Unlighted Paths

The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

As we ventured home from a family vacation, the road took us through some desolate parts of central Oregon. For nearly two hours after dusk we drove through deep canyons and across desert plateaus. Fewer than twenty sets of headlights punctuated the darkness. Eventually the moon rose on the horizon, visible to us when the road crested hills but eclipsed when we traveled through the lowlands. My daughter remarked on its light, calling it a reminder of God’s presence. I asked whether she needed to see it to know He was there. She replied, “No, but it sure helps.”

After Moses’s death, Joshua inherited leadership of the Israelites and was charged to take God’s chosen people into the Promised Land. Despite his divine commission, Joshua must have felt challenged by the daunting nature of his task. God graciously offered Joshua assurance to be with him on the journey ahead (Josh. 1:9).

Lord, thank You for being near me even when I cannot see You.

The road of life often travels through uncharted territory. We voyage through seasons when the path ahead isn’t clearly visible. God’s plan may not always be apparent to us, but He has promised to be with us “always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). What greater assurance could we hope for, no matter what uncertainty or challenge we might face? Even when the path is unlit, the Light is with us.

Lord, thank You for being near me even when I cannot see You. Please comfort me with Your presence.

God is with us even when we can’t see Him.

INSIGHT:A classic worship song describes God as “immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes.” One of the challenges of faith is that we trust in a God we cannot see. But, Jesus came to make the invisible God visible. John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God [Jesus] . . . has made him known.” When we become fearful or discouraged in the dark seasons of life, we can still see God’s love clearly through His Son.

Genuine Awareness

2 Kings 6:15-17

If someone were to ask whether you’re aware of God, you would no doubt exclaim, “Of course I am! I go to church, read my Bible, and pray all the time. I’m quite aware of God.” Now, let’s take it one crucial step further: Are you aware of God’s presence and activity in your daily life?

This second question makes it a bit more personal, doesn’t it? In my daily life? Right here, all the time? We would like to have that constant awareness of God’s presence, but it is difficult. When hardships and trials strike out of nowhere, we often feel bewildered and wonder why the Lord has left us alone.

During times of difficulty, we might pray even harder and longer. We plead for help but see little result. We cry, “Help me! Give me strength!” Or perhaps, “I believe this” or “I can do that.” Do you notice the common factor there? The focus is all on me, me, me, I, I, I. Even during prayer, we may be aware only of ourselves, leaving the Lord out of the matter entirely.

At that point, we may find we’re not really talking to the Father at all; we are talking to ourselves. Perhaps we are focusing on the problem and actually wishing for the ability to handle it on our own. We can, in effect, become completely blind to how God may be working.

2 Kings 6:15-17 gives us a wonderful picture of what can happen when we remove our self-centered blinders and truly see God’s hand at work. Open your eyes. Like Elisha’s servant, you may be shocked to discover the help that God has already sent your way.

A Test for False Prophets

 

“Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.” (Deuteronomy 13:4)

Our text for today seems somewhat out of place, for it is tucked into a passage dealing with false prophets: instructing the people of Israel in ways to detect one who would lead them into false worship. The penalty was death, “because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt” (v. 10). The purpose was both purification and example, for “all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you” (v. 11).

The chief test of a prophet was not his ability to perform signs and wonders (v. 1). Elsewhere the test of total, lifelong accuracy was applied. “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously. . . . that prophet shall die” (Deuteronomy 18:22, 20). A more immediate test lay in the absolute harmony of the prophet’s message and deeds with the revealed Word of God, and the wholehearted commitment to the Lord Himself. This test takes the form of the holy standard set forth in our text.

Note that an inward attitude will be expressed, as given in the six action verbs. If we are to please God, we must “walk after” or “pursue” Him, and “fear” or “reverence” Him in all things. Furthermore, we must “keep” His commandments, striving to “obey” Him on every issue He addresses. He expects such a one to “serve” Him: to do His bidding. Finally, we must “cleave” or “cling” to Him, holding fast to Him in an ever-deepening relationship. To do less is to fail the test used to discern false prophets, incurring at the least His displeasure; at the most His wrath. JDM

“Beware of covetousness.”

Numbers 22:21-35

Numbers 22:21

It does not seem that the princes pressed him to go, it would rather appear that they started off before him; they were evidently on before when the angel met him. A covetous man needs no tempting, he is ready for anything.

Numbers 22:22, 23

Balaam knew he could not curse Israel, but he shewed his will to do so by going with the men. God was justly angry with such an evil intent.

