Updates from October, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    The Misunderstood Altar (JOSHUA 22) 

    As Joshua 22 begins, the men of battle from the two-and-a-half tribes that settled on the eastern side of the Jordan River are permitted to go back to their homes. They had faithfully fulfilled their commitment to helping the other tribes conquer Canaan. Joshua blessed them but also offered this warning, however – “But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Josh. 22:5). Although the Jordan separated them from the rest of Israel, God would still be watching them, and He expected them to keep the covenant. This is a great warning and lesson for us today, too!

    “And when they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan–a great impressive altar. Now the children of Israel heard someone say, ‘Behold, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan–on the children of Israel’s side.’ And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered together at Shiloh to go to war against them” (Josh. 22:10-12).

    To the uninformed, Israel’s response here may seem like an overreaction. “They gathered the whole army together against these two-and-a-half tribes because they had built a remarkable altar?! What’s so offensive about that?” one might ask. There is only one reason: God had given explicit instructions that all offerings were to be made at the tabernacle (cf. Lev. 17:8,9; Deut. 12:4-14). The Israelites assumed that their brethren had transgressed the covenant in a serious way (or were preparing to do so). Such an offense could not be ignored. They immediately sent a group of leaders to speak with the two-and-a-half tribes about the matter.

    “What treachery is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that you have built for yourselves an altar, that you might rebel this day against the LORD? Is the iniquity of Peor not enough for us, from which we are not cleansed till this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD, but that you must turn away this day from following the LORD? And it shall be, if you rebel today against the LORD, that tomorrow He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel. Nevertheless, if the land of your possession is unclean, then cross over to the land of the possession of the LORD, where the LORD’s tabernacle stands, and take possession among us; but do not rebel against the LORD, nor rebel against us, by building yourselves an altar besides the altar of the LORD our God. Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity” (Josh. 22:16-20).

    This rebuke is a bit premature, as we will learn shortly, but the nation should be commended for taking the matter seriously. They assumed (incorrectly but understandably) that the altar was going to be used for sacrifices, but they knew it wasn’t the authorized altar for such a purpose. They didn’t want a repeat of what had happened at Peor or Ai–where the rebellion of some cost the entire nation dearly (cf. Num. 25; Josh. 7). Thus, they invite these tribes to come across the Jordan and dwell with them if their current territory is insufficient or unclean in some way. They plead with them not to sin against God and stir His anger up against all twelve tribes!

    The two-and-a-half tribes give a reasonable defense for their actions. They clearly state that this altar was not for sacrifices, it was a memorial–and nothing more. One might rightly question their judgment here, but they did not sin. They had said amongst themselves – “Let us now prepare to build ourselves an altar, not for burnt offering nor for sacrifice, but that it may be a witness between you and us and our generations after us, that we may perform the service of the LORD before Him with our burnt offerings, with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your descendants may not say to our descendants in time to come, ‘You have no part in the LORD.’ Therefore we said that it will be, when they say this to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say, ‘Here is the replica of the altar of the LORD which our fathers made, though not for burnt offerings nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between you and us'” (Josh. 22:26-28). The leaders brought back this message to the nation, and Israel was satisfied with this response. Dialogue helped prevent an unnecessary battle! Even today it is true that open, respectful communication will go a long way towards peacemaking.

     
  • TFRStaff 12:47 pm on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Jimmie B. Hill with cancer 

    Please add Jimmie B. Hill to the prayer list at your congregation. His health has been an issue since our return from the South Pacific campaign in May when his thyroid replacement medication suddenly became toxic. That caused several problems, including anemia, but he was recovering slowly Then a few weeks ago the anemia worsened and our family doctor referred Jimmie to a hematologist. Yesterday we got the results from 2 whole body scans and they were not good. Jimmie has a large mass growing in one of his kidneys that the doctor identified as renal cancer. There are also additional spots showing in his lungs that will be biopsied next week to determine if they are renal cancer that has spread. The doctor is waiting on the biopsies before determining a treatment plan so we won’t know anything more until then. But we obviously have a battle coming.

    The news yesterday was a shock, yet I have to say that Jimmie’s attitude is great. He has faced cancer before and knows that our lives are in the hands of our Creator. The doctor appeared a bit startled, though, when the first words out of Jimmie’s mouth were, “Can you get me well enough to go back to Africa?” Please, pray that he can.

    Linda Hill

     
  • John Henson 11:05 am on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , pastime, treated   

    Do we treat it all so lightly? 

    In Jeremiah chapters two and three, God tells Judah his complaint against them.

    Foremost, of course, was Judah’s practice of idolatry, which extended even to having their children “pass through the fire,” (Ezekiel 16:21). Judah’s contemptuous idolatry, so disgusting in the sight of God brought about the captivity of both parts of the divided kingdom: Israel and Judah were taken into captivity.

    In Jeremiah 3:9, in the New Living Translation, God tells Judah, “Israel treated it all so lightly—she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been polluted.” Judah was doing the same. The people’s attitude had become so hardened, Judah was described as having the forehead of a harlot (Jeremiah 3:3).

    Is that the way our country is headed? So many people have abandoned the worship of God for their “favorite pastime.” Asking them to return to God is like spitting in the wind. Have we “treated it all so lightly?”

     
    • Weylan Deaver 9:19 pm on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      A question worth asking, John–there is much in Scripture about having a hardened heart.

  • Larry Miles 10:48 am on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Onesimus Needed Someone To Pay His Debt 

    It seems likely that Onesimus had stolen from Philemon to fund his journey to Rome (1:18). At least, he had stolen himself. Onesimus had no way to pay the debt he owed to Philemon  Paul was willing to put Onesimus’ debt on his account. He was willing to put his money where his mouth was.

    Likely, Paul knew that the debt might stand in the way of reconciliation. This letter was a legally binding note to remove the wall of separation (Phile. 18-19). Paul here is giving a promissory note, a signed statement of indebtedness (Gk cheirographon in Col. 2:14. “certificate of debt.”

    Verses 17-18: Chuck Smith writes, “An Example of Intercession. Paul’s intercession to Philemon, for the benefit of Onesimus, is a beautiful example of intercession, and a glorious picture of the intercession of Jesus before the Father on our behalf. Paul said, ‘Receive him as you would me’, in other words, ‘I will stand in his place.’ Then he said, ‘If he has wronged you or owes you anything, put it on my account.’”

    Like Onesimus, we needed someone to pay our debt. We were without strength to do so (Rom. 5:6). Christ had to put our debt on his account (1 Pet. 1:18-20; Isa. 53:6; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).

    Verse 19: Paul usually used a secretary to write his letters for him; he signed them though. It appears at least in this verse that Paul wrote this with his own hand. This makes it even more private and personal.

    This verse seems to imply that Philemon was a convert of Paul, probably in Ephesus, because it is believed that had never been to Colossae. John McArthur writes, “Philemon owed Paul something far greater than the material debt Paul was offering to repay, since Paul had led him to a saving faith, a debt Philemon could never pay.”

    Verse 20: Paul is telling Philemon that it would bring great joy to him if he would forgive Onesimus.

    Verse 21: “Even more than I say…” John McArthur writes, “The more than forgiveness that Paul was urging upon Philemon was either:

    1. To welcome Onesimus back enthusiastically (Luke 15:22-24) (Story of the Prodigal Son)
    2. To permit Onesimus, in addition to his menial tasks, to minister spiritually with Philemon or
    3. To forgive any others who may have wronged Philemon.

    Verse 22: Paul expected to be released from prison (1st imprisonment) Acts 28.

     
  • TFRStaff 10:39 am on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Seek knowledge 

    by Mike Glenn

    Good morning everyone. I pray that you are determined to “be in the know”. The memory verse for this week is Ps. 119:105, a verse so familiar, you probably already have it memorized. Our Joshua Generation text today is found in Prov. 15:14. It contains one simple truth I want to comment on this morning. “The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge, but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.

    Brothers and sisters, seek knowledge. The operative word is “seek”. All of us will gain some biblical knowledge simply by listening to our teachers and preachers in the worship. That is certainly an important method of gaining knowledge. But it is only a very small part of the process of actively seeking. 1 Pet. 2:2 tells us, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word…”

    Think of how a small baby reacts to feeding stimulus. The newborns seem to be always hungry. If you put a finger in its mouth, it starts sucking. If you hold it to your chest, it will start looking for the breast with its mouth. If it goes from more than two to four hours without food, it starts clamoring to be fed.

