Rivers: obstacles or opportunities?

There is a river in the way. But God said that the river would not be an issue. It would not be a problem. Like the Red Sea, God can do something miraculous.

But the Israelites needed to trust. And that is where we find ourselves.

This post is building on the previous two posts.

Click here for the first one or here for #2.

Pretend you are a drone, a thousand feet above the Israelite camp. You can see the Jordan river, which flows from north to south, making up the eastern border of Canaan. On the right (or east side) of the river, there stands Israel. Right now, a nation without a home. I wonder how many tents we would see. Are the animals in pens or able to roam free? This map is an estimation of the crossing location.

crossing the jordan

Everything seems to be ready. Israel is probably excited because they are (after 40 years) about to enter God’s promised land! Only one obstacle left!

Joshua 3 gives us insight to our situation. Here are the first 4 verses.

1Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubitsa between you and the ark; do not go near it.””

From these verses, even though the people were apparently ready, God was not.

Verse 3 tells the people to follow the ark. They should be used to this by now.

Verse 4 explains why. This was new ground, literally. They had never been there before.


Here is the connection to you and I in 2018.

We are ready for God to do a miracle. At least we think we are.

We want God to bolster our financial situation.

We want God to heal broken relationships.

We want God to exact revenge on the idiots in our life.

We want…it seems we are always ready for a miracle.

But are we really?

God had a slightly different plan. He wanted to be in front. He needed to be in front.

That means He gets the glory.

And many times, our desires keep God somewhere other than the front. 

ark of the covenant

The ark needed to go first. That was true for Joshua and the Israelites.

The ark (God) needs to be first in all we do. That is our take-home truth for today.

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Let it go…and not the song from Frozen.

Life is not as complex as we think. More to the point, being a Christian is not as complicated as we make it out to be.

Now here is something that is complicated:

complex math

Don’t we tend to live life this way? Relating to this picture, we have the chalk and are creating what we think our life should be like. Graphs for finance, charts for careers, equations for relationships, formulas for God and spreadsheets for kids’ schedules!

How does it all make sense?

Truth is, I don’t think it does make sense. Sure, some people juggle life better than others but at the end of the day, we all fall short. I think one word sums it up.

Control.

We want to be in control. Every choice we make reinforces this idea. The food we eat. The clothes we wear. Where we live. The people in our lives.

We dictate it all so that the control stays within our domain.


The psalmist said it so precise and clear, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

As a shepherd himself, David knew what he was talking about. He understood that when God is in control, everything else makes sense. Yes, David still had to do the work as a shepherd. The sheep needed him.

I am not suggesting that we stop working. There are things in life we need to do.

The Lord gives us the clarity, strength, and motivation for the work in our lives. If we let God be in control while we work, then our life can make sense. Kind of like this:

simple math equation

I want to close this post with three thoughts

  1. As you read the opening lyrics to this hymn, try to grasp the simplicity in the words. “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word;” ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, Louisa M. R. Stead (1882)
  2. This post, more than most that I have written, is directed at me. I write about things that are matters of the heart, for me.
  3. If you find encouragement, comfort or challenge in these words, then God is at work in you too. Looks like we are on the same journey. Stay true to Him. As the saying goes, let go and let God.

 

The X-factor

X+4=7. Solve for X. Remember those algebra days? X is always the unknown. X represents the part that does not have a name or an identity.

The X-factor. The X-factor is the extra part of something. It makes a difference. Provides additional support or backing.

Sports teams know this well. Home field advantage is the X-factor. You can’t really see it. It is difficult to measure. But you can feel it. Its presence is almost tangible.

I live close to Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

lambeau field

The X-factor here is real. Sell-out crowds for every home game. Frozen Tundra.

Yes, the X-factor is a force!

The Word – X-factor

The Worth – We just celebrated Christmas. Or, for this post, Xmas. Why do we call it Xmas?

Here is some information from this website: https://www.vox.com/2014/12/14/7374401/jesus-xmas-christmas

“…the X in “Xmas” literally means Jesus. Allow us to explain.

How can the letter “X” stand for “Christ”?

In Greek, the language of the New Testament, the word Christos (Christ) begins with the letter “X,” or chi. Here’s what it looks like:

Χριστός

So how did that word get abbreviated?

