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Why Can’t I hear you? Part 2

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So Achan’s sin had been dealt with. The cleansing God required of his people is quite radical in our minds. A stoning of an entire family! That was how justice was brought about under the law of Moses.  While we don’t advocate this any longer since the shedding of blood has taken care of our sin once and  for all by Jesus Christ, we do get a picture of how serious God views sin. 

God gives us grace so we will have the freedom to obey.  It is not the freedom to do as we please.

Speaking to sin can be intimidating. I believe scripture gives us at least two reasons we must call it out. But we must be merciful as God has been with us.

 1. If the individual claims to be a believer.

 And

2. If the believer is non repentant.

1 Corinthians 5:12
It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.

 Sometimes we don’t like to call someone else to accountability  because then we will have to clean up our own lives… and well, that would be painful. So you sin, I sin, we call it a truce. We slap each other on the back and live in our filth and wonder why our lives lack power and our ears cannot hear God. Sometimes we think if we are confessing it that’s enough. I may go to my friends and confess the same “struggle” week after week, month after month, year after year….but I can’t seem to rid my tent of the sin. Is that enough? If Achan had come and confessed but the sin wasn’t removed was that enough? No. I think sometimes we can make confessions without the Godly sorrow that leads us to true repentance. True repentance is the place we recognize the sin we have buried is costly to our soul and our community…whatever that may be.
We live under grace… but it’s not so we can go on sinning. It’s so we can be freed from the captivity of sin.

Grace combined with the Fear of God helps me to realize my master sees all and he will hold me accountable for my actions. This gives me freedom but keeps me from going my own way…to my own destruction.

When someone has repented, we forgive as we have received forgiveness. When we need repentance for our attitudes and actions we humbly Confess our sin and turn away from it.

The second reason we can’t hear from God is found In Joshua Chapter 9.

So the Israelites have found out why God had removed his blessing. They had taken care of that issue and were pressing on. They were headed to Gibeon. Now the people of Gibeon found out they were headed their way and  they were S.C.A.R.E.D! So they dressed some men up to look like they had traveled from miles away. They brought moldy, stale bread. Worn out sacks and old wine skins. They came to trick the Israelites into signing a treaty with them. They said….”We have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God.” Joshua 9:9

They proceeded to lie and tell the elders how far they had come and how everything was fresh when they had left home. Joshua 9:14 is the key to our second point…”The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord“.

They didn’t even bother to ask! You’d think after the travesty of losing 36 men and their reputation in the land that they would have wised up. God wanted to direct them. They just forgot to ask which direction to take.

So they sign a peace treaty with these guys who live just miles away from their camp.

How often do I forget to ask directions? I mean really inquire of the Lord. I may throw a prayer up here and there….but ernestly seek the face of God. Pour through the scriptures and spend time silent in his presence as he speaks to me.

 What am I afraid of? Am I too busy? Do I have more important matters to attend to? What keeps us from inquiring?

Do I taste the provisions and in my own wisdom it seems okay to proceed but I completely forget to ask my all-wise and knowing Father for his Direction? 

And so I make a decision based on human reasoning lacking the wisdom that comes from above.

If I inquire seriously of God and he gives me a freedom  in my heart knowing that no matter how this turns out he is with me.  A clear understanding that I have heard from him. It’s a joy in the middle of trials. Or a peace of mind in the midst of a tough circumstance. It’s clear thinking and sound rest even in the middle of the storm.

Because just as God promised his people long ago…He will not leave us. He will not forsake us.

After numerous battles up until the end of chapter 11 Joshua directed by God was successful in wiping out the enemy. Foe after foe was defeated. God was mighty and powerful and his name was made famous through his servants. But it wasn’t until they learned some valuable lessons of obedience and trust.

Joshua 11:23 (New King James Version)

23 So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had said to Moses; and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Then the land rested from war.

An inheritance.  It’s right there for us. He is waiting for us to Trust and Obey and walk into the battle with him leading the way. The battle may look different for us then it did for Joshua but we are in a battle every day. Until we receive the final inheritance we must be listening with both ears. Our hearts wide open for full examination. We must have feet quick to act when he moves us. 

It’s not always easy…But it will bring about the results we desperately want.

Lord,

Today we seek your face. May we be as Joshua was, on our faces inquiring of you. Give us wisdom that only comes from your hand. We are desperate for your voice. Your touch. Your movement. May you receive all the fame and glory for what you are about to do in and through your servants!

I adore you God of the Jews and now the Savior of Mankind!

Tomorrow I will continue with this topic….Why Can’t I hear you.

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Why can’t I hear you? – Part 1

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I am doing something a little different the next 3 days…I will be writing a 3 part blog on this subject. I hope Spring Break has been relaxing for you no matter where you are.

Do you ever wonder if you have a terminal wax build up in your ears?

Like maybe if you could get some help for that you would be able to hear your father’s voice more clearly?

Do you ever wonder why God speaks so clearly to some people and yet you struggle to hear from him?

I think we can all identify a time in our life that God seemed far away. And if he could just drop us a direct line from the clouds we would be able to grab hold of that and Know  we have heard correctly.

I have been reading  out  of Joshua,the past few weeks.  Joshua comes right after the Torah,  The law. The first 5 books of the old testament. Joshua was a mighty warrior . God  tells Joshua he should be courageous and strong… he is his Father  and he will never leave him.  And then God raises up that would be warrior and has him  lead those people across the Jordan River. God rolled back the waters and the people passed over to take the land that had been promised to their parents. Up to this point they had been living in the desert eating Manna that was provided to them every day. They literally lived hand to mouth. They only knew complete dependence on God for their daily bread.

