

R: Deuteronomy 20:2-4
2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. 4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

E: The Israelites are camped out across the Jordan River from Cannon (the Promised Land). Moses has gone up the mountain of Sinai to receive the law but has been commanded to wait to enter the land for striking a rock to bring water for the grumbling Israelites. No one from that generation, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, will enter the land. The word Deuteronomy comes from a Greek word meaning “Second Law.” Moses is recording the Law given to the Israelites in Leviticus for the next generation of God’s people who will actually enter the land.
We land on verse 2 in chapter 20 which addresses how they are to go to war. The story of the Old Testament is about God and His relation to His chosen people (the Israelites). There are people at this time living in the land that God is giving to them. The Israelites will experience several battles and wars throughout the course of the Old Testament. There will be times that they rely on the Lord in war and times that they do not. The outcome will be an indicator as to who is doing the fighting, God or the people.

A: Starting in the New Testament to the current day, Christians are God’s chosen people. While we may not enter into literal “wars” there are still spiritual battles that we encounter every day. In this likeness, this verse is telling us not to be afraid, but to go into battle knowing that it is the Lord that is fighting and gives us victory. I think this verse applies to any temptation or issue that a Christian can go through. Satan, the enemy, is seeking to destroy us in battle. Many times I have tried to fight out of my own strength and find comfort in my own rationalities, but placing our faith in the Lord to fight for us is the only way to find comfort and victory.

P: Lord, thank you for fighting against the enemy for me in my daily battles. I ask that You would go with me today and guard my heart against temptation and sin, so that I may find peace and victory. Thank you for being such a wonderful God who cares for His people.

Amen.



Cravings for Old Meat
January 24, 2009, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

R: Numbers 11:4-6

4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

E: To set the scene, God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt miraculously through Moses in the book of Exodus. They were enslaved by the Egyptians and were treated very harshly. The Israelites cried out for deliverance and that is exactly what God did. They were led out to the mountain of Sinai where Moses received the Law. They began to grumble because they were in the desert and were hungry. God listened and provided Manna for them to gather and eat.

Even though the Lord was providing Manna for them every day with the exception of the Sabbath (which He provide two days worth on day 6), they still were unsatisfied and grumbled for more. They were craving the meat that they had in Egypt. This is a great picture of the Christian walk. The meat from Egypt is our old self, our old ways. The Lord miraculously delivers us from our enslavement at our conversion just as He did the Israelites; however, there are times that we crave the old “meat,” the fleshly desires and life we had before being saved.

A: Following the Lord is the best direction anyone can ever take. It is very hard to explain to someone how life in pursuit of God is more satisfying and complete than any other act, person, place, amount of money can provide. At times in the Christian walk, one can loose site of this and begin to crave the “meats” that one used to partake in before coming to Christ for full satisfaction. It can be any sin that a Christian may follow rather than following the full goodness of God. God has delivered me from “Egypt” miraculously and has provided uncountable blessings of “Manna.” As a human in the flesh, there are times that I still crave the desires I had before I met Christ. In these moments my actions are saying that life before Christ was more satisfying than life in Christ.

P: Lord, I thank you for delivering me out of “Egypt.” Thank you for the countless blessings you give to me. I pray that You would give me the strength to follow Your ways in times that I crave the “meats” of my old ways. Thank you for being such a wonderful God that cares for me.

Amen.



Rest and Provision
January 22, 2009, 7:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

R: Leviticus 25:2-4

 2“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a Sabbath to the LORD.

 3(A)Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop,

 4but during (B)the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.

 

E: The Lord is establishing a model for the Israelites to follow with regards to the way they harvest.  He commands them to work and harvest the land for six years and not for the seventh year.  There are a few significant points that can be taken away from this:

1.        Even the land is designed for rest.  One thing I have been thinking about is this design of rest that God has set in place.  The Lord created the universe and everything in it in six days, and then rested on the seventh.  He did not do this because He was tired, but as a model to demonstrate to us how we ought to live.  In the same likeness, the earth is designed to be worked and produce crop, but requires a year of sabbatical to renew and replenish. 

2.        We must trust in the Lord to sustain.  Even though the Lord assured the Israelites that He would provide enough food to sustain them from year six to year nine, there is an additional element of trust that this will happen, and be enough to sustain one for that long period of time.  This model forced the Israelites to rely on the Lord to be the provider and sustainer. 

 

A: It would be wrong to read such a great message from the Word of God only to depart from it unchanged.  These few verses stuck in the middle of a multitude of laws and commandments given to Moses on Sinai reveal to us a lot about God, us, and how we are to relate to Him.  The Lord gives us a model to be followed for rest.  Too often we become victims of schedules, small groups, church events, work, exercise, etc. and never slow down.  For a long time I thought that we were supposed to observe the Sabbath for the purpose of gaining physical rest.  While this is very true, the day is to be revered as Holy and should thus be spent reflecting on the great things the Lord has done.  This is something that I have given little emphasis to in my life and need to work toward.

Trust in God’s provision was another purpose of this command.  The Israelites were being taught to trust the Lord as they committed their crop to the Lord.  They could not live without eating and knowing that the crop they harvested in year six would last them three more required trust.  One thing I have been thinking about is tithes and offerings and how that requires trust that the Lord will sustain us.  There are a million different rationalities that we can make in order to some how feel comfortable with how (how much) we are giving.  In the end, we come to a place that we are comfortable and to ponder giving more creates a great uneasiness inside of us.  The New Testament tells us that everything we have belongs to the Lord.  No matter how much you are giving, you could always give more.  I think the point is that so many times we give an amount that fits into the budget, leaving daily trust in the Lord’s provision behind.  I want to give of my finances, time, and energy in amounts that create an uneasiness that only the Lord can comfort and sustain.

 

P: Lord, I thank you for being a God who loves and provides for Your people.  I pray that I would be able to discipline myself even more that I find physical and spiritual rest in Your goodness.  Please create in me a heart that desires to see your provision, so much that I am able to trust you with all areas of my life.  Thank you for being such a great God full of love and hope.

Amen.