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Central Haywood church of Christ

Serving God from the mountains of North Carolina

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Israel

A king for Israel.

A king for Israel.

1 Samuel 8:1-9

 

After Samuel was old having judged Israel for 40 years, knowing he could no longer do the job, he appointed his sons as judges. The Bible tells us that these men were evil, corrupted men, and did not walk in the way of Samuel which created a problem. The elders of Israel were upset and demanded a king to lead them that was like the nations around them. This vacuum of good leadership is what lead them to demand a king. Apparently, they felt like these young judges had failed them and they needed a better way to lead the nation. Continue reading “A king for Israel.”

Amos and genuine religion.

The name “Amos” literally means “burden bearer” and it speaks to how he felt about his message and its content. Continue reading “Amos and genuine religion.”

Numbers: a book about God’s faithfulness.

Up to this point, we have looked at Genesis through Leviticus. I hope each book has helped you learn something important about God and what he wants for you. Genesis is a book of beginnings: the beginnings of us, of sin, and just as importantly; the beginning of God’s love story with us. Exodus is a book of redemption: God redeems his people from sin and self; walks with them and moves heaven and earth for them. Leviticus is a book about relationships: God is a holy and just God who wants to have a personal relationship with his people. Leviticus details how we can approach God and have fellowship with him.

Continue reading “Numbers: a book about God’s faithfulness.”

Our God is faithful.

The book of Joshua is an amazing story of faith, failures, and forgiveness.

It tells us how God sent the nation of Israel in to occupy the Promised Land. It recounts the many battles some of which went well and some not so much. Their success or failure was totally dependent upon their willingness to adhere to the rules God set for them. Continue reading “Our God is faithful.”

Choosing to live outside of God’s blessings.

Last week, we talked about the three and a half tribes of Israel that wanted to settle in the land of Jazer and Gilead. At first glance, it seemed like a reasonable request. They had lots of livestock and the land was perfect for them. In spite of the obvious, Moses was seriously upset with them. Why wouldn’t he be? Especially after God’s reaction to those who chose to not go into the land (Num. 13) that resulted in 40 years of punishment and death. He was afraid that just like before the people would be discouraged and God would punish them. Upon hearing the seriousness of their choice these three and a half tribes quickly resolved to go in with the nation and help them secure their inheritance, as long as they could then come back to their inheritance. They didn’t want to be the ones causing the Lord’s people to suffer, struggle, and ultimately fail.

Yet, there is another reason why these three and a half tribes should have chosen to stick with their people (church). By choosing to live on the other side of the Jordan they are choosing to separate themselves from the people of God and from the promises and blessings of God. In Numbers 32:22, Moses says that after they have fulfilled their responsibilities to the Lord and Israel they can leave and be free from obligation to the Lord and Israel.

That should have been enough to motivate them to withdraw their idea of an inheritance in Gilead instead of the Promised Land. Hearing Moses tell them that they would be free from God and from their family should have caused them to ache in their souls.

What is most scary to me is that many Christians are also choosing to live outside of God’s blessings and as strangers to their church family. The church is supposed to be our family; brothers and sisters in the Lord, and yet, many just want to be free from any real obligations to Jesus or His church. When that is where our heart is at you can rest assured that God is not going to bless your life or faith. It’s going to hurt the church that has to go to battle without you but it’s going to hurt your family and faith more than anyone else.

Choosing to live a life outside of the Lord and His church is choosing to separate yourself from both. You cannot be in Christ, in the kingdom of Jesus with all its blessings (Eph. 1:3), and separate; free from any obligations. You must choose one or the other but you cannot have both.

Another serious problem here is that many Christians are living outside the blessings and promises of Jesus but are not aware of the choice they have made. All they can see is that life is hard, faith is hard, going to church is hard, and they wonder why everyone else seems to be blessed with an easier life. They wonder why everyone else is so committed and faithful. How can they manage to be there every week especially at every service of the church?

Let me tell you why it seems easier for them? Honestly, it is easier for them and I am going to tell you why. I’m not going to hold back, I hope it doesn’t hurt you, and I hope it helps fix your situation. They have chosen to live their life in the blessings and promises of God. You can choose it too! It’s not too late. Make the good decision to commit yourself entirely to Jesus and live your life in his blessings and church.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

(Galatians 6:7, ESV)

When you commit to investing into God and faith, He will make sure to bless you for the effort.

Stuck in the wilderness.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been seriously studying the books of the Old Testament. While studying I have come to some realizations that have been eye-opening and challenging at the same time.  This past week I have been studying the book of Numbers and trying to come to a better understanding of the bigger lessons to be learned. I have come to the conclusion that Numbers is a book that is extremely relevant and valuable in today’s church.

We must understand that faith in God and obedience to his words are central to being God’s people. Numbers show us that God always honors faith and punishes unbelief. At the root of Israel’s problems was their lack of faith in God. This unbelief plagued them the entire 40 years. It kept them from being successful and happy while marching toward their inheritance but more importantly, it kept them out of the promised land. Instead of claiming the Promised Land by faith they chose to wander and die in the unbelief. Too many Christians are stuck in the wilderness, marching to their death, never actually getting the blessings of God. Sometimes they are allowed to stand and look into the Promised Land but they don’t believe they can have it.

It seems like this is true of so many Christians today. Instead of claiming the blessings by faith they spend their time wandered somewhere between sin (Egypt) and blessings (Promised Land). They have been delivered from their Egypt but have not been able to get to the Promised Land, the new victorious life in Christ (Eph. 1:3). It is like they are aware of the blessings of God and desire them but they are not able to let go of Egypt long enough to actually get there. At every turn, every hardship, every little thing that doesn’t go the way they think it should, they want to give up and go back to Egypt. Thinking that it was at least familiar and comfortable. I am often amazed at the naïve way we look at the past, at the hardships, and forget just how bad life really was.

For Israel, Canaan represented a life of battles and blessings that they were unsure if they were able to accomplish. Too many Christians reach their Kadesh-barnea (the point of decision) and they look into the land, turn around and run. Instead of being conquerors (Rom. 8:37) their fears force them to march to their death, all the while, dying a little more each day. They have obeyed the gospel, become Christians but are falling way short of their blessings. In fear and unbelief, they miss out on God’s purpose for their life. They don’t trust that God is big enough or strong enough to overcome their giants, to knock down the walls before them, and part the waters standing between them and God.

I am sick and tired of watching Christians wasting away in the wilderness, stuck in a life that is difficult at best. All the time that Israel wandered through the wilderness, they were dying, and in fact, their total numbers went down. Christians and churches throughout our world are lost in the wilderness, wasting away, enduring unnecessary hardships, and failing to grow or honor God.

Instead of dying, stuck in the wilderness, let’s take God at his word and march to our promises.

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