Lone Ranger or Partners together?

Am I a lone ranger? Or someone who wants people by my side? Well it seems God wants us to stand strong, to be faithful where he enables us and he also wants us to work with others, to have a partner…

The stories from Judges are filled with accounts of heroism and daring, of deceit and faith.As we get to chapter 4 and verse 8 we meet Deborah, a prophet, who has just told Barak that God will help him to defeat the enemy. So what is Barak’s response? Does he doubt the words of Deborah? Does he ignore them and say he will win without the Lord’s help? No – he simply says to Deborah, “I’m not going unless you go!” Judges 4:8

Is this weakness? Yes I know God will help me but it would be good to have you with me…

Is this wisdom? Yes, God has promised we will win, I want you to be here to keep giving me words of wisdom, I can’t do this without you, we are all a part of God’s army, let’s stay together…

Is this sensible? Two leaders – a leader of troops (tactics) and a spiritual leader (inspiration) together are powerful…

Is this good for Deborah? Without this she could have got too comfortable sitting under her tree giving wisdom…

It is interesting that the response from God is not to take away the victory from Barak – but it was going to be a woman who struck the final blow on the enemy king – she would get the honour. Perhaps this seems to suggest that God had wanted Barak to stand up and do what was right – on his own, having heard the words from Deborah, he needed faith and commitment…

If you want to know how a woman wins the battle… all I can say is that it involves a tent peg, a hammer and a hole in the head!

And remember, even the Lone Ranger had a side-kick.

lone-ranger

So when does God want you to stand alone, to be strong and decisive?

And when is he asking you to work with others?

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Stop and put a marker in the sand

Joshua becomes leader, he is told to be brave, a prostitute helps spies escape from Jericho,  the people march to the Jordan river, it doesn’t stop flowing until their feet touch the water, they walk across on dry land, they walk round the walls and Jericho is theirs… an action packed first 6 chapters in Joshua…

But it doesn’t quite happen like that, after they walk through the river, the people stop to record, to commemorate, to remember God’s great blessings… this helped the people to reflect.

stones

The men followed the instructions that the LORD had given Joshua. They picked up twelve rocks, one for each tribe, and carried them to the camp, where they put them down. Joshua 4:8

Here the stones serve as both “sign” and “memorial”. They authenticate that the past event actually happened and remind Israel of its continuing significance for later generations. But the stones bear no inscription. Instead, the simple mound will cause curious Israelite children to ask in the future, “What do these stones mean?”

What could you make, write, create, wear that reminds you of God’s blessing and encourages others to ask you good questions? Shoes with wings? An origami tissue? A stone with holes…?

rock

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Fair, wise, close

law 2
law 4law 5Strange laws are always good for a giggle and a huh! Of course there are many strange laws in the Bible, ones written for a particular time for God’s people. We could highlight the difficulties of some of these or we could allow Jesus to summarise them for us – “Love God, love others” – and if we do that we will show others how ‘wise’ we are. (Wise means being having the best, its about value and importance – its not about mas
sive knowledge).
Read Deut 4:8 – which seems to be difficult to show on its own, so we need to look at verses 5-8…

law 3

Deuteronomy 4:5-8  No other nation has laws that are as fair as the ones the Lord my God told me to give you. If you faithfully obey them when you enter the land, you will show other nations how wise you are. In fact, everyone that hears about your laws will say, “That great nation certainly is wise!” And what makes us greater than other nations? We have a God who is close to us and answers our prayers.

And what makes us even greater?

A God who is close and answers prayers… isn’t that amazing – God is amazing and awesome, AND he is close and wanting to hear you pray.

law 1

 

So instead of sleeping on fridges, or upsetting monarchs, or tickling women – why not spend a bit of time each time speaking to God?

law 6

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Sea-cow or badger


manatee

Over these they are to spread a scarlet cloth, cover that with hides of sea cows and put its poles in place.
Numbers 4:8

Sometimes it is fun to look at different versions of the Bible – for different ones say the scarlet cloth is to be covered with the skins of sea-cow, goat, badger, manatee, dolphin and porpoise – some just say fine leather! ok, so I might get confused between a dolphin, manatee, sea-cow or porpoise – but surely I would know a badger or goat? Quick quiz – name the two animals below…

badgerporpoise

Numbers is a fascinating read – well not really, but the attention to detail is amazing – God wants his people to take amazing care of what is holy – and this chapter is about the care of the most holy things…

And guess what – you are holy! So take care of yourself! You are amazing… more amazing than this guy…11384060843

 

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Burning fat!

When I had the idea of going through verse 8 of the fourth chapter in each book I knew I would get to some strange ones!

Lbull-with-nose-ringeviticus 4 verse 8 says: The priest shall remove all the fat from the bull of the sin offering—all the fat that is connected to the internal organs.

I am not going to go into a debate about entrails or bulls or the sacrifice of animals… but I do want to think of 2 topics…

The first one – to do with fat – are we healthy? Am I living a life that promotes good physical health?

God created our bodies to be healthy. So how are we co-operating with Him to ensure we develop good physical health?

Think about your eating. If we’re honest, many of us have issues with our eating and drinking. We might eat too much, too little, the wrong stuff, and at the wrong times. es et al). In Proverbs 23:20-21, the writer warns us “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Perhaps you wouldn’t put yourself in this category BUT dare you be honest about your eating and drinking habits. Most of us would do well to improve in this area.

Secondly, exercise. In 1 Timothy 4:8, Paul writes that ‘physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all burning fatthings.’ Many of us might emphasize Paul’s priority on godliness but let’s not ignore the first part of the verse. Paul is saying that physical exercise is important. The Greek word he uses is ‘gymnasia’ – does that word look familiar? Whether you go to the gym, swim, run, walk, play squash or whatever – the Bible encourages us to exercise as part of our commitment to physical health.

Thirdly, rest. In the creation account of Genesis 1 we see that God creates Adam and Eve on the sixth day.  Their first full day in creation is day seven – Sabbath – a day of rest. After which they then have their first day of work. Here’s the biblical principal we mustn’t miss: we’re supposed to work from a place of rest – not rest from our work. Most fundamentally, this is about ensuring we’re getting good sleep. Sleep is an act of trust in God (Psalm 3:5) and it is a gift from God (Psalm 127:2). If we don’t get enough rest we feel tired.  Tiredness can affect us physically, emotionally, relationally etc.  For some of us the single most important thing you can do to improve your relationship with God, and others, is get a good night’s sleep.

This is important friends! Commit to make some changes in your life to improve physical health. Set some goals, start small, get accountable, persevere and then when you achieve your goal it will give you the confidence to go further.

American anthologist, Terri Guillemets once said ‘Exercise, play, move. Stretch, feel, reach, sweat. Skip, dance, hug! Use the body God gave you, don’t let it rot.” That’s good advice!

The second point – do we need to make animal sacrifices to God? No, as Paul wrote in Ephesians “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. ”

So let’s respond by living a life of love and lets get rid of the fat!

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Kissing frogs – or is it kissing princes or princesses who think they are frogs!

mystery frogDo you ever feel like a frog? Frogs feel slow and low, ugly and putty, drooped and pooped. I know. One told me. The frog feeling comes when you want to be bright but you are dumb. When you want to share, but you are selfish. When you want to be thankful, but you are filled with resentment. When you want to be great, but you are small. When you want to care, but you are indifferent. Yes, at one time or another each of us has found himself on a lily pad, floating down the great river of life, frightened and disgusted but too frightened to budge.

We all know how the fairy tale goes: Once upon a time there was a frog, except he was not really a frog. He was a prince. He only looked and felt like a frog. The wicked witch had cast a spell on him, and only the kiss of a beautiful maiden could save him. (Since when do cute girls kiss frogs!) So there he sat—an unkissed prince in frog form. But miracles do happen, and one day a beautiful maiden gave him a great big smack! Crash! Boom! Zap! Suddenly he was a handsome prince. And of course they lived happily ever after.

What is our task? Kissing frogs, of course—and allowing ourselves to be kissed!frogkiss

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Just suppose…

exodus

Lots has happened since that first murder (in Gen 4:8), there has been God’s leading of a family and the building of nation of people who loved God. Genesis finished with 40 or so members of Jacob’s family in Egypt, by the time of Exodus it was hundreds of thousands and they were slaves…

Just suppose God wanted to rescue his people. Just suppose he chose a murderer who had run away from Egypt to be in charge. Just suppose he told this man his own name. Just suppose he did various miracles for this man and knew that often people don’t believe because of miracles… Exodus 4:8 says “Then the LORD said, “Suppose they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miracle. Then maybe they will believe the second one. ” – in verse 9 he goes on to suppose they might not believe that either. In Luke 16 Jesus tells a story where one of the characters says “If they won’t pay attention to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even to someone who comes back from the dead.”  Jesus knew some people refuse to believe even when they see signs… (Luke 16:31)

But then just suppose this man, nervous and frightened to speak in public was able to lead all of God’s people out of Egypt and across the Red Sea.

Just suppose God wants to believe in you, to get to know you by name, to rescue you,

What could be achieved?

Why just suppose?

 

 

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The 48 journey begins – into His arms of love

Genesis

Hang on, what about some sort of temptation, of weighing up the consequences, or struggling with conscience. What about method, plot, schematics, hiding of murder weapon, disposing of the body – no nothing – just a straightforward result of jealousy!

The next verse shows us God is not into 45 minute (allowing 15 minutes for adverts) plots. He simply asks Cain “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain replies in that familiar biblical phrase “ur-er-na”

Did you know apart from the curse he told Adam and Eve, the first things God said to people after the fruit had been eaten were all questions.

  • Where are you? (Gen 3:9) as Adam and Eve hid
  • Who told you that you were naked? (Gen 3:11)
  • What is this you have done? (Gen 3:13)
  • Why are you so angry? (Gen 4:6) After God had not looked on Cain’s offering with favour
  • Where is your brother? (Gen 4:9)

God gave that first family the best possible start in life, but they wrecked it – how quickly did that first murder take place – but is God asking you these same questions?

Where are you? Are you hiding from me? You don’t need to

Who told you that you were sinful, that you were bad, worthless? You are not, you are made in my image, you are so valuable

What is it you have done? Come before me and tell me, I am ready to forgive.

Why are you so angry, so low, so bitter, so jealous, so….? I want the best for you – let it go!

Where is your brother? Actually for now lets forgot about others – what about you? Will you return to my arms of love?

 

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Trying not to hate the paper that hates!

o-DAILY-MAIL-MAC-CARTOON-570

There is a certain paper, often known as the Hate Mail that writes every article encouraging you to hate someone or a group of people. But this week their cartoon decided to compare immigrants to rats!

Yes people are nervous after the Paris attacks, but let’s hear words of the president of the European Commission…

We should not mix the different categories of people coming to Europe. Those who organised these attacks and those that perpetrated them are exactly those that the refugees are fleeing and not the opposite.

This cartoon is always more appropriate…

earth

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