“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice,” Seek the voice of the Lord, he will guide you in all your paths.”—Psalm 95:6-7 (via chellychellz)
The book of Joshua is not an isolated story. Joshua 1:1 is not the beginning of a new book per se, nor is it a “once upon a time.” The book of Joshua is about a young man, with no experience, leading the people of God on a journey that began generations ago. It must have been hard for Joshua who understood that he had big shoes to fill. Moses led the people through so many incidents and events with strength and firmness. The great patriarch Abraham embarked on this same journey centuries ago. Joshua might have asked himself, “what do I have? I am not qualified to do this, to lead this great people to the land promised them by God!”
I feel the same way many times. When I was given my first pastoral internship as a youth pastor, once the excitement of getting the job diminished a bit, I felt afraid and alone. I realized that a great responsibility fell into my hands and I wasn’t sure how I would handle it or if I could handle it. I was just a 22 year-old boy with a piece of paper from a university. What did I really have to bring to the table?
It was in this moment that God spoke to Joshua, and He spoke to me. He said: “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. 3 I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you—4 from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ 5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.” (Joshua 1:2-5, NLT)
Such assurance! In this moment, God made an empty-handed young man into a powerful leader with the authority that can only be given by God. God assured Joshua that He would be with him. This is where his power and authority came from, and God was assuring me that He had the same in store for me.
His promise is true for you too. Are you afraid and alone, feeling inadequate or desperate? Lean on the Lord. Just like a car’s engine turns a smelly fuel into powerful explosive speed, so God wants to take you, an average man or woman, boy or girl and make you His. When you belong to God, you’re unstoppable, mighty and more than a conqueror. Remember that the power is not in you, your strength, or your intelligence, but in God’s goodness, mercy, grace, and love. Be assured of that fact this day.
Dear Lord, please help me to be assured that You are with me. Give me strength and make me more than a conqueror today in Christ Jesus. I thank You in advance, in His name I pray, Amen.
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on in every person. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’. One is evil — it is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride,…
I spent the past couple of days participating and speaking at the City Impact conference in San Francisco. 700 of us (sorry to the hundreds turned away- we ran out of space) walked around the streets of the Tenderloin district passing out hot meals, clothes, groceries, cutting…
Dear Lord, as look more at the Gospel, Jesus who died for us to save us from sin, please hear our prayer and meet us in front of our computers or on our phones. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and bless us, changing our hearts by the acceptance of this reading, in Christ’s name, Amen.
In the previous note, we established that we as humankind needed a mediator so that we could reach God as a result of the separation caused by our sins. The old sacrificial system taught us this, but it failed to show us the way into God’s presence as only one man (the High Priest) could be in it and only once a year. Now Paul explains this further and shows us the way into God’s presence.
“The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order”. Hebrews 9:8-10
The old covenant and the sacrifices of the tabernacle (which later became the temple) were incomplete because they “were not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper.” These sacrifices did not truly cleanse anyone from sin. They simply made the person “clean” to participate in ritual worship services. These involved outward things like food and drink and different washings. These were external things that could not cleanse or change one’s heart. The forgiveness of sins found in these sacrifices were granted “on credit” based on the future death of Christ.
Not only were these sacrifices incomplete in cleansing power, they were temporary as well. It was “an illustration for the present time.” (v. 9) The way to God’s pure presence was finally revealed when Christ was on the cross and the veil tore from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). At this point the gap was officially bridged. In the same way the High Priest had to carry blood into the Most Holy Place once a year, now we have free access to God’s throne because we are covered by Christ’s blood. We carry it into the Most Holy Place every time we pray and approach the Father.
We now live under this new covenant enjoying the freedom of living post-Crucifixion. With this in mind, Paul wrote in verse 9 that the old sacrificial system was symbolic pointing to the time we live in now, where we have free access to the Father because Christ, by dying for us, serves as our complete and permanent Mediator. Hallelujah to God for this great and perfect Sacrifice for a filthy sinner like me! Praise, honor, and glory be to Him forever and ever for all He has given me freely, even though I am the least deserving. I love You too Lord, from the bottom of my heart. Have me, it’s the least I can give to repay You. May this sacrifice and effort not be wasted in my life. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Do you share this praise and prayer? Feel free to express your love to God right now, out loud or in a comment or post or in your heart. Either way, give God this moment, this day, and your entire life. Blessings!
