Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Foundations of a great nation: Part 1 Dt 4:5-8

“See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:5-8)

Great nations are built upon the foundational stone of God’s providential involvement in their history and continued existence. Any biblical foundation for governance must include an acceptance and acknowledgment of God and His continued role and involvement in the life of a nation. Unfortunately, many nations today have become increasingly secular and many have sought to expunge all references of God and religion from the daily discourse and operation of their governmental structures. Increasingly, In the United States of America, those seeking to be elected or appointed to public office and who hold to strong religious convictions and faith are held up to extreme scrutiny to determine if they will be able to govern without being influenced by their religion or religious beliefs. This trend towards secularism is to the detriment of the nation and its continued existence. There are three main reasons why an acknowledgement of God is critical in the formation of a government.

The Limitations of Government: Many of the problems faced by nations are beyond the reach of government to solve. Government cannot, and should not, solve all the problems of a nation. One of the failed promises of communism is that, if the people would sacrifice and serve the state, then the state would take care of their needs. The communist system promised cradle-to-grave care from the state, a promise that the state was not able to keep. Even though communism has failed throughout the world, there are still movements within many nations to extend the reach of government in an attempt to solve various social ills within the nation.

Many of the problems facing nations are not governmental in nature; they are problems that arise from a failure of morality, faith, and social conscience. These problems cannot be solved by governmental intervention of government programs, their solutions must be sought in the familial and religious structures within a nation. By acknowledging God, a nation and its government acknowledge its limitations and its dependence on God for the prosperity and health of the nation and its people.

Naaman was the captain of the army of Aram, but he was also a leper. In an attempt to be healed of his leprosy, the king of Aram sent a letter on Naaman’s behalf to the king of Israel. “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:6) This greatly alarmed the king of Israel. “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.” (2 Kings 5:7) Fortunately, Elisha heard of Naaman’s request and offered to see Naaman and to heal him. “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” (2 Kings 5:8) The king of Israel realized that, though he may be king, he wasn’t God. Any nation that desires to be great must first embrace this truth. All those who govern may have power to govern, but they are still not God.

More to come… David Robison

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Righteousness is right: Dt 4:1

“Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 4:1)

At their first attempt at crossing the Jordan, ten of the spies sent out to spy out the land returned this report to Moses and the nation of Israel. “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.” (Numbers 13:32) When I first read this passage of scripture I was indignant that the ten spies could characterize the “good land” of the Lord as one that “devours its inhabitants”, but the more I considered this the more I realized that the ten spies were right. The Promised Land of God is both a good land and a land that devours its inhabitants; it devours them when they refuse to live by its rules and laws.

The Kingdom of God is designed to operate under certain laws and principals by which, if we choose to live by them, then we will be blessed and live a long and prosperous life in His kingdom. If, however, we choose a life of sin and rebellion against God’s laws, we will be consumed by the very same Kingdom we are tying to live within. This principal is repeated over and over in the Book of Deuteronomy.

“When you become the father of children and children's children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the Lord your God so as to provoke Him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed. So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.” (Deuteronomy 4:25-26, 40)

God has called us to righteousness, not because He doesn’t want us to have “fun”, but because righteousness is right. Righteousness is how we were created to live, it is the laws and principals of His Kingdom, and when we live righteously we are blessed. “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.” (Romans 6:16, 19, 21) When we try to live in God’s kingdom by our own way, living according to the flesh, it is like trying to drive a nail with a glass vase. A nail is meant to be driven by a hammer, using anything else is a recipe for disaster. If we try to use a glass vase the vase will be broken and our efforts for not. The same is true if we try to live in the Kingdom of God according to our own way and not according to righteousness, our lives will be ruined and our efforts wasted. “To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 2:7-10)

We cannot escape this one irrefutable fact: if we want to live in the Kingdom of God then we must live according to the Kingdom of God. We cannot live in the Kingdom of God according to our own ways or as we would chose, we must live the life that we have been called to by God. We must remember the words of Paul as he exhorted the church at Ephesus, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesus 4:1-3)

David Robison

Monday, February 19, 2007

Establishing a heritage: Dt 3:28

“But charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see.” (Deuteronomy 3:28)

