Posts Tagged ‘Israelites’

Ripe Arkansas Black apples.

Image via Wikipedia

Compare and contrast, we all do this don’t we? And, whether we’d like to admit it or not, we do it a lot.

 It doesn’t matter if we’re believers or not, we look around at other people’s lives, then look at our own and automatically what do we do? We compare and contrast ours to theirs, and theirs to ours, to see what the differences are and who seems to be doing better in our eyes.

 Whether we’re actually born with a little gene with compare and contrast on it, or we’re taught it, it sort of reminds me of the game that some of us played while we were planted in front of the television watching Sesame Street.

The game was played on the television screen when someone held an apple in one hand and another apple in the other hand. You saw the two apples were exactly the same, then a deep, booming voice off camera would say, “same”. Another shot would show one hand holding an apple and the other holding an orange ( or some other fruit) and the booming voice would say “different”. It showed very clearly that some things were the same and other things were different.

 Of course, when we’re children we need to know what is the same, and what is different because we need to know how to differentiate between things. But, as we get older, seeing the differences between things becomes seeing the differences between ourselves, then making value judgments and decisions about another person or ourselves based on those differences.

 Think about it, very rarely do we automatically see the similarities we have with another person. Usually we see the differences first, then the similarities, if we even get that far.

 Unfortunately, we do this in all arenas of life, with our jobs, our houses, our spouses, our children, and our relationships with the LORD. We look at someone and assume that they are so much more spiritual than we are, so much closer to the LORD than we are, or so much less so depending on our perception of them, which drives division between us instead of unity.

 Or, worse yet, we look at what we perceive as blessings ( usually defined as wealth and achievement in the Western World) coming one person’s way and wonder why someone else doesn’t recieve the same blessings from the LORD, then take it one step further and use that as the plumb line to determine how close each of us is to the LORD.

 Think about that. Very often we use physical wealth and success to determine the strength of someone’s spiritual connection with the LORD.

 When I see others do this, and yes, do it myself, I am reminded of Job, who had every physical blessing only to have it all taken away from him. His friends assumed it was because there was something very wrong in his relationship with the LORD that caused it, when in actual fact it was the complete opposite. It was his righteousness and his reverence of the LORD that allowed it.

 The experience reaffirmed to Job, and to us in looking at his story, that no matter what we have, or don’t have, the most important thing is having reverence for, and rightness with the LORD, because He doesn’t view things the way we do.

 “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.””

 1 Samuel 16:7

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Machrihanish Beach

Image via Wikipedia

We all come to the LORD in different ways, on different paths from different pasts. I was reminded of this when I read Alica’s Roses latest post, Growing Up …. Without God. Reading her blog, I was reminded of how important it is to look back and see where the LORD has had His hand on us and our lives.

It’s kind of like all the references in the Old Testament to the LORD saying to His people the Israelites, ‘make sure you look back and remember what I did for you, where you came from and make sure you tell your children about Me and what I have done.’

Although my mother was raised in the Church and had daily scripture reading at school during school assembly (she was raised in England and it was a requirement at that time that all students went to school assembly everyday and took turns reading from scripture, and yes, this was in public school) my brother and I weren’t given any systematic teaching about Christianity, at least if we did, I can’t remember it.

Because of the way my mother was raised, we did have a vague background in the church, but in looking back I am amazed at what the LORD did to make sure I knew about Him. Even if my family didn’t go to church, I always seemed to. There was always a friend of the family who would take me or the next-door neighbors who just happened to have girls my age that I went to church with every Sunday from the time I was small.

The LORD had His hand on me so that I would know who He was from the time I was small, but the first really memorable encounter I had with Him that He used to begin to shape my walk with Him, had nothing to do with church or believers of any description, it had to do with the California Public School System.

I was in the first grade, six-years old, and along with films like the Red Balloon and others of its artistic ilk shown on old projectors where the teacher had to thread the film into the player by hand, which was always an amazing and magical sight to my little eyes, we dutifully sat through films about evolution. It was during one of these that I had my first encounter with how big God was. Yes, I said evolution and God in one sentence, and lest you think I’m and evolutionist, I’m not. But the LORD can use anything, even a film about evolution, to touch the hearts of people.

I sat there in the darkened classroom watching this film about little critters who somehow morphed enough to make their way out of the ocean onto the sand and survive. There was a beautiful shot of the waves crashing up onto the beach when it occurred to me as bright as day that God made evolution.

That may sound like a very strange thing for most people to read (and not biblically correct to say the least), but to my little six-year old mind that was trying to make sense of all this (I wouldn’t have gotten any satisfying answers from anyone even if I had the courage to ask), that thought was a gift from the LORD because it put Him in His rightful place as creator and ruler of everything.

My walk with Him has been full of setbacks, walkabouts and sitting downs, but I have never forgotten where He showed me His rightful place is in the grand scheme of things when I was just six. As I look back, I see His hand of protection, guidance, faithfulness and persistence along with other realities He has shown me through the years.

It’s so important to look back and take stock of where you’ve been, because in doing so you not only get a grip on what to tell your children about Him, but you also get a firm sense of the continuous thread of Him in your life, which builds your trust and faith in Him for the future.

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

Deuteronomy 4:9

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Across to the Promised Land

Image by Gauis Caecilius via Flickr

Promises. We’ve all made them, kept them, broken them, along with having had them made to us, with some of them kept and some of them broken.

But, what about the promises of God? He makes some huge promises in His word, “I will never leave you or forsake you”, “I Am” and “I will go before you” are just a smattering of them. His promises are interesting in that they are begun and completed by Him, yet some of them seem to include some sort of step by us  to make them a reality.

I am reminded of the Israelites in the desert after God orchestrated their release from Egypt. He took them the long way to the Promised Land, possibly because they were slaves, not experience fighters, and they would have been slaughtered by the people’s that populated the short way. All the while He was taking care of them in ways they didn’t quite realize, yet when they got to the Promised Land they had to do something. Take it.

Instead of taking it, they sent in spies and all but two of them came back with tales of huge men who would obliterate the Israelites if they even tried to take the land. They balked at the idea of taking the land and instead of believing who God had shown them He was and what He had told them, they thought the predicament they found themselves in was too big, too scary, too impossible.

They seemed to want the same thing we want today in regards to things that God has promised us, they wanted Him to just give it to them with no fuss, no fight, no conflict, no impossibility, no fear. They wanted to be given their Promised Land in such a way that they didn’t need to wholeheartedly believe in, and rely on, God to get it.

So, all of them but two were barred from entering the Promised Land for a whole generation. Forty years, they wandered around the desert with God providing for them, showing them the way, building their faith, until the time when the people were ready to take the land that he had promised Abraham all those years ago.

Yet, a funny thing happened when they were wandering in the desert. The people multiplied. They toughened up. They got stronger. Is it no wonder that when Joshua sent the spies into Jericho that Rahab said, ‘we have heard of you and your God and the people that occupy the land are terrified of you’?

Even so the people had to still trust God, believe that what He said was true and make the move to take the land. The basic’s were the same, trust God in the impossible, have faith that He will do what He has said, then move. It didn’t matter if it was 40 years earlier or at the time of Joshua,  the people had to have enough faith in Him and who He was, and is, to start to move in the direction of their Promised Land.

And, it’s kind of the same with us today. God may have promised you something that looks wholeheartedly impossible, but you need to believe that what He has said is true and have enough faith in Him and who He is to move towards that promise.

“Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance…. Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:6 & 9

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