    When we desire, like that, more opportunity to know the word of God, we will go looking for it. We will keep a Bible with us for our spare time if we typically have some. We will constantly be going to the word with a question or for explanation of some thought that has come to our head. We will not only hear sermons and classes, when we get home, we will look up particular points that grabbed our attention. God’s word will be to our mind like food is to our body.

    We will “hunger and thirst” (Mt. 5:6) after it. We will read articles, perhaps subscribe to periodicals, get tapes or cd’s with sermons, talk to the knowledgeable for answers and read the Word often for both short periods and long periods. We will talk about things we learned with family and friends, especially others who love the word.

    The point of all of this is that “seeking” is active attempt to find (Acts 17:11). When we want something that is lost, we will “turn the house upside down looking for it” (cf. Lk. 15:8). I am convinced that most of us need to spend far more time in the Word. Why not make a plan to do that today? Show your children your love of the truth and how important it is to study. Your soul, and theirs, depend on it.

     
  • Weylan Deaver 10:23 am on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    In last Sunday night’s sermon I delved into the connection between belief in aliens and belief in evolution. I think it will be the subject for the next article the Sherman Drive congregation puts in the local newspaper. Better get to writing…

     
  • TFRStaff 6:52 am on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Hugh Fulford: one copy is enough 

    After he got his own blog, we stopped posting Hugh’s News and Views here on TFR. But sometimes a few days pass before his webmaster gets the issues posted. This paragraph in today’s issue ressonated with us.

    Most of us have a Bible. Within eyesight of where I sit here at my computer desk writing this article I can count nine copies of either the entire Bible or of the New Testament in various versions. In other parts of my office, throughout our house, and in my car are several other copies of the Bible. What an eternal tragedy it would be to never open them to read the life-giving and life-sustaining message they contain! But you need only one copy of the Bible – provided you will read it and let it nourish your soul.

    Hugh Fulford
    October 18, 2011

     
  • Randal 6:21 am on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , religious progressivism,   

    Ecumenical, progressive and universal 

    The Brazilian ecumenical movement, under the National Council of Brazilian Christian Churches, held an inter-religious breakfast Aug. 4 in Brasilia with non-Christian religious groups, including Wiccan and spiritist groups. The council includes among its members the Roman Catholic Church, plus some Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican, and Syrian Orthodox denominations, one of each, for a total of five. The object of the breakfast was to create a work agenda toward establishing a forum for religious diversity in the Federal District.

    • Wonder why they didn’t invite the local atheist association? Inclusivism draws no lines. Many of these people have little core belief. Many of them are probably universalists who believe that God will save everyone. Such people are among us as well and teaching in Christian universities. They probably edit out references to hell and Jesus’ diatribes and condemnations. Except for those who would draw lines and build walls. There’s probably a hell for them (us).

    • Reminds me of something I read last week. One of our (should I put that in quotes?) universalists doesn’t like liberal and conservative labels, and, for vastly different reasons, I agree with him. His choice of terms: ecumenical and sectarian. As if those were an improvement, neutral tags to avoid pejorative jabs. Nope, these terms are as loaded as can be. Does “sectarian” ever, in any sense, carry a positive connotation? But ecumenical mean being open, willing to dialogue, accepting of others, the positive, warm-fuzzies religious term for postmodern man.

    • To be charged with being a sect isn’t new. What is new is that the accusation comes from within our midst as well as without. That’s why, in spite of the heartbreak of losing friends and connections and the sorrow at seeing people abandon the true grace of God, it is a good that they separate themselves from the fellowship of the saints. They are removing themselves from our midst, and to avoid them having a wider influence, we pray this movement away may accelerate.

    • John the apostle recalls similar movement of those who went out from us because they did not belong to us (1 John 2:19). Those who abandon us are those who fail to retain what was heard in the beginning (verse 24). These are simple yet powerful truths. The original message (yes, there is a pattern, Margaret) must remain, and we with it.

    • Such a message, however it may be packaged, will never make anybody’s bestseller’s list. As a political example for you, The New York Times has even reshuffled its list to keep books from appearing with which its owners and editors disagree. Liberals and progressives don’t have to be honest; they just have to keep those who don’t buy into their philosophy locked out of the room. But they want to invade our spaces to shout down the truth. Witness the Occupy movement as a good example, again from the political realm.

    • But back to our own spiritual spaces. Let us keep our homes and congregations and ministries free of progressive intrusion. Let our message be clear and simple, unaffected, free of bitterness and ambition. Let our attitudes be humble yet firm, merciful but true to the gospel of Christ. Who knows but God may allow us to save some from the fire, “coupled with a fear of God, hating even the clothes stained by the flesh” (Jude 23).

     
    • Russ McCullough 7:43 am on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      When facts get in the way apostates grab semantics. In reality God is ecumenical (His Will is that all men will come to repentance and none be lost) and Satan is sectarian (he has created every false way.) How ironic that the excluders claim that the includers are sectarian and deny their own exclusion. It’s like a murderer claiming that “someone else did it.” And that’s where we are, the murderers of souls are trying to claim that the victims killed themselves. Follow the radical existentialist and definitionally agnostic Brian McLaren around from so-called Christian college to so-called Christian college and you will discover a residue of re-constructionist evolutionary “new truth” and the remains of de-constructionist “old truth.” In other words, the New Testament was written by uneducated and ignorant men so God has to re-invent “truth” to every new generation for every new generation has “evolved” further than all of it’s predecessors. The so-called “progressive mind” is circular, pragmatic, evolutionary, imaginative, and arrogant. In reality, the only thing “progressive” is sin and error. Revealed New Testament truth is static, constant and unchanging. In the end, the progressive judges God and not the other way around.

    • Weylan Deaver 10:20 am on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Well put, Randal.

    • John Henson 10:39 am on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Very good and sound thoughts, brother!

    • Scott Shifferd Jr. 2:08 pm on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Good post! Thank you.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    The Land Promise Declared Fulfilled (JOSHUA 21) 

    “So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass” (Josh. 21:43-45).

    God had made some wonderful promises to the patriarch Abraham, and God always keeps His word! God gave them the land of Canaan for the time was right (i.e., the sins of the inhabitants of Canaan were overflowing and annihilation was necessary). Israel was victorious not because of their strength in numbers or skill in battle. They won because God wanted them to win! He gave them victory after victory, and they would enjoy continued success (“rest”) as long as they stayed true to the covenant.

    These verses seem simple enough, but they have significant application even for us today living in the Christian era. Allow me to explain.

    There are some today who hold premillennial convictions. In other words, they believe we are currently living prior to the “millennium,” and they contend that Jesus will one day return to reign on a physical throne in physical Jerusalem for 1000 years. It is not within our scope at this time to tackle this broad and sometimes varied false doctrine in whole, but rather there is one component of it that Joshua 21:43-45 deals with masterfully.

    Those who expect Christ to return for a physical reign understand that He must have a physical land to return to. Thus, many with premillennial leanings support the modern nation of Israel because they believe its existence is a prerequisite to Jesus’ return. These same people believe the Promised Land is still owed to the nation of Israel in some way, but the text above says “no.”

    The promise God made to Abraham approximately 4000 years ago has been fulfilled! It had been fulfilled in Joshua’s day! How much plainer can the text be: “The LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers…not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass”? If God had given everything He intended to give, and the Israelites squandered the land due to immoral living and lost possession of it (as will be shown in the remainder of the Old Testament), there should be no real expectation today that God must restore the land to the descendants of Jacob. Besides, true Israel today is of a spiritual nature, not physical ancestry–but I digress (cf. Rom. 2:28,29).

    God gave the land of Canaan to Israel and they would lose it. The land promise was fulfilled, and there is no requirement that it be fulfilled again in the modern era. I wish nothing but the best for any Jew living in Israel today (or anywhere in the world for that matter), but I do not believe the existence of that nation today is required for Christ’s return! He’s not coming to reign on a physical throne; the faithful shall meet Him in the air (cf. I Thess. 4:16,17)!

