What About God’s Afflictions?


11 So the Lord said to the children of Israel, ‘Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites and from the people of Ammon and from the Philistines? 12 Also the Sidonians and Amalekites and Maonites oppressed you; and you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hand. 13 Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more.14 Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.’ 15 And the children of Israel said to the Lord, ‘We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray.’ 16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.(Judges 10:11-16)

 

            We hear much talk about affliction, the storms that many of us are facing and the stuff that we are going through; but have we ever stopped to consider God’s afflictions? In reading these verses, the worst thing that can happen to us is to approach this message as if God is only speaking to Israel. To approach this story as a once upon a time thing, could be tragic. Israel’s response to God as a nation is a reflection of our individual responses to HIM also.

            Have you ever stopped to think about all that God has done for you; the many times He delivered you from death itself? Just like Israel, we see God blessing us over and over; we move away from Him, things don’t go well, we cry out to HIM again, He delivers us, but again we move away and so on. It is painful to read the Word and see this awful cycle!

The last part of verse sixteen tells us: “And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.God is afflicted because of our misery as the result of our insisting and walking away from Him. God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, loves us in such a way that He trespasses the wall of what is logic and what we really deserve, and manifests His mercy because of His incomparable love for us. I believe that the next time we decide to dwell on our afflictions; it would be a healthy exercise to pause and take a look at God’s afflictions because of us.

Do You Know How God Sees You?


The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joashthe Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:11-12)

 

            The children of Israel were at their worst; the Midianites were literally terrorizing them by taking everything from them; food, clothing, treasures and more. The Midianites were serving themselves as they became pleased while the prosperity of Israel kept shunning.

            In the midst of these horrible times, a man named Gideon is introduced into the Biblical history of Israel. The Bible tells us that at the time, the Angel of the Lord came to speak to Gideon as he was separating seeds from the wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. The first thing that got my attention was that Gideon was using a valuable winepress for something outside of its original purpose. The persecution was so, bad that Israel was forced to use created ways just to be able to survive.

            The image of Gideon, so far, is not the one of a mighty warrior, but of a man who is just like everybody else; oppressed and afraid of the enemy. As a matter of fact, Gideon said in Judges 6:15 “But Lord,’  Gideon asked, ‘how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Not a pretty picture! However, in all, God has a way of looking at us that goes beyond any other. If you are arrogant, God has a way to bring you down for your own good and then lift you up for His glory. But if you are like Gideon and in his circumstances, God has a way of filling you with His Spirit and using you in a way that will be forever remembered.

            I don’t know what you are facing today and what you’ve done to be in whatever situation you find yourself in; but if your self-esteem is low, if you find yourself with no purpose, you should ask yourself: Do you know how God sees you?

It Gets Harder to Get Up


1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.

                                                                                                                          

            These verses described the third time, in the book of Judges, that the children of Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord as a nation. In the first time, they served Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim for eight years (Judges 3:8). In the second time, God gave them over Jabin, a king of Canaan, for twenty years (Judges 4:1-3). This time, even though it was only eight years, the Israelites found themselves in, possibly, the worst condition ever, so far, since leaving Egypt as we can see in Judges 6:1-6.

            For some that may not know the story, this pattern of the Israel’s unfaithfulness to God, then crying out to God and then God restoring them is repeated over and over in Scripture. That is an example of many of our lives! What is the point that I am trying to make? Every time we fall, we hit ourselves harder and it gets harder to get up. If you are one away from the Lord or you are starting to feel coldness in your heart towards the Lord, repent and turn to Jesus. Many find themselves unable to prosper and they wonder why. Check your heart before you fall; surely it will get harder to get up.

Asking God for the Impossible


“On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel:

‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
   and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.’
So the sun stood still,
   and the moon stopped,
   till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,

as it is written in the Book of Jashar.

The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a human being. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel!” (Joshua 10:12-14)

 

          As I read this incredible story, I started reflecting on the aspect of my prayer life that has to do with asking God. I was surely convicted as I faced my own reality concerning the fact that I don’t ask God for much. Other than the normal intercession for my own family, friends, diverse situations and a sporadic “God help me!” my list of things I asked for is not impressive.

          Not asking God for much may sound acceptable; but I am faced with having to search my own heart concerning the reason why I don’t ask God for much. Is it that I feel that God can’t do what I ask Him to do? Is it that I feel that He don’t want to give me what I ask? Is it that I don’t feel that He is even listening? Or is it that I feel that I can get what I want without God? Joshua surely asked for something completely off the charts of natural possibilities. Joshua dared to ask for a whole day to stop so that he’d be able to advance in battle. Crazy! However, the petition was, indeed, granted by God. 