Numbers 22:22, 23

Who can be proud of seeing visions since this poor beast saw an angel, and saw it sooner than a prophet?

Numbers 22:22, 23

Even an ass pays reverence to the angel of God. What are those who sneer at all divine things?

Numbers 22:24-29

Balaam did not seem to be either surprised or alarmed. He was familiar with supernatural wonders, and was moreover so taken up with the one idea of gaining Balak’s reward that he neither feared nor cared. Greed for gold hardens men’s hearts beyond measure; this passion created the monster Judas and others of his class.

Numbers 22:30

The best comment upon this is to be found in Peters Second Epistle; “He was rebuked for his iniquity, the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.” To go with the Moabites to obtain rewards by trying to do what he knew was contrary to God, was utter madness; even a beast was more wise than he, and it was meet that he should be so rebuked.

Numbers 22:33

God takes notice of cruelty to animals, the angel expostulates with Balaam for cruelly to his ass.

Numbers 22:34

He yields under pressure, but his heart goes after gain.

Numbers 22:35

Knowing the right, he yet desired to win the rewards of wrong doing, and went as far into opposition of God’s will as he dare.

 

From vanity turn off my eyes;

Let no corrupt design,

Nor covetous desires arise

Within this soul of mine.

 

Make me to walk in Thy commands,

‘Tis a delightful road;

Nor let my head, or heart, or hands,

Offend against my God.

 

Peace That Passes Understanding

Philippians 4:7

Are you tired of letting the devil get you all stirred up? Has it been easy for the enemy to throw you into a frenzy of panic and anxiety? Maybe it doesn’t happen continually to you, but every once in a while, something happens or someone says something that pushes a button inside you and throws you into a tizzy! When this occurs, do you say and do things you later regret? Do you feel sorry that you allowed the devil to get to you again?

If what I just described sounds familiar, I have help for you today! In Philippians 4:7, the apostle Paul writes, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

As we begin our study today, I want to draw your attention to the word “passeth” in the verse above. It is the Greek word huperecho, which is a compound of the words huper and echo. The word huper literally means over, above, and beyond. It depicts something that is way beyond measure. It carries the idea of superiority; something that is utmost, paramount, foremost, first-rate, first-class, and top-notch; greater, higher, and better than; superior to; preeminent, dominant, and incomparable; more than a match for; unsurpassed or unequaled. The second part of the word “passeth” is the Greek word echo, which means I have, as someone who holds something in his possession. It can be translated to keep; to possess; to have; to hold; or even to acquire.

When these words are compounded into one, they form the word huperecho, which Paul uses in Philippians 4:7. This Greek word denotes a peace so superior that it is held high above all other types of peace. This is a peace that transcends, outdoes, surpasses, excels, rises above, goes beyond and over the top of any other kind of peace. The implication is that people may try to find peace in other places, but there is no peace like the peace of God. The peace of God completely outshines every other attempt to produce peace, causing it to stand in a category by itself. There is absolutely nothing in the world that can compare with the peace of God.

Paul continues to tell us that this peace surpasses and excels above “all understanding.” The word “understanding” is the Greek word nous, the classical Greek word for the mind. This word refers to the ability to think, to reason, to understand, and to comprehend. It also depicts the mind as the source of all human emotions. In Greek, the word “mind” represents the inner powers of a person and thus the place from which a person rules and controls his environment and the world around him. The Greek word emphatically depicts the mind as the central control center for a human being. Therefore, it was understood that the condition of the mind is what determined the condition of one’s life.

Then Paul tells us what this powerful peace will produce in our lives! He says that this peace “… shall keep your hearts and minds….” The word “keep” is the Greek word phroureo, a military term that expresses the idea of soldiers who stood faithfully at their post at the city gates to guard and control all who went in and out of the city. They served as gate monitors, and no one entered or exited the city without their approval.

The apostle Paul uses this word phroureo to explicitly tell us that God’s peace, if allowed to work in our lives, will stand at the gates of our hearts and minds, acting like a guard to control and monitor everything that tries to enter our hearts, minds, and emotions. When God’s peace is ruling us, nothing can get past that divine “guard” and slip into our hearts and minds without its approval!

This is the good news you’ve been waiting for! It means you can refuse to allow the devil to access you, throw you into a state of panic and anxiety, or push any button inside you any longer. When the peace of God is standing guard at the entrance of your heart and mind, the devil has lost his access to your thought life and your emotions!

