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Assignment

Assignment This word can bring up memories of the classroom or a job. We had assignments necessary to complete if we were to pass the class or get a paycheck. These assignments required specific action to be completed. Jesus alludes to an assignment in a story referenced in the book of John. A curious verse in John 9 states, "We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the One who sent us" (9:4). This statement needs some context. John, as an author with a message, links together seven miracles and six discourses to prove Jesus as the Messiah in his Gospel. He declares it his purpose in writing in John 20:31, "These are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name." In this sixth miracle, Jesus healed a man born blind. This is the only miracle he performed that addressed an issue previous to birth. He came out of the womb blind. Those around the i…

A True Friend

What are two of the most important characteristics of a true friend? We could say, "A person who stands up for you," or "A person who will loan you money," or "A person who ____________" (you fill in the blank). There are many characteristics of a true friend but here are the two most important. First is an unfailing love for you that continues throughout your lives together. That covers a lot of ground since love enters into a lot of decisions in friendship. We can see from 1 Corinthians 13 that "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." This last sentence examples the second important characteristic of a true friend. It is their faithfulness. Th…

God's Letter and Song

God's Letter and Song   Imagine yourself in a fox hole in Europe or an island of the South Pacific during WWII and you received a letter from home. Wouldn't you read it over many times to get just a touch of being home? Now think of what comes to mind when you hear a familiar melody sung on the radio or played from Pandora. That melody brings back old memories you cherish and so you mediate on them while the song plays on and maybe you even sing along. Music and letters are two great ways of communicating. They express so much and we take it all in. Did you know that God wrote a letter and a song? Yes He did. The letter is the Bible and the song is written down by Moses in Deuteronomy 32. He said, "Write down the words of this song, and teach it to the people of Israel. Help them learn it, so it may serve as a witness for Me against them." (31:19) So Moses wrote it out and later recited the entire song publicly to the assembly of Israel. It had these parts: ·A request to …

Be Careful!

I'm sure as a parent you said this to your children and I'm sure as a child you  heard this from your parents. It is not a challenge to take lightly. It shows the parents love for their child and concern for the possibility of danger lurking nearby. Sometimes it was accompanied by the statement, "Here take my hand." This request from the parent helped the child be aware and also feel protected. Over nine times in Deuteronomy 11-12 Moses tells the people to be careful and adds additional words like, "be careful to obey every command," said several times and stressing obedience to the laws God had given them, "be careful. Don't let your heart be deceived," suggesting that deception is possible if you are not vigilant, and "be very careful never to neglect the Levites…" making sure that those who worked at the Tabernacle and cared for the all that God had designed for worship were included in the community. Being careful is being watchful…

Appropriate

What does it take to appropriate something into your life? I mean how can you gather something into your soul and have it stick there for the rest of your life? Moses at the end of his life wrote a remembrance book for the people of Israel. Deuteronomy means second law and emphasized all the principles that God shared throughout the wilderness wanderings essential to remember as the people went into the Promise Land. He said, "Listen carefully, Israel. Hear the decrees and regulations I am giving you today, so you may learn them and obey them!" (Deuteronomy 5:1) Here we find the process of appropriation. First they had to hear. That meant opening their ears to the truths presented. But sometimes we hear but do not hear, if you get what I mean. The sounds go into our ears, they are turned into words, we recognized them as words but we let them fly in one ear and out the other. So, something more than hearing has to take place and it is listening. To listen is to make a conscio…

Balaam, The Rest of the Story

King Balak of Moab wanted to curse Israel and three times asked Balaam to do it, but each time Balaam blessed Israel. Frustrated Balak acted just like Balaam did when his donkey kept diverting from the angel of the Lord who was standing in front of them on the way. Balak verbally beat up Balaam three times. Balaam becomes the donkey that takes the beating but talks back to make Balak aware of a larger context including God. This experience left Balaam without any reward and Balak without any curse on Israel. But we see indications in a later passage that Balaam didn't go home. He counseled Balak and the Midianites aligned with him in another way to defeat Israel. The book of Numbers says, the Midianites were the ones "who followed Balaam's advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the Lord at Mount Peor" (Numbers 31:16). Balaam showed Balak how to trip up Israel. He taught them to use their women to entice the Israelites into sin by eating food offered t…

A Good Beating

As Israel was camped east of the Jordan on the plains of Moab, Balak the king of Moab showed concern that the Israeli army would be too powerful for his military to defeat. So, he gathered recommendations on who to call to curse Israel and give him the upper hand. Balaam, a soothsayer, claimed to be able to foretell the future, and was the name that led the list. He was living in the land of Pethor just a few miles south of Carchemish about 400 miles north. His fame grew over the years in a time of no radio, TV, or satellites. Balak sent a team to convince him to come and curse Israel. He refused. So, Balak sent another larger and more distinguished group of officials to influence him to come. Balaam considered their request and asked God what he should do. That led to a discussion with God where permission to go was granted but only if he would abide by what God would tell him to do. Agreed, Balaam jumped on his favorite donkey which he had ridden all his life and started the long jour…