So they cross the Jordan, and take Jericho with a mighty victory. You can imagine by now they are confident that God is with them. He has been mighty to save on their behalf. But God gave them strict orders after their march on the city. He instructed them not to take any plunder for themselves but only bring back goods for the treasury offered to God.

One man secretly and greedily decided his desires were more important than God’s command. And so, Achan brought back some gold, silver  and a beautiful robe,and hid it under his tent. (Remember this man had been living in the desert all his life. His clothing was tattered. He had nothing to offer his family and here was his chance….can you identify  with the temptation of the lust of the eyes? And the pride of life? The greed to take what doesn’t belong to you? Even if God has forbidden it?)

 The Israelites believed they could conquer the entire land because God had been giving them the victory. They trusted that he was with them. So they pressed on to the next town. The men went forth to fight and 36 Israelites were slain through an ambush from men from the city of Ai.

 I’m sure many wondered if God had left them. Why wasn’t he acting on their behalf? What was it that they had done to deserve this? And as their leader Joshua was devestated so he  inquired of the Lord. God told Joshua, “there is sin in the camp”. So after figuring out who had sinned, Joshua had Achan bring the stolen goods to him. The Israelites  took Achan and his whole family outside the camp and stoned them.

One man looking out for his own interest affected the entire Israelite camp. One man who decided he knew better than God, caused 36 innocent men to perish. One person who was driven by his own lust brought rebuke on his people.  One  made it difficult for the rest to hear from God. One individual brought shame on the name of God.
After Joshua and the other elders of Israel spent the day on their faces (literally)before God he answered them this.

Joshua 7 -NLT

10 But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. 12 That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.

13 “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.

God had promised to always be with them. He encouraged them calling their leader a mighty warrior and now he’s saying I won’t be with you if you let this sin go unpunished. Not that God had been unfaithful to them. They had been unfaithful to him. In fact 1 had been unfaithful.

Could it be that our lack of hearing God is because of sin that isn’t taken care of in our camps?

What does that mean? Sin can come in all sorts of packages. And we may have trouble recognizing it because of the narratives we have been raised with or a sin that seems common to man.  Perhaps we have tried but we just can’t seem to knock it. So we bury it deeper under our tent hoping no one will notice. In fact we may even have trouble calling it sin any longer. ….And…. we continue to struggle with hearing God’s voice…. And…. sometimes it affects innocent people like the rest of Achan’s family….. And…. others around us.

In Joshua 22:20The Israelites remind the tribes of this…Do you remember When Achan son of Zerah acted unfaithfully regarding the devoted things, did not wrath come upon the whole Community of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin.

When we sin it affects more then just ourselves.

Maybe Our lack of hearing is coming from something buried much deeper than we can see. Maybe we need to ask God to show us what he wants to uncover in us. And then we must be willling to rid our tents(bodies) of it.

Is there sin in this tent Father? Is there something you want to uncover? Clean it out. Rid me of my disobedience. I want to hear from you more than I want this stuff. Bring your cleansing fire to burn up sin and prepare this heart to hear from you.

Part 2 will talk of a second reason we may have trouble hearing God…

Visit with Yesterday


I am drawn back some 30 years ago to the place I started.

The old church with all it’s peeling green paint and lack luster is where my mind plays today.

The place I first heard of Jesus.

The old basement where the Sunday School teachers told me the stories I still recite today.

The janitor who made us run for cover for fear of being chased out of our favorite spots that were “off limits”.

The smell of rubber cement glue that was sometimes used for more creative purposes like bouncy balls and pretend boogers.

I still can taste the food that was served at potlucks,funerals and sewing’s….Bologna sandwiches with mayonnaise and cheese.
Topped off with pies the old widow ladies shared and delicious chicken and noodles or scalloped potatoes and ham.

I can see in the frames of my mind rows of elderly people sitting in church. My grandma and her friends all in a row, ready to sing the old hymns of the past.
“Come thou fount of every blessing…

Tune my heart to sing thy praise.

Streams of mercy never ceasing…

Call for songs of loudest praise.”

And there I am,little girl, sitting in the middle of my community.
My identity is here.
These are my people, and I am one of them.

And with all the imperfections, I feel a sense of belonging.
I am hemmed in and surrounded by people who love me.

I am a sprout who is squirmy and restless in the August heat. Watching flies hum around my face as I use the funeral fans for a swatter.

My mother is trying to get me to stop fidgeting while maintaining a decorum of dignity.

My father doesn’t sit with us. But he can always see me.

He stands in the front and sometimes he catches my eye, and I know the look.

My daddy is the preacher.

I hear the song again….

It’s calling my name…
as I hear it echo in my mind…

“Prone to wonder Lord I feel it…

Prone to leave the God I love.

Here’s my heart O take and seal it,

Seal it for thy courts above.”

My heart is drawn to the alter.
I whisper,
“Jesus come in. Come and seal my heart for you and your kingdom.”

And today as I reminisce, alone, away from that familiar community, the people who once held me in their gaze, my tears fall.

I miss them.

Those people young and old who watched out for me. Who believed the best of me.
I still think of them.
Often.

I drive by their houses and I instantly flash back to those days when I shared life with them and their children.

I am a product of these years.
I will always hold those memories close.

I believe the grace which I have received is a precious gift.
The church I grew up in watched over it’s own.

God knew that along with his grace we needed community to live in.
Walls of sorts that give us protection and love.

Just ordinary, fallen, imperfect people who love each other and guard against the enemy who is waiting to devour them.
Normal folks who don’t always get it right but who strive for holiness.

Sinners like me who accept the fact that someone had to die to save us from ourselves.

I hear another song playing in the background….

“Count your blessings name them one by one,

count your many blessings see what God has done.”

And today as I count my blessings I realize,

I am blessed to have been rooted in community. I am blessed to have the memories of old still linger sweetly in my thoughts.

Yes, I am indeed blessed!