Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 30- The Son of A Prostitute Vows Chastity For Daughter

April 30, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Judges 11:1-12:15; John 1:1-28;
Psalm 101:1-8; Proverbs 14:13-14

I wanted to be a nun.  I saw nuns as superstars...When I was growing up I went to Catholic school, and the nuns, to me, were these superhuman, beautiful, fantastic people.  
~Madonna

Judges 11:1-12:15

I recently saw an Oprah show where the producers were allowed to see the ceremony of marriage of the young postulate nuns to Jesus Christ.  The Catholic Church has ceremonies and rituals for women who become nuns and dedicate their lives to God.  Within Catholic doctrine, the nuns are considered the bride of Christ,  actually married to Jesus.  I have pointed out many times during our readings that the Church is the bride of Christ.  Jesus uses parables and teaching to establish that He is the groom and we are all His Bride and part of the wedding feast in heaven.  The nuns in the Catholic Church consider this to be something exclusively tied to a vow of celibacy and poverty.  Today, we see another girl who is vowed to chastity by her father.

There is controversy surrounding Jephthah of Gilead.  What is described in the book of Judges would not appear to warrant his inclusion in the Hall of the Heroes of the Faith in the book of Hebrews 11:32.  Therefore, I will introduce a theory that helps to establish why God considers Jephthah a man of faith.

Jephthah is the son of a prostitute.  Although a great warrior, his position in life creates great suffering for him and rejection.  After the nation of Israel has again done evil and is crying out to God for deliverance, Jephthah, who was sent away by his half-brothers, is now called upon to lead Israel in the fight against the Ammonites. He becomes their ruler and military commander.

Jephthah sends a written brief to the king of the Ammonites explaining Israel's right to the land. The accuracy and logic of Jephthah's message to the king of Ammon gives us an indication of his intelligence, integrity, and love for his people, the nation of Israel.  He knows their history, God's provision, and the promises God has given to them about the Promised Land.  Jephthah is a man of faith.

The king of Ammon ignores Jephthah's articulate argument, and then the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Jephthah.  It is at this point that Jephthah makes a vow to God.  There is dispute as to the interpretation of the text.  Our versions indicate that Jephthah vows to dedicate whatever walks out the door of his home to the Lord and then offer it as a burnt offering.  This does not follow Old Testament practice.  One did not vow a burnt offering.  Therefore, it can be concluded that Jephthah was vowing to dedicate whatever came out of the door to the Lord and then to separately provide a burnt offering to the Lord.  Also, the Scripture says that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him.  The Spirit of the Lord would never prompt a person to burn another person as a burnt offering.

The Israelites have a victory over the Ammonites.  When Jephthah returns home, his only daughter comes out of the door, dancing and singing.  He cries out in anguish, remembering his vow.  The daughter goes with her friends to roam the hills for a couple of months, lamenting that she will always be a virgin.  To me, it appears that his vow left his daughter committed to never marrying and never having children, like a nun.  This would have been a tremendous sacrifice for his family.  He would have no descendants because of this vow. 

The Scripture is silent as to how this daughter actually dies.  My belief is that if he had used his daughter as a burnt offering (this is forbidden by God in the writings of Moses), he would never have been included in the Hall of Faith.  Jephthah is an example of faith and sacrifice for God.  He sacrificed his own ability to have descendants because of his desire to defeat the enemies of Israel and live peacefully in the Promised Land.  He sacrificed his own family for the benefit of others. He gave a burnt offering, but it was not his daughter who was burnt.  My guess is that Jephthah's faith was forged in the furnace of suffering he experienced through his rejection as the son of a prostitute.

Once again we see that God uses the weak to reveal His strength.  Do you get the picture?  Do you see this theme repeated over and over?  I guess God means it.  Are you weak?  God can show His strength through you!
God can use you!

John 1:1-28

Congratulations on finishing the book of Luke!  Now, we are onto one of the greatest books in the Bible.  It is the Gospel of John.  This book is often used to teach unbelievers about Christ.  That may be a mistake.  This gospel is designed for people who are already believers in Christ.  It has deep doctrines that are hard to grasp.  It requires us to go back into the infinity of the past, the glory of the present, and the mystery of the future.  John shows us Jesus in all of His humanity and deity.

Let's get going.  Today, I am going to break out the first truths that John presents:
  • In the beginning (of our world), the Word (hemma) already existed.  Hemma is the Hebrew word for Word.  It means the force of a person or their essence. Since this is capitalized, this means the essence of God already existed when our world began. - Vs.1
  • He (Jesus) was with God and he WAS GOD.  (Wrap your head around that one, if you can.) -Vs. 1
  • He (Jesus) was in the beginning with God. (Jesus was at creation and has always existed.) -Vs. 2
  • He (Jesus) created everything there is. -Vs. 3
  • Nothing exists that He didn't make. -Vs. 3
  • He is the author of life and light. -Vs. 4-5
  • Although the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him when he came. -Vs. 10
  • Even his own people from his own country did not recognize him. -Vs. 11
  • To anyone who did recognize him and believe on him, he gave the right to become children of God. This is through a rebirth, not from human sexual passion, but from God. -Vs. 12-13
  • So the Word (Hemma- essence) became human and dwelt among other humans on earth. -Vs. 14
  • The Law was given through Moses, grace and peace come through Jesus Christ. -Vs. 17
  • John the Baptist was sent to point the way to Jesus.  He was not the light, but he pointed us to the light. -Vs. 8-9
  • When asked who he was, John said that he was the Voice.  The Voice spoke about the Word. -Vs. 19-28
You can see why I do not think this is the book to begin teaching a non-believer.  These are deep and profound teachings.  This is just the first chapter of John!!  You can see that a knowledge of the Old Testament makes these huge concepts more understandable.  The creation story is key to grasping some of this.  Knowledge of the Laws of Moses helps.  The concept of God as a Spirit who becomes flesh is important.   This is a great chapter for Christians to memorize.  When my children were young, I had them memorize John chapter 1.  We would all do well to have this truth in our hearts!

Have you become a child of God through belief in Jesus?

Psalm 101:1-8

This is a psalm of dedication to clean living.  Our sanctification is a part of the process of becoming more like Jesus, every day. Read this psalm as if Jesus is speaking the words.

Proverbs 14:13-14

"Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, when laughter ends, the grief remains."  So true.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

April 29- Don't Let Me Be Killed By A Woman!

April 29, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Judges 9:22-10:18; Luke 24:13-53;
Psalm 100: 1-5; Proverbs 14: 11-12

Women belong in the house...and the Senate.  
~Anonymous

Judges 9:22-10:18

Women fighter pilots were first introduced into the United States military in 1994.  Kara Hultgreen was the first female to fly an F-14 Tomcat off of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier.  Although she was killed in a crash at sea during a routine mission, her commission as a fighter pilot led the way for women to make significant contributions in military conflicts for the United States of America.  In today's story a woman manages to kill the wicked Abimilech.

As we begin today, the town of Shechem is growing displeased with having Abimilech as their king.  The Bible states that God is stirring up the trouble against him as punishment for Abimilech having killed Gideon's other sons who were his half brothers. The people set up a failed ambush and Abimilech is mad. He defeats the people in the town and then commits genocide when he burns a thousand innocent men and women in the temple of Baal. He goes to a city called Thebez and captures it. This town also has a strong tower that people run to during the conflict. As Abimilech prepares to attack the tower, a brave woman drops a millstone off the tower and onto Abimilech's head, killing him.  You go, girl!

Israel has a series of judges and periods of peace, but ultimately, they again do evil in the eyes of the Lord and begin to be oppressed by the Ammonites. They cry out to the Lord to rescue them. He is reluctant, but is grieved by their misery. God's grief and compassion lead Him to help them.

Do you realize that even when your problems are a result of your own stupidity and sin, your suffering grieves God?  We worship a God who is loving and long suffering with us.

Luke 24:13-53

Have you ever been listening to a sermon and all of sudden your body gets warm and you almost feel like you are tingling?  I once went to a Billy Graham Crusade. The evening was great. I had been to several other crusades so nothing was really surprising. But before Billy got up to speak, the crowd was led in the singing of hymns.  As we began to sing How Great Thou Art,  a group of about 100 deaf people were positioned near the front of the stage. As the crowd in the auditorium sang in unison, these 100 people signed the words to that awesome hymn with the greatest enthusiasm I have ever seen. The Holy Spirit fell upon us. My body temperature rose as my eyes filled with tears and the glory of God was felt. My two children were with me.  My daughter turned to me and asked, "What just happened?"  I replied, "You just experienced God's Spirit coming upon a group of people." It was a weird experience. We left believing that we had gotten a glimpse of what the joy of being in God's presence and worshiping Him in the new heaven and new earth will be like. I believe this is how these men on the Road to Emmaus must have felt.

It is a simple story. Two fellows on the road are joined by another journeyman, who is Jesus, but is not recognized yet. This is by God's design. He asks about what they have been discussing.  They explain that there was a man named Jesus who was a prophet recently killed, but everyone thought he was the Messiah who would rescue Israel. Instead, he was crucified by the leaders. They tell Jesus that some women are now saying that this Jesus is alive again. 

Jesus rebukes them for not knowing their Scriptures. He tells them that the writings of Moses and the prophets clearly indicate that the Messiah must suffer and die before entering his glory. Jesus explains all of the Old Testament Scriptures that point to him as Messiah. Wow. It is no surprise that they wanted to eat dinner with this fellow and keep talking.  Upon breaking bread after blessing the food, Jesus hands them the bread and they immediately recognize him. Then he disappears. Their reaction is, "Didn't our hearts feel warmly strange as he walked with us on the road and explained Scripture to us?"  That is the Spirit of God, folks!

As they explain this to the disciples, Jesus appears in their midst. He shows them his pierced hands and feet. He has them touch him, so that they realize that he is not dead, not a ghost, but alive in a new kind of body. For further proof, he eats broiled fish and they watch him do it. He teaches this group about how his suffering, death, and resurrection were all predicted in the writings of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms.  He tells them that the predictions in the Old Testament all HAD TO COME TRUE. 

It was now their job to go and be witnesses to this truth.  Jesus promises that God will send the Holy Spirit to indwell believers to accomplish all that God wants accomplished on earth. Needless to say, they all praise God.

Have you felt the warmth of Jesus' teachings in your life?  Has God's Spirit ever burned within your heart? Are you taking the time this year as you read through the Bible to see Jesus in the Old Testament?

Psalm 100:1-5

What a great psalm to read after reading about Christ's resurrection and then his earnest explanation of the Scriptures to his beloved followers.

Proverbs 14:11-12

Sometimes there is a way that seems right to a person, but the way ends in death.  The Israelites during the times of the Judges were a perfect example of this.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 28- A Thorn Bush Will Be King

April 28, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Judges 8:18-9:21; Luke 23:44-24:12
Psalm 99:1-9; Proverbs 14:9-10

A prince never lacks legitimate reason to break his promise.  ~Machiavelli

Judges 8:18-9:21

In Machiavelli's The Prince, Machiavelli gives strategies on how to gain and keep power within an empire by being duplicitous and manipulative.  This classic work, written in the 1500's, influenced many dictators to come.  Mussolini, Stalin, and Napoleon Bonaparte are just some of the world leaders who shaped their own philosophies by using the principles found in  The Prince.  In today's reading, Israel crowns a king who methods to gain power would make him a good candidate for "Machiavellian of the Year."

As our reading begins, Gideon has captured the kings of Midian named Zebah and Zalmunna.  When he finds that these two kings have killed his brothers, he demands that his own son kill these men.  The son is young and hesitant to kill.  Both Zebah and Zalmunna taunt Gideon and tell him that he (Gideon) should be willing to kill them, instead of a young boy having to do it.  Gideon does not come off looking too good here.  He does kill the kings in the end.  The nation of Israel attempts to make Gideon their king.  He rebukes them and reminds them that the Lord is their King.

Israel has been a reluctant player in this theocracy.  We will see them begin to move towards demanding their own earthly king appointed by God, but first they take matters into their own hands.  Gideon gets wealthy from the booty of the Midianite victory.  He takes some of the gold earrings worn by the Midianites, melts them down and creates a sacred ephod.  Unfortunately, the Israelites begin to prostitute themselves to the ephod by worshiping it.  The Bible indicates that even Gideon and his family fell prey to this practice.

Gideon had many wives who produced seventy sons.  One of his sons was from a prostitute.  Gideon faltered in this behavior.  He intermarried with the local people, married more than one wife, and also used prostitutes.  Are you surprised that the Bible shows us this man's weaknesses and sins?  God never allows us to elevate people.  All people are flawed and consequences of sin are felt by all people. Gideon is no exception to this rule. 

Gideon dies, but his evil son from a prostitute whose name is Abimilech, takes advantage of the faithless behavior of the Israelites and starts his Machiavellian tactics in order to gain power.  He starts by going to his mother's relatives in the town of Shechem and getting them to request that he become their ruler.  The relatives give Abimilech silver from the temple of Baal with which he hires soldiers to go with him to kill his seventy half-brothers. Dastardly deed, indeed!  The youngest brother named Jotham escapes the mayhem and calls out from the mountain top that Israel is choosing a thorn bush to be their king.  He indicts them for not acting honorably towards his father, Gideon, and their family and pronounces a curse on them.  Then, he escapes.

Lesson:  Although God used Gideon to defeat the Midianites, the Israelites are going to suffer the consequences of Gideon's personal sin.  The Israelites are also suffering the consequences of their own denial of God as their Lord and King.  How have your suffered the consequences of your own personal sins?  What about suffering because of the sins of the nation in which you live?  Or your leaders' sins?

