Monday, February 29, 2016

February 29, 2016

"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!"  Luke 15:13-17

You probably recognize this portion of Scripture as being taken from the Parable of the Prodigal Son and it shows how one can shift from being a son to being a slave.

Here are some of the modern forms of slavery:

Achievement - being a slave to performance.

It is actually more apparent in the case of the old brother in this parable but it is rampant in our culture. While there is nothing wrong with achievement, living to achieve is a problem. When you are driven by the need to out perform everyone else in order to prove yourself it is not a healthy way to live.

As seen in the older brother, having an inordinate need to perform and achieve usually is driven by unrealistic goals and results in frequent frustration.

Affirmation - being a slave to popularity.

Both sons seemed to care more about what others thought of them than the approval of the father.

The approval and validation of others is a powerful influence in life. It is important to everyone but seems to be an obsession for some who define their self-worth based upon what others think of them.

Do you care about the Father's opinion or are you a slave to the need for man's approval?

Adherence - being a slave to legalism..

In the two sons you see both extremes in regard to rules. The older son kept them all with a critical heart and the younger brother rebelled with a careless heart. As a result, neither them enjoyed the love of their father.

Legalism supposes that keeping rules can result in holiness. The law-breaker believes that casting off rules will result in happiness.

Each is a slave to misconception.

Addiction - being a slave to appetites.

When you think of addiction you most likely think about abuse of chemical substances. More often than not, that is the case.

Certain personality types lend themselves to addiction, but those drawn into addiction are drawn by a need to feel good and escape from emotional, physical or psychological pain. They begin using the pain-killers but soon abuse them. In an attempt to escape momentarily from pain they become a slave to a great source of pain - addiction.

Addiction is perhaps the most harmful form of selfishness - unless you become addicted to Jesus.

I am glad slavery in America was abolished 150 years ago. I look forward to a day when slavery of the soul is abolished.

For you, that day could be today.

February 28, 2016

"The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding. So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days." Joshua 6:13-14

Glory Days begin or end from the neck up. You can be physically present in the Promised Land but have your heart and mind mired in Egypt.

That had been the problem with the Hebrews for the past 40 years. God is a God of second chances, fresh starts and new beginnings and under the leadership of Joshua the Children of Israel got their mulligan when they crossed the Jordan. But soon after they ran head on into the stronghold of Jericho. It would have to fall before they could realize their "Glory Days".

Strongholds always stand between you and your Promised Land.

What is a stronghold? A stronghold is a mindset or a thought process that stands in opposition to God's truths. You could say it is a false premise that keeps you from embracing God's promise.

That "stronghold" can be every bit as imposing to you as Jericho was to God's people. And like Jericho, it has to fall!

Joshua 6 details three ways to take down a stronghold. I've given you two of them and now I'm sharing the third:
  1. Fight in God's Power!
  2. Fight With God's Weapons!
  3. Keep God in the Center!
When God called Joshua to take out Jericho He gave him a plan! The plan was to have the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant in the center of a procession that would circle Jericho every day for six days. There was great significance in how the procession was organized.

Soldiers prepared for battle led this procession, the priests carrying the Ark were in the center of the procession followed by more soldiers.

What a beautiful picture of how God leads us to victory! His soldiers (angels) go before us and behind us as long as we keep Jesus in the center of our lives and keep marching toward our Promised Land!
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;

    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:9-16