Luke 9:51-56--When the days were coming to a close for Him to be taken up, He determinedto journey to Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead of Him, and on the way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make preparations for Him. But they did not welcome Him, because He determined to journey to Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village.
Ammon was a nation located east of the Israelite tribes of Gad and Rueben who were also both situated east of the Jordan River and Dead Sea. We know from Genesis 19:38 that the Ammonites were descended from Lot’s youngest daughter’s son Ben-ammi. From Deuteronomy 2:19 we learn that God did not allow Israel to attack or take any of the Ammonites land because He had given it to Lot’s descendants. Remember Lot was Abraham’s nephew. We also know from Deu. 23:3,4 that because the Ammonites and Moabites refused to help the Israelites during their journey out of Egypt that God excluded them from ever entering “the Lord’s assembly.”
Genesis 26:21,22—Then they dug another well and quarreled over that one also, so he named it Hostility. He moved from there and dug another, and they did not quarrel over it. He named it Open Spaces and said, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.”
The Philistines inhabited the land of Canaan and because water was precious in that arid region there was competition over who controlled it. In the passage above, Isaac, the son of Abraham could not escape quarreling with Philistine herdsmen who, envious of his wealth, claimed any wells Isaac’s servants dug up as their own. They should have been thankful for more sources of water. Instead, by their hostile actions, they were sending a message to Isaac—“Get out of our land.”
For ten days I underwent training to be an assessor as part of my responsibilities for a new job I will be taking with the military. By Friday night of the second week I was exhausted. This job is intense because it requires me (when I am on call) to make a final recommendation to senior U.S. or Canadian leaders at the critical point of what appears to be an enemy attack. Because I have no experience in aviation, I have to learn new terminology and methodologies in order to make key decisions for terrible contingencies that can occur rapidly.
Dr. Myles Munroe wr0te in his book The Burden of Freedom, “When a lifestyle of irresponsibility is allowed to increase, the voice of conscience is progressively silenced . . . Conscience has died throughout much of the world’s society because we have inherited a spirit of irresponsibility.” Irresponsibility thrives when we fail to punish wrong behavior. But we also spur its existence by too quickly applying mercy without permitting disgrace. This may seem odd since the word disgrace carries such a negative connotation. This is why Scripture is profoundly important. Notice how God used disgrace to teach us a lesson.
Lamentations 3:39—Why should any living person complain, any man, because of the punishment for his sins?
One of the aspects of leadership that I find most taxing is taking disciplinary action against employees for immoral, illegal, or unethical behavior. If people were honest and simply confessed wrongdoing it would not be so hard. Yet rarely does that seem to be the case. Excessive time and emotional energy is spent in separating truth from fiction.
Every once and awhile I get a craving to eat at Chang’s restaurant where I get to select my food and seasonings and then watch the chef cook the ingredients on a Mongolian grill. The experience is mouth watering. So when I read about the Israelites getting tired of the manna that God gave them each day during their forty years of desert wandering, I can understand. Eating the same food is boring. Even though they were slaves in Egypt they remembered the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic readily available.
Last week I stayed at the Crown Astor in New Orleans for a military conference. On Friday night I got almost no sleep. On the fifth floor near my room was a group of visiting university students. Evidently, the guys partnered with girls to drink and engage in loud and vulgar revelry. It saddened me to think how many parents don’t care or have no idea what their children are doing.
Luke 10:15—And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will go down to Hades!
Nahum 3:3,5,6—Charging horseman, flashing sword, shining spear; heaps of slain, mounds of corpses, dead bodies without end—they stumble over their dead . . . I am against you. This is the declaration of the LORD of Hosts. I will lift your skirts over your face and display your nakedness to nations, your shame to kingdoms. I will throw filth on you and treat you with contempt; I will make a spectacle of you.
Do you ever wonder what the point is for reading books of the Bible that primarily contain prophecies of God’s impending judgment against certain people and nations? Jonah, Nahum and Zephaniah all prophesied against the Assyrian empire. When Nahum predicted the impending destruction of the capital city, Nineveh, Assur-bani-pal was its evil king. Nineveh was full of bloodshed, deceit, plundering and constant warring against others (3:1).
Sometimes we can do what God asks of us and suffer disastrous consequences. When this happens we can do one of two things, we can turn away from God and blame Him for our misfortunes, or we can humble ourselves and continue to do exactly what He asks. To see a clear example of this we need only turn back in history to a dark time in the land of Israel.
Joshua 2:10,11—For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. (ESV)
February 6, 2011 the Green Bay Packers will compete against the Pittsburgh Steelers in what some think will be the most watched Super Bowl ever. I have to admit I’m pretty excited because since my childhood I’ve always been a diehard Packer fan. Pregame hype is huge because of a compelling matchup between two legacy teams who will line up against each other for the Lombardi trophy for the first time. Pittsburgh already has the most Super Bowl wins in the National Football League with six. Green Bay won the first two Super bowls and added a third win behind quarterback Brett Favre.
In Genesis 19, we read one of the saddest stories in the Bible. Evidently, the behavior of the valley inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah was so awful that the Lord with two angels came down to investigate. Fearfully, Abraham asked Him if He would spare Sodom if He found just ten righteous people there. He was concerned because his nephew Lot lived in the city. The Lord replied, “for the sake of ten I will not destroy it” (18:32).
How fantastic would it be if we could read minds? Imagine if you could see the exact thoughts running through the brains of your family, neighbors, coworkers and even enemies! Perhaps it would not be such a great thing. It might be convicting, maddening, or massively discouraging. I propose that our behavior would be the main element that triggered people’s thoughts towards us and this would certainly heighten our awareness of consequences.
When I read my Bible I look forward each day to hearing from the Lord. I look forward to learning something that will help me live more effectively or that will enable me to help others. I don’t know about you but I find the book of Leviticus to be hard reading. For the first nine chapters, God instructs Moses in how the Israelites are to bring offerings and the priests are to conduct themselves and I’m struggling to see anything even remotely interesting. Then chapter ten comes along and I read the shocking verses below.
Have you ever boycotted a product because its maker was associated with wrongdoing? A company that endorses corruption or whose reputation is tainted by sleazy actions will not last long. Reputation is not something to be taken lightly.
1 Chronicles 5:1—These were the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel. He was the firstborn, but his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel, because Rueben defiled his father’s bed. He is not listed in the genealogy according to birthright.
Luke 16:10-12—Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much. So if you have not been faithful with the unrighteous money, who will trust you with what is genuine? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what is your own?
The telephone rang and it was Effron. Unfortunately, my suspicions were correct. He called to cancel what should have been our second meeting. He was exceedingly polite. I hoped to discuss his hang-ups concerning Jesus but he stated that he did not want me to be disappointed and that at this point in his life he really was not concerned with examining who Jesus is. “Effron, when you are ready to tackle tough issues, please call me.” “I will,” he said and parted with a final comment, “I love you.” That took me by surprise.
Most likely Effron and Ramona* will find a Justice of the Peace to seal their illicit union. Some day, Effron will face Jesus. I pray it will be from a position of faith. Will Ramona confess compromising truth to marry him? I pray she will turn back to the Lord and repent lest her walk be shelved on the altar of pleasure.