Luke 23:44-24:12

Today, as Jesus dies on the cross at noon, the land is dark for three hours.  Let me take a moment to comment on the use of the number three in this story by God.  As a means of proclaiming Himself and His triune nature, God implants three's all over the story.  Here are some that I have noticed:
  • Jesus enters Jerusalem three times before the Passover supper.
  • Jesus presents three items at the Passover supper that represent his new covenant (the wine, the bread, and the last cup of wine)
  • Jesus prays three times for the cup to pass from him, if possible, in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • Peter denies the Lord three times during his trials and beatings.
  • Jesus is brought before three types of leaders, the High Priest, Pilate, and Herod.
  • All three leaders condemn him.
  • Pilate makes three attempts to release Jesus.
  • Three men are hung on crosses to die that day. They are Jesus, a believer in Jesus, and an unbeliever in Jesus.
  • The sun was darkened for three hours at his suffering (from noon to 3 pm).
  • He was in the grave for three days and three nights (like Jonah in the fish).
  • Three women came to the tomb to discover that Jesus had risen from the dead.
God loves to symbolize things with numbers. These are not coincidences. They are confirmations of God's complete work on the Cross.  God's hand was throughout every detail of making sure that you and I would be saved from our sins through the work of God, alone. Our triune God, who is seen in the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is in all things and through Him all things come to pass.

Jesus dies, is buried in Joseph of Arimathea's borrowed tomb, and then rises again on the first day of the week.  Faithful women coming to his empty tomb begin to paint the picture of who will comprise the early Church.  We see right away that upon Jesus' resurrection that women are given a featured role.

Psalm 99:1-9




This psalm speaks of the Lord being king!  This is a picture of Jesus in His millennial reign on earth.

Proverbs 14:9-10

I love this, "Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy."

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27- Jars of Clay

April 27, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Judges 7:1-8:17; Luke 23:13-43;
Psalm 97:1-98:9; Proverbs 14:7-8

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Judges 7:1-8:17

When my daughter was younger, I put her in all sorts of creative classes in order to spark her love of the arts.  She played violin, took piano lessons, danced ballet, sang with voice teachers, participated in drama classes, tried painting, and finally, I put her in a pottery class.  She loved her pottery class and relished the ability to form an object with her own hands.  On the shelves of the pottery studio were pieces of pottery that were available for sale.  In the corner towards the back of the store on a lower shelf were the chipped and broken pots and vases that had not turned out as planned.  They sat out of the way, their use questionable. In our reading today, God uses jars of clay and human earthen vessels to defeat Israel's enemies.

Gideon sounded the trumpet and thirty-two thousand men responded.  The Lord tells Gideon that this army is too large.  Can't you see Gideon's surprise?  The Lord has Gideon tell the group to go home if they have any fears.  Twenty-two thousand men leave.  We are down to ten thousand men.  This is too many for the Lord.  The Lord tells Gideon to divide them into two groups and have them drink from the river.  Those who scooped water into their hands and drank from their hands were chosen to be the army.  There were only three hundred men who drank this way.

Can you see Gideon's hesitation?  Do you think God really cared how the men drank the water?  This is a picture of God choosing His army, but you can rest assured that the men He chose had hearts for the fight!  God chose men who were ready for battle, but a small enough group to prove a point.  God was to get the victory for this battle.

Can God say that about you?  Are you small and weak enough to fight His battles?  He can use you, if you are weak, but have faith in God. The interesting thing is that the Israelites had no weapons, but they were faithful, ready to fight, and courageous.  Having been oppressed by the Midianites, who are like a swarm of locusts in the desert, the Israelites do not have swords.  It is ironic that as they charge into battle they shout, "A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!"  The only sword these men had was Jesus Christ (pre-incarnate) going into battle for them.

God assures Gideon that they will receive a victory, and knowing Gideon's penchant for needing to see a sign, God allows Gideon to go into the Midianite camp and overhear a conversation about a dream.  Gideon realizes that the Lord is going to given them a victory.

Jesus' battle plan to defeat the Midianites includes trumpets, jars of clay, and torches.  No weapons or armor is used.  At night, the Lord tells Gideon to attack by blowing multiple rams'  horns, breaking the jars of clay, and surrounding the camp with torches of light.  The Lord causes the Midianites to fight against each other using their own swords.  The light provided by the Israelites allowed them to see each other, so they could kill each other. 

God chose men who had the right attitude, but no weapons of their own to fight a great battle. We learn that 120,000 Midianites are killed in this fight. The key to God using these 300 earthen vessels (men) was that they were to obey His battle plan.  Obedience is the difference between victory and failure. God chose obedient, faith-filled men.

 Here is a verse from 2 Corinthians 4:6-7,  "For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

Do you realize that you and I are jars of clay filled with God's light?  When He breaks us with trials or allows us to have flaws that cause us to look like cracked pots, His light shines forth from our brokenness and defeats our enemy, the Devil.  In our brokenness, God finds victory.  In our weakness we find His strength.  Our suffering is His glory.

Luke 23:13-43

Our reading in the New Testament opens with Jesus on trial in front of Pilate.  Pilate refers to the crowd's opinion on who should be released because he sees no cause for death in anything that Jesus has done.  The crowd demands Barabbas be released. 

Simon of Cyrene carries Jesus cross as women weep in a trail behind Jesus and Simon. Jesus prophesies on the way to the cross about a future day that will truly cause weeping for the mothers in Jerusalem. 

Jesus is crucified between two criminals.  He prays that God will forgive these people because they do not know what they are doing.   Many are scoffing and laughing at Jesus. A sign above his head reads, "This is the King of the Jews."  One of the criminals scoffs that Jesus should save himself and them too, if he is the Messiah. 

The other criminal scolds the scoffing criminal and asks in earnest, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom."  Wow.  Tremendous faith is seen on the part of this dying man.  He trusted in a Kingdom that would appear in the future, but looks impossible to achieve as they hang on the crosses.  This man's brokenness achieves God's glory. This flawed man had eyes to see the TRUTH.  The truth was Jesus is the King of the Jews.

Jesus rewards this man's faith by assuring him that today he would be in paradise with Jesus.  Can there be any greater knowledge when one faces death than the knowledge that you will spend eternity with a loving and just God?  It is never too late to turn to God, my friends.  Have faith. Spend eternity with Christ.

Psalm 97:1-98:9

Verses 8-9, "Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the Lord. For the Lord is coming to judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness."

Proverbs 14:7-8

Stay away from fools.  Enough said.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26- Just Give Me A Sign

April 26, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Judges 6:1-40; Luke 22:54-23:12
Psalm 95:1-96:13; Proverbs 14:5-6

When suffering comes, we yearn for a sign from God, forgetting that we just had one.
 ~Mignon McLaughlin

Judges 6:1-40

Have you heard about these various occurrences where God supposedly is revealing Himself to people?  I have heard of people saying that an image of Jesus Christ appeared in their toast, an image of the Virgin Mary appeared in the window of some people in Canada, and the shroud of Turin reveals the body image of Jesus. All of these claims are ways that people can bolster their faith through a physical sign. Today we meet a new judge who because of his weak faith requires multiple signs from God.

As our story begins Israel is being run over by the Midianites. They are raiding Israel's crops and stripping the land bare. The nation of Israel cries out to God for deliverance.  In response, the angel of the Lord (Jesus Christ pre-incarnate) comes to a man named Gideon. Here is how Jesus greets this man, "Mighty hero, the Lord is with you."  God knows something about this man's character and potential that even this man does not know about himself!  As we read closely, we find that Gideon is a nobody from a small tribe. This is just the type of man God is looking to use!  The Lord explains that He is going to be with Gideon to defeat the Midianites. Gideon is Israel's next judge.

