Have you ever been frustrated by something that should work and doesn’t? For the last several months I’ve had a rotten time trying to charge my phone. I purchased several charging cords but the connection always seemed to be an issue to the point where many times I would have to hold the phone and firmly push the cord to get a steady charge. I was just about to take the phone into the store and replace it when I had an idea. Taking a pin I probed the cavity where the cord connected and immediately all kinds of dirt and matted hair began to come loose. Honestly, I felt pretty foolish—no wonder the phone was not properly charging—it was plugged up with debris.
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.”
The dictionary uses the following definition for the word discretion—“1. the power or right to decide or act according to one's own judgment; freedom of judgment or choice . . . 2. The quality of being discreet, especially with reference to one's own actions or speech; prudence or decorum.” Discretion seems to be an increasingly neglected concept in our society. More and more people freely express their opinion or take action either with little prior thought to the consequences or with the deliberate decision to cause harm. For example, on Columbus Day, a national holiday, police in New York City have to protect statutes erected for Christopher Columbus for fear that people will vandalize or destroy them. Instead of taking into account the pride that Italian Americans have in a famous explorer, protestors feel justified in defacing or tearing down his monuments because of the perceived harm he caused to native Americans.
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.
Romans 11:33-36—Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
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)