    There are other verses that underscore the same truth. For instance, Nehemiah 9:7,8 – “You are the LORD God, who chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and gave him the name Abraham; you found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites–to give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, for You are righteous.”

    Finally, Deuteronomy 19 lends additional support to our conclusion that God had completely fulfilled the land promise centuries before Christ lived and that no one today can rightly say that God still must provide the Promised Land for the Jewish people. In that chapter it is explicitly stated that there should be three cities of refuge. However, the nation was told by Moses – “if you keep all these commandments and do them, which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and to walk always in His ways, then you shall add three more cities for yourself besides these three” (Deut. 19:9). So, if six cities of refuge were ever established (and there were six ultimately), then God had fully given the land He had promised to the fathers (cf. 19:8). Almighty God keeps His word!

     
  • Larry Miles 10:44 am on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Onesimus Needed Someone To Intercede On His Behalf 

    Roman law allowed for a freeman to intercede on behalf of a slave.

    While a fugitive in Rome, Onesimus met Paul and was converted by him (Phile. 10). It is possible that Paul had also converted Philemon (Phile. 19).

    Since Paul knew Philemon, he could intercede on Onesimus’ behalf. Having seen the change wrought in Onesimus, Paul was willing to do so. (One had to be a Roman Citizen to do this). Did Paul “flaunt” his Roman citizenship? Example: Acts 16:37, 38; 22:25-29

    Application For Us

    Like Onesimus, we needed someone to intercede on our behalf (1 John 2:1; 1 Tim. 2:5). We needed someone who knows our Master and is in good standing with Him (Mt. 17:5). We needed someone sympathetic to our plight (Heb. 4:15).

     
  • Randal 5:59 am on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bodily functions, , , ,   

    On spiritual and bodily functions, sex, poetry, and fried chicken 

    This piece is a bit longer than my normal TFR posts, but I trust you’ll have a greater chance because of it to find some small nugget to adorn your faith.

    • My debut article on Weylan’s Biblical Notes mag: “Man’s Noblest Function,” takes issue with this quote by an American author and journalist, “Man has no nobler function than to defend the truth.” You’ll get no spoiler here on the title, but suffice it to say we seek not to do anything against the truth. Somebody else said it first, “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the sake of the truth” (2 Cor 13:8). And a truth we want others to apprehend.

    • Taking a cue from the poetry and hymns of Scripture, I see my poetry, in part, as an evangelistic effort. Entering the midst of worldly people, even in order to bless, one hears and sees what one would rather not. I imagine our Lord Jesus had to tolerate some unpleasantness from the publicans and prostitutes he worked with. Not to mention from the religionists and his own disciples. So I’ve joined a social-networking poetry site with some unsavory pieces there and, for example, a segment on erotica.

    • Here’s where I’d appreciate your feedback. I thought about writing a piece of poetry, a la Song of Solomon, for that last-mentioned segment. Would it be banalized in that setting? Or might it point to sex as the Creator made it?

    • That brings up the question of direct proclamation and subtler seed-sowing. I tend much toward the former. But no doubt there’s a place for the latter as well, where the power of influence, of clean life and healthy words and the sunny disposition of faith in God offer a powerful contrast to the darkness of godlessness and the gutter of perversity. It seems most Christians hope against hope that the latter is sufficient, which it is not, since somewhere along the way the Word has to be spoken in its glorious detail. In some places, though, it may be the best way to start.

    • The subject also brings up the question of sex. I tend to avoid the subject in order not to offend some sensibilities among squeamish brethren. A few of you, TFR Fellows, have written on it now and again in good taste, as expected, and to good effect. It’s an area where we need more writing, but not of the kind that points out the sin of illicit sexual relations, rather, its celebration as God’s gift to man.

    • Widening up that thought a bit, it’s an amazing thing to note that, when the physical organism is functioning properly, the human body’s basic functions create a sense of pleasure. The obvious example is eating, to provide the body energy. We well know how pleasurable mama’s fried chicken is, right, John? Another small example is the function of homeostatis, maintaining the internal conditions necessary for survival. During exercise, the body sweats. Don’t we talk about working up a good sweat? We know the good feeling that comes from having the body in motion.

    • All that to say, God in his wisdom makes such functions pleasurable, physically, as a part of helping us survive and thrive. One wonders at times if our faith hasn’t been tainted by ascetic tendencies from Greek philosophy via false Christian manifestations that preach the mortification of the body, rather than the buffeting of the flesh, as per Paul in 2 Cor 9:27.

    • Speaking of whom, Paul rejects the prohibition of meat, which is to be received with thanksgiving, for every creature is good (he must be thinking of the Jewish equivalent of his momma’s fried chicken), and we may rejoice in the pleasure of eating when “sanctified through the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim 4:3-5). Later on in that same letter is Paul’s amazing statement, considering the context of his commandments to the rich, that God “richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment” (1 Tim 6:17).

    • Indeed he does. And may we enjoy all those things he richly provides us, as part of the blessings of the Kingdom, knowing that they have an even higher purpose, to glorify God (this is where we came in today) and prepare us for that highest enjoyment of all, his eternal presence.

     
    • Stephen R. Bradd 6:55 am on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Good post, Randal.
      I’ve got some lessons on AE that your post reminded me of. I adapted a series of lessons from some Glenn Colley lectures a few years ago. Here is the series link followed by a specific link on sexual satisfaction:

      http://www.audioevangelism.com/cd_requests%5Crequest_cd_hw4lcd.htm

      http://www.audioevangelism.com/sndwrds/transcripts/SW_2007_06_09_text.htm

      I’ve preached the series before on Sunday mornings and it was well received–even with children present. Some may not feel comfortable doing such, but I think it can be done beneficially. Besides, in our sex-saturated culture, it’s an issue kids are going to learn about–they may as well hear the truth on it at an early age rather than just the worldly view. That’s my perspective anyway.

    • John Henson 10:13 am on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Every bit true, especially about the chicken. Homeostasis also includes the fluid and electrolyte balance that is present in healthy people. When it goes out of balance, can cause heart failure, kidney disorders. Mostly, we correct fluid balance when we’re thirsty. There is a relationship of sodium to potassium which needs to remain in balance for the heart to be with a regular rhythm. Too much sodium, and water retention occurs. Too little salt (as well as too little potassium) can wreck the heartbeat. As you wrote, all of these things God helps us maintain with pleasurable sensations.

      • J. Randal Matheny 6:26 am on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, guys. Stephen, glad to see those links. John, glad to have that extra info there to bolster the point of the post.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    The Cities for the Levites (JOSHUA 20) 

    “The LORD also spoke to Joshua, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the slayer who kills a person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there; and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. And when he flees to one of those cities, and stands at the entrance of the gate of the city, and declares his case in the hearing of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city as one of them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them. Then if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not deliver the slayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unintentionally, but did not hate him beforehand. And he shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the slayer may return and come to his own city and his own house, to the city from which he fled'” (Josh. 20:1-6).

    Moses was given detailed instructions pertaining to this subject in Number 35 and Deuteronomy 19. Although the Levites were not given large blocks of land as the other tribes received, God did want them to have a number of cities–48 in all–scattered throughout Canaan (cf. Gen. 49:7). Each tribe would give some of their cities to the Levites, along with common land surrounding it. The Levites were typically the most knowledgeable when it came to religion and spiritual matters. Thus, having them dwell throughout the land would maximize their influence for good among the nation, instead of having them all dwell in one region where their interactions with others might be more limited.

    Of the 48 cities, 6 were to be used for a very special purpose. They were to be cities of refuge. Under the Mosaic law, if person X killed person Y, then the nearest of kin to the deceased (person Z) had the duty to seek vengeance. He would function as the “avenger of blood” on behalf of the one who had been slain. Remember, their basic rule of law was “an eye for eye,” etc. (cf. Exo. 21:12ff). It was the duty of person X to flee to one of these cities of refuge for protection until a judgment was rendered. These cities were scattered throughout the land (3 on each side of the Jordan) so that wherever one was in the Promised Land, he could travel to a place of safety fairly quickly.