            I guess today we may want to take a chance, expand our faith and ask God for something extraordinary. Do we believe He can do it? Is it something completely out of our own possibility of self-doing? I think God wants to challenge us today! I think that today, God wants us to ask Him for the impossible.

When the Enemies are Bigger and Stronger than You


1 When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. 4For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.’ 5 The officers shall say to the army: ‘Has anyone built a new house and not dedicated it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may dedicate it. 6 Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it. 7 Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her.’ 8 Then the officers shall add, ‘Is any man afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too.’ 9 When the officers have finished speaking to the army, they shall appoint commanders over it.” (Deuteronomy 20:1-9) (NIV)

 

            I have no doubt in my mind that many of us are facing situations in which the solutions go beyond our understanding, beyond our abilities, beyond our knowledge and beyond our strength. Many of us find ourselves facing situations where if God literally does not intervene, we will have zero possibility of making it. The book of Deuteronomy represents the last words of Moses; these are the last instructions before Israel was to enter the Promise Land. In these verses, Moses is speaking on behalf of the Lord and the emphasis is precisely what to do when facing an enemy much stronger than them.

            In watching great battle movies such as, Braveheart, Gladiator and others; it is very common to see great speeches right before a monumental battle. We can see Mr. William Wallace ending his speech by saying: “They can take our lives, but they can’t take our freedom!” The Priests, back in the days of Moses and beyond, were also instructed to give a short inspirational speech to the people right before battle. That short speech is recorded here in Deuteronomy 20:3-4.  I want to take this opportunity to do something here; I want you to write your name in place of Israel and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit saying:

“Hear, O _____________, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” 

 

            When the enemies are bigger and stronger than you, it is crucial that you remember that it is God who sends you out into a battle. Have no fear; for it is God who is going ahead of you to fight your enemies. You may be inferior to these enemies, but who is God inferior to? 

The Power of Bad Relationships


1 When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.” (Deuteronomy 7:1-4) (NIV)

 

Some time ago, I went to visit the daughter of a good friend of mine; a beautiful girl in her twenties with an amazing future ahead of her. This young girl was like a daughter, like a lovely niece… like family to me. She is a piano player, a great singer and song writer who faithfully serves with her father as part of the Worship Team at their local church.

A couple of weeks prior to my visit, she suffered a terrible car accident. She was hit from behind by a truck; her car was pushed into the opposite lane in a busy highway in Jacksonville, Florida and further hit by five other cars. It was nothing less than a miracle that this girl stayed alive after such brutal accident.

Kathy (not her real name) is able to walk and all of the visible bruises are gone; however, she is now enduring great pain as some complications were found in her body. As I went to see Kathy, I realized that Kathy’s greatest pain was not physical, even as serious as her physical injuries were. Kathy’s greatest pain was emotional. See, her boyfriend broke-up with her just moments before the accident. Kathy, like many in our day, stand in great need of prayer as she is one more victim of the power of a bad relationship.

Today’s days, God is not imposing limits into who to marry or not to marry in terms of race; but the warning continues to stand today as powerfully as it did in those days. The Bible warns us about not to engage into marriage unequally yoked; in other words, we have no business marrying someone that is not a Christian.

Any relationship that will turn us away from God is not of God. Bad relationships will lead us away from the Lord and into the worship of modern-day idols. That boyfriend or girlfriend can be the very thing that will cause the Lord’s anger to burn against you. A bad relationship “…will quickly destroy you.”

If you are involved in a relationship where you find yourself distancing from the Lord; especially in a relationship where you are encouraged to fornicate as evidence of your love, you are worshipping idols and you have allowed your heart to turn away from God.

If your life is falling apart because your “significant other” broke up with you, you have made that man or that woman your god. Repent, ask the Lord for help and go after God. May the Lord free us all from the power of bad relationships.

There is No One Closer


“What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7) (NIV)

 

             I don’t know where you find yourself as you read these words; you may be in a season where you feel so close to God that you are able to sense His heartbeat. Good for you; good for you, indeed! However, you may be one who has not sensed His sweet presence in a while; and not only that, but you are going through a great deal of hardship. Some of your hardship is the result of demonic attacks, some are just normal issues of life and yet some others are the direct testing of the Lord. You find yourself in a spiritual and emotional desert that is keeping you dry and with a sense of abandonment. God is as close to you as your prayer life!

