Tag Archives: truth

Joshua 9: the ruse

potion-1860939_960_720Chapter nine of Joshua features the people of Gibeon.  The Israelites have miraculously crossed the Jordan River on dry land and defeated Jericho and Ai.  Word of the mighty works of God (v9) spread to the surrounding Canaanite towns.  A call went out for the Canaanites to set aside their differences and unite militarily.  The Gibeonites ignored the call, fearing they would be the next ones to be wiped out (v24).  They came up with a ruse intending to secure a peace treaty with the Israelites.  

The Gibeonites offer convincing proof that they are from a far off land showing the Israelites their moldy bread, old wine, worn out clothes as proof.  “We have traveled far,” they said.  The Israelites fell for the ruse and swore an oath.  Unknowingly they made a peace treaty with their neighbors.

God was never consulted before they swore an oath to strangers?  When the ruse was exposed, the Gibeonites were not killed but subjected to a life of servitude carrying water and cutting wood in tabernacle service.

How many of us have resorted to a ruse as a means to avoid trouble.  Ruses often become yokes, which we are forced to bear indefinitely.  What is to be gained with a lie draped around one’s neck?

“The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.”  Psalm 145:18 NLT

 

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Grace and truth

I heard a sermon recently about being an authentic Christian.  I wouldn’t describe my pastor’s words as comforting.  I have been thinking about two words ever since; grace and truth.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth through Jesus Christ.  John 1:17

I understand that grace and truth are a part of the Christian’s salvation experience.  But for some reason we followers of the gospel end up gravitating towards one of two camps over the course of time as we journey.

Grace without truth is meaningless.  You might know them as chameleon Christians who are tossed by the wind when they encounter change or challenging issues.  Conversely, truth without grace leads to legalism. Often times people find them to be an angry, condescending bunch when others make different choices than they do.

Having found myself in each camp at one time or another in my life, my pastor’s message troubled me.  Grace and truth are both needed as we journey.  Truth says to me, “You know right from wrong, yet you still make wrong choices sometimes.  You are in constant need of grace.”  Grace whispers, “I have embraced you time each time you have asked for it, so why not demonstrate it to others by loving God and your neighbor.”

We do need both.  Truth grounds us in the faith, and lovingly extending grace to others affirms our witness.  Thank you Pastor H. for bringing this to my attention.

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Psalm 119:33-48 Cause Me

(33) “Follow it to the end” – this section of the 119th Psalm speaks about finishing well.  God’s help is needed for us to stay the course and finish well.  (37) “Turn my eyes” – our eyes have an appetite, we need to guard what they are focusing on.  (41) “Thy salvation” –  deliverance from the evil that is revealed to us in God’s word.  (48) “I will lift up my hands” – how many of us can say that we reach out  for God’s word like a child reaches for a gift (Spurgeon).

Matt Chandler in his video series on Psalm 119 titles this section, “Cause Me.”  Our prayers should reflect two ideas: (1) to love what is good (give me an appetite for God’s Word) and (2) to hate what is evil (my selfishness can be a source of evil).  Studying God’s word positions us to do both.

My prayer: Cause me to be certain of my faith, cause me to be thirsty for Your word and cause me to finish well.-Let anyone who is thirsty (2)

Psalm 119:17-32 (Deal bountifully with me)

god-2925343_960_720Anyone who has tried to keep the 10 commands knows that it is an impossible undertaking, especially if we are to factor in those errant thoughts and motives. Jesus came, not to discard the standard of perfection found in the Old Testament, but to fulfill that standard on my behalf. Jesus’ perfection is imputed onto me so that I can one day stand before God blameless.

This doesn’t make the word of God found in the Old Testament any less relevant to Believers. God sent Jesus, a living, breathing human being, to represent Him. John’s gospel declares, “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14 Jesus is the Word of God!

Gimel – Symbol of gathering or walking

v17-20 Be good to me – deal bountifully with me – help me, give me what is good.  Open my eyes – this could be a desire to seek what is truth, but also a request for guidance on what areas of my life need cleansing.  A stranger to earth – a sojourner needs a heavenly compass and a roadmap, to help him find his way.  My soul is consumed with longing – Carelessly pushing God away during times of prosperity or success leaves us wide open to anxiety in times of trouble.

v21-24 Rebuke the arrogant – have you ever been humbled by God for being too proud?  Do you find that people ridicule and criticize that which they don’t know or understand? The world will lead us one way, but often the council of God leads us in a different direction. The Word of God brings life to a dry thirsty soul.

Daleth – Symbol of moving, hanging, entrance

v25-29 My soul clings to the dust – a feeling of being emotionally dead and buried.  Preserve my life – have you ever thought of God’s Word as a life preserver?  Cause me to understand – don’t just help me out of my predicament, show me the way to keep from falling back into it again.  My soul is weary – The words of Jesus “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28) are the perfect balm for the weary soul.

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v30-32 The way of truth – is the path chosen by the Psalmist. Jesus offers himself as the way, the truth and life (John 14:6). Following the way of truth means clinging to the promises (testimonies) found in God’s Word.  I have set my heart – the prophet Daniel purposed in his heart that he would stand up for what he believed in even if it cost him his life.

This week, try substituting the name of Jesus wherever you find a reference to “the word of God” or any of its synonyms as you read this psalm. As you do this, understand that there is a difference between knowing about Jesus and believing in him. Traverse the bridge of faith today and experience Jesus personally.