Gideon wants proof from God that he is really to be this great hero. In faith, he seeks God's will through a sign.  The first sign he requests is tied to his offering to God.  The Angel of the Lord accepts Gideon's offer, burns it up and then disappears.  Gideon builds an altar to God and calls it "God is Peace."  Do you find it interesting that Gideon calls the God who is going to lead him into battle "The God of Peace"?  Gideon recognized in God a person through whom he could find peace for his soul.

After this, the angel of the Lord requires that Gideon tear down the pagan altars to Baal and the pagan goddess Asherah (Ashtoreth). Gideon was to build an altar to the real God in its place.  Gideon was obedient to the Lord's request, but did it at night because he feared what his family would do when he tore down their religious altars. Another way to view this action is to see that Gideon was wise to tear it down at night, because this was a controversial act that would upset people in the community.  The next morning the community did want to kill Gideon for switching out the altars.  We see Gideon continue to grow in his faith. He really trusts the One True God. With courage, Gideon challenges Baal to defend his altar if he is truly a god.  Crickets chirp...

As the Midianites create alliances and gather to fight Israel, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Gideon. In an act of leadership and courage, Gideon blows the trumpet of war and assembles a large number of fighting men. Gideon is determined to not act outside of God's will. He asks the Lord for more proof that God is going to use him to save Israel.  God plays along and does the fleece and dew miracles. Notice that once is not enough for Gideon, he needs God to do it twice. Do you think Gideon had a hard time believing that God could use him for great things?

God relishes using the weak to show Himself strong.  Are you weak?  Do you doubt that God can affect other people through you? God can and will use you in spite of your frailty.

Luke 22:54-23:12

Speaking of weakness, today we see that Peter is weak and gives into the temptation to deny Jesus three times. We learned yesterday that Jesus had warned Peter that his lack of faith in falling asleep rather than praying with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane would be a problem.  Here we see the consequences of not being prepared for spiritual battle. Jesus was ready. Peter was not.

Jesus goes forth in battle as he faces the High Council, Pilate, the Roman governor, and Herod.  Jesus declares his deity and position as King of the Jews to both the High Council and to Pilate, but Jesus refuses to utter a word to the man (Herod),who killed his cousin John the Baptist.

Jesus is a prepared man. He is prepared for spiritual battle to do God's will because of his total trust in God and his commitment to live in obedience.  Do you fervently want God's will in your life?  Sometimes His will is gonna look messy.  Sometimes His will brings conflict and suffering. Are you ready for battle?

Psalm 95:1-96:13

I love verses 6-7, "Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the sheep under his care."

Proverbs 14:5-6

Mockers never find wisdom.  Think about how the High Council and Herod mocked Christ.

What did you notice?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25- A Woman Will Get Credit

April 25, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Judges 4:1-5:31; Luke 22:35-53;
Psalm 94:1-23; Proverbs 14:3-4


I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old Revolutionary maxim. Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God. 
~ Susan B. Anthony



Judges 4:1-5:31

When my daughter was very young and we were reading through the Bible, she would always ask, "What about the women?  What are the women doing?  Why are we always reading about men?"  It was a tricky question to answer.  The ancient history books are filled with the exploits of men, while the women are relegated to a murky existence that includes motherhood and societal jobs that are never fully explained or exalted.  Only rarely are the efforts of a woman highlighted in ancient history as being a triumphant leader.  Highlighted women are usually prostitutes who are infamous for sleeping with men who were the leaders.  There is also Cleopatra, who is known for being a powerful queen, but also a promiscuous vixen.

Modern history is better. We have seen the dramatic changes spawned by the Judeo-Christian culture.  Women are now the beneficiaries of enlightened thinking thanks to God's economy.  This is not what the feminists would have you believe, but Christianity has been the biggest single advancer of women's rights on earth. Susan B. Anthony, who was instrumental in helping American women gain the right to vote, was a Christian woman. Today in our reading we meet a "mother in Israel" who was both a judge, a prophetess, and a leader.

Once again, we have the Israelites doing evil in the sight of the Lord.  They come under the oppression of King Jabin, who is a Canaanite.  The commander of his army is named Sisera. This commander has nine hundred iron chariots in his forces.  Under this general's thumb, Israel is ruthlessly oppressed for twenty years.

Israel cries out to God for deliverance, so God raises up a woman to be the Judge over Israel.  Her name is Deborah.  She is a wife and a mother.  Obviously a passionate, skilled, and faithful woman, Deborah is not only a judge who handles all of the disputes in the community, she is also a prophetess of God.  Her wisdom is renowned.

Deborah informs Israel's military general, Barak, that God wants Israel to attack the Canaanites and He wants to give Israel a victory.  Barak responds that he will only go to fight if Deborah comes with him.  You can see why God needed to raise up a courageous woman. Barak is not confident in his ability to discern God's will. Deborah agrees to go into battle with him, but warns Barak that a woman will get credit for the victory.

Ten thousand warriors from the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali go to fight Sisera.  Deborah marches with them.  As a prophetess, Deborah is able to tell Barak when to go into battle and she confirms that the Lord is marching ahead of him.  What a comforting thought.  The Lord throws Sisera and his charioteers into a panic.  Sisera flees on foot to the tent of a Gentile woman named Jael.  Here is another woman of great faith.  Jael waits for Sisera to fall asleep and then she drives a tent peg into his head. Fearless and fierce is this woman!  Her actions fulfill Deborah's prophecy that a woman would get the credit for defeating the Canaanites. 

Deborah and Barak compose a battle victory song.  This is an epic poem to be sung about God's victory. The fact that Israel had chosen other gods, which ultimately caused this conflict, is mentioned. The tribes that stayed home from battle are chided in this song.  Zebulun and Naphtali are praised for their courage.  Barak and Deborah are highlighted, and Jael is praised as a hero. The poem indicates that the stars from heaven fought against Sisera.  What a beautiful way to describe God's intervention.  You can tell that this poem is composed by a mother because Sisera's mother is mentioned waiting for her son's return from the battlefield.

Will God call you into battle?  Will the stars in heaven fight your foes?  Can you be a leader and a person of faith in your community and home regardless of your gender?

Luke 22:35-53

Jesus has finished the Passover supper and has given the disciples a new sacrament to institute regularly in order to remember Christ's new covenant with all who believe in him.  He then tells the disciples that instead of going to the Israelites exclusively (without sword or purse) with the message of Jesus Christ, they will now go out into the world.  Jesus suggests that they be armed and ready for this portion of their ministry.  Dangers will lie ahead for the followers of Christ.

Jesus is about to face dangers of a different kind.  In order to prepare for this battle of the soul, Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane.  I believe what we are seeing here is not the calm before the storm, but the actual spiritual storm being fought by Christ.  Satan came to tempt Christ in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry.  Satan attempted to offer Christ a kingly crown that could be worn without dying on a cross. Christ fought that battle with fasting and the Word of God.

Now we meet Christ in the Garden wrestling with his own dread of having the world's sins placed upon him.  The stench and disgust of our imperfections would come upon his person on the Cross.  It is not the Cross that he fears.  It is the separation from God that our sins will cause that devastate our Lord.  In the wilderness angels came to minister to Jesus as he struggled against Satan.  In the Garden of Gethsemane the angels return.  Jesus is under such duress that he literally sweats blood.  Although rare, this condition has been recorded in humans and is called hermatidrosis.  It is caused by stress.

After fervently praying, Jesus accepts God's will.  He has the strength to endure the separation from God and successfully redeem mankind through his death and resurrection.  As he awakens his sleeping companions, Jesus rebukes the disciples for not staying awake to pray. He prophesies that their lack of prayer will lead them into temptation.

After the deceptive kiss from Judas, Peter assesses the dangerous situation.  Having just been told by Jesus earlier that their new ministry will require swords, Peter commences to fight and cuts off the ear of the High Priest's servant. Jesus quickly puts the ear back on the fellow and heals him.  Peter is rebuked once more by Jesus for not "getting it." Jesus establishes that this arrest is willed by God, because God is allowing darkness to reign at this moment. Jesus has both strength and wisdom after spending time with God in prayer.  Peter does not.

Do you pray in order to defeat temptation?  Are you a person who "gets it" in life because you have spent enough time alone with God? Or are you like Peter...asleep at the wheel?

Psalm 94:1-23

This psalm asks all the right questions and comes to all the right conclusions.

Proverbs 14:3-4

"An empty stable stays clean, but no income comes from an empty stable."  Are you willing to get your hands dirty?

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 24- The Thorn In The Flesh

April 24, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Judges 2:10-3:31; Luke 22:14-34;
Psalm 92:1-93:5; Proverbs 14:1-2

If you enjoy the fragrance of a rose, you must accept the thorns which it bears.
~Anonymous

Judges 2:10-3:31


Before we begin today let me wish each of you a Happy Easter.  There is no greater celebration for the Christian.  Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness!!  His death paid the penalty for our sin, but oh the glorious resurrection provides our hope for eternal life spent in the presence of our Creator.  Today, I hope that you have trusted Christ as your Savior and that you are celebrating His Resurrection.  He is the first fruit of those risen from the dead.  If you are a believer, you too will resurrect one day to eternal life.  Praise God!

Have you ever worked in an office with someone who drove you crazy?  Worse yet that person actually had it out for you?  I once worked in an office with a gal who seemed to want to make my life miserable.  She was a thorn in my side.  Her goal in life was to make sure that I did not succeed in getting promoted or acknowledged for my work.  She wanted to control the environment, control the work load, and control the boss.  As a matter of fact, she was having an affair with the boss.  So she did pretty well at controlling him. Yes, I know.  The fun just never stopped.  It will not surprise you to know that I stayed at that job for only a year, but the lessons I learned during that year have lasted me a lifetime.  As I think back upon the situation, I see that God was using these trials to test my faith and sift some impurities out of my life.  The bad experience served a good purpose. It would have been nice to have realized this while I was going through it!

Today the nation of Israel starts the cycle we discussed yesterday.  The predictable cycle is idol worship, rebellion, sin, slavery, servitude, cry to God, turn to God, repent, Judge raised up, deliverance, and the nation serves God.  Here is how this generation is described in Judges 2:10,
"After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel." 
It is hard to believe how quickly history is forgotten.  Think about it. You and I do not truly have a grasp of our great grandparents' lives.  Our own family histories are a mystery to us.  The nation of Israel was like this. The surrounding Canaanites and pagan worshiping people were not completely driven out of the land by Joshua.  The Bible tells us that this was God's will. Here is the reason from Judges 2:22-23,
"I did this to test Israel- to see whether or not they would obey the Lord as their ancestors did."  That is why the Lord did not quickly drive the nations out or allow Joshua to conquer them all." (NLT)
God intended to test the nation of Israel's faith.  Do you realize that often in life when we have a thorn in our flesh that thorn is designed to test our faith?  What thorn have you been given?  How's that working for you? Are you reacting to it in faith or through your own strength?

The nation of Israel had intermarried with the people of the land. They had taken to worshiping Baal and Ashtoreth.  Remember that these pagan practices included immoral sexual activity designed to incite Baal to impregnate Ashtoreth (mother goddess earth) for abundant crops.  God was angry at this behavior and allowed Israel to be enslaved by these godless people. The Bible says that Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.  God is watching, people.  As the Lord's anger burned, He allowed Israel to become subject to a man named Cushanrishathaim.  Say that three times in a row!! 


As Israel cries out to God for deliverance, God raises up the first judge named Othniel.  He was Caleb's nephew.  The Spirit of the Lord came upon Othniel, he was victorious in battle, and there was peace in the land for forty years.

Once again, the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord, so God let them be enslaved by King Eglon of Moab.  Eglon was an obese man.  The Israelites were under this despot for 18 years until they cried out for deliverance and God raised up Ehud as the second judge.  Ehud was left-handed.  This factored into how he delivered Israel from the fat king.  Anyway, it is a gruesome story of one-on-one assasination.  Ehud stabbed Eglon in his big belly.  The knife went in and never came out.  After the assasination, Ehud lead Israel in a successful battle against Moab.  There was peace for eighty years.

The next judge was Shamgar.  The only thing we know about Shamgar is that he killed six hundred Philistines with an ox goad.  We would call this a cattle prod.  This dude was some kinda warrior.  Wow. 

What can we learn from the judges?

Lesson:  God uses simple people to accomplish great things.  3 simple men + God = Victory and deliverance


What battles in your life need to be fought with the power of God?  What thorn in your flesh can God deliver you from?  What if he chooses not to deliver you as in the case of the Apostle Paul?  Can you rely on God in the midst of suffering?

Luke 22:14-34

Today as Jesus sits down to eat his final Passover supper with the disciples, we see Jesus talking to Peter about Peter getting sifted by Satan. In other words, God is going to allow a thorn in Peter's flesh in order to test his faith and teach him a lesson. Listen to the words of Jesus in Luke 22:31-32,
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat.  But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up your brothers." (NLT)
There are some extremely important things we can learn from this exchange:
  • Satan, at times, needs permission to torment someone.
  • God can grant that permission for a purpose.
  • Jesus intercedes for us in order to preserve our salvation through faith. 
  • Jesus is praying for us during our trials and testing.
  • We must repent when we sin.
  • We must turn back to God when we have faltered in our faith.
  • He forgives us and strengthens us to do his work on earth.
  • Our faith can be stronger after a sifting. 
  • We can be used mightily by God because we have suffered and been tested.

In the ancient world the first step in sifting wheat was to loosen the chaff (inedible portion) from the grain by spreading the wheat onto a stone floor and beating it with a flail.  Satan was asking permission to pummel Peter, but God was using this as a means of getting to the good wheat of Peter's faith. Satan wanted to beat Peter. Jesus was interceding so that Peter could survive the pummeling and have his faith remain intact. What Satan meant for evil, God meant for good.

Do you need Jesus to intercede for you because you are being pummeled? Ask him to maintain your faith. He will answer.

One other thing to remember...our Lord was crucified wearing a crown of thorns.  He knows your pain, he has been tested and found faithful.


Psalm 92:1-93:5

This is a happy and joyful psalm.  It rings with truth!

Proverbs 14:1-2

"A wise woman builds her house; a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands."  Wow.  How true is that?

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23- Skin In The Game

April 23, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Judges 1:1-2:9; Luke 21:29-22:13;
Psalm 90:1-91:16; Proverbs 13:24-25

History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to 
moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. 
~General Douglas MacArthur

Judges 1:1-2:9

Dear friends, you did it!!!  You have completed the first six books of the Old Testament.  Congratulations!  Keep reading with me.  Don't give up.  I know you can do this and it will be well worth it.

Today we get into a very interesting book in the Old Testament, but first I want to talk about a new show on television.  It is called "Skin."  And boy there's a lot of skin to be seen on this show. You may have heard about it on the news because it is causing an uproar.  Apparently, this shows tries to portray the real lives of middle-class teenagers in this country.  It may not surprise you to find out that the producers and writers of this show are focusing on drug use and immoral sex among teens.  Rebellion and licentiousness are the flavor of the month.  Wow. How original.  This story line is as old as the book you and I are reading this year. As a matter of fact in the book of Judges we are going to be watching the Israelites "do what is right in their own eyes."  At times the story will look just like this modern television show.  Everyone will have "skin in the game," if you know what I mean. The Israelites' experiment with the governmental form of theocracy leads them to questionable practices, idol worship, and suffering.  They are not good at following a God that they cannot see.

We are about to start of series of cycles in the nation of Israel.  As the saying goes, "History repeats itself."  Well, it certainly will be true in the book of Judges.  Here is the cycle:
  • The nation serves God.
  • The nation forsakes God (idol worship).
  • The nation follows what's right in its own eyes (sin and pleasure).
  • The nation is sold into slavery.
  • The nation is under servitude.
  • The nation cries out for deliverance from God.
  • The nation turns to God.
  • The nation repents of sin.
  • A Judge is raised up for the nation.
  • The nation is delivered.
  • The nation serves God.
We will see this repeated seven times.  Oh, the joy...

In our reading today the most prominent thing you will notice is that the tribes are meeting with constant failure as they attempt to defeat the Canaanites in their various land areas.  Each tribe is responsible for driving out the people on their apportioned land.  The phrase, "...and they failed to drive out the people.." is repeated throughout these chapters.  Finally, we see the Angel of the Lord (pre-incarnate Jesus Christ) explain to the Israelites what is happening.  Here is his explanation in Judges 2:1,
"I brought you out of Egypt into this land that I swore to give your ancestors, and I said I would never break my covenant with you.  For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars.  Why, then, have you disobeyed my command? Since you have done this, I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you." (NLT)
Israel's disobedience in not tearing down pagan idols and altars has caused their defeat. After this explanation from Christ the people weep, are dismissed to their apportioned lands, and Joshua dies at the age of 110 years.

What can we learn from this cycle?  Obedience to God prevents sin and suffering.  The nation of Israel is a picture to the world of every human being and the predictable cycle of rebellion against God.  Our sin nature leads us all into this cycle. The Apostle Paul deals with this tendency in Romans 7:7-25.  What are we to do?

We rely on Jesus Christ, the central character of history, to stop this cycle in our lives.  Jesus pays the penalty for our sin and makes us new creatures in Christ.  With the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives we finally have a shot at obedience.  We can break the unhealthy cycle of the slavery to sin.  Does this mean that we will be sinless and perfect?  NO.  But it does mean that we will slowly be sanctified in our behavior.  If we are earnest in following God, we will become more like Christ each day.

Luke 21:29-22:13

Jesus makes an interesting statement today.  He says that heaven and earth will pass away, but his words will never pass away.  Remember how we talked about the heavens and the earth in Genesis being created by His spoken word and that the word "word" implies God's mind, intelligence, logic, and essence?  God's essence remains forever. 

It is logical then that we would obey Jesus' next command to his followers.  He says that we should not be living in careless ease, getting drunk and filled with worries about this life on this earth.  It is all going to pass away anyway.  Instead, he says that we should be mindful of truth, watchful for his second coming, and be steadfast in prayer.

Are you wasting your time on earth drinking alcohol and trying to cope with your worries and sorrows about this life by getting drunk?  Jesus warns against this.  He knows it is tempting to approach the hardships of life this way. He is encouraging us to get perspective.  One day this world and all of its troubles will be gone.  Live like you know this truth!

Psalm 90:1-91:6

Here is a beautiful prayer of Moses.   Drink in these thoughts.  Vs. 4 helps us to get perspective on the concept of time from God's viewpoint.

Here is a beautiful verse from Psalm 91:1  "Those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, will find  rest in the Shadow of the Almighty." 

Have you found rest in His shadow?

Proverbs 13:24-25

Disciplining your children proves that you love them.  When God disciplines you, it shows His love for you.  Embrace this.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
@ 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 22- As For Me And My House...

April 22, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Joshua 24:1-33; Luke 21:1-28;
Psalm 89:38-52; Proverbs 13:20-23

But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
~Joshua 24:15

Joshua 24:1-33

In the mid 12th century on the battlefields of Europe, knights and lords could be identified as an ally or an enemy by their coat of arms.  This shield or symbol came to represent a family.  The coat of arms would have certain colors, animals, illustrations, and mottoes to represent the character and beliefs of a certain clan.  Eventually, even commoners adopted these bearings.  My husband's family has a coat of arms.  The motto of their family coat of arms was "Light in Darkness."  How appropriate. Today, Joshua defines his family's beliefs for the nation of Israel, and challenges them to be true to their promise.

Time has gone quickly for the good general of Israel.  Today we see Joshua prior to his death.  Just as in prior death speeches by Jacob/Israel, who prophesied about each son, and Moses, who blessed the twelve tribes, Joshua gives a final message.  Joshua recounts the history of the nation of Israel, reminding them that God has accomplished these victories for them.  Here are some highlights from his talk:
  • Terah, Abraham's father, worshiped other gods, living beyond the Euphrates River.
  • Abraham was led to the land of Canaan by God.
  • Abraham's descendants through his son Isaac were Jacob and Esau.
  • Jacob and his children were sent down to Egypt and became slaves.
  • Egypt was plagued and God brought the Israelites out of Egypt to freedom by defeating the Pharaoh.
  • God gave Israel victory over the Amorites on the East side of the Jordan.
  • God gave Israel victory at Jericho and the cities of Canaan.
  • God has given them cities they did not build and vineyards they did not plant.
  • Israel must honor the Lord and serve Him.
Joshua challenges the nation of Israel in their state of rest and prosperity to continue to serve the Lord alone.  He asks them if they will choose to follow the gods of Terah and the Amorites or the Lord God of Israel. Joshua states that he and his house will follow the Lord.

The nation of Israel responds that they will never forsake the Lord and worship other gods.  Oh that this statement were true!  Joshua makes a covenant with them and sets up a large
stone as a witness to their agreement with God. He then sends each tribe to their inherited land and at the age of 110, Joshua is gathered to his fathers in death.  Joshua's coat of arms is to serve the One True God of Israel.  This was the dying testimony of a faithful servant of God.