    After the slayer sought refuge in one of these cities, he was protected–at least until he had his day in court, so to speak. If he was found guilty of murder (i.e., premeditated killing based on hatred), then he would be put to death. Under the Old Law, convicted murderers must die–period! This ruling required at least two witnesses to the crime. If the slayer took a life accidentally (e.g., if an ax head came off the handle while chopping wood and it struck a person; cf. Deut. 19:5), then his life was safe as long as he remained in the city of refuge. If he left the city (for whatever reason), the avenger of blood could justifiably take his life. The only exception to this was that whenever the high priest died, the manslayer’s record would be wiped clean, in a manner of speaking. He could go home and the avenger of blood was not permitted to harm him. There were no other exceptions.

    Obviously, God takes the loss of innocent human life seriously and set forth these rules for protection of it. Even accidental killings were not treated trivially. The one who carelessly slaughtered another would have to remain in a city of refuge (likely for years and perhaps even for many decades). Manslaughter would radically change his life (as it also did for the victim’s family who lost a loved one).

    There is one interesting matter of typology that can be detailed here. As Christians, our High Priest (Jesus) never dies! Therefore, we-who, on our own merits, have hands stained with sin and are worthy of death–must always remain in our place of refuge (i.e., “in Christ”; Rom. 8:1). Our sins will not be cleansed with the passage of time if we are outside of Christ (i.e., outside the place of refuge). If we leave Christ and the spiritual safety He provides, we will eventually perish and be without hope.

     
  • Richard Mansel 7:22 pm on October 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , shakespeare   

    Without God: “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” There isn’t any point to life without God. We are born into trouble and then we die, never to exist again. If I believed that, I don’t know how I would make it through the day.

    With God, we have everything we could possibly need: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

    Jesus came to bring the abundant life to us all and we should be thrilled (John 10:10). He is the blessing, the gift, given to the world and we must be eternally thankful (John 3:16; John 14:1-6). Without Him, there isn’t anywhere else to go.

     
  • Weylan Deaver 4:05 pm on October 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Tonight I’m trying a new topic for preaching: “Monsters” (think of such questions as, what does the Bible say about vampires, witches, aliens, ghosts, etc.). It took my 13 year old son to get me to develop an outline about this…

     
    • Glenda Williams 4:13 pm on October 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Now that sounds interesting. My husband has a weekly newspaper column asking “What does the Bible say about….”. It is published in three surrounding city newspapers and has generated quite a bit of interest.

    • Barbara Ann Oliver 4:45 pm on October 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Can’t wait for you to share it with us! :)

    • Weylan Deaver 8:30 am on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      It seemed to go over well enough. We dismissed vampires, zombies and werewolves. Getting into aliens, I was struck by the connection between belief in aliens and evolutionary theory–all the way up to Richard Dawkins. Then we touched on witchcraft, ghosts and demons. Audio should be up shortly at: http://shermandrive.org/sermonfeeds/

  • Larry Miles 9:23 am on October 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Onesimus Faced A Harsh Judgment If Found 

    Runaway slaves could face branding, scourging, and even crucifixion if caught. An F for fugitive was often branded on the forehead of runaway slaves. They were marked for life.

    They were sometimes fitted with a metal collar, complete with name and address. Sometimes they were sometimes sold. In extreme cases the skin on the bottom of their feet was burned off by glowing iron plates. The only thing that tempered judgment was the value of the slave.

    Slave owners were fearful of a slave uprising. There were approximately 60 million slaves in the Roman empire. Conservative estimates suggest that as much as 1/3 of the empire was made up of slaves. Some estimates range as high as ½.

    If Philemon forgave Onesimus, what would the other slave owners have thought?

    Verse 16: John McArthur writes, “Paul did not call for Onesimus’ freedom (cf. I Cor. 7:20-22), but that Philemon would receive his slave now as a fellow-believer in Christ (cf. Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1: I Tim. 6:2)

     
  • Larry Miles 9:19 am on October 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Onesimus Was At One Time Unprofitable 

    V. 11“Which in time past was to thee unprofitable but now is profitable to you and me. ”

    This verse contains a word play that is lost in English. The name “Onesimus” means “useful.” Therefore, in word play, Paul tells Philemon that Onesimus (“useful”) had become useless to you, but has been found useful to him. Notice that Paul does not say that he is simply useful to Paul, but to Philemon also.

    Onesimus’ name means “profitable” or “useful.” It was a common name for a slave. It expressed the master’s expectations for the slave. Philemon likely gave Onesimus this name.

    In verse 15ff, Paul tells us a little about Onesimus’ journey to Rome and how he met Paul. I want to study a little bit right now about what led to that trip—we will mention it again briefly later in the study.

    John McArthur writes, “Better translated “Useless–Useful.” Paul’s point was that Onesimus had been radically changed by God’s Grace.”

    Verse 12: I am sending him back to you! By the time of the writing of this letter, Onesimus was profitable. He was finally living up to his name or potential. The fact that he was standing before Philemon demonstrated he was a different man

    Verse 13: Paul did right – he sent Onesimus back. Onesimus did right – he went back. Within this book, Philemon is urged to do right – take Onesimus back . Paul wanted to keep Onesimus to stay and minister along with him on the behalf of Philemon.

    Verse 14: But he wanted it to be voluntary on Philemon’s part. But there was a big problem. Onesimus was a slave who belonged to Philemon and Paul did want to do anything without his approval.

    Verses 15-18 tell us a little bit about the relationship between Philemon and Onesimus.  Paul suggests that God’s providence was in the whole episode. What dangers did Onesimus face by going back?

     
  • Randal 10:30 am on October 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , website ministry, wikis,   

    God’s kingdom: no competitors need apply 

    Church competitionOver the weekend Dennis Ritchie died. He invented the computer languages on which Steve Jobs built his empire. But Ritchie isn’t getting the hubbub that Jobs did. So what does the world do? Bicker about who deserves more credit. (Read comments, for example, at link above.) Isn’t that typical? You know what saints in the kingdom of God do. They praise the Lord for every person’s contribution and for the Lord distributing his various gifts among his people. No competition mars the kingdom of God. On its door hangs the sign, “Competitors not welcome here.” Nor cheerleaders of others’ worthiness, for that matter.

    • I’ve gotten the itch again. No, not that kind, but the tinkering itch. I blame it on my mom, who used to (not anymore) move the house furniture around every few weeks and drafted me to help. But I have reasons. (Which came first: the reason or the itch?)

    • First, I’m frustrated with recurrent problems on my personal site.
    • Weylan found a large pizza ad on my ministry website, hosted by wordpress.com, which also hosts TFR.
    • Also, I’m getting increasingly disaffected with Facebook’s information harvesting and feature creep, though I’ll not abandon it completely for the Lord’s sake. I’d love to see Diaspora develop further, it’s already a decent option, so I’m working it. Don’t even get me started about the spookiness of Google+. But, yeah, I’m on there, too.
    • And, the defunct Christian Poets site had some software to dissolve into virtual air; attempts to get the domain moved (in process) also got me to thinking of another (vain?) attempt at resurrecting it, so I made a halting start. Wanna join?

    Instead of bellyaching (despite your conclusions as to what I’m doing here), I tinker.

    • The most wonderful thought of wisdom occurred during the night, or before eyes closed in slumber (that takes about two minutes). But this morning said thought has vanished into darkest, deepest jungle, apparently never to be discovered again. Why are the best thoughts those we lost?

    • I love wikis (think, WikiPedia, though a bad example). Dozens of wiki software clones exist, though not all have kept up with the Web 2.0. I’ve used DokuWiki among others. (Still do for this Brazilian site.) Many people just don’t seem to get them. I’m checking out several others, again, like TikiWiki, which I’d tested a few years back and seems to have come a long way. Thinking out loud here.

    • Speaking of the Christian Poets site, keep watching for a poem about the Lord’s parables, if it ever gets finished. One line mentions that ignorance is not so much the tragedy we think it is, remedied by education, but hostility toward God’s revelation, signaling mankind’s rejection of the Creator. It’s not that we can’t know, but we don’t want to know.

    Have a great weekend and a blessed First Day!

     
    • Weylan Deaver 11:13 am on October 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Randal, I’m getting a bit disenchanted with Facebook. Why is there a “spookiness” about Google+? Has anyone signed up for Diaspora other than you? FB seems to be where everyone still is.