 

Taking these Greek words together, Philippians 4:7 could be understood in the following way:

“And the peace of Goda peace so wonderful that it cannot be compared to any other type of peace; a peace that stands in a category by itself and rises far above and goes beyond anything the human mind could ever think, reason, imagine, or produce by itselfwill stand at the entrance of your heart and mind, working like a guard to control, monitor, and screen everything that tries to access your mind, heart, and emotions.”

By using this word, Paul tells us that the peace of God will keep and guard your heart and mind! God’s peace will surround your heart and mind just as a band of Roman soldiers would keep dangerous nuisances from entering a city or from breaking into special, private places. In the same way, peace keeps fretfulness, anxiety, worry, and all the other wiles of the devil from breaking into your life. When this peace is active in your life, it surpasses all natural understanding. It protects, guards, keeps, and defends you.

Nothing compares to this powerful, protective, guarding peace that God has positioned to stand at the entrance of your heart and mind! When this peace operates in you, it dominates your mind and your life. Since what is inside you is that which rules you, peace rises up and conquers your entire being. It stands at the gate of your heart and mind, disabling the devil’s ability to disturb you by preventing his attacks from bypassing and slipping into your mind. The devil may try his best to find access to your mind and emotions, but this guarding peace will paralyze his efforts.

So make sure Philippians 4:7 is a reality in your life. In every situation you face today and every day, let God’s supernatural peace rise up to dominate your heart and protect your mind and emotions. If you’re tired of the devil getting you all stirred up and throwing you into a tizzy, it’s time for you to let this supernatural peace go to work and start monitoring, guarding, and approving what does and does not get access to you!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I thank You for placing Your wonderful, powerful, protective peace in my life. I am grateful that You have positioned it to stand at the entrance of my heart and mind and that it dominates my mind and controls my life. Because what is inside me is what rules me, I choose to let this peace rise up and conquer me. With this peace standing at the gate of my heart and mind, I know it will disable the devil’s ability to attack my emotions and will not permit his lies and accusations to slip into my mind! Thank You for loving me enough to put this powerful peace in my life!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I am guarded and protected by the powerful peace of God that works in my life. It rises up to dominate my mind; it controls my thinking; and it determines the condition of my life and the environment where I live and work. I am unaffected by the circumstances that surround me, for this supernatural peace stands at the gate of my mind and emotions to monitor everything that tries to access me. Because no fretting, anxiety, panic, or worry is allowed to enter me, I remain free, calm, and peacefuleven in difficult situations that in the past would have upset me!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Have you noticed specific events or moments in your life when the devil seems to be able to access your mind and emotions to upset your peace and throw you into one of these regrettable fits I’ve described to you today? If your answer is yes, do you know the “buttons” he pushes to throw you into this state that you detest?
  2. What can you do to slow your reactions down long enough to let the peace of God rise up and conquer your emotions so you don’t end up saying and doing things you later regret?
  3. Why don’t you really think this through and ask the Holy Spirit to help you come up with some ideas you can write down and pray about?

 

Complacency – Stagnation – Death

This morning I had breakfast with a businessman who is coasting spiritually. Basically, he’s bored with his Christian experience… and under-challenged with life in general.

 

At mid-life he has mastered his profession, enjoys the easy life-style of private clubs, trips abroad, and the respect of his peers. His time with God is bland. His involvement in ministry is dutiful, uneventful, and… predictable.

 

There is no overt sin in his life, you understand. Basically, he’s a nice guy, who faithfully shows up each week at church and Bible study.

 

But he’s dying from within. Bloated from too much intake and too little outflow.

 

What is missing is the very life of Christ pulsating through his veins:

  • Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
  • Jesus washed peoples feet.
  • Jesus climbed into an electric chair and died.
  • Jesus cautioned us:

Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:24)

 

So I asked him, “If you are stagnated now, what will you be five years from now?”

 

I then challenged him to find the highest piece of real estate in his city: “Go to the top, look over the city and pray, asking God to allow you to see your city through the eyes of Jesus who wept over Jerusalem as He viewed their tragically lost condition.” (Matthew 23:37-39)

 

I urged him to ask God to give him a vision for his world that was larger than his safe and diminished life… A vision that would demand faith and sacrifice.

 

Is it not true that unless we are involved in a life of sacrifice in fulfilling a God-given vision, we too are in the process of dying?

 

QUESTION: What is your vision? What is your passion? For what are you expending your life? Is it the life of the cross or simply “business as usual?” If it is business as usual,

 

You may be a spiritual cadaver in the making.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: