Candidate or King?

Joshua 5_13_14_Candidate or King

Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?”  (Joshua 5:13-14, NASB)

Moses had died, and Joshua was about to lead the Israelites against the city of Jericho.   Before the battle, Joshua encountered a soldier outside the city and asked an important question, “Whose side are you on?”

The soldier’s response is telling.  He basically said, “I represent the army of the Lord and I’m not here to take sides; I’m here to take over!”  Joshua did the only thing he could – bowed down and listened for the Lord’s instructions.

In his study “Oneness Embrace”, Tony Evans applies this encounter to the deep political divides within the church today.  Evans states, “God is the ultimate independent.  He’s not committed to Democrats or Republicans; He’s committed to Himself, because He has His own Kingdom.”

“…When you walk into that voting booth, and walk out, you’re actually to be voting for the Kingdom of God…because you belong to a greater order.  And you’re not going to let the politics of men interfere with the program of God.”

“The question is what does God say? – Not what does my party say.  God doesn’t ride the backs of donkeys or elephants, He has His own Kingdom – and you’re part of it!  When you go into the voting booth, you’re not to go in racially first, you’re to go in Christian first.  God wants you to define you, not ultimately by your complexion, or party affiliation; He wants you  to define you by His Kingdom and by His Word.”

As an election looms near, who are you listening to?  Your candidate, or your King? –Dave

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Cheers or Jeers

2 Cor 6_8_Jeers or Cheers

The shift has been subtle but undeniable.  I can remember the days when serving Christ was welcomed and even praised by the majority.  That’s no longer the case.  Instead, we find ourselves in an environment which more closely resembles that of Paul’s in the First Century.

Christianity was new then; just a minor option among many other belief systems.  The masses mocked and ridiculed members of “The Way,” as they, themselves, lived for their own temporal pleasures.  Being a follower of Jesus was not popular by any means; the temptation to fall back had to be tremendous.  Which makes Paul’s resolution that much more applicable to us today:

We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. (2 Corinthians 6:8, NLT)

Paul realized that his service to God would cause some people to despise and slander him.  Others would praise and honor him.  But Paul’s resolution was to serve God, not to seek the approval and applause of men.  The reality is this – as our culture drifts further from Christ, fewer will praise and honor our service to Him.  As a result, if our primary objective is to win the approval of others, we will serve the Lord less and less.

Have you also seen the shift in Western culture?  How has the growing unpopularity of Christianity impacted you?  Have you grown silent and inactive because your peers jeer instead of cheer?  Is being faithful more important than being popular?  Will you make Paul’s resolution your own? –Dave

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Glory and Praise

To Him alone belong our glory and praise!


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Misrepresented

2 Cor 5_20_Misrepresented

For 30 years, part of my job has been reviewing claims drug manufacturers make about their products.  It’s a little known fact that the FDA not only reviews data from clinical trials to determine if a drug is safe and effective, they thereafter oversee the way companies promote their products.  When severe violations of promotional regulations occur, the FDA issues “Warning Letters” explaining the violations.  The cited company is thereafter expected to correct the issue and never repeat it.

Sadly, such Warning Letters are so common that they rarely catch my attention any longer.  However, recently I ran across one that made me sad and mad.  The long and short of the Letter was that the company was misrepresenting their product by promoting it to treat conditions for which they hadn’t demonstrated safety and efficacy.  In fact, they had never even studied their product in any of the disease states!  This is fairly common among Dietary Supplements on the market.

What made this situation notable were the names of the product (Moses Oil) and the company (Bible Healing Oils) involved.  I can almost picture ole’ Moses coming down Sinai throwing those stone tablets at vials of the product!  Yet, my point today has nothing to do with Moses Oil or Bible Healing Oils.  It’s to reminds of us that those who claim the name of Christ thereafter represent Him to the world.  We are His ambassadors.  And while we’ll never represent Him perfectly, we should be careful not to drag His good name through the mud.

Friends, the world is watching – let’s do our best to represent Him well! –Dave

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  (2 Corinthians 5:20)

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Conspiracy Theory

Isaiah 8_11_13_Conspiracy Theory

The warning was pretty clear.

The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. (Isaiah 8:11a, NLT)

The Lord’s instruction to His prophet was for him to think for himself.  Isaiah was not to get caught up in “group think.”  God had given Isaiah a brain and He expected him to use it!

But what specifically was the group thinking?  Let’s read on.

He said, “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them.” (11b,12)

On the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, Time Magazine listed their Top 10 conspiracies.  They included the moon landing itself, Area 51 (aliens), a massive 9/11 cover-up, the non-existence of the Holocaust, and Secret Societies which control the world.  (I only listed five; am I hiding something in the other five?  Lol). 

Does Satan rule the present world?  Yes.  Do those outside our faith unwittingly do his bidding?  Yes.  Is there a well-orchestrated conspiracy behind every tree?  No.  And God didn’t want Isaiah to think there was.  Why?  Because conspiracy theories don’t produce answers, they produce fear.

When God tells us to avoid one thing, He generally provides a better alternative.  Instead of falling for common conspiracies, Gold told Isaiah to:

Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life.  He is the one you should fear.  He is the one who should make you tremble. (v.13)

Instead of focusing on conspiracies which bring fear, God wanted Isaiah to focus on Him and to fear Him only.  Will some conspiracies eventually be shown accurate?  Perhaps.  But God doesn’t want His children to spend their time and attention trying to understand and expose them.  Focus on God; fear Him alone; and go about your Father’s business. –Dave

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Dog Training

Ephesians 1_5_Dog Training2

Meet my “Grand-dog,” Dory.  During Covid, my daughter Amy adopted her to be a companion during the periods of isolation.  We don’t know all of Dory’s history, but we were told she was a stray living on the streets.  From the moment of their first meeting, Dory was incredibly attached to her owner.

In fact, wherever Amy goes, her dog is bound to follow.  If Amy sits on the couch and lounges, Dory is right next to her.  If Amy gets up and walks the few steps to the kitchen, Dory gets up and follows.  If Amy works at a desk, Dory sits at her feet the entire time.  Dory is content to sit for hours as long as Amy is near.  Yet she’s also excited to get up and go places at Amy’s command.  Content to do little, content to do much – as long as she’s near her master.

Without intending to, Dory has taught me a lot.  First, our Master has adopted us into His family simply because He desires our companionship.  He doesn’t need us; He wants us! Pretty amazing thought.  Next, Dory has reminded me of the need to remain near my Master so I can sense His movement.  Where He goes, I want to follow.  When He tells me to stay, I want to rest in His presence. 

Lastly, that sweet dog exemplifies contentment.  Doing nothing, or crossing a busy street on foot to get coffee, she simply accepts what the Master asks her to do.  No questions asked, just joyful obedience (well, most of the time). 

Today, thank God for adopting you into His family.  Spend a moment to appreciate that the God of the universe desires YOUR companionship!  Remain near Him; be content to sit by His side, or go wherever He sends you.  Good dog! 😉

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:5, NLT)

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The Message in the Mayo

John 17_20_22_A Prayer for Unity

“Soybean oil, water, eggs…”  These are the first three ingredients in real mayonnaise; and they tell a compelling story.  In chemistry, mayonnaise is known as an emulsion.  Emulsions are comprised of two incompatible ingredients (e.g., oil and water) which are blended together and remain stable when an emulsifying agent is introduced.  In mayonnaise, the emulsifiers are eggs.

Tony Evans uses the mayonnaise example in his series on racial unity entitled “Oneness Embraced.”  Addressing division within our culture and within the church, Evans contends that unless diverse cultures focus on Christ (the church’s emulsifier), there will never be the type of unity Jesus desired for His church.

In John 17, Jesus prayed for His immediate disciples and all who would come to faith through them (i.e., us, the church).  Listen to part of that prayer:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”  (vv. 20-21, ESV, emphasis added)

According to this passage, what Jesus wanted for His followers more than anything else was for us to be one.  “One” in this verse comes from a Greek word that is best defined by what it’s NOT.  “One…as opposed to many; as opposed to division into parts.”

That’s what Jesus wanted for us, but why?  Why does Jesus want His followers to be one instead of many?  One instead of divided parts?  The answer is stated clearly for us in the next verse – so the world will KNOW that the Father sent the Son.  You see, others will know US by our love (John 13:35).  But others will know GOD, and the deity of Jesus, by our unity.

In many ways unity is a greater testimony than love.  Unbelievers can muster love for one another…but unifying people with different backgrounds takes a mighty work of God.

What can you do to bring about unity/oneness in Christ’s church?  –Dave

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Unseen Blessings

Esther 6_1_That night

He was within hours of being killed, and he had NO IDEA.  Mordecai (Esther’s cousin) was sawing logs while the King’s right-hand man, Haman, was plotting Mordecai’s death.  In fact, Haman had built a pole 75 feet tall upon which to impale Mordecai the next day.

Meanwhile, across town…

On THAT night the king could not sleep. (Esther 6:1, ESV, emphasis added)

While Mordecai slept and Haman schemed, Xerxes tossed and turned.  From a purely earthly perspective we’d say it was all coincidence.  But realistically we’d have to accept that more was going on behind the scenes.  In the invisible realm, God was moving.

Whether in an attempt to fall to sleep, or simply to pass the time, the king:

…gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthanaand Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.  And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king’s young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” (vv.1b-3)

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, I encourage you to read how it plays out (Esther 6 and 7).  In short, the king honored Mordecai and had Haman impaled on the pole he had set up for Mordecai.  Oh the irony!

But this story also reminds us that God is involved in the details of our lives.  And while we may not be able to detect His hand, He is frequently moving behind the scenes.  On this side of eternity, we may never know just how many times He has intervened to save us.  Times He gave us a flat tire to avoid an accident.  Times we missed a plane and avoided a crash, etc. 

Lord, today we thank you for all you do for us that we’re not even aware of.  Thank you for your faithful hand of protection.

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Opportunities and Opposition

1 Cor 16_9_Open Doors Opportunities and Opposition

As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about his hopes to visit them soon, he explained his reason for staying in Ephesus:

There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me. (1 Corinthians 16:9)

We talk a great deal within our Christian circles about God directing our steps by opening some doors, and closing others.  We generally take an open door as an indication that God is providing an opportunity if we’ll walk through it.  In large part, I agree.

The struggle begins when we mistake opposition as a closed door.  You see, when Paul looked through the door which God had opened in Ephesus he saw BOTH great opportunity, AND great opposition.  Sadly, whenever we see opposition today, our tendency is to think the opportunity isn’t there.  Yet Paul clearly says that opportunity and opposition both exist beyond the doors which God opens.

Friends, as the opposition to our faith increases, so does the opportunity!  The opportunity which Paul saw in Ephesus was the need that culture had for the hope of Christ.  Ephesus was a dark, amoral, godless culture.  They needed to be reconciled to a holy God through faith in Christ.  The darkness in which they lived was both the opposition and the opportunity.

As our culture grows darker, the need for the Light we possess grows.  Remember, the greater the opposition, the greater the opportunity. –Dave  

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Fulfilling His Purpose

Lord, please fulfill Your purpose in our lives!

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