In the early fourth century, Constantine the Great, Roman Emperor from 306-337, popularized this shorthand for Christ…”


Have you made the connection?

In our lives, Christ is the X-factor! He is that extra support. Reinforcement in troubled times. Life comes from him!

The Bible declares that the Holy Spirit dwells in the life of a believer. The very spirit of Christ lives in you and me!

Sure, we can’t always see it or measure it. But we can feel it. The presence of God is very real in our lives.

If Christ is the X-factor and the Holy Spirit lives in us then we become the X-factor!

The Work – There are many days that a believer won’t feel godly. In fact, feeling the opposite seems more true. But whatever you feel today, you are the X-factor.

Live by faith. Your feelings can not always be trusted. Christ will help.

I want to end with an encouraging verse. I Thessalonians 4:1-2

“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.”

God bless you on your journey today. See you tomorrow for the letter Y!

 

 

The Waiting Room

Wait. Have you ever waited for something? I waited for these two things recently.

Star Wars…star wars basic logo

Christmas…xmas wait

Yes, of course! We all wait for things or people in our lives.

With that intro, you could probably deduce the word for this post.

In honor of my friend and pastor, I will use my notes from his sermon this past Sunday. He is moving to Springfield, Missouri to work with Convoy of Hope.

I will miss his friendship, preaching, and all around awesomeness.


The Word – wait

The Worth – Here is the passage of scripture that was used. Luke 2:25-32, 36-38.

The Waiting Room. Waiting is simply a part of life. There is actually a room specifically devoted to waiting. We find ourselves waiting for so many things!

But what should we be doing while we wait? How do we wait?

Wait Closely. Stay close to God while you wait. He is never the problem. Spend time praying, worship, reading. Anticipate what God might be doing.

Wait Expectantly. Something good is about to happen. God is faithful so you need not worry. Trusting God is to wait with expectation.

Wait Joyfully. Even if you cannot see what God is doing, He is still doing something! How you wait can determine your joy.

Refining and maturing takes place in the waiting room. Let God do what He wants to do. And yes, often times that means we need to wait.

The Work – Here are a few scriptures.

Psalm 27:14, Psalm 62:5, Isaiah 40:31

These can help you trust God while you are waiting. Let these words sink into your spirit.

God loves you. He wants to help you. If you are in God’s waiting room, just know that He will call your number when it is the right time.

waiting room

 

Feeling the pressure…

If you have been following me this year, you have been going through the alphabet with me. I call it Alphabet Soup. The first post of 2017 was on the letter A. You can read it here.

My math tells me that I could post every other week and that would get me to the letter Z by the end of the year. Well…I am only at U! Pressure!!!

No worries though. I am excited to finish this series so I can begin to look ahead to 2018.

And without further delay…

The Word – Underestimate

The Worth – The Christmas story can be found in Matthew and Luke. And it was in Luke’s writing that the inspiration for ‘underestimate’ hit me. Here is Luke 1:26-38:

“26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be calledb the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37For no word from God will ever fail.” 38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”

Dwell on this angelic visit for a minute. An angel comes to speak to Mary. Mary is probably around 15 years old. She has never had sex. She is also engaged. The angel tells her that God’s son will be born of her. I personally cannot fathom what types of thoughts were racing around in Mary’s brain.

I do know one thing though, Mary underestimated God. How do I know?

Let’s look at two verses.

Verse 29, “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.”

Verse 34, “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 

Mary was questioning the purpose of God (v. 29) and the ability of God (v. 34).

Have you and I ever underestimated God?

Why is God doing this or that?

Why isn’t God moving?

Will you ever hurry up, God?

Why me?

And the list could continue.

We know the rest of the story. Mary did not, however. She questioned and the angel replied. Something happened in verses 35-37. And then we get to verse 38.

Mary comes around. She may still have doubts but her faith is bigger than her fear.

The Work – We need to come around like Mary.

I don’t always see the why, when, or how of God. And that is cause to be joyful.

I am not God! I do not have to know everything!

Be encouraged that God really does have everything under control. There is a current of Godliness that continually flows. It is an ever-moving river.

I say we jump in that river and enjoy God and what He is doing today!

can saying