Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Steadfast Love of the Lord

Today in my Bible reading, I came across several verses on the steadfast love of God. A few minutes later, as I was doing my daily browse of Facebook, I saw that a friend of mine had posted yet another verse on the steadfast love of God. 

The Lord clearly had a message for me this morning, and without going into a really long explanation of the details, let's suffice it to say that I needed to hear these words today. And of course, He knew that.

Reminders are good. 

God is faithful. 

I don't know where you all find yourself today, and it doesn't really matter, whether you're in a valley or enjoying the mountain peaks of life, God's steadfast love will never change. 

I pray that you all are as encouraged by these verses as I was today. 

Isaiah 54:8
"In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you" says the Lord, your redeemer.

Isaiah 54:10 (2 verses later) 
"For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed but my steadfast love shall not depart from you and my covenant of peace shall not be removed" says the Lord, who has compassion on you." 

Psalm 119:64 
"The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love, teach me your statutes." 

Psalm 119:41 
"Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promises." 

Psalm 63:3 
"Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you." 

Psalm 136:1 
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever." 

Psalm 25:10 
"All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies." 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Lies of the Rabble

One of my favorite things about reading and studying the Word of God, besides getting to know my Creator and Savior better, is the "coincidences" that so often seem to happen when you hear or read something in one place and than a day or two or maybe even a week later you read something similar to what the Lord was already speaking to you in a different place. Does that make any sense at all? 

I commend you all for trying to follow me through this maze I call a train of thought.  
Truly, you're all amazing! 

I digress. 

What I mean is, those times when you seem to hear a "random" scripture or nugget from the Lord and then a little while later you hear the same "random" verse or idea. It's creepy awesome and it's one of my favorite things about how the Lord works through His word. 

This happened to me recently. I was reading in Lauren Chandler's "Steadfast Love" and she referenced the story in Numbers 11 where the Israelites began complaining about eating manna and how they longed for meat. 

A few days later, I read the same portion of scripture in my Bible reading..... so I stopped, I said a little prayer and I started reading again. Slower this time. More intentionally. 

I encourage you to read the entire account. It's a truly remarkable story and one that, if we're honest with ourselves may expose a few blindspots in our hearts and lives. 

Numbers 11:4 "Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, 'Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing." 

According to Chandler, the rabble were those Egyptians who (going against God's will) were intermarried into the Israelite nation while they were still in Egypt. 

The Israelite's craving was about far more than just food - it was ultimately a desire for the pleasures (the choicest parts) and conveniences of Egypt

Egypt. The place of their greatest deepest bondage. The home of their slavery. 

How could anyone want to go back to that? 

It seems like such a ridiculous thing to say, and yet, it isn't all that different from what we do in our own lives. 
We all have a tendency to lie to ourselves about our past, especially when the present isn't what we think we want. We question God's goodness and believe lies about what He has set us free from. 

"The rabble" within us, is the part of us we've given over to things other than God. The part of us we "hold back" from complete surrender to Him. When we're honest, we all know we have our own form of "rabble" in the deep parts of our hearts. Our feeble attempts to keep the rabble under control rarely works, yet we continue to act like we control "it" and that it doesn't control us, but eventually the truth that the rabble is uncontrollable comes into full light when it rears its ugly head and demands its own way. 

In verse 10 we're told the people were literally standing in the doors of their tents, weeping.
An adult-sized, communal, temper-tantrum! 

While it may not look the same, I'm guilty of this same thing. Pitching my own version of a fit when life doesn't go my way. It may not always be verbal, but it's almost always obvious. 

The Lord ends up (for good reason) punishing the people (v. 18-23) and He tells them exactly why (v.20) "because you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before Him saying 'Why did we come out of Egypt?'" 

"Because you have rejected the Lord."  

That's exactly what we're doing when we complain and grumble about the places God has brought us to and blessings that God has provided for us. 

The grass always seems greener. 

When will we learn it is better to be in the dessert eating manna with the presence of God, than filling our "bellies" with the "choicest" foods the world has to offer all the while living in bondage? 

We have to refuse to hear and believe the lies. The lies that tell us bondage is worth it, that the sin and compromise "cost nothing"! That we deserve whatever we want even when it's not what we need. 

Rejecting God is the opposite of trusting Him.

If He's brought you to the dessert He has a good reason, trust Him to provide for you to get you through. 

The dessert isn't easy, it isn't always pretty, but God is there, and He's speaking (maybe for the first time in nearly 400 years) He's providing, He's leading. Your job is to trust, to be grateful and to follow. 

In my Bible reading this morning, I was brought to Psalm 66, I think it applies beautifully to what we've been seeing in Numbers, it says in verses 8-12

"Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of His praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living 
and has not let your feet slip. 
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water; 
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance."