Love and Marriage

Ezra 7-10

Ezra, who was from the lineage of Aaron the high priest came up from Babylon. He was skilled in the Mosaic Law. King Artaxerxes gave the children of Israel the right to return to Jerusalem if they chose. In 7:10 it says, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel”. A letter was given to the ones returning from the king. Interestingly enough, this would have been the stepson of Queen Esther. Maybe he had heard about God through her. He starts out “Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, a scribe of the Law of the God of heaven:” He allowed the Israelites who wanted to return to go back, they were given gold and silver from the royal treasury, and then they were urged that if they needed anymore, that they were to pay for it from the king’s treasury. Ezra said in 7:27 “Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.” It sounds like Queen Esther must have talked about God to her family, and the king acknowledged that he was the God of heaven, and he did not want to have the wrath of God on him or his sons.

In chapter 8 they list those who returned, I love 8:21 “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.” They fasted and prayed to God before making any decisions, just like we read in Esther as well. It is important that we follow these guidelines in our lives before we make decisions, pray about it and ask God to lead us in the direction that He would have us take.

In Chapter 9, we see the beginning of some problems, the children of Israel had taken pagan wives for some of their sons and daughters, even the religious leaders were included in this sin. Ezra was very upset at this and he prayed and wept before God because of their sin. They had been forbidden in Deuteronomy 7:3, to take foreign wives. Now, this was not a matter of being racist, because the foreign people could convert to Judaism, but the ones they married were pagans, which meant that they continued to worship idols. In 1 Kings 11:2b “the Lord said to the children of Israel “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your heart after their gods. Solomon clung to these in love.” V.4 “For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.” This was when their idolatry began which eventually led to the kingdom being conquered by the Babylonians. It is a fact that if we marry outside our faith it makes it more difficult to love God with our heart, soul, and might. That’s why we are told in 1 Corinthians not to be “unequally yoked with an unbeliever.” I believe who we choose to marry is one of the most important decisions we can make in our lives. I have a friend who said that of her four children, only one remained in the faith. She said it was who they married that made the difference. One married someone who was an active participant in church, two would go on occasion, and one married an atheist. When we marry, we are to be one, and it works best to be in accord with one another, and to both be pulling in the same direction. You will not get very far if the two oxen are trying to go in opposite directions.

The assembly decided that they would put away the pagan wives and children that they had with them. They confessed their sin and repented of it. Ezra 10:2b “We have trespassed against our God and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this.” 10: 10b-11 “You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel. Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and to do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives.” There was hope when the people repented because God will always accept us back when we return to him.

That is what is so encouraging to us as we read the history of the Old Testament. None of our patriarchs were perfect but God is able to use imperfect people to accomplish His will. We all need to be willing to let God use us in our imperfections. When we sin and make mistakes, that isn’t the end, if we return to God, he will return to us as we read earlier this week.

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Ezra 7-10

Tomorrow we will begin the book of Nehemiah (chapters 1-5) as we continue on our

Haman’s Pride and Prejudice – Part 2 (The Rest of the Story)

Esther 6-10

When we left you yesterday, evil Haman was going to go in the next day and ask King Ahasuerus to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had built in anticipation. Now we will find out the rest of the story. During that night the King was having trouble sleeping so he asked for his book of records to be brought to him and read out loud. In it they read the story of Mordecai saving his life. He asked how they had honored him, and they said that nothing had been done for him. And Mordecai had not ever tried to get any special recognition for this act of bravery.

When Haman shows up that morning to visit the king, he asks Haman, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Haman, thinking he must be talking about him, says, dress him in a royal robe, put him on a royal horse with a crest, and then have a prince lead him through town, proclaiming before him. The King said, Quick, do everything you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who saved my life. Not quite what he envisioned.

The King and Haman go later that evening to the special banquet with Queen Esther. Once again, the King tells her she will receive anything she asks for, up to half of the kingdom. Chapter 7:3 “Then Queen Esther answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request.” Our enemy will have us destroyed, killed, and annihilated. He asks, “Who is this enemy?” she replies, “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!” Haman pleaded for his life, but the king sent him to the gallows that he had built for Mordecai to be hanged. King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther Haman’s estate, and gave the signet ring that he took from Haman to Mordecai because the Queen appointed him to manage things. Then she begged the king to stop the decree that Haman had already sent out to kill the Jews. He had another decree sent out that allowed the Jews to protect themselves against anyone who would assault them. The Jews overpowered those who hated and wished to destroy them.  After two days of fighting, they enjoyed a day of rest, celebrating their victory with a feast. Mordecai made a decree that the Jewish people would celebrate this holiday every year as a time when, God through Esther, saved the lives of the Jewish people and the evil plot which Haman had devised failed and returned upon his head. His ten sons were also killed on the gallows. The days of Purim are still celebrated by the Jewish people today. King Ahasuerus advanced Mordecai in his kingdom until he was second only to the king. Chapter 10:3 says: “For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.”

