God is our inheritance

 So that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints – Ephesians 1:18

When you think about the tribe of Levi receiving no inheritance except God – my first thought was wow – no place to call home.  Then you realize that home is where your heart is and what an honour to live and serve God wherever He has called you to be.  Imagine the hope this honour inspired in their hearts and strengthen their abilities to give.

But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel is their inheritance, as he said to them. – Joshua 13:33

All Sons & Daughters – This My Inheritance

Leaving nothing undone

When we think of Joshua and some of the horrific battles he had to lead, you wonder how the land could ever rest from war.  We know for sure that it did not rest because peace was made with their neighbours, that was not allowed, so then it had to be a peace from them.  As much as those battles were terrible in of themselves, what a comparison to those who follow Jesus and the rest He promises from war once the warfare is completed. When we take God’s Word and how He works we can see His intent – the work and the promise.  As followers of Jesus we can never put off our armour because we cannot expect peace until the day we leave this earth.  In fact, as our strength and our usefulness increases, in ratio, we can expect more difficult trials.  This is true, but no worries, for the seasoned, mature follower understands that whatever battle is before us, we have already been prepared for it by the Lord.  Jesus stands to intercede on our behalf and between Him and ourselves, we will not fail regardless of the assault Satan wishes to launch at our direction. Our spiritual warfare reveals our patience in all of that because we are encouraged by the joy we have in our hope – rest from sin, sorrow,  pain, suffering and war – when we spend eternity with Jesus.

As the Lord had commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so           Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.              Joshua 11:15

Fear God and do what is right

Peter proclaiming to the house of Cornelius the good news is a truth right from heart of God with equity and love, sweeping away all the narrow-mindedness which, in this case, was the hope of salvation found in being circumcised or in the theology of the Rabbis.  For ourselves, we too may be wrapped up in the theology of our favourite theologian or in our faith’s dogmatism too.  What Peter preached was similar to the words Paul used in Romans —

 Because[a] if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. – Romans 10:9-10

We will only taste the full meaning of salvation when we call on the Lord by whom we shall be saved.

Believing in the name of Jesus does not refer to a general, vague sort of belief. Rather, it is specific and personal. To believe in Jesus means that I believe He is the Lord who gave Himself on the cross for my sins. I believe the promise of God, that whoever believes on Him receives eternal life as God’s gift, not based on any human merit, but only on God’s free grace. To believe in Jesus means that I no longer rely on anything in myself to commend myself to God. Rather, I trust only in what Jesus did on the cross as my hope for forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

When Jesus Christ arrived, He destroyed the effects of evil everywhere He went. He did this openly, before witnesses, where everyone could see. He came to a world that was lost and despairing, without hope. Everywhere He went He set people free and brought again to human hearts the hope that there is a way out of the desperate bondage of fallen humanity. 

 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality,  but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.  You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.  That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree;  but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear,  not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.  All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” – Acts 10:34-43

Do not fear

The story of Joshua’s attack on the city of Ai has elements of loss and victory, laying out very well the cost of the curse and the blessing.  It reminds me of the blessing and productivity that can come into and through my life when I deal with sin and confess it.

It is through the cleansing blood of Jesus that God daily offers me the assurance that I never need to fear the Day of Judgment.  Because of Jesus, God forgives me, heals me and gives me hope that is eternal. It is the name of Jesus that brings the presence of God and the blessing of protection in my heart and home – driving out all fear.

 

That is what I need – the Lord giving hope, comfort and encouragement – even before giving commands of action.  For the Lord always equips us to obey and takes away the crippling fear and discouragement as we start each day.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed; take all the fighting men with you, and go up now to Ai. See, I have handed over to you the king of Ai with his people, his city, and his land.  You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king; only its spoil and its livestock you may take as booty for yourselves. Set an ambush against the city, behind it.” – Joshua 8:1-2

Do Not Fear to Hope – a video reflection

Turn to the Lord

 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth,[a] called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands—  remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.  He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace,  and might reconcile both groups to God in one body[b] through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.[c]  So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near;  for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,  built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.[d]  In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord;  in whom you also are built together spiritually[e] into a dwelling place for God. – Ephesians 2:11-22

Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda.  There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed.  Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!” And immediately he got up. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. – Acts 9:32-35

Turn to Jesus – Hermann Kim

Instrument of choice

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,[a] of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again,  as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our[b] behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. – 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

These words penned by a man who used to seek and destroy the early church.  In one glorious moment, Jesus appeared and called Saul to follow Him.  To that call he responded and turned from Saul to Paul – to be an instrument for God to use to bring the gospel to the world.

A chosen instrument with a chosen purpose.

If Paul was the chief of all sinners for what he had done before Christ changed his life and that he owes all to the grace of God – we have a great hope for us all!  For those of us who think we have no value, are broken and are old, in our Father’s hand He can make us new.

 

Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”  The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying,  and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”  But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem;  and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.”  But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel;  I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”  So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized – Acts 9:10-18

Go

From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia[a]
    my suppliants, my scattered ones,
    shall bring my offering. – Zephaniah 3:10

Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say,
    “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and do not let the eunuch say,
    “I am just a dry tree.”
 For thus says the Lord:
To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
    who choose the things that please me
    and hold fast my covenant,
 I will give, in my house and within my walls,
    a monument and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
    that shall not be cut off.

 And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
    to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it,
    and hold fast my covenant— Isaiah 56:3-6

 

The story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is a powerful one.  When I read it again I saw two sets of hope – Philip knew an adventure was coming when God asked him to go along a wilderness road and the eunuch made a long trip in hopes of finding more of God.  Then I found the third and fourth hope, but I guess they count as one since the Holy Spirit inspired both Zephaniah and Isaiah.  

The Holy Spirit was still trying to woo the Ethiopian as we saw his thirst in still reading the scroll of Isaiah.  Here in the Old Testament, the revelation of Jesus as the sacrificed lamb was powerful enough to save.

But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you – 1 Peter 3:15

When we think about opportunities to share the gospel, we can trust the Holy Spirit to already have gone ahead of us to prepare the heart that needs to hear.  If you care about those who will be eternally separated from God, if you suspect and hope that you are a link in the many influences of a person becoming a follower of Christ and even if you are a bit nervous about pushing Jesus – sharing your faith is still something you want to do even if it is rather intimidating – it is your turn to trust Him – He will lead the way, you only need to follow and serve.

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. – Acts 8:26-27

Go – Hillsong United

Who is like you

One has to love the blessings that Moses gives to each tribe found in Deuteronomy 33.  If you have not compared them to the blessing that Jacob gave in Genesis 49, take a look.

We can look at these promises in light of spiritual values and understand the directions given to love God with all our hearts, to serve Him with the righteousness and holiness that He imparts to us and to not be afraid for the rest of our lives.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

In his blessings, Moses offers us hope in that we can have power over false gods and Satan’s stronghold – those things that have a hold on us.  Faith and God’s Word – our shield and our sword.

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. – John 14:23

The blessings given to Zebulon intrigue me the most as their blessings came down to their dwellings.  Trying to look at the spiritual significance of this blessing I am reminded that our own bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we are encouraged to invite Him into our lives with His presence.  Buildings are only shells or if you will, tools.  We worship the Builder and not the building so our love is God and we keep His commandments.  I think about Jesus standing at the door of my heart too, knocking, and if I open it, He will come in.  It is this hope that invites me to practice the presence of God and to walk my life with Christ. 

Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you; and you shall tread upon their high places. – Deuteronomy 33:29

Laura Story – Who is like our God

My Redeemer lives

Amazing to find the Trinity here in Job.  The Holy Spirit has moved on the mind of Job and he as declared a good confession, soundness of his faith and assurance of his hope.  Somehow he knows that Jesus is his Redeemer and that his end hope is not in this world but in heaven. Somehow he knows that he is supposed to look for the resurrection and that his Redeemer would free him from the condemnation of sin and break the power and yoke of Satan.  His Redeemer was his salvation. This truth, this Holy Spirit quickening must be the root, as in a tree, in our heart too.  For this acceptance of grace in our heart will give us both the security and strength in our foundation as well as produce spiritual fruit in our lives as we live them today. Here he introduces God as his comfort and that God will avenge those who accuse him.

I can still remember the moment when I learned that love was a decision.  I am faced with a similar truth here too.  I am impressed with Job’s certainty.  This was a hope that he knew, and so in some way this was more than a hope but hope sprung from the truth that he declared about his Redeemer.

Other scholars are confident that Job anticipates the future resurrection of his body. Gleason Archer believes this passage “strongly suggests an awareness of the bodily resurrection that awaits all redeemed believers in the Resurrection” (1982, 241). Kaiser asserts: “Job was expecting a resurrection of his body! It was this which lay at the heart of his hope in God and in his vindication” (1988, 151). Andersen observes that: “The references to skin, flesh and eyes make it clear that Job expects to have this experience as a man, not just as a disembodied shade, or in his mind’s eye” (1974, 193).

In any case Job’s hope is in his present life, and in his vindication before God and man. This is not a messianic prophecy or expression of a messianic hope.

Job seems to perceive that the Redeemer who will advocate his case before God is none other than God Himself. It is hard to make sense of that except by the way we Christians know with God the Son as Redeemer standing before God the Holy Father as Judge. Job somehow—I suggest by the Holy Spirit—knows that his Redeemer lives and will advocate on his behalf, and that Job himself will see it in renewed flesh. That gives him hope—not mere wishful thinking but well-founded conviction, a knowing—of eventual vindication in eternal life.

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;  and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God – Job 19:25-26

Aria(soprano): I know that my Redeemer liveth

Choose life

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water[a] of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.  This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:4-7

 

What is it that we are all here to do? They were here, as Browning would tell them, to make a choice. Their life’s value would be judged by the choice they made. A moral choice and a moral judgment—that was what they must, at their peril, to their cost, have made before they died. ‘I have set before you this day good and evil, life and death; therefore choose life.’ That was the cardinal secret, the challenge that was to ring in their ears day and night in every variety of experience and circumstance and condition, in hope and in fear, in sorrow and in joy, in confidence and in doubt, in darkness and light, at whatever social level their lot was cast, under whatever limitations life and death were set before them, and they were to choose one or the other; and each such choice determined their bent, and each such determination built up their character, and by that character, so formed, they were judged. Character—that was the key-word needed. They were looking round anxiously in London for men of character. But character belonged to the man who had gained a steady bent towards the right, and who had made his choice, who had committed himself on the side of a sound life, who could be counted on to be straight and true and pure. There was something in the man on which they could rely. His will always made in one way, and nothing could turn it aside, and that was the way of justice, and righteousness, and conscience. – Canon Scott Holland

As we follow Jesus, we are not choosing a life that by-passes the law or negates the need for boundaries, but we are looking for trust and love and hope in all of our actions.  A lot depends on why we seek to live a good life, to be responsible and to have principles – essentially determining why we want to live.  If by fear, then we play safe.  If to exclude and condemn, then others are right and others are wrong – welcome to structure turning life into a prison.  If out of trust in God, then we love how He purposed our lives to be – a world of caring for one another and having hope for the future no matter what life throws at us – in other words, real life.  If our life is lived in any matter resembling that of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is making our life real and that discovery is what makes real life, the only life worth living.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. – Deuteronomy 30:19-20