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Joshua 3-4:24

I believe the Book of Joshua is jammed packed with models and examples of how to walk by faith giving examples of things to do and things not to do. The third chapter begins with the Israelites leaving Acacia, which also happens to be the type of wood the Arc of the Covenant is made from as well as the poles used to carry it. The wood is very dense and is naturally resistant to insects and diseases and is very heavy. I have compared the Arc to a type of Christ because it was made from a nearly indestructible wood, which was covered in pure gold, Christ like.

The Levities were told after three days (Hmmm, Jesus was in the grave three days.), the people having “purified” themselves before, to "Lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river." Only this time, unlike the crossing of the Red Sea where the water separated and formed walls in front of their very eyes, the Levites were told to step into the water and then the water would stop flowing, but the place where it stop was about 30 to 90 miles upstream, O my. In Egypt they stepped out on dry ground, now they had to get their feet wet relying on and believing that God had stopped the waters because they couldn’t see where the waters had been blocked.

Boy-o-boy! When we first began our walk with God how many of us use to get our prayers answered one, two, three but now there is a delay. Could it be as we mature in faith and in our walk, God is asking us to trust Him more by telling us we have to get our feet wet? The Jordan is not a pretty river, it is very muddy and at some places it may be just a “trickle” very unlike a river, but that day the Jordan was at flood stage so it was moving fast and it was pretty high. Am I afraid to get my feet wet because I don’t trust God to stop the water because I can’t see where the flow has been cut off?

Everything that happened at this crossing took place because of obedience to God’s Word. Trusting seems to walk hand in hand with obedience and it is in the obedience that good things happen.

Luke 12:7-35

Mike I began really thinking about your question in the gospel reading, “How often do we do something for others - in hopes of getting something back in return?”

I think this whole thing is Jesus’ way of teaching us how to give and receive gifts. Although there is a consequence of not accepting the free gift of salvation, Jesus didn’t give salvation to get anything from us. For us to be more like Him we have to understand what it is too not only receive gifts but what is to give one. The dinner Jesus was invited too had both elements, Jesus told the host to invite those who couldn’t pay him back and the guests were admonished not to try to get a “bigger” place in the house of the host.

If we don’t know how to receive a gift we will have trouble accepting the free gift of salvation. The guest at the dinner thought it was their right to jockey for a better seat to show they had power and position. Jesus told them to stop doing that. And if we don’t know how to give a gift we will misunderstand grace and mercy.

A gift is something you give to someone with no strings attached. If they don’t use it, its on them; if they use the gift, how they use it is on them. Most of us have never received a gift from our fellow man, even our parents. What we really receive are bribes and extortions, we receive things with strings attached and that “ain’t no gift.” When we give gifts we look to endear ourselves to the one we gave the gift too and expect them to treat us right because after all look what I gave you.

This entire reading is about Jesus “renewing” our minds on what it is to receive and give so that we will understand His work on the cross from a new perspective. It is not about us but all about Him.

The parable of the great feast shows what happens when we reject the gift He gives, He will just go out and bestow His generosity on others. The excuses that some of the previously invited guests give are really pathetic or they are very stupid. The guys who brought the field and the oxen and then claimed they had to inspect and/or try the oxen, were utter fools. Who buys a field sight unseen, and who buys an animal without seeing if they will do the kind of work or be the kind of pet they need them to be? Now the guy who said he just got married is also a fool because they date for the feast had already been given because the text states: A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When all was ready, he sent his servant around to notify the guests that it was time for them to come.

This was one of those invites that said, “Save the Date,” and he didn’t.

Psalm 80

This Psalm is about God’s people suffering before the coming of Messiah. This is the hearts cry of all those waiting for a deliverer even if they don’t know they are waiting. In the beginning of the Psalm the writer is begging God to turn His people back toward Him and he then rehearses their deliverance from Egypt in the hearing of God. He recalls how they prospered comparing the nation of Israel as a tender vine growing deep roots and spreading out. But then they find themselves in a precarious state, broken and defeated by their enemies.

Verse fourteen then turns and refers to a son, and not the nation,
14 Come back, we beg you, O God Almighty.
Look down from heaven and see our plight. Watch over and care for this vine
15 that you yourself have planted,
this son you have raised for yourself

Then the last three verses boldly state:
17 Strengthen the man you love,
the son of your choice.
18 Then we will never forsake you again.
Revive us so we can call on your name once more.1
9 Turn us again to yourself, O LORD God Almighty.
Make your face shine down upon us.
Only then will we be saved.

This cannot be talking about anything but the coming of Messiah! Jesus is everywhere in the Old Testament, He is Christ concealed in the Old and He is revealed in the New.

Proverbs 12:27-28

27 Lazy people don't even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find.

This cannot be laziness the way we think of it as being. It takes stamina to hunt, at least back then. This must be a laziness of the mind and a lack of understanding of how to take raw material and process it to add value. This is kind of like the Parable of the Talents.

Mike in answer to your question about purifying ourselves as Christians today and what would that look like, I believe we can find lots of examples in the Apostle Paul’s letters. The Epistles were written to churches in specific cities or to individuals and I believe Paul spoke about “purification” often. His letters were written to believers so if he dwelt with sin it wasn’t the sin of the “world” but the sin of those that belonged to the Household of Faith. The fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians, the entire chapter, is devoted to walking rightly,

20 But that isn't what you were taught when you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, 22 throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. 23 Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. 24 You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God's likeness--righteous, holy, and true.

25 So put away all falsehood and "tell your neighbor the truth" because we belong to each other. 26 And "don't sin by letting anger gain control over you." Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.

Grace and peace,

I hope and pray I am the salt of the earth and giving off good fragrance and uplifting others and be effectual. That is important. I also hope I give to others without anything expected in return. I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Make Him proud not the world.

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