This story reminds me of how faithful God is to his children. I am reminded of Genesis 50:20 when Joseph told his brothers, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” The things Haman had devised were evil, but God was able to turn it around for the good of His people. God had orchestrated so many things to be in place to save them. We need to trust God, even when we are going through hard times. We need to realize that we are not going through them alone, because God has promised that he will be with us.  It also brought Ephesians 3:20 to mind, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Queen Esther asked for her life and the life of her people. She was given that and more. The King gave her the estate of Haman and Mordecai was able to advance to the number 2 man in the kingdom, even though they were Jews. He became very powerful and influential, and it says in the last verse that even with all his power, “he was seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all of his countrymen.” Mordecai was a wise man and he used his life to lead people to seek God and live a life according to his will. What purpose have we been made for, let’s be courageous and trust God and let him use us as He wills, let’s seek good for others as we work for God’s glory.

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to on BibleGateway here – Esther 6-10

Tomorrow we will finish up the book of Ezra (7-10) and then just 2 more books to read in the Old Testament before we get to start the New Testament next Wednesday.

Haman’s Pride and Prejudice

Esther 1-5

When we read a good book, there are several things that we look for. A hero, a villain, a little romance, and some intrigue. We always enjoy a book with some plot twists to keep us guessing. The book of Esther has all that and more. Many scholars have mentioned that God is not mentioned in Esther, but the story is all about His faithfulness to His children.

Once upon a time in a land far away, King Ahasuerus, King of the Medes and Persians was throwing a banquet to show off his wealth and power. He wanted to show off his beautiful Queen Vashti, but she refused his summons. His advisors demanded he divorce her because the other wives in the kingdom would not honor their husbands. They decided to host a beauty pageant of all the young ladies in the land to choose the next Queen.

In the city of Sushan, lived a Jew named Mordecai, his father was one of the captives under Nebuchadnezzar. Mordecai was raising his first cousin, Esther, because she was orphaned. Esther was picked to be one of the candidates for Queen. Esther had not told anyone she was a Jew due to Mordecai’s advice. Some of the people looked down upon the Jews. Esther went before the King and found favor in the sight of all. 2:17a “The King loved Esther more than all the other women.” He made her his Queen.

Mordecai sat at the gate and heard Bigham and Teresh, the doorkeepers, plotting to kill King Ahasuerus.  Mordecai told Queen Esther, and she told King Ahasuerus in Mordecai’s name. It was checked out, found to be true, and both were hung on gallows and it was written down in the book of the chronicles, in the presence of the King. 

There was an evil prince named Haman whom King Ahasuerus promoted over the other princes. Everyone had to bow and pay homage to Haman. Mordecai would not bow to him, and it filled Haman with rage. He convinced the King that all the Jews were opposed to the King and that they should be destroyed. The King told him in 3:11 “to do with them as seems good to you.” Haman sent out a decree to kill, destroy, and annihilate all the Jews, both young and old on one day.  When the Jews heard of this, there was great mourning, with fasting, weeping, and wailing. Many wore sack cloth and ashes. Mordecai sent Esther a message and showed her the decree, and he suggested that she go to the King and plead before him for her people. She said she had not been called to visit the King in 30 days, and she would be killed if she went before him and he did not extend his gold scepter to her.” Esther promises to approach the King and asks all the Jewish people to fast and pray for the three days prior to the meeting. So, Mordecai did all that was asked of him.

On the 3rd day she went before the King in her royal robes and found favor. He held out his golden scepter. The King asked her request and in 5:3b “It shall be given to you, up to half of the kingdom.” She asked the King and Haman to come to a banquet that she would prepare. They went to the banquet, the King once again asked for her petition and said that it would be granted her. She asked for him to come back the next night along with Haman to another banquet. Haman went out joyful but when he saw Mordecai in the Kings gate, he was filled with hate in his heart. He told his wife that Queen Esther had invited him to a banquet with the King, and he was invited back for the next day. But he couldn’t enjoy it as long as Mordecai the Jew sat in the Kings gate. His wife suggested he build huge gallows and then suggest that Mordecai be hanged from it in the morning. This pleased him and gallows was built. You will need to come back tomorrow for the…. rest of the story.

