Saturday, April 22, 2017

April 22: Joshua 24; Psalm 89:38-52; Proverbs 13:20-23; Luke 21:1-28



Overview

            Joshua: Joshua calls Israel together and tells them a brief recap of their history from Abraham to the current day. He then calls on them to put away all their gods and decide who they will serve sincerely and faithfully. Will they serve the gods from Abrahams’ land, gods of the Amorites, or the Lord?
            The people responded that they would serve the Lord. Joshua said they were not able to serve the Lord because he would not forgive them for following other gods. But they insisted they would serve the Lord. He said they were witnesses that they would serve the Lord and he made a covenant with them to do so. He set up a large stone as a witness.
            Later, Joshua died at 110 years old. The people of Israel served the Lord during his years and the elders who outlived him and had seen the works of the Lord. They buried Joseph’s bones. Then Eleazar, Aaron’s son died and was buried.
            Psalm: Ethan has finished talking about how great God is. Now he starts complaining that God has abandoned Israel and gone back on his promises. He explains how God has let Israel’s foes conquer them.
            He then asks how long God is going to ignore them. After all, their lives are short and they can’t wait long. They won’t live forever. He wants to know where God’s steadfast love is because they have to endure the enemy’s insults.
            Then he says, “Blessed be the Lord forever” (Ps 89:52)!
            Proverbs: Your company will determine a lot about your life, you will be wise if you hang out with wise people and rewarded with good, which you will be able to pass on to your descendents. Companions of fools have disaster and their wealth will be given to the righteous.
            Luke: A widow put two cents into the offering and Jesus remarked how much she had given. It was all she had. Her offering was more than other’s because they still had much left over.
            Jesus tells those who were admiring the temple that it would all be destroyed. They asked when and he said some people would come claiming to be the Christ and lead many astray. There would be wars and terrible things happening. Before all this, Christians would be persecuted and taken before officials. This is our opportunity to witness and we’ll be given what to say at the time. Betrayal will come from family members and friends.
            Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies. That is a time to flee because this people (current inhabitants) will be slaughtered or taken captive and dispersed among the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until their time ends.
            There will be cosmic signs, distressed nations, environmental changes, and people anxious about what’s happening. They will see the Son of Man coming. When these things begin to happen, we need to look up because Jesus’ return and our redemption is near.

What Stood Out

            Joshua: “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15).
            Psalm: “Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man!” (Ps 89:47).
            Proverbs: “The sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous” (Prov 13:22).
            Luke: “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).

Insight

            Joshua: Christians often quote or put on placards the last phrase in Joshua 24:15. “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” This is really great. It expresses the desire of most of our hearts. The problem is that we don’t always understand the context of the verse and the application for us today. They were making a choice that required them to first put away, stop serving, and ridding themselves of other gods. We only quote the last part of the verse and seldom think about the things we should really be giving up, stop doing, and what we need to start doing to serve the Lord.
            Here’s some tests to find out if we are serving the Lord. What comes first in your life? Is it your job, kids, activities, or yourself? You can tell in several ways. Look at your checkbook and find out where you spend the most amount of your money. If you consistently tithe before you spend on anything else, that is a good indication you are serving the Lord. If you are supporting other Christian organizations including those who help the poor, that is another indication. If you are using time to serve at church or these other organizations, that is just as important. If you have prayer with your family and devotions that is also good. However, if you miss church on Sunday to sleep in or go to sporting events (professional or children’s) that is a good indication that there are other gods in your life. We need to remember that serving the Lord is a choice; it isn’t hanging a placard on the wall then doing what we want.
            Psalm: I was really enjoying the first part of this Psalm. God’s glorious attributes were being exalted. Then today’s reading was a real bust. Like some of the other Psalms, Ethan starts blaming God for all their problems. I think he goes even further and blatantly says God has violated his covenant. But wait! There’s more! God’s steadfast love is brought into question.
            Pardon me, but we’ve been reading about God’s covenant. It had two parts, one was blessings for obedience and the other was curses for disobedience. God didn’t forget or renounce his covenant. He was fulfilling the part where he would turn them over to their enemies if they disobeyed and went after other gods. His steadfast love was working to bring them back to himself. It is a tough love.
            Ethan also tells God that he should work on his schedule instead of God’s. He blames God for creating mankind with a short lifespan. Tell that to Adam and Eve. God created man with a long lifespan and in fact an eternal one. With our eyes on the temporal, we will never get an eternal perspective. We will end up blaming God for everything.
            Proverbs: I heard a story about a man who built a gorgeous mansion but never really used it. He was not a Christian but when he died, it somehow ended up in the hands of a Christian ministry and used for their headquarters at a fraction of its value. The new owners quoted Proverbs 13:20 as the reason they acquired it. Jesus said the meek will inherit the earth (Matt 5:5). That is a whole lot more than a mansion.
            Luke: There is no need to worry about climate change or other environmental problems. That doesn’t mean we should contribute to them because we are supposed to be good stewards of the earth. However, we should also understand that we won’t be able to fix them all. This world is wearing out and it wasn’t meant to last forever. In conjunction with extreme climate changes, we’ll see some cosmic catastrophes occurring. Think about several volcanoes blowing their tops as the same time, along with earthquakes. The resultant ash in the air would cause signs in the sun, moon, and starts. These things won’t be manmade, they will be God-made. The persecutions and other things going on will intensify. The political turmoil in the world will be much worse than anything we see today, though some of what we are seeing may be setting up for the future.
            That’s all the bad news. Now the good news, when we see this stuff happening, we know Jesus’ return and our redemption is near. That’s why we don’t have to worry. When we are trusting in Jesus for everything, nothing can keep us from reaching our goal as long as we really do serve the Lord.

Application

            Serving the Lord is not a part-time job. It is full –time. It isn’t always easy because of so many distractions. I need to be better at serving him.

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