    • J. Randal Matheny 11:37 am on October 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, FB is creepy, G+ even more so, since they crawl the web and can cross your Plus data with what they find there. A few are on Diaspora, but you can be the early adopter who convinces others. I’m also tinkering with http://friendika.com which seems to promise more flexibility than D*, but it’s buggier for now. And there’s also http://saintsmeet.com by bro. Trent Wheeler for the brotherhood, hosted by ning.

  • Larry Miles 9:19 am on October 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Paul’s Plea For Onesimus (Intro) 

    Introductory Remarks

    The Apostle Paul has gone all the way to this part of the letter before he writes about the runaway slave, Onesimus (v. 10). One can imagine what Philemon and family and the church that met in his house thought when they heard that word.

    What kind of emotions would be going through their minds when he arrives with Tychicus.

    Verse 8: John McArthur writes, “Because of his apostolic authority, Paul could have ordered Philemon to accept Onesimus.”

    In a very eloquent way, Paul is telling Philemon that Onesimus submitted to Jesus Christ and is now a Christian.

    Chuck Smith further writes, “Paul could have given a bold command to Philemon, appealing to his apostolic authority. But he did not do that.”

    Verse 9: Smith continues his thoughts, “But he did not do that. Instead he appealed for love’s sake,begging him to do the right thing. It is tragic when church leaders appeal to their positions to exercise authority and wiled power over people. The old maxim that ‘power corrupts’ can sadly be demonstrated in the church, as well as in human secular government and in the business world. Paul demonstrated, on the other hand, the servant leadership taught by Jesus. He did not throw his weight around, but appealed to love. Godly leaders will always do that. Leaders who flex their muscles and intimidate people only show their lack of Christlikeness.”

    Verse 10: This is the first mention of Onesimus. Paul calls him “my child (son) whom I fathered while in Chains.”

     
  • Ed Boggess 8:53 am on October 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Rob Bell   

    Yes, Margaret, there is a hell! I am tired of all the hub-bub about reexamining the Bible and deciding there is no eternal damnation. Now I admit that hell is not a popular topic – frankly, I don’t enjoy talking about it. But I am forced to by the growing numbers of those who reject it outright. Hell is a real place of eternal punishment and not a temporary rehabilitation center! Hell was not created for mankind; it was prepared for the devil and his angels. Nevertheless, if you throw in with the devil, you can expect the same eventuality, Rob Bell notwithstanding. The opportunity for rehab is right now – that is the message of the gospel – “repent and the times of refreshing will come from the Lord”. That is the gospel message. That is what Jesus died for. This is Just-A-Minute with Ed Boggess

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    Dividing the Land (JOSHUA 13-19) 

    “Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the LORD said to him: ‘You are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed. This is the land that yet remains: all the territory of the Philistines and all that of the Geshurites, from Sihor, which is east of Egypt, as far as the border of Ekron northward (which is counted as Canaanite); the five lords of the Philistines–the Gazites, the Ashdodites, the Ashkelonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites; from the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians as far as Aphek, to the border of the Amorites; the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrise, from Baal Gad below Mount Hermon as far as the entrance to Hamath; all the inhabitants of the mountains from Lebanon as far as the Brook Misrephoth, and all the Sidonians–them I will drive out from before the children of Israel; only divide it by lot to Israel as an inheritance, as I have commanded you. Now therefore, divide this land as an inheritance to the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh'” (Josh. 13:1-7).

    Some argue that the listing here of unconquered towns and boundaries is incomplete. Regardless, it is clear that there is still much work to do! There remained many Canaanites yet to be destroyed from the land God had given the Israelites. However, Joshua’s old age prompted God to instruct him to proceed to divide the land among the tribes who had not yet received their inheritance. The land could be divvied up even though it was only partially conquered. Then, the individual tribes could proceed to fully conquer their allotted territories. It should be noted that although the Philistines were not descendants of Canaan (cf. Gen. 10:6,14), they were invaders in the land and were to be driven out.

    The half tribe of Manasseh, the Reubenites, and the Gadites had already received their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan (cf. Josh. 13), but the other nine and one-half tribes would receive land west of the Jordan (cf. Josh. 14-19). The land would be distributed by lot (cf. 14:2). Much of the text in Chapters 13 – 19 is devoted to geographically describing the boundaries each tribe was given. Since a picture is said to be worth a thousand words, we have included an image below that shows approximately where the tribes ultimately settled (along with the locations of the six cities of refuge, which will be discussed in Josh. 20). This image is summarized from the written descriptions included in the book of Joshua. In all, there are 13 tribes mentioned: Levi, Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, Judah, Ephraim, Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan. Although there were only twelve tribes originally, Joseph was given a double portion by his father and each of his sons (Ephraim and Manasseh) became recognized as a tribe. That is the reason why there is no tribe of Joseph listed (cf. 14:4). Also, although Levi is mentioned, the priestly tribe would not receive a large block of land as the other tribes did. The text explains why – “Only to the tribe of Levi he had given no inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as He said to them” (Josh. 13:14).

    Joshua 18:1-6 reads:

    “Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there. And the land was subdued before them. But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance. Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: ‘How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers has given you? Pick out from among you three men from each tribe, and I will send them; they shall rise and go through the land, survey it according to their inheritance, and come back to me. And they shall divide it into seven parts. Judah shall remain in their territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall remain in their territory on the north. You shall therefore survey the land in seven parts and bring the survey here to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.”

    At this point historically, five tribes had assigned territories, but the remaining seven did not. What were they waiting for? It was not time to rest but to keep working toward the goal God was making possible for them. After a full survey of the land was made, lots were drawn and Joshua made the rest of the territorial assignments. Then, it was up to the tribes to go out boldly and fight for the land God desired to give them.

    Sadly, there are a number of verses in these chapters that foreshadow dark days ahead for Israel due to incomplete obedience in completely purging the land of idolatrous influences. For example:

    “Nevertheless the children of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maachathites, but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day” (13:13).
    “As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Israel could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem to this day” (15:63).
    “And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephaimites to this day and have become forced laborers” (16:10).
    “Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities, but the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land. And it happened, when the children of Israel grew strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out” (17:13).

    Some of these verses appear to have been written after Joshua had died and his influence for good had diminished (cf. Jud. 2:7-11). As long as the children of Israel were faithful to God, they were unstoppable. But, they were slow to fully claim the blessed land God had given to them, and their zeal waned over the decades. As a result, it wasn’t until the days of King David that certain portions of the land were fully claimed. The book of Judges records the tragic cycles of apostasy the nation of Israel entered into over and over again. Ultimately, although they destroyed many (and perhaps even most) of the Canaanite peoples, there was a remnant that remained in a number of areas and they would prove to be a perpetual thorn in Israel’s side for a variety of reasons. If only Israel had fully obeyed God, I suspect their history would be much different and much better.

    Before concluding our consideration of these chapter in the book of Joshua, let us take a look at an interesting portion of text concerning Caleb.

    “Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: ‘You know the word which the LORD said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God. So Moses swore on that day saying, “Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.” And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said.’ And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance” (14:6-13).

    It seems appropriate to close this lesson with a focus on such a strong, faithful man like Caleb. If only the nation had wholly followed the Lord like Caleb did, then they could have begun the conquering four decades earlier! Caleb is encouraging to us in several ways. He trusted in the Lord, and God took care of him his entire life. He was still able to do great things in his senior years and he was not satisfied to rest on the sidelines. May we always use our talents and abilities to faithfully serve the Lord, even if we have done so for decades and regardless of whether or not we are as capable and strong as we once were. There are still giants to conquer, so to speak, and they will be conquered by the ones who walk mightily with the Lord in faithful obedience.

     
  • Randal 9:43 pm on October 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: grandparenting,   

    Grandparenting from a distance 

    I kissed my grandkid through the screen,
    We talked tonight on Skype;
    To be a granddad, seen or unseen,
    Is better than all the hype.

    JRM

     
  • Ed Boggess 8:28 am on October 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Monday evening I was shocked to receive a call from a I-20 (Vicksburg) church member where I formerly preached, that Karen and Cole Ferguson had been murdered. Les, Jr., husband and father, had been the youth minister while I was there. Karen’s father, Bobby Brown, had been one of the elders. Les’ father, Les, Sr. was the preacher at Warrenton, a suburb of Vicksurg, when I first went to Vicksburg. He moved on to teach at the Bible College in MS and eventually direct it. They are all the finest of Christians and hard workers for the Lord. Please pray for these families.