            Many of us know, by own experiences, that when we are faced with tribulations, the first thing that we throw out the window is prayer. However, this verse challenges us with an amazing question: “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” It is not an accident that you are reading these words today…God is waiting; He is so close that you don’t even have to yell; you can whisper and He can hear…He is so close that He can actually listen to your heart. Beloved, there is no one closer!

Would You Listen to God?


 

“Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 4:1) (NIV) 

            No doubt that from the time we are babies we love the idea of taking over, of having things our way, of making it all about us and about the fulfillment of our own personal needs. As Christians, we are encouraged to focus on serving others, sacrificing for others and giving ourselves for the benefits of others. This is a strange language in today’s culture and way of thinking! However, in all the dynamic and complexity of Scripture, we must also understand that God is preparing us to; once again, move on this earth in a spirit of dominion just as it was in the Garden of Eden.

            This is a very complex and controversial topic, but we must understand, for the sake of the emphasis of this small writing, that we will be missing out on much, as long as we refuse to listen to what God has to say. Many want the “taking over part,” but then close their ears to what God is saying. In this verse we are encouraged to listen to God and to specifically listen to God’s “decrees and laws.”  This, my friends, is God’s Way of life! This verse then, takes us to a higher level because it encourages us to “follow them.” To follow something is “to pursue, to chase and to go after something.” In this case, it is to chase after God’s way of doing things.”

            Our problem is that we chase after so many things in our selfish pursuit of dominion, that we always end-up, like the children of Israel, losing it all to our enemy. Chasing after God’s way of doing thing is precisely what will give us that abundant life that Jesus came to give. It is more than just accepting Jesus as our Savior, but also as our Lord. When we combine all these things together we position ourselves in the place of God’s blessing; the place where we will take possession of the land of our dreams. Everything starts with listening…will you listen to God?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make Sure that it is God Who Gets the Glory By Dennis Owens


“Hear, O Israel: You are to cross over the Jordan today, and go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and fortified up to heaven,  2 “a people great and tall, the descendants of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the descendants of Anak?’  3 “Therefore understand today that the LORD your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the LORD has said to you” (Deuteronomy 9:1-3 ).

            Have you ever thought to yourself, “Well, look what God just did through me! Aren’t I something!” As the Israelites prepared to cross the Jordan and take on the Anakim, “a people great and tall,” Moses wanted to make certain that the Israelites understood to whom the glory should go. It was not because of their merits that the Lord was doing such a mighty thing. God is sovereign and will do what God will do. Yes, the Israelites were God’s special treasure (Ex 19), but they were also a “stiff-necked people,” as Moses carefully reminds them. As servants of God we need to be mindful of this delicate balance between recognizing our worth and value before God (I Peter 2:9), yet remembering that it is God who acts; we are instruments in his hands. “Understand, then, today that it is the Lord, your God, who will cross over before you as a consuming fire…” (Deut. 9:3)

            Indeed, one of the messages that Moses continually conveys to the Israelites is that God is the one who will do battle for them.  The same God by whose power the Israelites were brought out of Egypt is the God that goes before them. Many of the nations which the Israelites would be fighting were nations with armies greater than their own. Yet, Moses reminds them that they need not be afraid, for “it is the Lord who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies and give you victory.” (20:4) We all face enemies whose power seems greater than our own, some days more than others. It is easy to become discouraged if we focus on our resources and strength, especially when these seem to pale in comparison. It is likely we will give in if our eyes are set on that of which our enemies are capable. But, when we remember by whose strength and power we fight, when we are mindful of who is fighting for us, we can rest in the knowledge that He will give us the victory.

 

 

Have you Taken a Good Look at Your Journey? By Mr. Dennis Owens


1 Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. 2 At the LORD’s command Moses recorded the stages in their journey. This is their journey by stages: 3 The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out boldly in full view of all the Egyptians,” (Numbers 33:1-3) (NIV)

 

              Like the people who were preparing to cross the Jordan, it is our job to trust God and move forward in faith and take as our possession the Promised Land. God has already given them victory over a people who had earlier seduced the old generation into idolatry. While they are camping in the plains of Moab, before entering into the land, Moses, commanded by God, writes an account of where they have been. From place to place, every stop is chronicled, that the people would remember the way. It is a good exercise to practice, recording our own history. 

Once in a while, we need to stop and camp out in the plains of Moab, and remember… Remember God’s faithfulness and provision, remember God’s power manifested in our lives. Where ever you are on your journey? Today take a moment to stop, camp out, and remember.