Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where are you? (part 2) Gen 3:9

In the first part of this article we began looking at how, in one day, Adam could go from enjoying fellowship with God to fearing Him and hiding from His presence. I believe the second thing that changed in their relationship, contributing to Adam's fear, was the way Adam perceived God. Before, Adam saw God as a loving father, now he believes God to be a wrathful judge. God, who was once loving, has now become harsh, demanding, exacting, and vengeful; at least from Adam's point of view. Adam knew God to be a God of justice, but now that he had sinned, he presumed upon God's character that God was now angry and wrathful towards him. Adam took what he knew about God and drew the wrong conclusion about God's character. Adam's failure to properly deduce the character of God is similar to the worthless servant in the parable of the talents.
"And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid , and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.'" (Matthew 25:24-25)
The servant, based on knowing that his master's purpose was to reap where he did not sow and gather where he did not scatter, perceived his master to be harsh, fierce, and severe, but was this an accurate representation of his master. Jesus applied this parable to us, as the servants, and to the Father, as the master. It is true that God intends to reap where He has not sown and to gather where He has not scattered, for that is the very reason He has left us behind to finish His work, but does that make Him hard and austere? The truth is that God is loving, merciful, and kind, even to the weak and lowly, but far too often, like Adam and like this servant, we take what we know about God and end up misjudging His motives, His nature, and His feelings towards us.

One of the primary reasons we misjudge God is because our expectations of who He really is is based upon, and formed by, our experience. We know God is our Father and so we expect Him to be like our earthly fathers. For some, that leads to a positive image of God, and for others, a negative image. We know God is Lord over all, so we expect Him to be like other authority figures in our lives. We know God is love so we see Him through the different relationships we have had in the past. In all of these, we project onto God's nature our experiences, both good and bad, and often end up with a wrong conclusion of what God is really like.

So what is the real nature of God? Here in lies the first truth we can gather from the story of the garden. God asks Adam this questions, "Where are you?", and where was Adam? He was hiding. But where was God? He was drawing near to be with Adam. As I read this passage, I am amazed that, knowing full well the extent of Adam's sin, God still chose to come and draw near to him, that He might have fellowship with him. After all, God could have chosen several other courses of action following Adam's sin. He could have simply killed Adam and started all over again. After all, He had warned him that if he ate of the tree he would die, or God could have just written him of, forsaken him, and found something else do watch over in His universe. Adam had sinned and he deserved to spend eternity living in his sin. Yet, when faced with the news of Adam's sin, God chose neither of these approaches. Knowing full well that Adam had disobeyed Him, God still desired to be with him, to fellowship with him, and to set on course a plan that would one day free Adam and his race from the bondage to sin.

What does this mean for you and me? It means that no matter where you are right now, God wants to be with you. Even in the deepest darkest corners of you sin, God still wants to be with you. No matter how far away we are from God, He still chooses to draw near us and ask us, "Where are you"? The choice is ours. Will we stay in the shame and darkness of our sin or will we by faith turn to Him and let Him restore us and reconcile us back to Himself? Will we hear His voice and realize that, though He is a God of justice, He is also full of mercy, grace, and forgiveness? Will we let our fears of God keep us from daring to approach Him again, or will we once again, by faith, enter back into His presence? Consider the admonition of Paul,
"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." (Heb 10:19, 22-23 NKJV)
So where are you in relationship to the Father right now? No matter where you are, God wants to be with you. Won't you turn towards Him, and with great boldness, return to His presence and His love and care for you? God is waiting, its your move...

More to come... David Robison

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Where are you? (part 1) Gen 3:9

"Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?'" (Genesis 3:9)
Adam was a man who was familiar with the presence of God. For some time he was accustom to walking with God "in the garden in the cool of the day" (Genesis 3:8). However now, for the first time, he found himself afraid of God's presence and attempted to hide himself from God. How could Adam, in one day, go from enjoying God's presence to hiding in fear? When he sinned, what changed to caused him to fear God? I believe that two things fundamentally changed on that day when Adam partook of the forbidden fruit.

First, by partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God ceased to be Adams father and instead became his judge. Prior to that day, Adam obeyed God as a son would his father; he simply did whatever his father told him. However, now after having his eyes opened by the knowledge of good and evil, his obedience shifted to having to satisfy an external set of rules, ordinances, and laws. He was now responsible to live by what he knew to be good and evil; to live by this new knowledge of right and wrong apart from the simplicity of obeying God's voice. To further compound the problem, Adam awakened something with in his soul: sin!
"But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me." (Romans 7:8-11)
While Paul is speaking here specifically regarding the Law of Moses, I believe the same principal applies to Adam. With the knowledge of good and evil there awakened in Adam a sinful nature that was bent on evil. Now, living apart from the grace of father God, Adam was overcome by his sinful nature and that realization caused him to fear God. Paul reminds us of this in recounting how even Moses was fearful in the presence of the law.
"For they could not bear the command, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned." And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I am full of fear and trembling."
(Hebrews 12:20-21)"
Moses was also a man familiar with the presence of God. He would often enter before the very presence of God in the Tent of Meeting. However, at the giving of the law, Moses found himself fearful of the presence of God.

The chief reason the law introduces fear into our hears is because we know instinctively that we are incapable of keeping the law. We understand the weakness of our own flesh and our internal tendency to sin. Paul says of his own internal struggle against sin,
"For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:18-19, 24)
When we consider our internal sin nature, we understand that we are sinners and we deserve punishment, and the one to judge and punish us is God. We have broken, not the commandments of man, but of God and God is the judge, jury, and executor of our sentence of guilt. John echos this truth when he said, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." (1 John 4:18) What John is saying is, as long as our conscience is fill with the knowledge of our sin and guilt, the prospect of punishment moves is to fear; the fear of God. However, if our conscience is filled with the knowledge and experience of God's love, then there is no room left to fear God or His wrath. When we come to understand that we walk with God by grace, as children of our Father, then the law and its condemnation of us no longer rules our lives; fear is no longer our master but rather we are free to fellowship with God in the knowledge of His love. The knowledge of good and evil turns God into our judge, but the knowledge of the love of God restores God to us as our father.

More to come... David Robison

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Hiding from God: Gen 3:8

"They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)"
For an unknown span of time, Adam and Eve lived and walked with God in intimate fellowship. Regularly God came to fellowship with His creation, especially that part of creation that He had made in His own image. God's fellowship with man and woman was based on a relationship of love. God did not come requesting an offering or a sacrifice, those things would come later, rather He simply wanted to be with His creation.

For a while, this fellowship was unbroken, that is until they sinned in disobedience to their loving Father. After having walked openly and unashamedly with God, they hid themselves for the first time. Their relationship with God had changed and they would begin a pattern of hiding from God that continues with us, their decedents, even to today.

Everyone of us, if we are honest with ourselves, have known times when we have tried to hide from God. Most often, the times we have sought to hide ourselves from God have been the precise times when we have needed His presence the most. Instead of drawing closer to God, we withdrew and hid ourselves from His presence. There are many reasons we hide from Go, but the chief reasons are fear and shame. Far too often we allow fear and shame to weaken our hearts and to cause us to withdraw from our heavenly Father. This is why Paul reminds us to "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)

There are two things we can learn from Adam and Eve. First is that their hiding from God was initiated by their own actions and not God's. It was not God who withdrew from man but man from God. When we hid from God it is because we listen to our emotions and the voices around us and make a decision to withdraw and to hid. While hiding becomes our objective, it is never God's. God has no desire for us to withdraw or hid, rather He continues to beckon us to draw near and to come into His presence. Even in our sin, God beckons us to come. "'Come now, and let us reason together,' Says the Lord, 'though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.'" (Isaiah 1:18)

Secondly Adam and Eve hid themselves amongst the trees of the Garden. Often, when we try to hide from God, we try by hiding in our own world. We immerse ourselves in our jobs, we become totally focused on our families, or we give ourselves to every form of leisure and entertainment, all in an attempt to hide ourselves from God. While none of these things are bad, we end up choosing them over a relationship with God. We find peace and solace in the things of the world and away from our emotions of fear and shame. However, these things can only serve to mask our pain and can never heal it. This can only happen in the presence of God. We need to learn to become like Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus. "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary , for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42)

In the next few posts, I want to look further into this story. Specifically, God asks Adam and Eve three questions, and I think there is a lot we can learn about our own tendency to hide from God through the questions and their answers.

More to come... David Robison

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Years of Tithing: Dt 14:22-29

"You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. You shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always... At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do." (Deuteronomy 14:22-23, 28-29)
I find this teaching on tithing very intriguing. For two years, the people were to gather up their tithe and journey to Jerusalem where they were to eat it in the presence of the Lord. If their journey was too far, they could sell their tithe and then purchase what ever they desired once they made it to Jerusalem, as long as they eat it in the presence of God. In the third year, they were to deposit their tithe in the midst of their town or city so that all who had need could eat and be satisfied.

I wondered why God required the tithe and why He required them to eat it in His presence. It seems to me that it is akin to parents who have older children and who purchased a gift for them on their birthday, yet requiring their child to return home so to receive the gift. The request that the child return home is not in an effort to exert control over the child but rather to ensure that the parents might share in their child's joy and excitement over the gift they purchased for them.

I think this is the same for God and for His tithe. God delights to bless His children, yet He instituted the law of the tithe to require them to, at least once a year, journey back to His presence that He might share in their joy over His provision in their lives. The law of tithing is more about enjoying God's blessings in God's presence that it is about paying a bill or giving out of duty. God is more interested in us than our possessions and He wants to ensure that we remember Him in the midst of His many blessing in our lives. The tithe is to teach us to remember the giver as we enjoy the gift. In the third year, the tithe was wholly given to those who lacked and had need. In this, God invites us to experience His joy in blessing us as we bless others. In this way, we get to experience the same joy our Heavenly Father experiences when He sees us rejoice over His provisions for our lives.

Tithing is not about giving but it is about blessing, receiving, and relationship. Understanding this may cause us the rethink tithing in a whole new light.

David Robison

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Meant to be different: Dt 14:1-21

"You are the sons of the Lord your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave your forehead for the sake of the dead. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth." (Deuteronomy 14:1-2)
The USA is one of the few nations that does not allow its citizens to hold dual citizenship. In order to become a citizen, among other requirements, a person must take the "oath of allegiance". By doing so, an applicant for citizenship swears to "support the Constitution and obey the laws of the U.S.; renounce any foreign allegiance and/or foreign title; and bear arms for the Armed Forces of the U.S. or perform services for the government of the U.S. when required." All applicants are required to renounce all prior allegiances and citizenships before they can become US citizens. The same is true in the Kingdom of God. When we become Christians, we leave behind our former lives and all ways in which we identified with our former citizenship in the Kingdom of Darkness. We can no longer live as we used to; we can no longer seek to be like everyone else. We now belong to a new Kingdom; our allegiance is now to a new King and we must now live our lives for His pleasure and not our own.

In reading the following verses, I wondered, "what is so wrong with eating unclean food or meat from animals that died on their own?" After all, the foreigner could and they were not punished by God for doing so. "You shall not eat anything which dies of itself. You may give it to the alien who is in your town, so that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner, for you are a holy people to the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 14:21) However, this is akin to the same argument I used to give my parents, "but everyone else is able to!" The truth is, however, that we are not everyone else's children, we are God's children. It doesn't matter what everyone else is doing, what matters is what God wants us to do. We can no longer base our lives on what others are doing; just because the world is doing it doesn't make it right for us. We must live our lives based on God's plan and desire for us and for our lives. This may mean that we will be different; that we no longer fit in; yet it is only in the world where we don't fit in. We may be different but in God's Kingdom we fit just fine.

David Robison

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Who Told You? Genesis 3

This is a sermon I preached on April 13, 2008 at Heart 2 Heart Ministries in Morgantown WV. This message is from Genesis 3 and looks at how sometimes, when we believe what the Devil has to say about us, we hide from God. This message is about 30 minutes long.

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David Robison

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Being seduced away: Dt 13

"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him." (Deuteronomy 13:1-4)
Our call is to cling to the Lord; to serve Him, love Him, and obey Him. All around us, forces are seeking to seduce us away from our fidelity and devotion to the Lord; to seduce us to serve other Gods and to obey another Gospel, one other than that which Jesus delivered unto us. In this chapter, Moses warns us of three specific seductions.

The seduction of the supernatural

God is a supernatural being but not everything that is supernatural is from God. While we need the supernatural manifestations of God in our lives, we must be careful to seek the Lord and not the supernatural. If we seek the supernatural above the Lord, then we open ourselves up for deception. Jesus explicitly warns of of the deception of those wielding supernatural power. "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance." (Matthew 24:24-25) This is not to say that we should despise all sings and wonders, but rather that they should not be the focus of what we seek. Paul also warns us saying, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" (Galatians 1:8) We live in a time where there is great interest in angels. Certainly the scriptures attest to the reality of angels and other things that are spiritual in nature, but we should never seek these things in place of the Lord. The Lord alone we must seek, love, and serve.

The seduction of relationships
"If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods' (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him." (Deuteronomy 13:6-8)
It is possible to love people more than we love God. Our commitment and devotion to God must rise above our commitment and devotion towards others in our lives. This is what Jesus meant when He said, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:26) In using the term "hate" Jesus is not saying that we should hold an emotion of "hate" towards those dear to us, rather He was emphasizing the comparison of our love for God verses our love for others in terms of degrees. Our love for God should far supersede our love for others such that, when forced to chose, we will chose for God. Even if those we love should chose to walk away from the Lord, we must still chose to walk with Him, even if alone. This is why our choice in relationships is so important and why Paul warns us, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

The seduction of riches

Moses instructs the children of Israel how to deal with those within their own borders that departed from serving the Lord, especially when a whole town or city departs from the Lord to follow after other Gods.
"Then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God; and it shall be a ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt. Nothing from that which is put under the ban shall cling to your hand, in order that the Lord may turn from His burning anger and show mercy to you, and have compassion on you and make you increase, just as He has sworn to your fathers." (Deuteronomy 13:16-17)
The Israelites who remained faithful to the Lord were to be careful not to desire the riches or benefits of those who had departed from the Lord. If we begin to desire the things of the world, we can find ourselves being seduced away by the world and by the things it has to offer. Concerning what the world has to offer, John warns us, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:15-17) This is not to say that God wants us to be poor and destitute during our stay on this Earth, but rather that we should not seek the things of this world. If we should receive from the Lord riches and blessings from this life, then we should enjoy them as gifts from the Lord, but we should never depart from the Lord to seek those things on our own. Paul also warns us about being attached to our worldly possessions saying, "and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away." (1 Corinthians 7:30-31) We must always remember that what this world has to offer pales in comparison to the riches and pleasures that are to be found in the presence of God.

David Robison

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Eating your Tithe: Dt 12:17-18

"You are not allowed to eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or new wine or oil, or the firstborn of your herd or flock, or any of your votive offerings which you vow, or your freewill offerings, or the contribution of your hand. But you shall eat them before the Lord your God in the place which the Lord your God will choose, you and your son and daughter, and your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God in all your undertakings." (Deuteronomy 12:17-18)
I find it very interesting that the tithe was not just to be given but it was to be eaten in the presence of the Lord. Jumping ahead, Moses elaborates on this command.
"You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. "You shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. If the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring the tithe, since the place where the Lord your God chooses to set His name is too far away from you when the Lord your God blesses you, then you shall exchange it for money, and bind the money in your hand and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household." (Deuteronomy 14:22-26)
This command seems so out of character with how tithing and giving are typically taught today. When offerings are taken today, they are usually for the benefit and support of someone else's ministry, mission, or vision. The gifts given are used by others to accomplish God's will and to further His kingdom. However, in Israel, the tithe was to be enjoyed by the giver; enjoyed and eaten in the presence of the Lord. We often hear messages today about the need for sacrifice in given. When our church recently undertook a building campaign, they used the slogan, "Not equal giving but equal sacrifice," yet such sacrifice, i.e. giving "in faith" what we do no have, seems to be to be inconsistent with the teachings of tithing and giving in the Old Testament. It seems to me that perhaps God is wanting to change some of our thinking about tithing and giving. What if, in our giving, we focused on enjoying our tithes and offerings in the presence of God? How might our giving be different? What if we used our tithes and giving in the following ways?
  • Call a feast and ask everyone to use their tithes to buy what every they would like and bring it to Church so that everyone could eat together in the presence of the Lord.
  • Use our tithes and offerings to pay for Christian training and education for us or our children. Maybe a Christian school, Bible school, or some ministry school.
  • Use our tithes and offerings to pay for a short term missions trip for one of our children or even for ourselves.
  • Use our tithes and offerings to help someone in financial need. Perhaps even a parent or grand-parent.
  • Spend our tithes and offerings on a family vacation to reconnect with our family and, together, with God.
These are just a few suggestions, but you get the idea. Tithes and offerings are not meant to be a burden but a blessing. Perhaps we need to start thinking about them in this light.

David Robison

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Worship and the Presence of God: Dt: 12:10-14

"When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security, then it shall come about that the place in which the Lord your God will choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the Lord. And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion or inheritance with you. Be careful that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every cultic place you see, but in the place which the Lord chooses in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you." (Deuteronomy 12:10-14)
Worship is to be preformed in the presence of God. What made every other place of worship different from the place God chose to be worshiped was His presence. There were many "high places" where Israel could have offered their offerings to God, but there was only one place where His presence, His tangible, manifest, and visible presence, abided. There and there alone were they to worship and offer their sacrifices. The same is true for us today. When we worship, we should do it in the presence of God. The psalmist exhorts us saying, "O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms." (Psalm 95:1-2) When we worship, we should do so "before His presence."

It is true that God is omnipresent, but there are also times when He is more present then at other times. For example, consider the promise made to us by our Lord Himself. "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." (Matthew 18:20) Its not that He wasn't there previously, but when we gather together in His name, He is amongst us in a special way.

I have come to see that it is possible to worship apart from the presence of God. Even in some of the churches I have been apart of, there have been times when we went through worship as merely going through the motions. It was as Isaiah said of the children of Israel, "this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote." (Isaiah 29:13) Our services had the patterns of worship but what was lacking was the presence of the one we were worshiping. We had become so comfortable and familiar with our times of "worship" that we became like those to whom Jeremiah prophesied, "The priests did not say, 'Where is the Lord?' and those who handle the law did not know Me." (Jeremiah 2:8) Yet the truth is that, if God is not present when we worship, then we might as well all go home.

I think it is time that we ask ourselves, "Where is the Lord?" If we don't know, or if He has become distant, than perhaps it is time to seek the Lord afresh.

David Robison

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Severing the ties: Dt 12:2-4

"You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. You shall not act like this toward the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 12:2-4)
We are not to make peace with the enemies of our souls. There can be no detente with sin, sin must be defeated, and sin must be eradicated from our lives. We must never be casual towards the ungodly and sinful ways that still remain in our lives. We must be radical, we must be severe, and we must be determined to purify our lives by the grace of God. Here are some practical examples from the scriptures of how we can apply this passage to our lives today.
"Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver." (Acts 19:18-19)
Make a break with your past. This could include previous habits, patterns, relationships, or beliefs. It is clear that we cannot live in the Kingdom of God according to the ways which we learned while living in the world. Sometimes our past can limit our future. We must be willing to make a clean break with our past and to fully embrace the new life we have in Christ.
"If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell." (Matthew 18:8-9)
Remove the stumbling stones. Each of us have areas of weakness, areas where we susceptible to stumbling. The key to avoiding sin is to identify those areas and to take action to remove the stones over which we too often stumble. For example, if you struggle with lust, then you may want to cancel your subscription to the swim suit edition of Sports Illustrated. If you struggle with drinking, then you may have to stop partying and hanging around with your old drinking buddies. If you and your girlfriend continually fall into "sin" then you may have to break off your relationship with her. The truth is, it is better to deprive ourselves of certain "pleasures" or "activities" than to continue to live a life of sin.
"for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Romans 8:13)
It is not enough to be saved, but Jesus has saved us for sanctification. As we grow in Christ, we should grow to become more like Christ and less like our old selfs. We are saved "just as I am" but we are not to remain "just as I am". God wants us to grow in righteousness and godliness, and this means putting to death our old ways; being willing to look at our lives and change our behaviors, to set aside old ways and to adopt new ways, godly ways.

When we were saved, we were born again, literally, we had a new beginning, a new genesis. This new life requires new ways of living. If we are to be fruitful in our new lives then we must be willing to lay aside and put to death our old life. We must be radical in our commitment to change, sanctification, and growing in Christlikeness, for it is for this that we were called.

David Robison

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Expecting unbelievers to act like believers: Dt 12:1

"These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth." (Deuteronomy 12:1)
It is important to remember that many of the laws which the children of Israel received from God while they sojourned in the wilderness did not take affect until the actually entered the Promised Land. In fact, for some of the laws, it was impossible for them to keep them prior to their crossing of the Jordan river. Prior to entering the land, they were taught the laws of God, but after entering the land, they were expected to obey those laws.

This scripture reminds me of how, as Christians, we sometimes expect unbelievers to act like believers, and when they don't, we are quick to judge them as law breakers. The truth is, however, that as unbelievers, it is impossible for them to obey God and to keep His laws. They are as those whom Paul describes saying, "the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romams 8:7-8) He goes on further to say that it is only after coming to Christ that we are truly free to live a godly life.
"But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness... For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness... But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life." (Romans 6:17-18, 20, 22)
We should expect believers to act like believers and unbeliever as unbelievers. When an unbeliever willfully continues in their sin, we should not be surprised, they are simply acting according to their nature; they are showing that they are slaves to sin. Nor should we require unbelievers to first put away their sin before coming to Jesus, for their sin uniquely qualifies them for salvation in Jesus because, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15) We must always remember that Jesus did not come to reform us back to the law, but rather to reconcile us back to God. Only after having been reconciled to the Father can we find the grace and power to live like believers. This is the true Gospel message.

David Robison

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Obedience, the Key to Success: Dt 11:22-25

"For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your border will be from the wilderness to Lebanon, and from the river, the river Euphrates, as far as the western sea. No man will be able to stand before you; the Lord your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you." (Deuteronomy 11:22-25)
The children of Israel would soon be entering the Promised Land. They would be inheriting a land previously owned by others but that was now being given to them by God. The previous owners had forfeited their claim to the land because of the magnitude and accumulation of their sins. Israel had spent four generations in Egypt waiting for "the iniquity of the Amorite" to be complete (Genesis 15:16), but now was their turn to enter in and possess the land.

The land was to be theirs, but what would be their history in the land? Would they increase and prosper, or would they decline? Their entry into the land was based upon God's promise, but their longevity and prosperity in the land was conditional upon their obedience. God reminded Joshua that success was the result of obedience.
"Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success." (Joshua 1:7-8)
The same can be said for our Christian walk. We come into the Kingdom of God purely by the grace of God and not by own own works or righteousness. "Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works , but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity." (2 Timothy 1:9) We all enter the Kingdom of God the same way, but not everyone will be equally fruitful in their kingdom walk. Paul tells us of those who would build upon the foundation of Christ in their lives with wood, hay, and stubble. "If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:15) Our fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God is determined by our obedience, not an obedience to an external law, but an obedience to the Spirit of God.
"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?" (Romans 6:16)
To our faith, let us add obedience. We should obey, not to appease God and to grant us access into the Kingdom of God, but out of gratitude that, through Jesus Christ, we have already been born again into God's kingdom. Therefore, with thanksgiving, let us obey God.

David Robison

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My grandfather's passing: his work

My grandfather worked on the railroad. The railroad is more than a job, it's a way of life. Recently, he recorded an account of a day he spent on the railroad. So, here he is, in his own words...

My longest work day

June 2, 1939 I was working at the S&C Hoe factory when I got a call from the Santa Fe Railway asking if I would go to the Arizona Division and work. They needed experienced men. Of course I would! The railroad payed $5.75 a day and the Hoe factory, $2 dollars a day. I had to go to Needles a day. The next train for Needles was arriving at 10 AM and I went to the office to check in. Although I was there and available, they couldn't use me as a fireman because I had been off more than six months and had to write the Book of Rules before I could work. OK, and I started, but it takes me three days to write the Book, so I wrote until 5 PM when the office closed till Monday morning. It looked like it will be a long weekend for me.

I went to bed about 9 PM and at 1 AM Saturday morning, I got a call for an engine messenger job at 2 AM. Just time enough to get dressed, get something to eat, and get to the round house to get on the engine that will take the train. An engine messenger rides on a dead engine in a train so whenever the engineer sets the brakes on the train, the engine messenger can keep the brakes off the dead engine. The reason is that all engines have tires on the drivers and, if the tires get too hot, they will come off the wheels and derail the engine. Why a dead engine in the train? They had worked on it at Needles but found the job too big for a round house and needed to get to a shop. The nearest shop was at San Bernardino. All the side rods were off the drivers so the engine could not be moved faster than fifteen miles an hour. We were all coupled up and ready to go by 3 AM. At that time, all train crews were limited to sixteen hours a trip, so the crew out of Needles had to set the dead engine out of the train at Ludlow and make a dash for Barstow.

Engine messengers are not covered by the Book of Rules so are limited by the sixteen hour law and I had to stay with the dead engine until we got to Barstow. The next train going to Barstow picked up the dead engine and we arrived at 10:05 PM, twenty hours and five minutes on duty when I clocked in. and was told to goto the Depot. They were holding a train for me as I was needed in Needles. Since I had made a paid trip on the Santa Fe, I was on their roster and could be used in any service as a fireman. I got on the train and dead headed back to Needles where I was already cleared for a helper to Yampi, Arizona. I got back at 7:30 PM Sunday night, forty hours and thirty minutes on pay.

After a nights sleep I was at the office door at 8 AM to see what was next and I was handed my Book of Rules and told to get on the next freight train going to Bakersfield as I was needed in Bakersfield arriving at 8 PM. I handed in my Book and was assigned to a 11 PM switch job. After about six hours sleep I went to the office to find out when I could write my Book. They said 8 AM to 5 PM five days a week, but I also need to write the Southern Pacific Book of Rules as Santa Fe used some Southern Pacific tracks over Tahachapi Mountains. I wrote both Books and worked until June 25th when I was called back to Los Angeles.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

My grandfather's passing: an inheritance

My nephew has posted a great tribute to my grandfather (his great grandfather) expressing the spiritual inheritance that he received from him. You can read his post here.

David Robison

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

My grandfather's passing

Last Wednesday, February 13th, my grandfather passed away. He was 93 years old and had served the Lord for 84 years. A few years ago, my grandmother passed away (you can read my blog posts here). He is now in heaven with her and his Lord and is now receiving the reward for a life well lived. A few months ago, grandpa committed to paper a few stories from his life, one about how he came to know the Lord. I hope his story will be a blessing to my fellow readers. So, here is his story in his own words...

How I met the Lord

I think I should introduce you to my family so you can see my need of help. My parents were married in 1900. My dad was 35 and mom 25. My dad in his growing up years went to school through 4th Reader [what ever that means], and helped on the farm and supplied the wood stoves with plenty of copped wood. However, in his chopping, when he came to a knot in the wood he would chop it out and throw it into his wood pile. It seem that at some time he moved out of the house and was sleeping in a three sided building detached from the house with a fire pit at the open end. He could be inside and the smoke would go outside, and he could read and study by the light of the fire as he had a desire for more schooling and he took courses by mail. Between this time in his life and married life, he seemed to be a free spirit as I had a railroad rule book of his from Leadville Colorado.

My mom never went to school a day in her life and could not read or write when she got married. Dad taught her after they were married. Mom did not need to be educated. She would get married, have children, and keep house for some lucky man. She stayed home and chopped cotton.

My parents had seven children very well spaced, two to two and a half years apart. I'm number six, and am told, a slow child, not walking till I was almost three. I don't remember any books in the house but the Bible, a doctor's book, and two or three books against Catholicisms. Mom and dad read the Bible every day and on Sunday I was sent to the hotel [the only place open] to get the Sunday Examiner. They read the paper and I read the funnies and the "scandal" section. To my knowledge, I was never taught anything by my parents, they never went to church or talked church. One time my mother took me with her to a night Spirit meeting.

Enough family, how I met the Lord. A summer day during brake at school, I was lying on my back on the lawn at 984 Second Street in San Bernardino when a stairway formed in the sky. I could see figures moving up and down the stairway. I was nine years old and I wondered what it was all about. I knew enough about churches to know they dealt with a man who lived in the sky so I started checking them out. There was a church on H Street about two blocks from us that has Sunday School at 9 AM and church at 10 AM and I could come. It took a couple of weeks before I talked to mom about going and taking Oleva, my younger sister, with me. We liked it and went back for a year until we moved.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

The Word and the whole person: Dt 11:18-21

"You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth." (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)
Reading these verses, I began to wonder what was the difference between impressing God's word on our heart and on our soul? In several places through out the scripture, God speaks of various parts, or facets, of who we are. For example, listen to the scripture Jesus quoted in the Gospel of Mark. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30) Jesus' mention of the heart, soul, mind, and strength are consistent with this scripture from Deuteronomy when you consider the imagery of "a sign on your hand" (strength) and "as frontals on your forehead" (mind).

Many people have endeavored to categorize the various aspect of the human person and to assign them to divisions of who we are, typically: body, soul, and spirit. While such distinctions may be useful as aids to understand some scriptures and our relationship to them, I am becoming to believe that, from God's perspective, we are not divided people (body, soul, and spirit) but rather whole people who are both body, soul, and spirit. For example, I am a son, a father, and a brother. These are three distinct aspects of who I am. However, you cannot separate any one of them from the others. At all times, I am all three, yet I am one person.

I think care must be taken not to take such imagery from the scriptures and extend them to doctrines that embody distinctions not intended by the scriptures. For example, doctrines that would seek to assign emotions as operating in the realm of the soul, or perhapses to the flesh. Emotions are part of the whole person, they are part of who we are: body, soul, and spirit. I believe that these scriptures do not intend to provide distinct divisions in who we are but rather are meant to convey the totality by which we must love, server, and obey the Lord God.

In the mentioned scripture from Deuteronomy, I believe that what Moses is trying to convey is our total need for the word of God. The word of God must be appropriated and integrated into all of who we are. Every aspect of our lives should, and must, be affected and influenced by God's word. Jesus concurred when He quoted from Deuteronomy, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4) God's word should form the basis of all that we are and all that we do. It should be central to our lives and our relationships. It is the word of God that gives us life and separates us from the world and, lest we forget, it is the word of God that also saves us.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. And the Word became flesh , and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1-2, 14)
David Robison

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A new kind of land: Dt 11:10-12

"For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year." (Deuteronomy 11:10-12)
I believe that this verse prophetically foretold about the difference between a life lived under the law and living under grace. Moses was reminding the people that the land they were about to possess was not like the land they left some forty years earlier. Their former land only brought forth its provisions by the sweat of their brow. They had to work the land for all they were to receive. If they did not work, they did not eat. Day by day they labored to provide for their daily needs. The promised land, however, was a place where God labored for them. They were going to inherit houses, farms, and vineyards which they neither built nor planted. It was a land that God Himself cared for and tended. The blessings of the land were to be theirs, not based upon their own labors, but based upon the riches and grace of the Lord. They were about to receive an abundance for which they had not worked for.

The same contrast can be drawn between a life under the law and a life of grace. John tells us that Moses brought forth God's laws but Jesus His grace. "For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) The law taught us that, if we would do all that was contained with in it, we would live by it. The blessings of the law were reserved for those who, by careful observance, faithfully kept all the law. Only by fulfilling the entire law could someone be reckoned righteous before God. Grace, however, reckons us righteous, not because of our own efforts or works, but because of Jesus' efforts and His death on a cross. Under grace, righteousness is given to those who do not work but rather believe. "Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work , but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness." (Romans 4:4-5)

When we become a Christian, we move from the kingdom of law to the kingdom of grace. Our righteousness cease to be based upon our own works and is now imputed to us by Christ, based upon His substitutionary death for our sins. We are received as sons, not because we have proved ourselves as worthy bur rather because He has declared us to be worthy. And we enter into a rest, a rest from our own labors, a rest purchased for us by God. "So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest , so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience." (Hebrews 4:9-11) Thanks be to God for His sabath rest.

David Robison

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Loving God: Dt 10:15-18

"Yet on your fathers did the Lord set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer. For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing." (Deuteronomy 10:15-18)
How does one earn the favor and love of God? He can't! The love of God is not earned, it's bestowed. God loved the people of Israel, not because of their righteousness, for they were a rebellious and idolatrous people, not because of their stature and social status, for they were poor shepherds sold into slavery, but He loved then because he desired to. They did not earn His love, rather He chose them for His love.

So it is for us today, we receive His love, not because we are worthy, but because we are chosen; chosen to be the recipients of His matchless love. "I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." (John 17:23) As the Father loves the Son, so He has loved us, not because of anything we have done, but simply because He has chosen to love us. It is His desire to lavish His love upon us, and not only us, but His love extends to all. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16) God did not love just some, but all, even the whole world. The love of God is not reserved for a select few but is available to all who will receive it. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13)

How does one response to such an unmerited love? "You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen." (Deuteronomy 10:20-21) The word that Moses uses to exhort us to "cling" to the Lord is the same word that is used in Genesis 2:24 where God instructs husbands to "leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." We are to join ourselves
to the Lord as a husband joins himself to his wife. We are to cling to Him and Him alone. Just as a husband cannot cleave to his wife without first separating himself from all other rivals, so we must separate ourselves from this world and all that it has to offer that we may cling fast to the Lord. Let us today chose, as our response to His boundless love for us, to leave behind the world and cling to the Lord.

David Robison

Friday, January 11, 2008

God Requires: Dt 10:12-13

"Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord's commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)
In the prophesy of Hosea, God spoke of the "ten thousand precepts of My law." (Hosea 8:12) While God spoke much with the nation of Israel, and laid out for them, in detail, His laws, statutes, and commandments, when you boil them all down, the requirements of God are quite simple. It is possible to focus so intently on the myriad of commandments that we can miss the heart of God that stands behind those commandments. So what is it that God really requires of us? What is it that God desires from us?

Fear: There are two kinds of fear. The first involves terror. For example, there have been times when I have woken up in the middle of the night thinking someone is in the house; this is terror. However, this is not the type of fear God is talking about. The second type of fear is centered in awe. It is not irrational or based on terror, but it is a heath respect and awe for the power of someone or something. For example, when working on an electrical outlet in my house, I am always sure to first turn off the breaker. Its not that I'm terrified of electricity, but I do have a healthy respect for it and the harm it can do if it is mistreated. When I approach God, I do so in an attitude of reverence, honesty, and humility. I am not terrified of Him, but I am keenly aware of the fact that He is God and I am not! He is the Father and I am the child! We should never presume that God is like us, even though he dwells with us, He is still God and we should never become irreverent, presumptuous, or indifferent in His presence.

Walk: Our walk not only speaks about our personal conduct but also our life message. Our walk is the outward expression of our inward faith, motivation, love, and conviction. God's desire is not that we would merely become like Him on the inside, but that the outward expressions of our life would also represent and express Him. It was said of Jesus that He is "the radiance of His [the Father's] glory and the exact representation of His [the Father's] nature." (Hebrews 1:3) Jesus' life expressed God, and so should ours. God is interested in our walk, that is why Paul exhorts us to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called." (Ephesians 4:1)

Love: The Hebrew term used here for "love" is not an abstract form of love or mere devotion to an idea or person, but the word used in this passage literally means "affections". God desires that we would have hearts of affection toward Him, that we would desire Him more than the things in this world, more than other people, and even more than our very lives. When we first come to the Lord, we may still find that most of our affections are still attached to this world. So how do we develop hearts of affection towards God? Jesus told us that "no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'" (Luke 5:39 NKJV) New wine is an acquired taste. The way to develop a desire for new wine is to continually taste it until we have lost a taste for the old wine and end up preferring the new. The way we develop a heart for the Lord is to continually enter into His presence until we find ourselves preferring Him over anything and everything this world has to offer.

Serve: God does not desire a service that comes from compulsion and forced duty, rather He desires a service that comes from the heart. Nether is our service to be half hearted, meant to merely fulfill some requirement or to please the expectations of men, rather our service should be with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. With God, it is an all or nothing proposition; we are either in or out, there is no half way. Jesus wrote to the church at Laodicea, chastising them saying, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16) Let our lives, and our service, not be cold or even lukewarm, let us be passionately hot for the Lord.

Obey: Jesus, confronting the religious people of the day, asked them, "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46) Jesus reminded them that what we say is not as important as what we do. We can call Him "Lord" but it is our actions that will betray the truth. God has not only called us to His gospel, but He has also called us to obedience. Paul understood that, as an apostle, his mission was not merely to call people to belief, but also to obedience. Paul says of himself, "we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake." (Romans 1:5) We are called to obey, everything else is lawlessness. We can claim to be followers of Christ, but if we fail to obey Him, them we are just deceiving ourselves. We must never forget the exhortation of James, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (James 1:22 NKJV)

David Robison

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Temptation of Promotion: Dt 9:12-14

"Then the Lord said to me, 'Arise, go down from here quickly, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made a molten image for themselves.' The Lord spoke further to me, saying, 'I have seen this people, and indeed, it is a stubborn people. Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.'" (Deuteronomy 9:12-14)
What an offer! Moses was being offered the chance to go from the shepherd of the people to become the patriarch of a new nation that would inherit the Promised Land. It is not uncommon to have aspirations for greatness or to desire promotion. Even in Christian circles, it can be tempting to strive to clime the "ministry ladder", to push forward for recognition and promotion. Moses was being offered more than he could have ever imagined, to be the head of God's people. So how did Moses respond?
"I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you had committed in doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke Him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the LORD was wrathful against you in order to destroy you, but the Lord listened to me that time also." (Deuteronomy 9:18-19)
And again, when the children of Israel failed to obey God's command to enter the Promised Land, and God was set to destroy them, Moses again interceded,
"I prayed to the Lord and said, 'O Lord God, do not destroy Your people, even Your inheritance, whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not look at the stubbornness of this people or at their wickedness or their sin. Otherwise the land from which You brought us may say, "Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which He had promised them and because He hated them He has brought them out to slay them in the wilderness." Yet they are Your people, even Your inheritance, whom You have brought out by Your great power and Your outstretched arm.'" (Deuteronomy 9:26-29)
When Moses was offered the opportunity for promotion, he chose rather to remain in his current condition; to be a servant of the people, to be their shepherd. Moses accepted his limitations and calling and was content with the role God had assigned to him. He did need a promotion to "feel" successful or important. He was God's servant, and in being a faithful servant, he was important to God, and that was all that mattered.

It is easy to look at others and desire to be like them; to be prominent, noticed, and prised, but true success and satisfaction is found when we come to understand and accept God's will for our own lives. When we cease to strive and desire to be like someone else and rejoice in who God has made us, then we will be truly happy. Being who we are meant to be is of greater value than being someone important. Moses understood this. He understood the role God had called him to and he was content in that. Let us not look at others and judge ourselves, rather, let us be thankful for who God has made us and let us set our aim to be all of who we are called to be to the glory of God.

David Robison

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

We are no different then them: Dt 9:4-6

"Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, 'Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,' but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people." (Deuteronomy 9:4-6)
Several years ago, while living in Las Vegas, I lead a weekly Bible study at our local jail. As you can imagine, the jail at Las Vegas is an interesting place. While leading the study I met a young man who shared his story with me. He was a Christian but began to drift away from the Lord. He began drinking and his life began to snowballed out of control. Finally, one night while drunk, he molesting his daughter and was arrested. In one night he lost his family and his freedom. What struck me most from his story was that the the entire journey of his fall took only six months; six months from starting to drink to laying in a jail. As I listened to his story, the one thought that kept running through my mind was, "there but for the grace of God go I." It reminded me of what Paul cautioned the Corinthians, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." (1 Corintheans 10:12)

In this scripture from Deuteronomy, Moses was warning the Israelites not to think too highly of themselves. It is so easy to interpret the blessings and victories in God as being rewards and evidence of our righteousness before God. However, these things are not evidence of our righteousness but rather they testify to the righteousness of God. We must not allow our position in God to cause us to think that we are better than others; better than the lost and dying of this world. The truth is that God loves us, not because we are righteous, but because we are His. "He came to His own , and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:11-12)

We are no different than those in the world. We are stiff necked sinners who have been saved by grace; a salvation not of our own but of Him who died for our sins. In this there is great news for the world, "If God can save me, he can save anyone." God loves us, not because of what we have done, but because of who we are. "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life." (1 Tim 1:15-16)

David Robison