Tuesday, March 16, 2010

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Hopelessly Devoted

The book of Joshua has a special place in my heart. The Lord has used this book to speak to me many times in my life. It was especially so when we began praying in 1998 about moving back to California from Tennessee. This book has encouraged me so much, that my daughter's name is Jordanne because in order for the Israelites to posses their promise, they had to cross the Jordan River.

It seems this season as I am reading through the Bible, the Lord has been highlighting words and phrases that seem to stick with me all week. In this past week's reading through Joshua, the two words "devoted things" have been simmering in my spirit.

It all begins with God giving Joshua the plan on how they were to take the city of Jericho. A pattern that I see with God is that He is very specific with His plan and it is to be followed exactly. In taking the city of Jericho, God wanted the Israelites to dispose of everything there. Joshua 6:18 God is very clear that they are not to take for themselves any of the devoted things. It says, "
But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it."

The Canaanites were completely rebellious against God. They worshiped pagan idols and were probably very materialistic. God told Joshua before entering Canaan that they were to destroy everyone and everything that belonged to the Canaanites in order for them to live peacefully there.

In chapter 7, Joshua and his army go out to fight the Amorites. Unlike the previous battles, the Israelites were losing. Joshua was so distraught that he fell face down before the Arc of the Covenant and asked God what was causing them to lose this battle? God's response was "Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.
12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. 13 "Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it. "(Joshua 7:11-13)

Achan, who was from the tribe of Judah, had taken some of the devoted things. Achan finally confesses to his sin. He says,"It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, f]">two hundred shekels g]">of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath." (Joshua 7:20 & 21)

God told the Israelites that all the gold and silver, bronze and iron articles were sacred and were to be put into the Lord's treasurey. (Joshua 6:19) Achan had not only disobeyed God's command, but he lied and stole from God as well. Achen said he "coveted" those items and in doing so broke the Law that God had given.

I share this with you today by asking you what are your "devoted things" that you are keeping hidden. Although we live in a "nation under God", not everything in this land is "of God." These things we devote ourselves to will only leave us feeling hopeless. When we devote ourselves to things that are exalted above God then we are breaking the first commandment. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37 & 38, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
38This is the first and greatest commandment." It's not only material things we can be devoted to. We can be devoted to television shows, book series, music, social activities, etc. These things, especially when it comes to secular television, books and music feed our minds and spirits. Often these things are completely contrary to the Word of God. Ask yourself if God would be pleased at some of the things you watch, read or listen to. It seems the more I understand the Bible, the more sensitive I have become to things in the media, whether it's books, magazines, television or music. In verse 11, God said "they put them with their own possessions" which is compromise.

Chapter 7 concludes with Achan losing more than what he had taken. His whole family and all of his belongings were brought before Israel to the Valley of Achor (Achor being Trouble). There Achan was stoned to death and buried there. My understanding is his family was left there as well. Therefore, his mistake became their consequence.

Do you ever feel at times that you can never win the battles you are fighting? Does it seem as though the enemy has the upper hand when it comes to your physical life, and even your spiritual life? Maybe it's time to take an inventory of your "devoted things." The definitian of devoted is "zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty or affection."

Take an inventory by asking the Holy Spirit to show you what things you might be devoted to. How difficult is it for you to do away with something that God might disapprove of? If it's difficult to let go, then maybe it is one of those "devoted things" in your life. I'm not saying that we are to be legalistic, but the bottom line is, are the things you are devoted to leaving you feeling hopeless or hopeful? God wants us to be devoted to Him and not things. He wants us to enjoy the good things in life, but not the things that will lead us to our own destruction. Whether it is individually or as the Body of Christ. Think about this, God allowed one man's disobedience to effect the whole nation of Israel. Romans 12:5 says that we being many all form the Body of Christ. When one of us is disobedient, it effects the rest of us. So together let us get rid of the "devoted things" that God does not approve of. We can be victorious by staying hopefully devoted to Him.

(Photo above is looking from the road the city of Jericho)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

R.E.A.L. Women's Devotional - By Appointment Only

Over the past week we've been getting an understanding of what the requirements that God had for His children by giving them instructions on "cleaning up their act" so to speak. My understanding is that the book of Leviticus is an instruction manual for the Levites who were called to be the priests of the tabernacle. The book of Numbers was a counting of how many "kids" God had and then the subtraction of those who lacked faith. Deuteronomy is a recap of the law and the consequences to follow on obedience or disobedience.
As I have been reading this time around, something caught my eye in particular. The first time it was mentioned was back in Genesis 18:14. It says, "Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son." Something about the phrase "appointed time" caught my attention.
Several times throughout Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, God uses the phrase "appointed time." You might even notice how often He appoints people throughout scripture. This says to me that God keeps an appointment book. He has a plan and He does not miss appointments. He tells us where He is going to be. If we want to be apart of what He's doing, we better show up ready for whatever He says to do. Psalm 37:23 says, "The steps of a good (good meaning righteous, in right standing with God) man are ordered (by appointment only) by the Lord. And He delights in his way." (NKJV)
What else I have discovered is that God does not go by our appointment books. He has the bigger picture in view as He did with the Israelites. If you have been reading these three books, you will see all of the requirements that needed to be instilled in these people in order to make and keep them holy. Obviously God knew ahead of time, this would be too difficult for man to uphold so He had to prep them for the final road to holiness which was through His Son, Jesus Christ.
A few years ago, it occurred to me as I was sharing with a friend who had been disappointed by a relationship, that maybe that relationship was not an appointment set by God. This is where the Romans 8:28 factor comes in to reschedule our appointments. As I was consoling her, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to divide the word "disappointment" apart. In today's culture to "diss" someone is a form of rejection. Webster's definition says, to show disrespect. We all know what an appointment is, but the definition means, a fixed mutual agreement for a meeting. In the spiritual sense, our dissappointments are the times we've set the appointment and expected God to show up and He doesn't.
I am learning in my walk not to be so discouraged with my disappointments. I can't say that I have mastered the art of not being disappointed, but it is definitely something that has been brought to my attention. I try not to allow them to upset my whole life anymore. God knows not only your future and my future, but the future of all of mankind. I believe that God is setting up "appointed times" for us as well, just like He did for the Israelites. He set them up for the Israelites for the purpose of sending His Son the first time. Galatians 4:4 says, "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, under the law,". Now He's setting us up for the purpose of sending His Son the second time. We have to make sure we live by God's appointment book rather than ours because Matthew 24:36 and Matthew 13:32 says, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Jesus says quite often through scripture to be ready (see Luke 21:34-36). The return of Jesus is by appointment only and I don't think we'll want to miss it.