     
  • Ed Boggess 8:19 am on October 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , homoxuality, , sex orientation   

    Another myth debunked is by the recently published results conducted by the CDC and National Health Center is the idea that a person is born with a genetically predetermined sexual orientation. The results make it clear that it is a matter of environmental influences, peer pressure, experimentation and personal preference. When the Gay rights movement first took off, the popular phrase was “sexual preference”. But over the years political correctness has indignantly substituted “sexual orientation”, as if there is no volition or choice in the matter. Perhaps now we can get back to the truth: homosexuality is a choice, not a genetic orientation! Anyone who respects the scripture and trusts God should have already known this, for God condemns no one for that over which they have no control. But God condemns homosexuality! This is Just-A-Minute with Ed Boggess

     
    • doug 8:46 am on October 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Ed, might you point me to that research finding on the CDC website? I could not locate it. Thanks.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    More Conquering by Joshua (JOSHUA 10-12) 

    The day in which the sun stood still was a day of tremendous victory for Israel. Detailed information is provided in Joshua 10:16-27 regarding the subjugation of the five kings they were battling against. As the kings fled, they decided to hide in a cave, but the Israelites trapped them inside with large stones until they had opportunity to come back. When they did return, they opened the mouth of the cave and brought out the five kings. The Israelites put their feet on the necks of the kings, symbolic of complete domination. Then Joshua encouraged his people very similarly to the way God had encouraged him back in Joshua 1 – “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight” (Josh. 10:25). Joshua then proceeded to slay the kings and hang their bodies on trees for all to see until sundown.

    The remainder of Joshua 10 provides a list of the other cities and their kings whom the Israelites conquered in the southern portion of Canaan. The Israelites fought battle after battle, never losing to their enemies since God was with them and made them successful. They left no survivors. Although the names of these cities may mean little to us today (e.g., Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon, etc.), each one represented a community of idolaters who were involved in wickedness which God could not tolerate any longer. Thus, they were destroyed in accordance with God’s will through Israel, and their land and possessions were given to Israel in harmony with the promise God had made to Abraham centuries earlier. “So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded” (Josh. 10:40). There is nothing unethical about the Israelites’ behavior here. They are following the orders of the Most High God, and certainly He–as Creator and Sustainer of the Universe–has the right to inflict vengeance against wicked people in the manner in which He chooses (e.g., Gen. 6:5-7; II Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 21:8).

    As Chapter 11 opens, the Canaanite kings of the North heard about the destruction Israel was inflicting in the South and they decided to band together and attack Israel. “So they went out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude, with very many horses and chariots” (Josh. 11:4). One might suppose such large numbers would intimidate the Israelites, but God gives the order to attack courageously and the people do so. “So Joshua and all the people of war with him came against them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and they attacked them. And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who defeated them and chased them…they attacked them until they left none of them remaining. So Joshua did to them as they LORD had told him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire” (Josh. 11:7-9). A numerically superior enemy is no problem for Jehovah! But why destroy great military weapons like horses and chariots? Because God wanted the people to continue trusting in Him, not things (cf. Deut. 17:16; Psa. 20:7)! Besides, how much good did the horses and chariots do for the Canaanites?!

    “As the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses. Thus Joshua took all this land: the mountain country, all the South, all the land of Goshen, the lowland, and the Jordan plain–the mountains of Israel and its lowlands…He captured all their kings, and struck them down and killed them. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. All the others they took in battle. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the LORD had commanded Moses” (11:15-20).

    Joshua 12 is a summary listing of the 2 kings Moses conquered to the east of the Jordan River and the 31 kings Joshua conquered to the west of the Jordan. Some have estimated that several decades are spanned in these chapters. Regardless of the amount of time covered, these chapters reiterate a common Biblical theme–trust and obey the Lord in all things and you will be blessed with victory! Furthermore, there is a time for everything–including war (cf. Eccl. 3:8).

     
  • TFRStaff 8:42 pm on October 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    The Christian’s taste berry 

    It is said that in Africa there is a fruit called the "taste berry", because it changes a person’s taste so that everything eaten tastes sweet and pleasant. Sour fruit, even if eaten several hours after the "taste berry," becomes sweet and delicious. Gratitude is the "taste berry" of Christianity, and when our hearts are filled with gratitude, nothing that God sends us seems unpleasant to us.

    • Sorrowing heart, sweeten your grief with gratitude.
    • Burdened soul, lighten your burden by singing God’s praises.
    • Disappointed one, dispel your loneliness by making others grateful.
    • Sick one; grow strong in soul, thanking God that He loves you enough to chasten you.

    Keep the "taste berry" of gratitude in your hearts, and it will do for you what the "taste berry" of Africa does for the African.

    Genesis 45:1-8 – Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, "Make everyone go out from me!" So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph; does my father still live?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, "Please come near to me." So they came near. Then he said: "I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

    "Thoughts For Today to Brighten Your Day" by Glenn, Mercedes and Lauren Hitchcock

     
  • Richard Mansel 2:12 pm on October 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Revelation 9 

    Reading the commentaries on Revelation chapter 9 will make you dizzy. They all feel compelled to find historical figures to plug into this chapter. Since they all have different ones, the reader finds it hopeless. I tend to think that the visions are more timeless than specific. The spiritual war with Satan and his forces will always be with us.

    The book showers comfort on the Saints of John’s day and the Christians, Jews and Romans are backdrops. Yet, the overall theme is much larger, encompassing the entire spectrum of spiritual existence. We must be careful not to become lost in the morass of imagination when we study Revelation.

    The locusts are the power of Satan and those who do his will. They bring havoc to the world but they are limited in their power and scope. Thank the Lord that He is always with us (Hebrews 13:5) and has prepared an eternal place of comfort for us (John 14:1-6)!

     
  • Larry Miles 11:18 am on October 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    First of all, I want to thank the Lord for letting me  use my “talents”  for HIM!  Also, I want to thank you for visiting  my  sites and praying for the    outreach of the   congregations/web sites.   I thought I would  list the  sites I am maintaining-I hope you will take the time to visit the sites, check them out, give me your comments, thoughts, suggestions, and please let the congregation  or  web site know  you came by

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    • Mike Riley 6:49 am on October 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Larry, this looks like you have quite a few sites to maintain. I hope you’re getting paid for your time as well as your talent. All of the sites look great to me!

  • Stephen R. Bradd 9:20 am on October 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , cds, countries   

    The power of the Lord & the internet 

    It’s been almost 5 years since we started offering free CDs on AudioEvangelism.com. I never would have guessed our low-budget efforts would have had this impact. Praise be to God!

    Here is a recently updated map of states & countries that have requested our materials. Click on image for more detail.

     
    • Ron 9:34 am on October 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Wyoming and North Dakota have too many sinners! :-)

  • Ed Boggess 6:50 am on October 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , hosexual, ,   

    Recent eye-opening research conducted by the CDC and National Center for Health stands the Gay Pride movement on its head, redefining conventional wisdom regarding homosexuality. Rather than supporting the claim by gays that they are genetically predetermined in their homosexual orientation, the study shows that overwhelmingly for both men and women who report same sex activity that it is a passing phase or fleeting episode of experimentation. The percentage of those engaging in homosexuality is greatest among teens and twenty-somethings but quickly declines to around 1% by age 35. I’m not surprised by youth’s experimentation – the Prodigal Son left for the far country and experimented with its wares until he came to himself and returned to his father. This is Just-A-Minute with Ed Boggess

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    The Sun Stands Still (JOSHUA 10) 

    “Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it–as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king–and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty” (Josh. 10:1,2).

    Here we learn that Gibeon was a great city and full of mighty men, yet they had made peace with Israel since they feared for their lives! Initially the Canaanite peoples had planned to join together to defeat Israel, but now they redirect their focus toward the Gibeonites. They first want to vengefully destroy Gibeon for making peace with Israel.

    “And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, ‘Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us'” (10:6). The Gibeonites know they cannot survive without help, and they plead with Israel not to forsake them (i.e., their servants).