What would your family's coat of arms look like?  Would it reflect service to God?

Luke 21:1-28

People are confused in Jerusalem.  The common belief of the day was that when the Messiah came he would rescue Israel from their enemies and set up an earthly kingdom.  The books of the prophets in the Old Testament predict this event. Even the disciples are questioning Jesus as to when this will happen.  Here is his response from verses 8-28:
  • Many will come claiming to be the Messiah.  Don't believe them.
  • There will be wars and insurrections.  The end will not follow immediately after these.
  • Nations will war against each other.  Still, not the end.
  • There will be earthquakes, famines, and epidemics.
  • There will be a time of great persecution.
  • Jesus' followers will be persecuted by high officials.
  • Family members will betray the disciples.
  • Some of you (Jews) will be hated and killed for my name sake.
  • Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies. (This occurred in A.D. 70.)
  • This will signal the time of destruction of Jerusalem.
  • Jews will be led away and scattered.
  • Jerusalem will be conquered by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles is complete. (We are in the time of the Gentiles right now.)
  • Strange events with the sun, moon and stars will occur.
  • Nations will be in turmoil.
  • There will be roaring seas and strange tides.
  • Many people will fear because of the fearful fate of the earth, and because the stability of the heavens will be broken up.
  • Then, everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power.
We do not know when the end will occur.  Jesus gives information, but not specific dates.  This means that you and I should watch and wait.  Be faithful in the work He has given you to do.  Use your gifts and talents for God and to help people. 

Are you afraid or hopeful for Jesus' return?

Psalm 89:38-52

Notice how David ends this psalm with proclaiming that the Lord be blessed, even in the midst of complaining about his personal demise.  This reflects faith.

Proverbs 13:20-23

You should walk with other wise people, if you want to be wise in your life.  Fools will cause you to suffer harm.  Have you experienced this?

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 21- A Memorial

April 21, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Joshua 22:21-23:16; Luke 20:27-47;
Psalm 89:14-37; Proverbs 13:17-19

Youth lives on hope, old age on remembrance.
 ~French Proverb

Joshua 22:21-23:16

If you ever get the chance to Washington D.C., you should go and see the World War II memorial.  As you stand in the open space, the gravity of what occurred in the past and the dedication of those who went before us is palpable. The memorial opened on April 29, 2004 to honor the 16 million people who served in the armed forces of the United States during that terrible conflict.  The memorial is a monument to the spirit, dedication, courage, stamina, and vision it took to fight evil in the world.  Standing in the space reminds you of the many areas in the world where our service people fought and died. This monument reminds future generations to embrace national unity and moral strength to achieve justice and good for others.  Today the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh have erected a memorial as a remembrance to God.  But first there's a conflict!

As we saw in yesterday's reading, the nation of Israel is preparing to go to war with these tribes because they appear to have erected a pagan altar on the banks of the Jordan River.  The community is in no mood to get God angry after fighting all the battles to gain the Promised Land.  A delegation is sent to the leaders of these tribes to see if an agreement can be hammered out before fighting commences.  When approached, the leaders of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh quickly explain that since they would not be right in the midst of the community of the nation of Israel, they worried that their children would forget the Lord.  It was their intention to erect a memorial to the One True God.  It was to be a reminder to their descendants and the other Israelite tribes' descendants that this group of people have the right to worship the Lord in His sanctuary, offer sacrifices, burnt offerings, and peace offerings.  This explanation satisfies the priests of Israel and resolves the conflict.  The people of Reuben and Gad named the altar "Witness."

What have you erected in your life or home that reflects to your children your belief in God?  How are you providing a "Witness" to the next generation?

Joshua is preparing to die.  He begins his reminder to the Israelites of God's faithfulness to His promises. Joshua admonishes the Israelites to be careful to love the Lord.  Are you careful to love God?

Luke 20:27-47

One of the things I really like about Jesus is that he can explain things that the rest of us have no way of knowing without his help.  The fact that he was at the creation of the world, existed and made visits to earth pre-incarnate in the Old Testament, and then humbled himself to come down, go through the birth canal, and experience life in the confines of a human body make him the perfect teacher to teach us all things about God.

Today Jesus explains resurrection to a group of religious leaders.  Some of them believe that there is a resurrection.  Others of them think that you simply stop existing upon death.   Here is what Jesus has to say about that.  By the way, they use a dilemma about marriage in order to set the context for their question on resurrection.  Here is Jesus' answer:
  • Marriage is a uniquely earthly institution. 
  • In the age to come there is no marriage.
  • If you are worthy of being raised from the dead, you will not be married afterwards.
  • Angels in heaven don't marry. 
  • You get a new life when you are resurrected.
  • Moses believed in resurrection.
  • Moses stated that the Lord was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who were dead when he said this) and yet he referred to them as alive.  This is because they are alive.
  • God is the God of the living, not the dead.
We have discussed many times that marriage is an earthly institution designed to picture Jesus' relationship with the Church. The nation of Israel is portrayed in Scripture as the wife of Jehovah. Believers are spiritually married and in an intimate relationship with Christ, who provides seed to produce the fruit of righteousness on earth.  Believers are the bride, who act as a helpmate to Christ as he multiplies the children of God on earth.  This is why God hates divorce.  It screws up His beautiful picture. Your marriage is a physical picture of a spiritual reality. 

Jesus asks these religious leaders a question.  He wants to know if they have figured out how David can call his son "the Lord."  The teachers are stumped.  Jesus is both David's descendant and King David's Lord.  The virgin birth provides this answer.

Jesus warns the crowds against following teachers who like to look important and wise, but are really greedy, lazy, and crooked.  Jesus assures the crowd that these leaders will be punished in a harsher fashion for living this way.  Misleading people about God is a big no no.

Do you believe that you will be resurrected one day?  Is marriage a sacred institution to you?

Psalm 89:14-37

I love the section of this psalm that declares that God's throne is founded on two pillars: righteousness and justice.  Don't we often wish that there was justice in this world?  God's kingdom will be marked by justice.  Also, unfailing love and truth are attendants to His throne. This is my kinda place!

Proverbs 13:17-19

It is important to be a reliable messenger.  Jesus was rebuking the religious leaders of his day for being unreliable messengers.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20- Being at Rest

April 20, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Joshua 21:1-22:20; Luke 20:1-6;
Psalm 89:1-13; Proverbs 13:15-16

Lullaby, and sleep tight.
Hush! My darling is sleeping,
On his sheets white as cream,
With his head full of dreams.
~Johannes Brahms

Joshua 21:1-22:20

Back in the day when it was time to put the children to bed, either my husband or I would rock them in a rocking chair or sit on the edge of their bed and sing a lullaby to them.  Many times I could not remember all the words to the lullaby, so I would make up other lyrics that applied only to my child.  The lyrics might be about the color of their eyes or the goodness of their character.  The point was to put my child's mind at ease and help them to rest.  Today in our reading, God provides a lullaby of rest for the Israelites.