When we read this story it’s easy for us to think we would do the same thing that Esther did because we know how it will end, but it took a lot of courage for her to even go before the King with her request because she knew that he could command to have her killed if he so chose. These are a couple of my favorite verses in this passage 4:13-14 “And Mordecai told them to answer Esther; ‘Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.’” And Esther sends this reply to Mordecai 4:16b “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” Mordecai totally trusted God to save the Jewish people, somehow, someway. He reminds Esther that maybe God put her in the position she is in for just this reason.

We need to trust in God to know that if we can do the right thing and glorify God in the process that God has us right where He wants us, and He will use us if we allow Him to. Esther didn’t go into this blindly, and she did things in the correct order. She asks everyone to fast and pray to God for her to find favor with the King, after they did that, she courageously put her life on the line, she was willing to lay down her life for a just cause. We need to be looking for our “such a time as this”, when we allow God to use us to fulfill His purpose.

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Esther 1-5

Tomorrow we will read the rest of Esther’s story as we continue on our

We’re Marching to Zion

Zechariah 8-14

My mother always loved to put together puzzles, the more pieces, the better. It always amazed me how patiently she would work at it, but in the end, when all the pieces were together you could quite clearly see the complete picture. As I read Zechariah, all the puzzle pieces haven’t been assembled yet, and we can’t see clearly the complete picture, but we can see the incredible love that God has for Israel, the land, and his children.

Chapters 1-6 is about the rebuilding of the physical temple, Chapters 7-8 are about them obeying the laws of God, and Chapters 9-14 tells that God will send a Messiah who will be Priest and King. This Messiah will take away our sin and he will rule over us.

He has promised to bless those who returned from exile to Jerusalem.  In 8:3, He says “I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the Lord of hosts, The Holy Mountain.” Then we skip down to 8:8 “I will bring them back, And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, They shall be My people And I will be their God, In truth and righteousness.” He wanted them to build His temple in Zion once again, and he encourages them to let their hands be strong, and not to worry about their enemies because He will protect them.  8:21 says “Let us continue to go and pray before the Lord And seek the Lord of hosts.”  It even says that people from other languages will grasp the sleeve of the Jews and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” He tells the people that He will take care of them. He will protect them from their enemies. He has promised them good things, but it always comes with a choice for the people. It has been a choice for them during this entire story, just as it is a choice for us today. They must obey his commands.

In 9:9, we have a prophecy about Jesus “Behold your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey. A colt, the foal of a donkey.”  This was fulfilled when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey in the New Testament. They were looking to their King to come like Thor in the Avengers with power and great glory. They imagined their Messiah coming in on a royal stallion as a warrior to save them. In verses 11-17, he asserts that He will save His people, His flock.  In Chapter 12 he writes about the coming deliverance of Jerusalem. In Chapter 13:9b “They will call on My name, And I will answer them, I will say, This is My people, And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” Chapter 14 is a victorious chapter about the coming of Jesus. When Jesus comes back the Second time, he will be coming as a victorious warrior, who will save His people. 14:9 says “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be- The Lord is one, And His name one.” I may not understand everything that Zechariah is saying but I know the most important thing is that God loves us, one day Jesus will come back as our Messiah, and Savior and will set up the Kingdom of God, and God will dwell with us in Zion. As Zechariah’s name proclaims, “the Lord has remembered”; He has remembered His promise to his children and the promise will be fulfilled.

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Zechariah 8-14

Tomorrow we begin the exciting book of Esther (chapters 1-5) as we continue on our

God’s Return Policy

Zechariah 1-7

Have any of you ever bought something and then decided that you need to return it and you check to see what the return policy is before you take it back. In Zechariah, we will read about God’s return policy. The book of Zechariah begins in the 8th month of the 2nd year of King Darius of Persia. Babylon had destroyed the temple in 586 BC. The Jewish people finished building the new temple in 516 BC. This book takes place in 520 BC when Zechariah and Haggai, both contemporary prophets, urged the people to finish building the temple. God had made promises to Israel, and one promise was that the children of Israel would return to their land from exile and the Lord would return to His temple with them. Jeremiah 29:10: “For thus says the Lord; after seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good work toward you and cause you to return to this place.” In Zechariah, God was making good on His promises. Fittingly, the name Zechariah means “the Lord has remembered.” The children of Israel were returning to their homeland.