    “So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.’ Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. So the LORD routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword” (10:7-11).

    Joshua quickly responds to the cry for help and marches the Israelite army all night to Gibeon. God removes any doubt in their minds by affirming that they will be successful. The Canaanites, who were intent on destroying Gibeon, were likely not expecting Israel’s arrival and attack upon them. They quickly retreated but were slaughtered by both the sword and large hailstones the LORD directed against them (cf. Job 38:22,23). The Canaanites had no hope of success for they were fighting against God!

    “Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the valley Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies” (10:12,13). Clearly, Joshua wanted more time to completely vanquish the enemy. He didn’t want them to escape once the sun went down. So, he prays for a miracle, and he receives it!

    “So the sun stood still in the midst of the heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel” (10:13,14). Skeptics point to this passage and say: “That’s impossible!” They then speak to the catastrophic problems they claim would have resulted if God did stop the Earth from rotating for a day. Thus, they contend that the passage must be understood figuratively. They might assert something ridiculous like this example: “The battle was so large that the Israelites believed it had to take more than one day to win it, and it just felt to them like it must have taken more than one day.” Some spend lots of time trying to explain away the miracles the Bible records in so many places. I see no need to do such. I do not claim to know exactly what happened over Gibeon during that period, but I believe God made it possible supernaturally. Did God slow down the setting of the sun (i.e., the rotation of the Earth)? Did He stop all celestial movement in the Universe for a day? Did He merely refract the light of the sun into that area for a long period of time while the rest of the Earth continued as usual? No one knows and that’s just fine. We don’t need to know (cf. Deut. 29:29). Joshua prayed for divine assistance and he received it! Almighty God who created the Universe and everything within it, could certainly extend the sunlight for a battle in any way He desired. Nothing is too hard for Him!

    As a side note, don’t fall victim to foolishness that purports to support the Bible. There has been a story circulating for years about NASA computers finding a missing day while making astronomical calculations. It’s not true, friends. The story is pure fiction. To repeat such as truth only destroys one’s credibility. We don’t need made-up science to validate the truth of God’s word!

     
  • Ron Thomas 9:26 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , known   

    Can it be known? 

    In the mass of humanity can it possibly be known that one if seeks out the Lord the Lord will find that one? How can one speck of dirt be so easily seen by anyone when all around you is nothing but a mound of dirt?

    There was a woman who was so ill that hardly any knew of her presence when the crowd thronged around Jesus. Yet, in her act of faith, perhaps with some uncertainty, she reaches out and touches someone – not just any (or every) someone but the Someone – Jesus.

    She was healed instantly.

    The disciples were amazed that Jesus would even begin to ask the question about who just (merely) touched Him with the crowd pressing in on Him. He knew, and he looked on her who was “guilty” and said to her that her faith made her well (Mark 5:25-34). What is it that the Lord of all the universe is so interested in one small speck of dirt that He is able to pick that speck out of the mound of those around who have a mere curiosity?

    Can it be known that you seek emotional and spiritual relief, that you are heavy with guilt? Oh, it can be known, but will you let it be known?

    How strong is your faith?

     
  • Randal 6:51 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church news   

    Heartbreaking news: preacher’s wife and son murdered 

    Over on BNc, a painful story of a double murder in Gulfport, Miss., of our brother Les Ferguson’s wife and son. Painful even to have to report such news. We join so many others in prayer for Les and his remaining children, and all their family members. Some of you may know him. I only knew him by name.

     
    • Ron 6:55 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Just heart sick!

    • Don Ruhl 7:20 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I only knew him by name also. What a sad thing!

    • Mike Riley 10:46 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      This is indeed a sad story. It makes you wonder what goes through a deranged mind, causing an individual to go through with these heinous acts. May God be with the family and give them comfort as only He can.

    • Wayne Hatcher 11:14 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Randal, This is devastating news. Les Jr.’s father, Les Sr. was in my graduating class at Sunset School of Preaching in 1971. He and his dear wife Margie are a wonderful Chrstians. I am so sorry to hear this.

    • Weylan Deaver 11:39 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      A tragic reminder that the gospel does not promise health and wealth, but a home hereafter.

  • Ron Thomas 6:42 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , identified,   

    Ezekiel 8 and 9 

    An interesting thought occurred to me: In the context of Ezekiel, coupled with Jeremiah and 2 Kings, the Lord had a mark placed on all those to whom He continued His physical mercy. those who had no mark, in the symbolism, died when Babylon came in. Ezekiel was horrified, but the Lord said to him that their evil was so great that the Lord was going to eradicate the perversity and evil from the land.

    If this could be properly applied to our country – Did the Lord mark you?

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    The Crafty Gibeonites (JOSHUA 9) 

    “And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowlands and in the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon–the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite–heard about it, that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord” (Josh. 9:1,2).

    Significant news spreads quickly, even without the aid of modern technology. The people in the vicinity of Jericho and Ai knew what had happened to these cities. They quickly united together against their new mutual enemy–Israel! In that era, each city was basically self-governed (like a country unto itself). There were kings in most cities, and they would cooperate with other kings and make alliances when necessary for protection. Such was the case here. They hope to find success working together as a team against Israel where their neighbors had failed individually.

    “But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, ‘We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us'” (9:3-6).

    Not everyone believed the wisest strategy was to join together and try to snuff out the Israelites with sheer numbers. There was a group of people from Gibeon (the chief city of the Hivites) who deduced that deception was the best approach in this case. They would play the part masterfully, pretending to be foreigners from a faraway country. They knew the Israelites were to destroy all the people of the land, so they pretended to be from far outside the land hoping the Israelites would see no need to slay them. Their disguises and story worked, thanks to carelessness on the part of the Israelite leaders.

    “Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD. So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them” (9:14,15).

    What a shame! Israel makes a huge mistake here, and it was completely preventable. They failed to seek advice from their ultimate leader–God! They blindly accept the Gibeonites’ story and enter into a covenant with them. Three days later, however, the Israelites learn the truth. They’d been duped! The people want to attack, and are justifiably upset with their leaders about this matter. But, the rulers had sworn protection to the Gibeonites and they would not break their word.

    “Then Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them, saying, ‘Why have you deceived us, saying, “We are very far from you,” when you dwell near us? Now therefore, you are cursed, and none of you shall be freed from being slaves–woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.’ So they answered Joshua and said, ‘Because your servants were clearly told that the LORD your God commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you; therefore we were very much afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. And now, here we are, in your hands; do with us as it seems good and right to do to us.’ So he did to them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, so that they did not kill them. And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, in the place which He would chose, even to this day” (9:22-27).

    Fear motivated the Gibeonites to attempt to deceive the Israelites, and it worked. They were content to be slaves, which was much better than the alternative (i.e., death). Friends, there are several significant lessons that can be gleaned from this chapter:

    Even faithful men can be deceived if they become careless. Don’t be swayed by appearances; judge with righteous judgment (cf. John 7:24).
    Always seek counsel from God before making important decisions (cf. Prov. 3:5,6).
    Do not make hasty vows (cf. Eccl. 5:2).
    If you do make a foolish vow, keep it, even if it causes you great harm (cf. Psa. 15:4). Two wrongs do not make a right!

     
  • Glenda Williams 11:07 pm on October 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Opportunity at midnight 

    Saturday, a little after midnight, I went outside to get a book out of our van.  Our neighbor, that I seldom see, was outside watching her daughter and friends as they walked down the street. Her thirteen year old daughter was celebrating her birthday with a spend-the-night party. My neighbor spoke and asked that I meet her half-way, so she could tell me about her mother and her recent surgery for cancer. 

    As is often the case when people face a near-death experience, my neighbor confessed two different ways she has changed her own lifestyle for the better. She said she has stopped drinking and stopped cursing. I did not know she had those problems, but continued to listen. She related that when next month’s check comes, she is going to buy two Bibles, one for her and one for her teenage daughter. I praised her for her new lifestyle, and told her we would get each of them a Bible. She said she was looking for a church that would let her wear the clothes she has, and implied her clothes are not what she thought of as “church” clothes. I pointed to our church building and told her we would be glad to have her. She mentioned that she and her daughter were going to start studying the Bible. I told her about the Bible correspondence course we offer, and she showed interest. Tomorrow I plan to take the first lesson of the John Hurt course, and give each of them a copy to begin their study. The Bibles are to be here Wednesday. They will get them immediately when they arrive.