The Levites have been apportioned their land.  They are the last of the tribes to be designated their property.  Here is Joshua's account of this completion in Joshua 21:43-45,
"So the Lord gave to Israel all the land he swore to give their ancestors, and they conquered it and settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors.  None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord helped them conquer all their enemies.  All the good promises that the Lord had given Israel came true."  (NLT)
"All the good promises that the Lord had given Israel came true."  Wow.  What a great testimony.  What a way to put the Israelites minds at ease and help them to rest in God. Is this a message to you about what God can do in your life?  What enemies need to be defeated in order for you to rest in the land?  His good promises will come true for you, too. Are you resting in His promises?

After a lullaby and rest, people can be lulled into complacency.  Rest can be restorative or a vehicle for laziness.  Joshua shows vigilance against this possibility when he gets angered at the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half -tribe of Manasseh.  After commending these men for valiant fighting, Joshua sends them back to their property on the east side of the Jordan River.  Before crossing the river, these men build a large altar that can be seen from their side of the river.  Thinking that these men had already been lulled into Baal worship, an assembly of Israelites gather at Shiloh to go attack these men.  Before advancing, the group decides to confront these wayward tribes and confirm their intentions.  We will learn the results of that meeting tomorrow.

Are there altars built in your life that may confuse others about your faith in God?  For example, does excessive drinking on your part make people wonder if you truly love God?  How about constant conflict with others?  Perhaps you have built an altar of judgment against others?  Some of us have built huge altars of judging in our lives.

Luke 20:1-26

Jesus is confronted by the religious leaders today who are wondering what makes him think he has the authority to stop the business transactions in the Temple.  Rather than answering them directly, Jesus uses the Socratic method to teach.  He asks them if John the Baptist's teachings had authority from God.  This silences his critics.  If they answer in the affirmative, it will confirm that Jesus is from God, because John's ministry pointed to Jesus as the Messiah.

Jesus teaches the crowd through a parable called the Landowner and the Tenants.  There was a Landowner/Farmer (God) who planted a vineyard (world) and leased it to tenant farmers (Israel) to care for the crops (those who believe in God).  The Farmer (God) sent many servants (prophets) to check on the vineyard. Each servant (prophet) was killed.  He finally sent His son (Jesus) , who was also killed.  But one day, these wicked tenant farmers (unbelieving members of the nation of Israel) will be killed and the land will be leased to others (Gentiles).  The religious leaders would have had no doubt about what Jesus was saying in this parable.  Jesus concludes by saying that the stone that these builders rejected has become the cornerstone of the building and this stone crushes anyone on whom it falls.  The nation of Israel was the vehicle through which God built the foundation of the Law and the prophets. The Messiah comes and perfectly fulfills the Law and what the prophets predicted.  For a period of time, they reject their Messiah so that the Gentile nations can be grafted into the family of God.  Israel is reconciled again in the end times to their Messiah. See Romans 11 for more information on this.  But these religious leaders are being warned that they are going to be crushed by Christ.

The Pharisees try to trick Jesus into tax evasion by asking if they should pay their taxes to Caesar. They have a wrong assumption that Jesus is intending to be a military and civil king at this time.  Jesus does not take the bait.  He says, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and render unto God that which is God's." Result: They are silenced.

Is Jesus the cornerstone of your life?  How does your life reflect that fact?

Psalm 89:1-13

Here is an interesting and true statement from this psalm, verse 6-7, "For who in all of heaven can compare with the Lord? What mightiest angel is anything like the Lord? The highest angelic powers stand in awe of God. He is far more awesome than those who surround his throne."

Amen.

Proverbs 13:15-16

Wise people think before they act.  Remember that!

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19- Some Kinda Entrance

April 19, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Joshua 19:1-20:9; Luke 19:28-48;
Psalm 88:1-18; Proverbs 13:12-14

Every exit is an entrance to somewhere else.  
~Tom Stoppard




Joshua 19:1-20:9

We, once again, do not need to comment on the apportioning of land to the various tribes.  It should be noted that Joshua was given a town in acknowledgement for all that he had done.  The cities of refuge were set up as commanded by God through Moses to protect those who had accidentally killed someone.  Is God your city of refuge?  Do you run to Him for protection in life?

Luke 19:28-48

This season during the award shows for movies and television, I watched the Golden Globe Awards.  It is always fun to see the grand entrance of the stars as they walk the red carpet into an event.  Crowds of people line the walkway as the starlets steady themselves in high heels. Nowadays, various entertainment news organizations are there to analyze what each celebrity is wearing.  Hair, shoes, jewelry, and gowns are meticulously critiqued.  The tapes and photographs will be reviewed and analyzed for weeks to come. Some stars are praised for their style, poise, and grace.  Others are ridiculed for their ridiculous outfits. Really, this is somewhat horrifying.  Some people have grand entrances and others have grand faux pas. As a celebrity, you better have thick skin.
In a Frock to Shock

Today, Jesus enters Jerusalem.  It is some kinda entrance with adoring crowds and glaring critics.  Jesus doesn't just enter the city as a celebrity to gather attention for himself, he enters as a priest, a king, and a prophet.

As we piece together the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem from the various gospel accounts, it becomes clear that Jesus actually entered Jerusalem three times.  God likes the number three.  He is the Trinity, after all.  Jesus likes to say, "Verily, verily, verily."  He rose from the dead after three days.  You get the point.  It should not be surprising that Jesus enters Jerusalem three times.  The first account is in Mark 11:11.  It is the Sabbath day- Saturday and Jesus enters goes to the Temple with the disciples and then returns to the town of Bethany.  On this entrance, Jesus acted as a priest.

The second time Jesus enters Jerusalem is on Sunday, the first day of the week. In Matthew 21:12-13, Jesus confronts the money-changers in the temple.  For this entrance, Jesus acted as a king.

The third entrance is on Monday (Luke 19:41-44; 47-48).   Riding on a donkey and accepting the adulation of the crowds, Jesus has a grand entrance. Jesus is rebuked by the religious leaders for allowing the crowds to adore him and to shout, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."  Jesus responds that if the crowds did not proclaim this, the rocks would shout out in glee.  Jesus is compelled to give a sad prophecy and cry over Jerusalem at this entrance. He laments their unbelief at his coming to his people.  He is acting as a prophet at this entrance.  Jesus cleanses the temple again on this day. Although this is called the triumphal entrance of Christ, we know that this entrance ends with his death.  There will be a day in the future when Jesus will enter Jerusalem at his second coming (Zechariah 14:4).  That entrance will signal his True Triumphal Entry and will begin when his feet touch down on the Mount of Olives.  This event will initiate his earthly, physical reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Are you prepared for Jesus' Second Coming?  Have you cried out like the stones that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Psalm 88:1-18

Read this psalm as if you were hearing the cries of Jesus Christ.  You can hear his voice as He suffers for our sins.  Devastating.

Proverbs 13:12-14

These verses in proverbs are very interesting.  It indicates that hope that is deferred or put off can make your heart sick.  Doctors often say that it is the patients who have hope, who are best able to recover from illness.

The proverb also speaks of wise advice being a life-giving fountain.  It is true that taking wise advice can make all of the difference in a person's life.  Ultimately, wisdom brings eternal life.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011