But Zechariah doesn’t just have messages for the children of Israel in 500 BC, it still speaks to us today. Chapter 1:3 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” This is a recurring theme in the Bible since the fall in the Garden of Eden, God, wants to have a relationship with His children, and He has promised if we turn to Him, He will turn to us. It continues in the New Testament, James 4: 8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” So often we, like the children of Israel refuse the offer of a close and personal relationship with the Lord of hosts. God used Zechariah to encourage the children of Israel in what may have seemed like an impossible task, rebuilding the temple. He wanted them to know that they could not do this task on their own but with His help, it would be done. In Chapter 4:6b it says, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” When we have a task that we think we can’t accomplish, we may be right, if we are depending on our might or power. We need to rely on God, and His might and power, when we have difficult times in our life. This verse seems very appropriate for what our nation is going through today. Chapter 7:9-10 says, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien, or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.”  In these verses we find the heart of God and how He wants us to treat others. The world will be a better place when we all take these words to heart and show the love of God to all that we meet and have contact with in our lives. It’s good to know that God’s return policy has no restrictions or exceptions. “Return to God and He will return to you.”

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Zechariah 1-7

Tomorrow we will read Zechariah 8-14 as we continue on our

Delighting In God!

 

psalm 37 4

I enjoy walking my dog and try to do that several times a week in the morning. It’s a wonderful time to think and talk to God before the busyness of the day takes over. So, I was thinking about what I wanted to write about and Psalm 37: 4 kept coming to mind. When I think of this verse two young ladies come to mind that I will channel this morning. My niece Kaitlyn Walters, used this verse in a devotion umpteen years ago at Southeast Camp and Jennie Montgomery spoke on this subject at Guthrie Grove at the graduation service last year. The brain is a really amazing thing with all the information it keeps stored up for us!

So I will break down the verse, what does it mean to “Delight yourself in the Lord”? Delight means: a high degree of gratification or pleasure: joy. I think when you feel joy and pleasure when in the presence of the Lord, that you will want to spend time with him. You will want to get to know Him better. When we meet people that we enjoy; we talk to them, text them, ask questions to find out their likes, dislikes, their thoughts. We want to get to know them. It is the same way with God, to really know Him and delight ourselves with Him is to want to get to know Him better every day.

“He will give you the desires of your Heart.” When we are delighting in God, we are in tune with Him and His will for our lives. Our desires will parallel His and we will find fulfillment in Him and not in the things that the world would have us desire, like riches, fame, and power. The greatest example of someone who delighted in the Lord, would be Jesus. Jesus loved spending time with His Father. At the age of 12, in Luke 2:49, it says: “And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business? ”At that age, he was in the temple, trying to learn about His Father, he was delighting himself in the Lord. He would go and spend hours praying to God.  Before he was led to the cross, he said “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Jesus, did not ask His father for riches or honor. In fact even though he didn’t want to die, he submitted to the Father, because he was willing to let His desires become one with his Father’s will. I pray that we will all delight in the Lord, spend time with Him, and that the desire of all of our hearts will to be to spend eternity with our Father in the Kingdom.

Sherry Alcumbrack

 

Time in the Desert

josh1 9

There are several instances of people in the Bible spending time in the desert.

Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s house but he was an Israelite. When he was a young man he killed an Egyptian who was beating one of the Jewish people. Fearing for his life, he fled to Midian, married and became a shepherd. We don’t hear from him again until God appears to him in a burning bush in Exodus 3. Moses went on to become one of the most famous leaders of the Jewish people and led them out of Egypt and to the brink of the Promised Land.

The children of Israel were at the threshold of the Promised Land but they let fear hold them back, and so God made them wander for 40 years in the desert. In Deuteronomy 8:2 “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

Israel became a mighty nation that proclaimed the name of God to all nations on the earth. The prophet Elijah after his encounter where he defeated the prophets of Baal, feared for his life, and ran away, he was fed by an angel, then traveled 40 days and 40 nights, and ended up in a cave in Horeb. The Lord came to him in the cave and asked in 1Kings 19:9b “What are you doing here, Elijah?” This was right before the Lord showed himself to Elijah in the small whisper of wind. Elijah went on to continue being a bold prophet of God to the Israelites.

John the Baptist was in the desert until his appointed time to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. He preached the gospel of the coming of Jesus to thousands.

Jesus spent his time in the desert when he was going through his temptation. After this, he went on to establish a ministry that would change the world. He became the sacrifice that would save us all from our sins.

In all of these instances, God was with them and so they had no reason to fear. Fear is a natural emotion for humans but when we give in to fear instead of trusting in God, it is a bad thing. My daughter painted this picture for me a few years ago, because she knew that Joshua 1:9 was one of my favorite verses “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord, your God, will be with you wherever you go.”

