The book of Ezra in our new generation Bible is one book but in the Hebrew Old Testament it was a two- part (or more) book Ezra- Nehemiah. The names Esdras one and Esdras two in the Greek version were continuing stories and part of that can also be found in the Catholic Apocrypha. Basically, they are similar but there are stories that were thought to “out there” or different to include in the canon. One of those stories is Darius’s dream. The tradition goes that there were these bodyguards and they debate over who is the strongest and the wisest as they protect a prisoner. Looking backwards we can see shadows of the Messiah on the cross. At that time, it didn’t seem to “fit” the narrative of the day, so it was left out.

Tradition also tells us that Ezra the Priest helped in choosing which books would be included in the Canon of scripture. He not only knew the law, proclaimed the law but helped put the law together in an easy format so people could understand the themes and character of God. Pretty impressive man.

The book includes shouting, singing, rejoicing and celebration as God’s people come back to Jerusalem. One of the exiled couples when they were exiled to Babylon had a baby. Amid a perverse and pagan culture, they raised him to know and believe God and His word. Though far away from the temple and everything they treasured they kept their eyes fixed on Jehovah and made sure His principles and decrees were known and followed. That was Ezra’s parents. He was born in Babylon. One return of exiles took place and then this Holy Immigrant Priest leads a parade of Exiles back to their promised land. Ezra was one of them but was born on foreign soil. He came back not only among the crowd – he came back with a passion and purpose. That purpose was to reform the Temple – God’s people.

Some things to note about this godly man:

Ezra 6:22 – He celebrated and remembered the wonderful things God was doing among them. He was a man of joy and thankfulness.

Ezra 7:10 He not only studied and knew Gods word, but he taught it to others He was intimate with God because He knew who He was.

Ezra 8:22 He fasted and prayed for God’s will to be done – not his personal agenda. Ezra trusted in God and postured himself before that holy God in intercession.

Ezra 8:32 He rested for three days. Ezra was a man of self-care and gentle care of those he led. Ezra was not a taskmaster or overbearing leader, he knew how to have seasons and days of rest.

Ezra 10:11 He called people to make confession to the Lord. He was a priest, but he knew that it was only God who could forgive peoples sin. Ezra pointed and worshipped God and did not take Gods glory.

 

One thing that I cannot prove or have not studied but want to mention here is that there is about a 60-year gap in this story. When you plug in the story of Esther you find the missing years. This man was the authority in his day and he could have included her story in the midst of his but instead she gets her own book with her own name on it. That strikes me as being humble and giving honor where honor is due. I have not had time to check this idea out so please email me if you have a different thought on that. It is in line with the other things Ezra has done. All Israel came together as “one man” and that seems to also signify that unity was important to him and them.

This saint was destined for greatness. A holy immigrant born in a very pagan culture takes a stand and goes to another nation to make changes and try to make them “great”. No wonder there was opposition and rebellion!  What a task, what a leader.

Don’t you wish you had a priest like that leading you? Consider:

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 4:15-16

This Easter week take time to compare this priest to Jesus. They both wanted to point the church to God’s ways – one thru the law and one thru grace. The only way to personally be reformed, the only way for our families or churches to be reformed, the only way for our nation to be reformed is to call out to the High priest who has walked the heavenlies, paid for our sins and resurrected that we could live with God eternally.

Then consider what Peter said:

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;  1 Peter 2:9

What reform will you bring to yourself through the leaning on the Spirit? What reform will you bring to your culture and generation? Your church or neighborhood?

Go forth! 
RenaeRoche 2019

 

 

Chronicles

This is the book that is a summary of all the good stuff in the Old testament. It is not for the casual reader as it is filled with genealogy and battles. It reminds me of the Vineyard I toured in New York years ago. The caretaker Bob led my friend and I around and showed us the vines and grapes. Do you now that each vine has dead looking branches around the newer ones to make predators think there is nothing there to grab? It’s fascinating. Well, Chronicles is like that. You read the first couple of chapters and it looks like a boring history book – and then you are surprised with the beauty and awesome loving God. I recently read the first five chapters in preparation for a sermon. I had committed to the Lord that I would preach the “whole counsel” of God. I wanted each chapter to read my heart so I plunged through. In the midst of these chapters were many foreign, difficult names. Three things stuck out to me during this time.

  1. A guy named Heshbon loved his wife. What an odd side note. God and Ezra (The supposed author of these books or some other priest) makes mention of this one guy loving his wife. It drew attention in the midst of long, violent battles. It doesn’t say he was great at business or the warrior of all warriors. It doesn’t say he was the biggest tither or usher or charismatic speaker just simply “he loved his wife”. 
  2. Jabez has extraordinary prayers. He prays that God would extend his border and enlarge his tent. Sounds prosperous. There have been books written about this guy. Thousands of chapters of surmise and speculation over just a few verses. In the past I kind of blew that off but when I read it afresh this past week I noticed something new. His mom bore him in miserable pain and named him “the one who causes pain.” What kind of a half wit mother would name a child something like that? It’s absurd and cruel to do so. Before this little guy even had a start his mom tried to define him by her experience. She placed a whole load of blame and shame on a kid before he could even crawl. That’s a messed up family system. Jabez cried out to a holy God in spite of everything and God not only blessed him but defined him in new ways. Miserable baby gets mention and miracles. We learn about God that what family says about us does not define us or change the destiny God has planned for an individual. That’s good to know.
  3. Then there is the collective group of people who cry out to God in 5. I realize that the main theme of this book is God’s sovereignty over events and the focus is worship in the Temple. The last of this book tells us about the undoing of the Temple. We’ll get back to that in a minute, but first read this:

20 They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him. 21 They seized the livestock of the Hagrites—fifty thousand camels, two hundred fifty thousand sheep and two thousand donkeys. They also took one hundred thousand people captive, 22 and many others fell slain, because the battle was God’s. And they occupied the land until the exile.

 

Most of the Christians I know are going through some type of warfare or battle right now. It is a season to contend for what God is doing in our lives and guarding our families in the Spirit. In the midst of the list of families in the Bible are these simple words – God delivered them because they cried out to Him DURING the battle. The battle was fixed, the battle was GOD’s. Regardless of the messed up people and family systems, God was still active and glorified. Those who called on Him saw His mighty hand and were helped. I need that help, my family system needs that help, my friends and nation need that help.  We are not alone in battle. Not matter the event or circumstance, we are NOT ALONE and God is SOVEREIGN over the events of our lives.  That is Great news.

 

The genealogies from Adam on prove that the Bible is true. If anyone was going to write a fake historical account they certainly wouldn’t include all the mess-ups, yet the Bible does. It is accurate and traces each family so we can prove these biblical characters were not fictional or just mythical people for story or parable sake. What is really fun is to thread those historical figures through Messiah.

 

Back to the Temple – it was a shame to be destroyed and the Jews lost heart when they came back to see the renewed version. It was quite the disappointment. When the historical record returns in the book of Matthew it ends in the church (spiritual and filled with Gods priests) being released for His glory. This is our heritage, this was God’s plan. In the midst of Divine order and purpose is a man who loved his wife, a miserable boy who cries out for change and a people who turn to God for help. That’s Gods currency by the way, what draws Him near – Love, faith and hope. We are book 67 In the people of God’s story. What will future generations remember about us? That we loved our spouse, that we let God define us, that we cried out to God for mercy and help?

 

On Thursday of this week I was going to start the dash diet. I had big plans. Instead I went into a critical care unit and could have died. I was born in one year – and only God knows my last year. The dash in between can be filled with wickedness or goodness. God is there in the middle, He is there in the dash and that space matters very much to Him. My prayer for me and for you is that our lives will be obedient and postured towards God. I pray that our love, faith and hope will draw God’s ear near. I pray that between our birth and death will be many years of worship and wonder, trusting God with every decision and circumstance because He not only KNOWS but He knows BEST.

 

Thank you for seeking God and His word with me on this blog. We are trying to keep in God’s word and learn His heart and that is worth something in God’s economy.

 

Glad to be alive – Love ya friends!  RenaeRoche2019

 

 

If I could summarize this week’s blog in one word it would be wisdom. Many think they have it, not everyone desires it and we all need it.  I read some children’s ideas of it recently:

Never trust a dog to watch your food. – Patrick, age 10 
When your dad is mad and asks you, “Do I look stupid?” don’t answer him. – Michael, 14 
Never tell your mom her diet’s not working. – Michael, 14 
Stay away from prunes. – Randy, 9 
Never allow your three-year old brother in the same room as your school assignment. – Traci, 14 
Puppies still have bad breath, even after eating a tic tac. – Andrew, 9 
Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time. – Kyoyo, 9 
You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk. – Armir, 9 
If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse. – Naomi, 15 
Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick. – Lauren, 9 
Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat. – Joel, 10 
Never try to baptize a cat. – Eileen, 8

 

Wisdom advice comes on the news, in the classroom, at church. Sometimes even on billboards or graffiti. I read a quote today that said, if at first you do not succeed, skydiving is not for you. That cracks me up. What does it mean to be successful or prosperous? Is it for everyone or just a select few? Whosoever wills applies to everyone when it comes to salvation. In 2 Kings, the book about King Solomon we find out his secret to success within the first few chapters:

2 kings 2:2-4

 “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he (David) said. “So (Solomon) be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to Him, and keep His decrees and commands, His laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’

Boy, oh boy does that mean that if EVERYONE did that, America would be great? That sounds like an awesome political promise as well as a spiritual one. Hmm. It was a gold deal for Solomon that can apply to us today. John said it this way, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John 2. 

There seems to be a theme threaded among these books – listen and obey. Whether it was to sons, judges or Kings, God required their obedience to HIS ways vs. their own.

Kings 3: 3-9

 And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places. (Lord take out all the “excepts” in our life!)

Now the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place: Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”

And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an b]understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, 12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. 13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. 14 So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthenc] your days.”

The second wisest man that ever lived as we have learned by reading these verses had exceptions in his walk – sin. He married dreadfully wrong and got carried away with his decorating skills. However, this man, the son of the man known for being a man after God’s heart had a lot to say about wisdom. Proverbs shared a bit of that wisdom with us.

Psalms tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10. A life lived after God will display God’s signature on humanity. We can choose our folly or God’s wisdom. The results will glorify us or God- we choose daily whom we will serve.

This week I needed guidance and my friend Betty looked at me and said, “God gives wisdom to those who ask for it.” She is so right. James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  Our response of love is to walk in the wisdom given.

We can read these passages and learn about the Kings, but we can also get a glimpse of THE King and surrender our lives to Him and His Kingdom. Lord, give us your wisdom and give us a discerning heart to know Your will.  If the King is on the throne of your heart you will be lead by Him in His ways. To ask Him to be your Lord and Saviour visit the website and look under the Spiritual rest section. That decision of obedience makes the difference in everything.

Jesus, be the king of our hearts, the obedience of our lives and the leader of our wills. Amen. 

RenaeRoche2019

 

Since becoming a full-time employee, I’ve noticed it is a lot harder to “soak” in the word. While I once used to set a timer to limit my devotions and study times now it is harder to plug them into a regular work week. We intentionally set aside time on the weekends to spend more time in the word and daily we have a quiet time, but I miss the extended devouring of the text and drawing out charts and diagrams with the husband. A “happy place” in my mind is sitting around a table covered in butcher paper and fleshing out the meaning of the text. I liken it to eating a good meal of chicken – not at KFC, where you get the bucket special. I’m talking about my moms fried chicken, dripping with oil and seasoned goodness. The time when you savor every bite and pull off every bit of chicken off the bone. A good meal is like that, a good sermon keeps giving flavor upon flavor until it’s all gone, and you just wait for some more.

This weekend we had a full course meal that is still satisfying our spiritual bellies. The boys came home from children’s church talking about the “box”. I was weaving something in my mind, so I initially thought it was my train of thought . At home we were studying 2 Samuel and at church they studied the ark of the Covenant. God’s box carries His presence was the theme. They had sister Bonnie telling them about Jesus and they (the boys) just seemed different. I guess God’s box has that effect on people. I saw the results before I heard what they had learned. 

Then we went into the service and the worship time was sweet. I had come off a 16 hour shift and had been praying through the night. In my tiredness my filter to be reserved was absent. It was fun to fully enjoy the presence of the Lord. (Yes, it is sanctified and holy to have fun in God’s presence).  It was an extension of that time and as I poured out my heart to God it felt like the release of prayer and praise reached the Heavens, more importantly God’s heart. We had a huge outpouring of people crying out to Jesus for healing and the pastor took his time following God. There was no rush to perform. After many weeks of snow cancelled services, the sheep just needed time with the Shepherd. It reminded me of 2 Samuel 24. The cost for the altar in the Old Testament was often born by those in leadership in ways the sheep may never see. David says, “24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”  In the New testament we know the “cost” of the offering was Christ. Leaders bringing that sacrifice to the people still requires their effort in teaching, time and gathering the saints. It comes with a price, sometimes even in spiritual attacks, resistance or distraction. I was convicted and stirred to pray more for those in authority.

I’m thankful for men and women of God who go before a holy God on behalf of their congregations on a daily and weekly basis. Ministers who present their lives as a sacrifice, so others can be healed, saved, discipled. When I was younger this text was often heard as a call to humility and not “numbering” the folks. The appeal was to trust in God and not the arm of flesh and we do see that in this text. I wonder though in all our aim and effort to focus on the negative we miss the beauty of what David provided by way of bringing the sheep to the altar. The compassionate God was working through this young shepherd boy, now warrior King to reach His people. I don’t believe David ever forget the lambs in all his life and ministry.

Over the years you see the struggles of leaders and the ebb and flow of ministry. I’m thankful for the New Testament and that we don’t have bloody wars like those in this precious book. There definitely are still spiritual wars that continue to affect God’s people however. God does still get angry at sin and leaders still encounter lots of hard things. This focus of this book can be studied in commentaries and encyclopedias, etc. and I’m not trying to summarize every book on this blog. That’s french for those of you looking for this blog to be perfect will be disappointed. My hope is to stir interest to read more of the Bible – awards for best scholar I gave up years ago. 

What I noticed in 2 Samuel was that David inquired of the Lord – and God answered him. The prophet Samuels work and ministry continues in David’s life and God’s anointing was David’s secret to success. The royal line is promised to David and I don’t think he had any clue that it would be the Messiah. Like Hannah presented Samuel to the Lord, like Ruth presented Obed to the Lord, like Mary presented Jesus to the Lord, God will use those surrendered to Him for His glory. We don’t know what God has in store for us or our legacy’s, but we can look at David in this book and find similar patterns: we go to God, He answers, and we follow His directions. That equals success Kingdom style. In order to build God’s kingdom rather than our own, we need to seek and serve the King.

What will we push aside to make room for the Lord? What will we leave undone to do the things the Lord requires? What will we not buy or sell in order that we have money to increase the time and prayer at the altar? How will we make room for the God box in our lives?

24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” What is the point of all the wars in Israel? What was the point for all the power struggles? God wanted a people for Himself, a worshipping, obedient people for His kingdom. Lord have Your way!

I watched yesterday as the altars filled with people. I saw people there recovering from addictions, struggling with family issues, people that others would not have received in their churches, I saw them weeping and calling out to a Holy God. I watched as men and women who had sacrificed time and money praying over them. People who were once faulted for welcoming “those people.” People who could have gone to a more popular, better built church stood there ministering. People who could have been golfing, shopping or sleeping were laying their hands-on people, entering their struggles and pain without any thought of reward. All needs were considered equal and all people loved and welcomed. That gathering did not come without a price – emotionally, spiritually and relationally. A price that Jesus paid long ago that we could identify with and claim. I don’t think the intercession or anointing was there just because of placement or titled authority. I think it came from years of choosing God, facing their own struggles and hearing from God in seasons of darkness. It was beautiful to behold. I don’t know their cost, but it seems that their seasons in God produced beauty that could not come any other way.

David’s life was not calculated. David’s life was not planned for career success. He was a shepherd boy that was called into leadership and warfare by a wandering prophetic priest. His claim to fame was sticking to the script- God’s script and building God’s kingdom. His failures and highlights in this book serve as reminders to us to fulfill God’s call and obey His will.

Please forgive my running train of thought this morning. It is not the usual exegetical focus I try to keep. I want God to imprint these words on my life, not just my mind. My heart is moved by this book – a weary soldier and a BIG hearing God. Life was anything but orderly for him. He kept his relationship strong despite the jealousies, competition, cynical voices and war around him. He kept moving towards relationship with God and loving on his sheep. The bookends of his life are prophetic and speak of sacrifice and obedience. I pray my life; our lives will look the same.

What is the cost for your altar today? Your churches? Those who minister to you? How does the “God Box” (God’s presence) in our culture, in our churches, change those things?

Seeking and studying with you, RenaeRoche2019

 

 

Have you ever wondered why there is no book of the Bible named after David? I mean after all,  he was a big player in Israel’s’ history. After the darkness of the period of the Judges, the last judge comes into authority and his name was Samuel. Lots of leaders, lots of crazy nonsense takes place and then in walks Samuel. We are given a clue that things are soon going to change because the last part of his name EL means God. The first part Samu means “heard”. God heard what was taking place.

The books of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel are not divided in the Hebrew Old Testament. In our Bibles they are divided just to make the content easier. First Samuel covers the time between Samuel finishing as the last Judge and then Saul becoming the first King. The people were demanding a king like the “other nations” have and they got a similar leader like the “other nations”. Eventually it becomes obvious that one man in authority that is jealous, paranoid and crazy takes its toll and King David, a man after God’s heart, unlike the other leaders, comes into power.

Every time I read this book I am amazed at how clearly God spoke and how his voice was directed to the leaders. There is such an awesome responsibility that goes with being a leader. The mantle, the weight, the warfare… you just can’t appreciate that from the church pew. God requests that we pray for leaders because He understands the full range of what they endure.

It is also interesting to read how clearly God spoke to those still rebelling against Him. Saul gets a lot of bad press when he does things his “own way”. Less than obedience is still disobedience and he found out that “cutting corners” was still not following God.

This book is written so we can see the struggle of the people who were in a dark season – they wanted a leader to tell them what to do. Mistake number one. When in the dark – look for THE Light. If we look to others instead of God, THEY WILL NEVER BE BRIGHT ENOUGH to understand our plight or everything that only God can see.  It’s a good idea to get wise counsel but this was more than that- they sought direction from a human being and did not inquire of God to lead them -again and again. These folks wanted to see a person and hear from a human. Mistake number two- when feeling out of control, get your security from the King of all kings. It may feel more secure or expedient to have someone giving directions, but God doesn’t want to speak thru a mediator.  He wants to speak to individuals and in the New Testament clearly tells us there is only One mediator and that is Christ Jesus. When others block that direct line of prayer it gets murky and others motivations get in the way. 

I write often about women in ministry. This may be a little risky, but this book reminds of when young women want their pastors to “release” them into ministry as if God’s chain of command comes from the leader or pastor of the church. Promotion comes from neither the East or the West but from God. What if the ministry God has is on the streets or in a foreign country or just being still?  Guidance is very different from commands. Leaders should confirm what the Lord is saying, not replace God’s voice. I worry when leaders get pulled by all kinds of people to give them “ministry” rather than people praying and following Christ.  Isn’t that skewed a bit? We start looking like each other rather than the One who anoints, appoints and calls us and the church becomes a circus or competition. If the King is in charge, He has specific assignments for each man, woman and child. Following Christ should look like turning from sin and to one’s purpose in life. Sometimes we choose men and women to direct us rather than the King and then we are surprised when there is no fruit.  Freedom may be relinquishing all our manipulation or pulling on leaders and returning to the King and asking for HIS assignment over our lives. I’m not judging anyone – I know this because I have lived and experienced this. Chasing carrots and pipe dreams have wasted many of my years. Seeking God and His pathway is so much more fun and yields so much more fruit.

So, what does it look like to serve a King? Maybe recognizing that we are children of royalty? Knowing He is the boss and His ways remain. Loyalty is certainly a theme in this book. Saul misses the boat in that regard, but David chooses the high road and proves over and again that he was loyal.

How do you worship King Jesus? Loyalty to Him would be part of that. Worship is honoring God not for what He has done but for who He is. He is faithful, kind, compassionate, etc. Praise is worshiping God for His mighty acts and deeds. Both are important. Two examples:

A man was in a car accident with his wife and 2 daughters. He was found by paramedics after the wreck worshiping God in a ditch. He told them he was thanking God for the time he did have with them rather than being angry about the time that he had lost. That’s worship. It’s thanking God without expecting anything in return. It is thanking Him for who He is and His character.

My brother-in-law recently helped our family as we struggled with grief. What a huge blessing he was to all of us in our time of need. It was not only special to have a new family member but an extra bonus to get one that loves God. When he went on a business trip this week, we sent him off with hugs and prayers. Less than 24 hours later, a tractor trailer crossed the median and hit him head on. It totaled the trailer and his car, throwing him and his business partner 50 yards in the air until they landed in a field. When people ran to the car, they both got out- without a scratch. The national news reported that the people  who witnessed the accident said, “there must be a God because of what we have seen here.” That is praise, thanking God for His protection and help. Extraordinary things happen when we put our trust in God. Woo-hoo.

In a culture of many opinions and opposing factions who should we serve and give our loyalty to? When we don’t know what to do and fear bigger armies, who should we run to? When we feel danger and need a safe refuge, who will we put our trust in? All these questions have the same answer – King Jesus. He is the only one worthy of being our King.

This past weekend two beautiful worshipping ballerinas danced in our church to the song “King of my Heart”. Every movement was directed to God in worship. It was amazing. It reminded us that there is a God who is in control of the Universe who also wants to be in control of our hearts. It was a visual demonstration of grace and beauty. Hear the words:

Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh, He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh, He is my song   (Bethel Music)

This King does rule from the Heavenlies, but He also rules from the love inside my heart. I have chosen to make room for His kingdom in my heart and life.  He is the One we seek, serve and obey. David may not have had a book named after him, a palace or army but his title, “A man after God’s own heart” is much more impressive. I don’t care about the titles so much, but I do want God to know that He is MY king. I want Him to know all my hope is in Him and that I will be loyal to Him Forever.  How about you? Who is your king and how will that affect your life? How will it affect others lives?

Oh come, let us worship and bow down…

RenaeRoche2019

 

 

The last week I have not watched the news as much. The few times I did check it there were heinous crimes being reported. Parents murdering their kids, adults harming one another, wild police chases and crashes, etc. It reminded me of the book we read last blog – Judges. Everyone was doing what their political party would approve of, no one checking in with the Lord of all lords. The dividing line has really been set in our country – those in both parties who want to see God’s will done. Things are so dark. The actions of many in every sphere of our culture are – RUTHLESS. The word means devoid of pity, compassion, kindness or any type of relief.

The setting for the book of Ruth is during Gideon and Samsons’ generation. Famine has driven people to new territory, some questioning if God is still provider or even involved. That is one of the reasons I love celebrating a spiritual rest day or Sabbath. At sundown we remind ourselves every week that God is still awake – neither slumbering or sleeping. We light a candle to declare that a light STILL SHINES IN THE DARKNESS. We light a candle to remember Heavens light awaits us…

During this time of spiritual evil and gross darkness, God sent someone to display kindness, compassion and beneficence. We are told the story of someone who would not act according to religious affiliation or culture but according to the love in her heart. Her name is Ruth. Her father-in-law had walked away from his people to get a better financial portfolio, then died. Her husband and brother-in-law were named “sick and ailing”. Not exactly men of the hour type guys. I suspect her husband however must have had some good upbringing because he selected such a kind woman and she later dedicates her life to his moms God. Even mother-in-law Naomi succumbs to the barrenness and cynicism of the day when she gives up hope and wants everyone to call her “Mara”. 

Regular life can cause us to get discouraged. Regular life can cause us to be afraid. Regular life can cause us to look at our situations, our aloneness, our limitations and problems rather than up to a loving and supporting God. Add grief – a husband, a son, two sons and the burden of sorrow gets multiplied, overwhelming. Grief causes us to forget reality, grief blocks grace and joy. Grief robs us of connection causing our souls to get isolated and lost in pain. At the beginning of Ruth, we are faced with the question – is God also ruthless? Because of our choices has God left us alone and walked away?

Then someone, a young girl who has every right to act forlorn and forsaken, makes the bold choice to love again. She determines in her spirit to be – different. She acts according to the memory of her heart and what she knows to be true rather than what she sees or hears around her. Faith is like that – it is a plucked string of a guitar in a key no one expects. It is a song in the night when all the world is silent or in discord. Ruth’s love and actions were shocking and out of step with the narrative the enemy was trying to write on Naomi’s life.

In great generosity this book is named Ruth, when easily Boaz or even Naomi could have taken center stage or the credit. It is humble and Godly when older women step aside and let the younger women come into their own. It is mature and healthy to let the younger generation take the lead. Working with the generations is so important. Older women grasping onto their younger years or younger women rejecting older women as if they had nothing to offer – both cause emotional and spiritual pain. So often we talk about women in ministry having trouble with men or being marginalized but sometimes the deeper pain comes from those of the same gender. Those things may not get mentioned as often as would help us. (As with other blogs, there are no personal or intentional attacks here just general information to remind us of what people go through.) we don’t see that struggle in this story, instead we see an older woman opening doors for, encouraging and praying over a younger woman. We see a younger woman learning from, caring for and ministering to an older woman. That’s a sign that God’s in the house.

 

So, in the middle of this book we get a glimpse of the real hero of it: “May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” It is God that has overseen Naomi and Ruth’s life. Kindness is another name for Jesus. Compassion is another name for Jesus. Pity and love are more names for Jesus. In the darkness, God has shone forth light. When light shines forth, God tends to reciprocate. It’s His language, currency, good pleasure.

The rest of the book is the miraculous reward of choosing to love when life feels broken, barren and cruel. It’s the reward of knowing God’s love and favor when it took every ounce of strength within you to give someone a smile, a hug a kind word.

Heaven notices those things.

When God smiles on someone it looks like hospitality, it looks like favor, it looks like open seats at a dinner table, it looks like new family, it looks like fellowship, it looks like a baby of promise.

The setting dictated more ruthless acts. The setting dictated more judgement. The setting dictated more barrenness, isolation and abandonment. A kind word turned away wrath. A kind deed averted emptiness. Naomi may have felt forgotten and forsaken, but God remained faithful and His character remained true. Thank Heavens God is not bound by setting, culture or rotten feelings!

Lord, help us to keep our eyes on YOU. Help us to look for Your kindness and favor. Help us to be kind, loving, compassionate and merciful – regardless of what is going on around us. Put that spirit in us that Ruth had – to be kind, to cling to what is good and to keep walking and trusting, no matter how bad things look or turn out to be – temporarily.

Love in and through us Lord. Amen.

RenaeRoche2019

Ps. Print out this blog and give it and a Baby Ruth candy bar to whoever you catch doing something loving or compassionate. It only takes a spark…

Judges

The backdrop for this book is the death of their leader Joshua. People experience grief in many ways but this death seemed to make everyone forget what was important. They seek God and ask for direction but then go their own way. Long forgotten is Joshua’s exhortation to be strong and that God was “with us”. Godly leadership is replaced with each person doing their own “thing”. One nation under God became one nation under whatever god was available that day.

There are several things that stick out in this book but these stuck in my heart.

  1. God promises to never break His covenant with His people. That tells us that even though we are faithless, He will remain faithful. That is good news! That means if we fail we can go back and start over. In spite of a dark nation, God was still bringing forgiveness and HOPE. Hope that came from HIm and was irrevocable. Redemption and compassion are available in spite of the sin.  Britney Spears used to sing “Oops I did it again” and that would be an appropriate hymn for this group of people. Repeatedly they keep sinning and following other gods, ignoring God’s word. History will repeat itself if nothing changes and the lesson keeps getting lost on them as they wander further and further away from God’s truth.  I appreciate the emphasis of Homeplate Advantage on celebrating communion with your family as it helps us to remember what Jesus did on the cross and the character of God – despite living in a world that forgets God’s goodness. Intentionally remembering God and what He has done will help our children get to know Him and serve Him. Those who have to serve God are slaves, those who get to serve God are servants and blessed. We choose by seeking Him. We also choose by ignoring God or letting the culture chose for us.

 

  1. They cried out to God. The appeal is more than whining they are terrified they will get what they deserve so they plead with God to save them. We also see the words “they wept” several times. It is a book filled with tears. It is the sorrow of the sinner. They want God’s favor desperately, they want His blessing but repeatedly live outside of that possibility by turning to other god’s and everyone doing what is right in his/her “own eyes”. They felt like they were above the law and beyond the scope of God’s reach. God showed them otherwise.  The clarion call of this book is that no ruler or king can take God’s place. He is sovereign and Lord over ALL. Seeking the leadership of another – whether human or not is still looking elsewhere. Idolatry is anytime we seek someone or something other than God to meet our needs. (Diet Coke, foreign gods, christian leaders, youtube… the list goes on). God sent deliverers and saviors to Israel to show them what He can do for them. Hebrews 1 tells us that in these last days God speaks to us, even delivers us through ONE way – Jesus. Natural or voted in leaders can do great things but they cannot replace or do Gods’ things. They have limited power and ability. Yet, the people vote and lobby and fight as if blessings and peace come thru human avenues. Posturing ourselves under God’s leadership, doing what brings His favor and being in covenant with Him is what counts. Crying because one is sorry is much different than crying because one has been caught red handed. The people wanted their way in their timing and when the consequences for their actions came they cried out to God. In His compassion He delivers them and then they do it all over again. History truly does repeat itself – but it doesn’t have to. If only they had stopped and gotten off the crazy train – returning to God and God alone they would have been spared so much grief and heartache.

 

  1. There are many horrific stories in the book of Judges. The people are barbaric and do heinous things. It surprises me that the one leader that makes way and stands head and shoulders above the rest is Deborah. Why are there not more movies about her? Sampson ends poorly yet he is a heroic figure for young boys. He runs from God, His call and in the ends kills himself. The leader that affects the nation is a female and shines brightly amid a wicked and corrupt generation. That speaks volumes about Gods leadership plans and I pray that women of influence everywhere will continue to shine. Our nation needs more godly Deborah’s! If you recognize the darkness, then please recognize one of the sources of light God chose. I continue to hear stories of Christian women being excluded, mocked and diminished and wonder why the connection is not being made between God’s favor and God’s way of doing things. As Oprah would say, “make the connection.”  If we continue to do things in “our own way” rather than follow what God is doing, we too will end up repeating history and going around the bend again. If there are godly women in your organization or church – let them use their gifts and talents. Seek out their opinions and insight. It might just be that God has placed them there for that season for His purposes. God has preferences, we need to understand what they are and for what time and season.

 

  1. The last story in this book is about a bunch of  men catching some dancing women and forcing them to be their brides. Does anyone hear Dolly Pardon singing in the background, “hear you come again?” When these new couples set up house and have children, what stories will they be told? Contrast the dancing women and the judge Deborah. Will the children continue to remember God, or will they go around the bend like their forefathers doing what is right in their own eyes? Honor, value, favor are part of God’s plan.                                     When we short circuit covenant, we short circuit blessing.                                                                                                            Grabbing a woman is very different than honoring a woman. I wonder why the story of the Concubine is also not loudly told? The contrast of their treatment to me reflects the blessing and favor of following God vs. following after our own flesh and desires. The outcome is just not the same. This time  I noticed afresh the women in this book. Maybe its my older age or the reflection as my father passes this earth and I raise up godly young men. Will we pass on amazing legacies of honor and dignity? Will we remember their sacrifice and service and what brought them to that place or go our own way and live in the convenient here and now? What choices will we make that will forever mar or build the next generation? How we walk out God’s covenant is truly important. Our aim should be to do what is right in God’s eyes – the One who sees it all.

 

God, we submit to Your Lordship, Your will and Your ways. We remember Your covenant and want to be faithful to you in all we do. Remember us and give us Your favor we pray. Amen.

 

Our nation needs godly men, women and children to shine in its dark hours ahead. How will we learn from this precious book of the Bible and what difference will that make next political or news cycle? FB your thoughts. 

RenaeRoche2019

 

Success may look to some like a business suit or a shiny new car, maybe a college degree. In the book of Joshua, one of history’s greatest leaders he tells us exactly how to be a successful leader: “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; or then you shall make your way prosperous and then you shall have good success. “ Joshua 1:8

To meditate means to roar, muse or imagine. It’s the low growl of a lion, the murmur or speaking to oneself that causes one to remember something. Its point is to get it deep down inside until it becomes part of who you are and what you are about. It is so foundational that throughout this book Joshua pulls the readers back to his marching orders and battle plan – God’s word.

This reading was slowed way down for me this week. I ignored the highlights I usually focus on. Before ADVANCE which everyone loves, comes the direction to consecrate. Consecrate is often thought of as cleaning up and pouring on oil which is fair. More than just creating a holy look is the understanding of setting ones whole self – apart. To pull back from the common in order to hear from the Divine. Now that hubby and I are in leadership and have intense work schedules, we have noticed that to prepare for grueling weeks, we must first set aside time to hear from the Lord and get our marching orders. If we don’t pull back and reserve our energy, we will get depleted before the hard stuff even starts. But before then….

Vs. 9 “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage, be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed for the Lord thy God is with thee wherever you go.” New Testament believers will recognize the same words in “Lo I am with you to the end of the age” when Jesus promises His presence to assist in every adventure they will take.  The success is not in just following orders but in the ONE who goes with you as you follow the orders. Divine assistance and guidance are promised and guaranteed. That’s HUGE. But there’s more…

Even before all the other orders, there is a line that is often missed: Vs. 11  says, “Pass through the host and command the people saying “Prepare you victuals, for within three days you shall pass over this Jordan…”  What are victuals?  Food, meat provisions. It may mean for the journey or it could mean the meal of rest that homes were still doing in honor of the Passover and celebrated with the God of creation. Get your protein! Fill up and rest, get some nutrition and physically prepare yourself. It surprises me how we often “spiritualize” these passages and miss out on some basic but often missed verses of scripture. Victory can also be part of being healthy, rested, wise and FULL.

This extraordinary leader knew his source – God. He knew how to access Him – the law and understanding God’s character. He knew he had to prepare for exploits – through rest and sacred fellowship meals. He goes on to see the Jordan dry up, so the people can pass on dry ground, conquer armies and march around Jericho. We even see the sun  be “still” for a day, so God can do what he wants to do for His people. It’s amazing. Could such ordinary things be part of such extraordinary outcomes? I think so because tomorrow the “amazing things” are things that God will do. We do the mundane – rest, set  aside and eat as our part. God does the amazing conquering as His part.

On Facebook this week I got a post that asked why there were so many leadership conferences and not more “servant” conferences. It really touched my heart. It’s also very telling for our culture. Joshua was not your typical great “leader”, but he was a listener of Yahweh and he was a follower of everything God ever commanded him to do. In Moses fashion he wanted to do everything according to Gods directions and pattern. That seems like a good role model to follow. Hear, obey, repeat. Hear obey, repeat. Hear obey, repeat.

Some want to be GREAT leaders and leave a legacy. Others know God is the best leader EVER and want to align themselves with HIS kingdom.  I want to do all the things He asks me to, in His spirit and by His power for His glory. The stories of Joshua’s obedience in this book are phenomenal. I don’t want to be a leader like Joshua – I want to be a follower, a servant like Joshua. He set out to be faithful and obedient, not great. God knows what we need, when we need it and how to make it happen. Success is not from a Joshua formula but listening to and obeying Joshua’s God. Then we will see God as THE leader and watch HIS people – succeed. People may mock and laugh to see you stomping around the gates singing –but only until the walls start falling down. 

Serving with you, Renae Roche 2019

Deuteronomy is the “second” law and explanation of what took place after the Exodus. It is a book filled with cursing and blessing. The saddest chapter is when God refuses to engage Moses any longer and tells him that he will not be able to enter the Promised Land. All the journey rewards and the final prize are not released because Moses forgot God was the ultimate judge and provider. The sentence that clinches it is when we are told that Moses lived in a valley the rest of his days. Rewind a bit…  what was it that Moses forgot? That Aaron forgot? It seems maybe it was loving God with their whole heart, soul and mind. They exchange their close relationship with the Lord and get focused on the people instead. That’s the snare of leadership. When we start to “play to the crowd” instead of serving and obeying God, we run the risk of offending a holy God. Over and over in this book God reminds them to “choose His ways”. (The four letter word usually placed there is omitted to avoid FB scans that block blogs like these.)

This precious book is known for two big components: Reviewing  God miracles and going over their role and responsibilities (Covenant) in the new journey. Both of those messages are couched in the larger issue of whole- hearted worship of God. The Millennial’s and children of Moses day needed to hear about the miracles. They did not have first hand knowledge of a God who wanted to be present and active among them.

We are reading a book of the Bible a week and learning all kinds of stuff about the God we serve. It’s intense but enjoyable. We are more religious than necessary though. What? Yes, I learned that too this week. Deut. 31:10 says we are to read this book every SEVEN years to our children and all the people. Ugh. Here I was feeling guilty that I didn’t read through the Bible every year with my kids. Feeling some extra grace this  morning!  So what would God have us focus on if not voracious Bible reading yearly? Maybe loving Him with our whole hearts? Or perhaps the other things listed in Deuteronomy that are front and center:

  1. Review God’s miracles.
  2. Know and live the Covenant (rights, responsibilities)

When we do those things we will learn to fear, love, honor and reverence God. That sounds good to me. Also, not dragging kids thru the Bible at break neck speed but loving them along the road sounds pretty good too. I hear a loud amen from the boys’.

When I was younger my friends and I would take a Bible passage, read it all day, go out in a field and hash it over with each other, pray and ask God what He thought about it and then we would live it out practically, coming back together the next week to compare notes. We were never disappointed. I remember many stories from those days that continue to refresh my faith today. Stories of God providing, healing and setting up divine appointments. God was actively involved in our lives. I have two stories that take several hours to tell. They inspire people to get on fire for God when they hear them and seem to encounter God in new and fresh ways. “God is awesome” stories have a way of feeding our faith. Two things that hinder that today: People who think storytellers are boasting or grandstanding so they throw shade on whatever is said thus condemning the person trying to praise God. The other group is well meaning – they urge “fresh and new” stories which is understandable if you are calling people to move forward in their walk. However, we don’t want to suspend the “good ol day” stories too much or the younger generation will not understand the workings of God. Valuing old and pressing on for new might be a good balance. The focus – keep telling whatever praise stories possible until you are so full of faith and God that you burst out in praise and proclamation! Our pastor has encouraged and called for the saints to proclaim what God is doing today in our lives and it is creating a stir of excitement among Gods’ people. He is building the congregations faith while causing them to remember God’s goodness. 

Acts 2:46 tells us that “…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”  Coming together and praising God is Old and New testament. Whether it is in church or in the backyard with lemonade doesn’t matter half as much as getting together to share God stories. Read Jeremiah 9:23-24 for more insight regarding that passage. There is nothing on Netflix or at the movie theater that can compare or even come close to the praise reports of a living, loving and magnificent God.

The joy of getting older – yes there is a joy to it. For a second let’s forget creaky knees that ache when the temperatures drop. For a minute let’s ignore the thinning hair and glory brown spots on our hands, wrinkled with time. There are things we may not love but the absolute thrill and joy of seeing a spiritual harvest is incredible. The miracle of watching God thread people and souls and blessings thru the halls of time to make His kingdom known – incomparable. I feel like shouting right now! I’ve seen little children grow and walk into their ministries, missions and marriage. I can look back over the years and declare to my kids and grandkids – indeed God HAS BEEN faithful. Did I tell you about the time….?

I had friends come visit me for just an hour one day to catch up. They ended up staying three days and we spent the entire time sharing miracle and God stories. We bought stuff for sandwiches and just praised God for days on end. It was life changing. Another teenage friend once spent 16 hours just chatting about God’s goodness during a blizzard. We never run out of things to thank Him for and those stories still “light my fire” today. What have you seen God do for you, for others? When have you stepped out in faith and seen God come through? It is time to share those moments with the next generation. Before TMZ gives them a different narrative, before Facebook has them “like” another 10,000 stories of some political nutwings agenda, we need to saturate their minds and memories with the awesome love of a miracle working God. You ever see God provide? Perhaps move mountains, heal the sick, open the eyes of the blind? Then, remind yourself and others WHO GOD IS and WHAT HE CAN DO!!!

Covenant – Rights and responsibilities:

In my family anyone who reads Deuteronomy 28 -30 and can discuss it with me is given $25.00. It’s just that important to know. We all have choices to make and this is a good framework to understand what is the best way to live our lives. 28:49-50 are especially relevant to this generation – so much so that to write it out would create flags on Facebook. Read it and you will understand. Christianity is not everyone getting some random blessing by Osmosis. God has conditions, preferences and boundaries. This book marvelously points out some of that framework. It is not an easy read. You will be so thankful for the NEW Covenant through Jesus by the time you are done reading it.

Another verse I like is in Deut.1:17: Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgement belongs to God. Throughout the book we are called to not only know God is just but to be just as He is Just. We are continually called to enjoy, honor and wholeheartedly obey God. The benefits include being prosperous, the apple of God’s eyes and His chosen people. Pretty amazing promises!

This book is like a chiropractic visit – it’s painful but will nudge things back in place, reminding us of what and WHO is important. To not heed these warnings – well that’s like ignoring the oil change light on your car, it will not end well. Yes, it’s true we all have choice but it is also true God is the only One who will ultimately reward us with blessings or consequences for ALL those choices. We saw thru Moses  and Aaron that God cannot be cajoled or scammed into changing His mind. He reserves the right to accept or deny our requests. How we live today matters to how and where we will live tomorrow and beyond.

If you have time and an extra cup of coffee this week – or a weekend and some sandwich fixings, let me know…  I have some stories that will absolutely thrill your soul and I’m also hoping you will share some of yours with me as well. We must remember this: DO NOT FORGET! 

Remembering and enjoying His love, praying both will impact the next generation….

RenaeRoche2019

Last year I exercised almost every day. I lost weight, my blood pressure went down, my sugar went down, my cholesterol went down, and I felt like a million bucks. This year I was feeling strong and wonderful so one or two chocolate puddings wouldn’t hurt. Then it grew to daily drinking Sprite zero. Well, you know, I work hard so a slice of pizza for lunch couldn’t hurt much, since I’ve been doing well. The candy is tempting … you get the picture.  Working out for a season does not provide LIFELONG results. Starting out right is not the same as finishing well. When it came to enter the Promised land, the Israelites were not getting the keep keeping on idea. They stopped often to grumble and complain, thinking they could do their own thing.

It reminds me of my kindergarten graduation. I walked the “line” in my new special dress, I sang “I’m a little teapot” in my best voice and recited the poems our teacher taught us. Was I surprised when they told me I had to go back to school the next year. But I graduated! Didn’t that celebration mean anything? Grade school, high school, Bible school, seminary, graduate school… this stuff just won’t end. It is a principle that we can see really clear in the book of Numbers. God did not just save us FROM sin, God saves us to something… the Promised Land, Destiny and a life lived in glory for HIM. We don’t just leave Egypt and STOP.

This week we were reading in Numbers. Studying a book of the Bible weekly is vigorous but there is so much good stuff in there!  I want to share three of the highlights that inspired me. In Numbers 6:24-26 is says:

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelite’s. Say to them:

24 “The Lord BLESS you and keep you;
25 the Lord make His face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn His face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

27 “So they will put my name on the Israelite’s, and I will bless them.”  When you are heading across a hot desert with a nation, this would have been a pretty good promise!

The word bless here is barak in Hebrew. It means to benefit, adore and congratulate. It is a HUGE, over the top type blessing. It follows a narrative about purity and the importance of living a holy life –obeying His ways. We have a Lord who helps us stay pure. We have a God who desires to bless us. Paul said it this way, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:32). We take these verses for granted because they are spoken in a lot of churches but they were not meant for the General crowd – only those who follow God in purity and truth. That’s a much different message than the one the world will tell you. Do we win God’s approval by our actions? No, but He still wants us to be holy and that is often overlooked in a culture that values equal treatment in every arena regardless of life choices.

God wants to bless us and keep (protect, watch, guard over) us.

He also wants to illuminate our pathway and give us pity, kindness and compassion. When these blessings are spoken and received, God’s name is placed on us – His reputation, fame, glory and renown, then… It says once God sees that on our lives, He blesses us again!  That’s amazing. If His peace includes completeness, safety, soundness in body, welfare such as good health and prosperity, quietness, tranquility, contentment, friendship and peace = that’s BETTER than winning the Superbowl!  God wants to bless His followers, specifically YOU.

That same loving, blessing God speaks to Moses in the desert. In the New Testament, Hebrews 1 tells us that in these last days God has spoken to us through His son, Jesus. Hearing Gods voice happens over 100 times in the Bible.  Christianity is the only religion I know of where the God is actively participating and speaking in the life of the follower. The voice of the Lord shows us how involved and alive He is!  When you are heading to the Promised land, that is good information to keep at hand and repeat often.

These concepts are basic yet when we find ourselves in a time of discouragement or disillusionment isn’t that the thing that creeps in our mind and accuses God before us? “Is He real? Is He good and trustworthy or a tyrant and villain? These verses show us what a kind, compassionate God He really is. Yea, but… does He want to bless me, actually- me? Yes, all those who follow Him with a pure heart. The 613 commandments cannot be met daily but standing behind Jesus and letting His life pay for all weaknesses and sin certainly can.

Numbers 15 tells us about the visual reminder of God’s commandments and promises. Moses instructed the people to tie tassels (tzitzit) on their garments so that they could remember His love for them and that He wanted to speak to them through His precepts and their leaders. We’ve tried it here for a few days and it is cool. It is not salvific, meaning it cannot save us. It does not earn us brownie points with God, but it does keep us in a pattern of listening to what God says instead of the enemies lies about God. Watching the Superbowl game Sunday was fascinating – the team did not function as individuals. They kept going back to their huddle, the coach and reminding themselves of the rule book. It was not “beyond or beneath them” even though they had won multiple Superbowls before. 

God wants to bless, keep us and make us shine. God wants to give us Peace and the reputation and glory of His very name. God wants us to remember His ways and promises. If we really got a hold of just those 3 things , our lives would drastically change.

Numbers is a great book – lots of very specific instruction on continuing in our journeys as we head HOME. Remember my forgotten exercise routine, my kindergarten graduation? In error, we think once we are saved, that is it. No more building, tearing down old things or following God’s pattern –we just move forward with our lives and think it’s all good. But it doesn’t work that way. The benefits of our relationship with God, like exercise and other Spiritual disciplines cease when we discontinue it. It is not an accumulative relationship but a living, breathing relationship. Seeking and following God must continue until its GAME OVER. 

Wherever you are on your journey, maybe it is walking away from your past, or maybe you are stuck in the desert? Maybe you are trudging along but have lost heart to keep moving. Wherever you stand – start walking and remind yourselves of the very things God did to encourage the Israelite’s:

 

“I want to, and I am going to BLESS you, make my face shine on you and give you PEACE.

I want to and will speak with you – avail yourself to hear ME.

I want you to actively remind yourself of my ways and promises (NT – hear Jesus). “

You are not alone as you continue walking towards the Promised land. If you are receiving God’s blessing and listening for His voice, being reminded of His ways and promises – now THAT’S a WIN!  Congratulations.

RenaeRoche2019