When God began to initiate this odyssey for the people of Israel, He spoke directly to Moses and commanded him regarding the part he was to play in the liberation of the nation of Israel. “When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ The Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.’” (Exodus 3:4, 7, 10) And when Moses began to question his calling and mission, God again spoke to him, this time to encourage him. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land. Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, “I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.”’” (Exodus 6:1, 6) But now, with the change in leadership immanent, instead of speaking directly to Joshua, God tells Moses to command him and to strengthen and encourage him for his upcoming mission. Why did God chose to speak directly to Moses but not Joshua? Why did God chose to personally commission Moses while Joshua’s commission was relayed through Moses? I think in part it was because God wanted to establish a heritage in Joshua and his family after him.

I am extremely blessed to have inherited a Christian heritage that goes back many generations. My parents were Christians when they got married and when my siblings and I were little they fasted and prayed for us often. My grandparents were Christians when they got married and my grandfather, who is still alive and has served God for more than seven decades and who is the patriarch over a family that numbers nearly one hundred souls, still will call the family to prayer when he senses a pending attack from the enemy over the family. My great-grand parents were also Christians and my great-grand father was a pastor over several churches in southern California. And so it goes for many generations. I am convinced that much of what I have received in my relationship with God is a direct result of the cumulative blessings of God passed down from generation to generation. Consider what God had to say about Himself, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” (Exodus 34:6-7) Notice that God’s judgment extends only to the third or fourth generation while His loving kindness extends for thousands of generations! It is my sincere belief that with each successive generation, that blessing is compounded and grows to the benefit of its recipients.

Unfortunately, many Christians today come into the kingdom of God without the benefit of a lengthy spiritual heritage. For some newly saved Christians, they may even be the first in their family line, even going back many generations, to receive Jesus Christ. However, regardless of whether or not we are blessed with a multi-generational spiritual heritage, it is never too late to start one. I believe that one reason that God told Moses to charge and encourage Joshua was that God was creating a spiritual heritage for Joshua. Not only did Joshua inherit spiritually from Moses, but later on we see that same spiritual heritage being passed on to his descendents. “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) It was no longer just Joshua who was serving the Lord, now it was Joshua and his house. The spiritual inheritance he received from Moses what now being passed down to his children.

Whether or not you received a spiritual heritage from your family line, you can start one right now; a heritage that can be passed down to, first your children, but also to others within the Body of Christ. By investing one-on-one in the lives of other believers, we can give them the benefit of a spiritual heritage; we can share with them the blessings we have received from the Lord. For many of us, this may be the call of God on our lives; that, like Moses, we too might charge others with following God’s calling on their lives and to provide strength and encouragement as we see them stepping out into their life with God. What a blessing to be able to pass on to a new generation that which we have received from the Lord.

David Robison

Saturday, February 17, 2007

God understands being a parent: Dt 3:23-25

“I also pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, ‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours? Let me, I pray, cross over and see the fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’” (Deuteronomy 3:23-25)

If you are a parent, how many times have you had this conversation with one of your children?

Dad: Son, its time to go to bed.
Son: But dad, can’t I stay up and watch the rest of this program?
Dad: No son, its time to go to bed.
Son: Please dad, I promise to go right to bed as soon as the program is over.
Dad: No, its time to go to bed.
Son: But dad…
Dad: That’s it! I don’t want to hear any more about it! Get up and get off to bed!

I was encouraged to read about a similar conversation that God had with His child Moses. “But the Lord said to me, ‘Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes to the west and north and south and east, and see it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. But charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see.’” (Deuteronomy 3:26-28)

Being a parent is not always easy, but it is encouraging to realize that God understands!

David Robison

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Victory begats victory: Dt 3:21-22

“I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings; so the Lord shall do to all the kingdoms into which you are about to cross. Do not fear them, for the Lord your God is the one fighting for you.’” (Deuteronomy 3:21-22)

During their time in the wilderness, the nation of Israel lost an entire generation of men trained for war. “Now the time that it took for us to come from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed over the brook Zered was thirty-eight years, until all the generation of the men of war perished from within the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them.” (Deuteronomy 2:14) The younger generation that grew up to take their place was not experienced in the art of war. They lacked the experience and training necessary for battle. If they were going to possess the Promised Land they would need to know how to fight and how to win a battle. God knew that warfare was learned from war; that victory begat further victory. The battles they had won on the east side of the Jordan would serve to teach them how to win the battles they were about to encounter once they crossed over to the Promised Land. Their victories not only give them confidence but also served as a tutor to them, training them for war. Sometimes God leads us into battles to train us for future battles. “Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly).” (Judges 3:1-2)

David understood this principle. As he stood before King Saul, ready to face Goliath, King Saul expressed his doubts that David could win against Goliath. “Then Saul said to David, ‘You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.’” (1 Samuel 17:33) Yet David was confident is his answer. “But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.’” (1 Samuel 17:34-36) Long before David ever faced Goliath he had faced the lion and the bear and had emerged victorious. His battles with the lion and the bear gave him confidence and had trained him in battle so that, when he had to face Goliath, he was ready. David knew he could defeat Goliath because he knew how to win.

The same is true for us. As we go through our lives we face many battles. When facing a battle it can be tempting to flee, but if we engage the battle, the battle will strengthen us and train us to fight the battles yet to come. If we learn to fight victoriously in everyday battles then we will have confidence and the skill to be victorious even in life’s greater battles. The challenges we face today are training us for the challenges of tomorrow. Therefore, let us not run, let us not flee, but let us engage our battles and learn from the Lord to be victorious.

David Robison

Monday, February 05, 2007

Not settling for less: Dt 3:18-20

“Then I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess it; all you valiant men shall cross over armed before your brothers, the sons of Israel. But your wives and your little ones and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in your cities which I have given you, until the Lord gives rest to your fellow countrymen as to you, and they also possess the land which the Lord your God will give them beyond the Jordan. Then you may return every man to his possession which I have given you.’” (Deuteronomy 3:18-20)

After wandering in the wilderness for forty years, the Israelites once again stood on the east bank of the river Jordan. At that time the sons of Gad, the sons of Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh approached Moses and asked that the land they conquered on the east side of the Jordan be given to them as an inheritance. Their request raised Moses’ anger. “But Moses said to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Reuben, ‘Shall your brothers go to war while you yourselves sit here? Now why are you discouraging the sons of Israel from crossing over into the land which the Lord has given them? This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. For when they went up to the valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the sons of Israel so that they did not go into the land which the Lord had given them.” (Numbers 32:6-9) Moses’ concern was that their willingness to settle for less than all that God had for them might discourage the other tribes from pursuing the promises of God and from fighting to possess the Promised Land. In the face of Moses’ objections, they offered a compromise. “Then they came near to him and said, ‘We will build here sheepfolds for our livestock and cities for our little ones; but we ourselves will be armed ready to go before the sons of Israel, until we have brought them to their place, while our little ones live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. We will not return to our homes until every one of the sons of Israel has possessed his inheritance.’” (Numbers 32:16-18) They agreed to go before the rest of the army of Israel and to fight with their brethren until they had possessed their land. Only then would they return to the east side of the Jordan to take possession of their inheritance.

The longer we journey with the Lord, the more we are tempted to settle for what we have already receive and to cease striving for the rest of what God has for us. We can find our lives comfortable and, while our lives may not be perfect, they’re not bad either. In light of the challenges and difficulties that lie ahead of us in the Promised Land, it is tempting to surrender our future inheritance and settle for what we currently have. If we were to be concerned for our own lives only, then settling would be a tempting option, but others are watching our lives. They are watching to see what we do. Do we press on, or do we settle for less? Do we fight to gain the victory that is in Christ, or do we settle for walking in brokenness and defeat? Do we believe God when He says that the Promise Land is for us, or do we draw back in fear and unbelief?

Others are watching, so let us leave them a good example to follow. Let us live in a way so that we too can say to others as Paul said to us, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1 KJV) Let us not settle for less than all that God has for us. Let us be those who are willing to run with God at the head of the pack; going first so that others might follow. Let us have the same heart as Paul had when he said, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12) Let us be the kind of people others can follow.

David Robison