When we feel like we are in the desert, due to circumstances in our lives, we need to relax and let God give us some rest and then get out of the desert and let God use our lives in an incredible way. In all of these instances, they came out of the desert a better person. All of these people allowed God to use them for what he had planned for their lives. I pray that we all let God use us to fulfill His plans for us. We can always rest in the knowledge of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Sherry Alcumbrack

What Are Your Passions?

matt 22 37

We hear a lot about people finding a job that they are passionate about. I was listening to a radio program one day, and the man said that you can tell what people are passionate about by what they talk about and taking a look at their checkbook, to see what they spend their money on. I asked my children based on that, what did they think that my mother, their Grandma Bonnie was passionate about and they said: Family, Bible, and Flowers (add politics and you have some of my passions, as well).  They were right, those are the things that she cares about and that she talks about whenever they are around.

In Deuteronomy, Chapter 6, it talks about the importance of talking to our children, grandchildren, and others about God and the things that he has done.  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”  These verses are very important to the Jewish people, they are called the Shema, and they recite these verses daily, they should also be as important to us. First it says that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength; He should be the most important thing in our life. It doesn’t say to love Him with part of those things, it’s to be all, and we need to be “All In”, as a coach once said. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said that this is the greatest commandment.  Then the verses in Deuteronomy say to tell others about God, when you sit at home, when you’re walking, when you lie down, and when you get up. That basically covers every area of our life. God doesn’t want to be something that we think about on Sundays and Wednesdays, he wants us to be thinking and talking about Him, and His goodness to us, all the time. It says to write the commands on our door frames and our gates. Everyone that would pass that house would know that they believed in the One True God.  Because it was important to them, it would not be something that they hid from those passing by. In Psalm 78 2-4 it says: “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.” We need to be passionate about God and passionate about telling others about him every day. We have wonderful stories to tell to others about the glory of God and His coming Kingdom.

Sherry Alcumbrack

The Wisdom of Solomon?

wisdom

When you read about the Kings of Israel or Judah, their life is always summed up in one sentence, as a kind of Eulogy: King ­___ did right/evil in the sight of the Lord. That’s really all it boils down to, if we do right or we do evil in the sight of the Lord. None of the other things that they did matter. Take King Solomon for example. The wisest man who ever lived, the Lord appeared to him twice. Once he told him, “Ask what you wish me to give you.” He asked for wisdom to be able to lead the Israelites. God was so pleased with his answer that he said he would give him wisdom, riches, and honor, and if he followed his commandments that he would prolong his days. Solomon went on to build the temple for the Lord in Jerusalem.

It sounds like he lived his life to bring God glory, but Solomon had one small problem.  Chapter 3:3 “Now Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” And in chapter 11 vs.1-6 it says (paraphrase), “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women.  They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.’  As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord….”  Contrast this to Ch.15:11&14 “And Asa did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” “The high places were not taken away, nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly devoted to the Lord all his days.” You do not want your epithet to read:  He loved the Lord, EXCEPT….. We need to make sure that we keep our hearts wholly devoted to God. Solomon started out loving God, but then he put other people before him and his heart was pulled away.

Sherry Alcumbrack

Follow God Fully

numb 14 24

In Numbers 13 is a well-known Bible story, The Israelites were at their promised land and God told them to send in spies to spy out the land “that he was going to give to the sons of Israel.” They had just witnessed the deliverance from the army of Pharaoh and then God had provided them with manna, water, and quail as they traveled.

As we learned in a song years ago “12 men went to Canaan land, 10 were bad and 2 were good.” The spies came back and reported that the land was good but the people were strong and the cities are fortified, they are descendants of the giants. In verses 30-31 Caleb said “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.”  But the men said “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” In Chapter 14:7-10 Joshua says “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” After he tells them this, the congregation wanted to stone Caleb and Joshua. The two that knew God would take care of them, and give them the land that he promised them, are threatened by the rest of the congregation.

After this God decides that the people of Israel will wander in the desert until that generation dies, Joshua and Caleb are the only ones that will go into the promised land of that generation. Ch. 14 v. 24 says “But my servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.”  The difference between Joshua and Caleb, and the other 10, was not that they were smarter, or stronger than them but that they put their trust in God. They wandered in the desert for 40 years because they did not trust that God was in control and that He would never leave them or forsake them. Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

We only have to wander in the desert for 40 years when we don’t follow God wholly. As we live our lives, I pray that we will all have the spirit of Caleb and follow God fully. Let’s go into the Promised Land that God has prepared for us even when things look too difficult for us, because we know that God will take care of the obstacles in our way. When we have trust in God, we know that things that are too difficult for us alone can be accomplished because God is with us.

Sherry Alcumbrack