"Lost in the din of [Tiger] Woods' personal failings, few people examined their own lives. Few Christians considered the impact of their own infidelities to a God who has never sinned against them or done them any harm. Why does God yearn to have us back when we have failed Him so mightily?"
"If our service and leadership is motivated by love, our interaction with others will be transformational for us and the people we serve. Such followers will be elevated, challenged, inspired, and motivated by our leadership. Our reports will trust our mission focus. Our colleagues will want to be like us. Our supervisors will tell others what a privilege it is to work with us. Our neighbors will speak of us to their friends. And the organizations that we lead will reap both measurable and intangible benefits.
But far more important that these organizational benefits, your spiritual communion and fellowship with God will be deepened in immeasurable ways.”
“When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life….The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.”—Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 173
"'Love,' says Paul, is the greatest gift, and it is the one that every believer should covet (1 Cor. 12:29-31). And the fact that Paul deposited this teaching into the swirl of Corinthian conflict tells us that this teaching on love is not merely theoretical, but immensely practical. Agape int he hearts of believers solves conflicts, heals relationships, initiates peace, seeks the good for others, regulates egotism, and opens up dialogue between former enemies.
“The Lord desires me to call the attention of His people to the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. Read this chapter every day, and from it obtain comfort and strength. Learn from it the value that God places on sanctified, heaven-born love and let the lesson that it teaches come home to your hearts. Learn that Christ-like love is of heavenly birth, and that without it all other applications are worthless.”—Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6 p. 1091
Apostasy does not happen overnight; whole peoples do not fall away in a day, a week, even in a year. The process is much slower; a little change here, a little compromise there; a little less rigidity in order to keep up with the times, or to be relevant, or to fit better with the trends of society and culture. Bit by bit, step by step, and, before long a whole nation is doing things that, perhaps a generation or two ago, would have been looked upon in horror. Such was the fate of the ancient Israel and Judah; such was the fate of early Christianity. Such can be the fate of any church, including ours, that does not carefully and jealously guard the sacred truths and practices given it by the Lord.
Read Ezekiel 8. As you read, realize all this was taking place in the sacred temple that the Lord had instituted, the very place where the Lord had promised to place His name. How could the people, the spiritual leaders, have fallen into such apostasy? What lessons can we learn from this for ourselves?
The secret sins, indulged by priests and elders, were the abominable and repulsive worship practices of their culture. Those who should have been leading God’s people in true worship were adapting that worship to the sinful and corrupt customs of their time and environment, thus bringing the abominations of the surrounding culture into God’s holy sanctuary. How ironic that only the coming of the Babylonian army would bring an end to the desecration of God’s temple, and then only by destroying it.
Carefully read Ezekiel 8:12. What kind of logic and rationale were these elders using to justify their actions? What might have led them to such false conclusions?
These people must have turned so far away from the Lord that they believed He did not see them or that He did not care about their practices. The Lord, who over and over again, showed His care, His nearness, and His desire for obedience, now was deemed to have forsaken the land? How careful we need to be, because sin will harden our hearts and poison our minds until we rationalize even the most horrific practices.
"Jesus had come into the world with the very goal of completing the work that no human being could perform--transformation of the inner nature,, the source of intentions and feelings. In order to transform our inner nature, we need more than our wounds.
What we need is authenticity! An authentic life is a life grounded in Jesus, whatever experience we are living apart is just a disguise, an appearance. This concept is not very hard to grasp.
Live this day—better yet—liver every day in communion with Jesus. Do not separate from the Master, and as a natural result you will see the wonderful fruits Christianity will bear in your life.”
"Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also." Matthew 23:26
Alejandro Bullon, Finding Fulfillment in Christ, p. 246
For those who don’t know, I attend Oakwood University, a Christian institution in Huntsville, Alabama. This year, the student body religious vice president, Quentin Everett started a new twitter initiative called #BragOnHim. Its a simple twitter hashtag that follows a testimony, from a good sandwich to a major breakthrough.
