Set Apart

 And when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.” Duet. 7:2-4

Observation

God, through Moses, is giving His people instructions for their lives once they enter the Promised Land.  However, as the instructions start to get deeper and more specific, God reminds the people the WHY behind all the actions.  God is setting His people apart from the rest of the world for Himself because of His great love for them.  He knows that if they are not set apart and just live according to the ways and means of the world around them, they will be lost, they will forget Him and He will have to reject them

Application

There is a cost and a reason to be set apart today.  The reason has not changed since the days of Moses.  I need to set myself apart from the ways of this world because I, like them, am vulnerable to become lost and even rebellious.  In the days of Moses, being set apart took a radical commitment.  It was violent and meant the destroying of enemies.  It was deliberate and demanded not to co-mingle or marry, etc.  It was multi-generational and instructed how to lead your children.  Today the call is not physically violent, but it is certainly Spiritually violent.  It’s a call to prayer, a call to purity a call to have the majority of my life pursuing what very few in this world think is worth pursuing.  It’s turning my TV off and praying for my kids instead.  It’s going on a prayer walk instead of sipping a glass of wine and watching the election results.  It’s fasting on a Wednesday instead of going to the Indian Buffet.  As I consider asking God to use my life to truly make a difference, am I willing to live a life set apart?

Prayer

Jesus, I know what you said in the garden during your last hours before your brutal arrest and death.  You said the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  Spirit of the Living God, rise up in me and help me and teach me how to execute my flesh.  Set me apart for your Kingdom purposes.

Setting myself apart,

Pastor Dale

Positioned to Receive

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11


Positioned to Receive

The Thessalonica Jews caused a great uproar in the city when the gospel was preached there by Paul and others. They stirred the city up with rage and caused the early Christian leaders, including Paul to move on to extend the gospel message. But the Berean Jews are credited as people of noble character because of how they responded to the message. Not all believed. But they did receive the message with eagerness and were willing to examine the scriptures to see if what is being preached is true.


Positioned to Receive

Shouldn’t we all approach spiritual teaching like the Berean’s? Whether we hear a sermon we enjoyed or were inspired by a speaker at a retreat or convention, should we not search the scriptures to ‘mine out’ what applies to our lives personally? Is it not a great way to respond to not only eagerly receive, but to also look at the scriptures ourselves and find all the truth that God wants to reveal to us? I am not suggesting we should doubt or fact-check those that God places to speak into our lives. But I do think we could learn from the Bereans by the attitude they took (eagerness) and the responsibility they took (searching the scriptures). The next time I am moved, challenged or inspired by a pastor or teacher, I pray I will receive the word with an appropriate enthusiasm and then search the scriptures for greater truths and applications that God might have for my life.


Positioned to Receive

What a gift God, that you like to speak to your sons and daughters. It is my desire to be considered a man of noble character in your eyes, just like the Berean Jews of long ago. May my heart always be open and eager to your teaching and my mind be willing to search the deeper truths you have for me.

Looking Deeper,

Pastor Dale

Reproducing Ministry

“You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.” Exodus 18:18-20

 

Reproducing Ministry

Moses is leading over a million people and in some ways he’s doing it all.  An entire people group is looking to him to answer and disputes between them.  Imagine the complexity and vast numbers of ‘people troubles’ that would be taking place on a daily basis.  Moses, is the one everyone is turning to.  His father-in-law Jethro observes and realizes that Moses is going to burn out and the people are going to be thoroughly frustrated by the long wait time and the inefficiency in dealing with all of life’s issues.  Jethro instructs Moses to do two very important things; 1. Teach people to understand God’s word and how to live their lives properly. 2.  Get help from your leaders to handle most of these cases.  Jethro’s answer is what we want to do here at New Life Church – make disciples; teach people to read from God’s word and learn how to live biblically directed lives and help other people to do the same.

Reproducing Ministry

I want New Life Church and the people of our congregation to thrive.  I don’t want people frustrated by a perceived lack of help.  The answer for me is to keep doing my best to learn from the word, apply it to my life and teach others to do the same.  As we move forward to ‘Build His Kingdom’ in 2013, I pray that more and more people will be involved in 2 or More Groups and that our leaders will lead people to live, love and learn from God’s word.

God, thank you for the amazing gift of your word.  Thank you for the wisdom you gave Moses through his father-in-law and the wisdom you give to us today.  Help me and our team to glean daily from your word and lead others to do the same!

Pastor Dale

Blessed or Cursed

God in the midst of trouble

He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success… But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” 2 Chronicles 26:5

 

Observations

The scriptures are full of real stories of very real people. The story of Uzziah shows us the ups and downs of our lives and the very simple but profound steps that lead to one or the other. Uzziah starts out his tenure as king the right way. Obedience led him to success. As long as he sought God, God gave him success. Unfortunately that success went to his head. He ended his life in exile from both the temple and the palace because he obtained leprosy as a direct result of his own disobedience.

Full of pride, he ignored the laws of God and the men of God placed in his life and the result was leprosy that never left his body until the day he died. So often the victories and tragedies in our life can be, as we look back, started with simple choices of either humble obedience or pride-filled rebellion.

Application

The application here is really quite simple. Seek God. Seek God and Obey. Matthew 6:33 states, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and righteousness THEN all these things will be added unto you.”

Unless I want the life and the results of a fool there really is only one  logical decision to make. Obedience is clearly the only option. But it isn’t quite that simple. Uzziah found the path to obedience by ‘seeking the Lord.’ I MUST remember and discipline myself to daily find, seek, search out the wisdom that only comes from God.

Prayer

Lord, I want to learn from the blessings and mistakes of others. Thank you for reminding me of the wonderful blessings that came to Uzziah as well as the terrible way his life ended. I want to end better. I seek you today and desire to seek you always. Grant me the grace and discipline to keep moving towards you daily.

 

Following Obediently,

Pastor Dale

Increase My Faith

Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” Luke 17:3-5

 

Observations

Jesus is really giving it to the disciples. He’s letting them know in the new regime of God’s kingdom life is lived utterly different than the way of the world. It’s not about me, it’s all about Dad in heaven and all about others. I am to love with a love that comes from God and is completely beyond my personal capacity.

Application

The disciples knew they could not love and forgive this way on their own so their response was very appropriate, “God increase our Faith (and therefore our capacity to do what you ask of us)!” I am glad to be reminded of my need and the call to love and forgive like Jesus loves and forgives. I have a long way to go. I don’t naturally love my enemies. I hate being betrayed a few times a year by the same person, let alone 49 times a day!

Prayer

God help me. I need to see how easy it is for me to be un-Christ-like in my response to conflict and animosity. When I see it coming I need to run to Jesus and ask Him how I should respond and for the faith and discipline to follow His lead. God, this is nearly impossible for me. Well actually for me on my own it is completely impossible. Show me how to love and forgive like you. Teach me how to speak like you and act like you around ALL you place in my life, not just those that I enjoy and that are easy for me to embrace. I want to embrace all like you and in order to do that I need you to increase my faith and trust in You, Your Word and in Your Spirit that resides in me.
Pastor Dale

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