    God continues to answer my prayer that He will bless me with opportunities, help me to recognize them as such, and act upon them in a positive way for His glory. My heart overflows with gratitude, that even in the stillness of the night an opportunity was waiting outside our door.

     
    • Joy 1:55 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Opportunities are frequently there, if only we will keep our eyes and ears open for them. Thanks for sharing this! You are a great encouragement.

    • J. Randal Matheny 4:22 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Glenda, I pray the Lord will allow you to take advantage of this open door and bring this lady and her daughter to faith. So good to hear from you, as always, and especially with such news as this.

  • Weylan Deaver 9:28 am on October 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Birthday greetings, salutations, and well-wishes from the Lone Star State to Ron Thomas in Illinois. And I hope he will clarify a question that just came to mind. If a citizen of Texas is a Texan (a simple word conversion, yes?), then how do you call a citizen of Illinois? Please give the proper term, along with diacritical marks for pronunciation, if possible.

     
    • Ron 5:07 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Apart from Illini I would not know how to answer. I suppose I could say Illinoian, broken down to something like this: ILL-I-NOI-AN

      Otherwise, I think I am sunk.

      Thank you for the birthday wish; 51 I am. Was in St Louis yesterday.

  • Ed Boggess 8:11 am on October 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    There is a new Federal study out that debunks many of the popular myths regarding homosexuality. The research was conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and their results were released last March (2011). One myth that took it on the chin is the claim that 10% of the population is homosexual. That goes back to the outdated Kinsey report from the 60’s. This new study finds that only 1.4% of the population is homosexual. Moreover, of those identifying themselves as gay or lesbian, the overwhelming majority have practiced both homosexual and heterosexual relationships. This won’t be popular with the Gay Pride bunch but it certainly fits with what the Bible teaches. This is Just-A-Minute with Ed Boggess

     
  • TFRStaff 6:47 am on October 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Destroyed for lack of knowledge 

    Good morning. Our memory verse is Ps. 119:11. Be sure to hide this one in your heart. Remember to “be in the know” when it comes to God’s word. Our text this morning, Hosea 4:1-12 shows the danger of being ignorant of God’s word. Consider these thoughts in your home study.

    Our text begins by saying God has a controversy with his people. We do not want to have a controversy with God. He is the standard and judge. He is always right. Remember last month’s slogan, “If God says it, that settles it.” This is not a controversy for debate. It is for stating God’s displeasure and pronouncing judgment. Brothers and sisters, if God has a controversy with us, we are the ones who must change. And, we must do it while there is time to repent.

    • The controversy is sin. There were all kinds of sin being committed: swearing, lying, stealing, adultery (sounds like today doesn’t it). But, the root of all this sin was the most grievous sin of all, lack of knowledge. There was no truth in the land and no knowledge of God. Brothers and sisters, God has a controversy with us when we do not study, learn and know His word. If God’s people today knew His word thoroughly, we would not have the apostasies of liberalism and anti-ism. Our people would not allow any of the leaders to take them in that direction. We would not be struggling to keep many congregations alive. We would be thriving as we carry out the commands of God’s word. Also, the conduct of the church would not look like the conduct of the world. We would have our affections set on things above.
    • Lack of knowledge keeps our conscience from being pricked by the truth. When our mind is continuously filled with the word, it helps keep us from sin. When some in the crowd on Pentecost learned that Jesus was the son of God, that knowledge “pricked their heart” and they repented before God and obeyed. Without knowledge there is nothing to prick our hearts.
    • V. 6 says that God’s people rejected knowledge. They chose not to know His will. That, my friend, is a resulting of “upbringing.” That is, the parents did not raise up their children to love the truth. We cannot tell our children the Bible is important and expect them to grow up believing that unless they grow up seeing us study it regularly and using it as our standard for worship and conduct. They must see us putting God first in our life through our knowledge of the Bible. Neglect to study and we are rejecting his will.
    • Finally, we are also told that God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. It is not future tense. Their punishment in captivity was yet to come. Their destruction was present. No matter how successful we may appear to be physically, when we do not have a right relationship with God, we are destroyed. How is your relationship with God this morning?

    Mike Glenn

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Ai Defeated (JOSHUA 8) 

    With the trouble Achan caused behind them, the Israelites were ready to destroy Ai with God’s blessing and continue their conquest of the Promised Land of Canaan – “Now the LORD said to Joshua: ‘Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it” (Josh. 8:1,2).

    Although they had lost three dozen men at Ai earlier, there was nothing to fear now since God was with them. God instructed all the men of war to fight, and not just a few thousand as had been done on the former occasion (cf. 7:4). Joshua instructed the people accordingly and employed the very effective plan of attack that God commanded. 30,000 mighty men of valor were sent away by night to position themselves behind the city of Ai secretly. They would lie in ambush, waiting for the proper moment to strike. Commander Joshua would lead the rest of the men toward the front of the city as if they were going to attack. Then, when the men of Ai came out to engage them in battle, the main group of Israelites would turn and run, as if they were scared and defeated. No doubt this would embolden the warriors of Ai who had seen cowardly behavior out of the Israelites on the prior occasion. The plan was executed perfectly. As the men of Ai pursued the Israelites they left their own city exposed and open to attack! They would soon learn a hard lesson–things aren’t always as they appear!

    “Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Stretch out the spear that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.’ And Joshua stretched out the spear that was in his hand toward the city. So those in ambush arose quickly out of their place; they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand, and they entered the city and took it, and hurried to set the city on fire. And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and behold, the smoke of the city ascended to heaven. So they had not power to flee this way or that way, and the people who had fled to the wilderness turned back on the pursuers. Now when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. Then the others came out of the city against them; so they were caught in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side. And they struck them down, so that they let none of them remain or escape. But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua” (8:18-23).

    As commanded, all the inhabitants of Ai were annihilated–12,000 in all. Spoil was taken by the Israelites since God had authorized it on this occasion (if only Achan had waited!). The king of Ai was hanged and thus humiliated publicly (cf. Deut. 21:22,23). The city was turned into a burned heap of desolation!

    Afterward, Joshua constructed an altar and made a copy of the law of Moses. This too was prescribed by God on an earlier occasion (cf. Deut. 27ff). The people assembled for the reading of the law in what we might call a natural amphitheater. Half gathered near Mount Gerizim and the other half near Mount Ebal, with the ark of the covenant–attended by the priests–in the middle. The priests blessed the people and then Joshua proceeded to “read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them” (Josh. 8:34,35). The people needed to know the law in order to know what God expected of them. If they obeyed Him, they would be blessed, but if they disobeyed they would be cursed–just like the Canaanite people they were in the process of destroying from the land.

     
  • Randal 8:02 pm on October 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: commands of Christ, , spiritual mind control   

    Late-night cranky potshots 

    God will often turn our dreams upside-down, so he can work his will into our lives, as a part of that process of remaking us into the image of Christ. He makes us dump our own designs, in order to enter fully into the divine project of redemption.

    • Making people jump through our hoops in order to come to Christ probably doesn’t make the Lord very pleased with us. And hoops we have, make no mistake. So let us be careful about railing at the religionists for their rules.

    • On the other hand, how did some folk get to the point of making the commandments given by the Lord Jesus optional? Doesn’t a command mean it’s obligatory? Mandatory? Now, in so many places, they are dispensed with, with the wave of the hand. “Command of Jesus Christ, be thou expendable!”

    • If you’ve not seen the link nor read the article, hustle over to Biblical Notes for Mac Deaver’s fine article, “A difference of perspective.” Makes you think.

    • The NLT rendering of Proverbs 4:15 is colorful. Here are verses 14-15:

    Don’t do as the wicked do,
    and don’t follow the path of evildoers.
    Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way.
    Turn away and keep moving.

    Don’t even think about it. That’s a good phrase to use. Don’t even consider it. Don’t we sometimes entertain the idea of wickedness, as, say, an intellectual exercise? (Yeah, right!) And that’s where it starts, by allowing the mind to consider the possibility. In a very bad sense, what the mind can conceive, the body can achieve.

    Enough crankiness for one night. G’ night!

     
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