I figured this hashtag shouldn’t just be for Oakwood students. If you have a twitter or facebook, or Tumblr (duh), feel free to add #BragOnHim to your testimonies so we can all see them and praise God for the victories He has won in your life, and find hope in our situations as well.
"Many people wonder why Jesus did not announce the exact day of His return.
I believe the reason is because of the nature of the human heart. If we knew the exact day of His coming, we would live ignoring His advice, and during the last days we would try to mend our lives, trying to get ready to go with Him. This would not be good for us. Therefore, Jesus included the element of surprise. The Bible does not emphasize the date, but the preparation for the human race to meet the Lord.
Make this a day of preparation, remembering that though we do not know the day nor the hour of Christ’s coming, everything about us shows that we are living in the last times of the earth’s history.
"Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell hus, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and the end of the age?’" Matthew 24:3
Alejandro Bullon, Finding Fulfillment in Christ, p.245
"In the Kingdom of God we walk downhill, yet we go up. It is the opposite with the kingdom of men. We try to climb up and find ourselves in the marshy grounds of the abyss.
The selfish human heart is unable to understand the things of the Spirit. Therefore, life in this world, is the desperate search for glory, power, lights, and applause. To achieve them, sometimes we toss aside values, principles, and even self-respect. One day, you may get what you most want, only to discover that you are still empty; then you despair and don’t know which other road to take.
When you let yourself be guided by the Spirit, things are different. Your glory is the path of selflessness, of service, self-denial, and altruism. You stop looking for glory and you try to serve. But, strange as it sounds, this way leads you to the summit, and one day you will find yourself in situations that you didn’t search for; the glow of a quiet night of sleep, the peace of a debt-free heart and the stillness of the love of your loved ones, whom you have made happy…
Where are you going? What are your goals? Let the Word of God guide you, and make this day an occasion for service.”
Alejandro Bullon, Finding Fulfillment in Christ, p. 244
"And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:12
I'm not a Christian because I was scared into it, brainwashed, brought up with it or because I thought it would be easy living this way, but because I know what God has done for me, the sacrifice He made for me. Because I want to spend the rest of my life living for Him and with Him in Eternity. I don't live by blind faith, the Bible doesn't tell us to do that, but to always be ready to tell people the reason for our hope.
Letting go of the past is not easy, especially if you have wounds that have never properly healed. But, the past is past and living there may be preventing you from fully experiencing the present. Likewise fear of what may be looming around the corner can also prevent you from fully enjoying the present. Live in the moment and look forward to eternity with God, now that’s a great present.
Happy Sabbath folks! Rest from this long behind day and/or week. And to my students seeking financial blessings...take a 24-hour break from worrying. Every time you think about it, tell God "Take it back". Train your mind to leave it in His hands...
"Jesus came into this world not only to teach us about the need to obey, but also to show us the way that leads to obedience: our complete submission to God, the surrender of our will to Him, and a life of uninterrupted communion with the Source of power that is God.
So today, don’t panic because of the storms that threaten your life. Your sea can be full of darkness, high winds and giant waves. But, why fear? Find God’s power in prayer, talk to your Father, and then go out to face the storm, and you will see how it quiets down. Who knows, maybe others could say about you “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Then your response shall be: “It’s just a humble child, seeking the Lord every day.”
"...when coming to this earth He [Jesus] made a covenant with His Father; He wouldn't do anything without His approval. Therefore, when rebuking the storm, He didn't use His divinity, but the power that He received through the constant relationship He maintained with God."
Alejandro Bullon, Finding Fulfillment in Christ, p. 230
“So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”” Matthew 8:27
"Our only safety in this life is knowing what the Scripture says.
And I don’t mean just memorizing verses and repeating them as if they were an amulet against evil. It means to embody the Word of God in our own experience, making it a reality, actually living it in the various circumstances of the day. The Word of God is life. It leads us to eternal life, shows us the way, shine son our path, and teaches us. It is the map that prevents us from going astray in this world of hardship and sorrow.
Make this day a day of communion with Jesus. Open the Word of God, keep its advice in your heart and when you have to face the enemy, who may come disguised as adversity, illness or trials, do what Jesus did. Just tell him, ‘It is written’.
Alejandro Bullon, Finding Fulfillment in Christ, p. 226
Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Matthew 4:10