Tag Archives: Israelites

Pouncing on the plunder

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Saul lost his ministry and revival the moment he pounced on the plunder. God wanted a sacrifice similar to when the Israelites conquered Jericho; they were not to touch any of the riches. King Saul should have remembered Achan, who sneaking away silver and a Babylonia tunic, was judged by God.

But no. After decimated the Amalekites, the Israelites swarmed on the riches, a normal practice in ancient warfare that God ordered them to abstain from this one time. But the people and Saul couldn’t suppress their greed.

God had warned Saul that he was losing credibility, but even so he paid no heed. It was here, when Saul and others pounced on the plunder, that God sent Samuel to anoint David as the next king.

Let the church be warned: when we love money more that souls, revival is over. God gives us money to reach souls, but when we grab it for our pleasures, God retires from that church. I don’t care if you’re a big church. Bigness doesn’t mean Godness.

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#ValleyBoyPastor answers the call

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Van Nuys

There were reasons to NOT come to Van Nuys and start a church. It was far from Santa Monica. It was hot. The commute was bad. The list went on.

The first thing I noticed when I drove here to take up residence in my apartment were the palm trees. For some reason, I immediately associated them with the Promised Land. God was sending me to a Land Flowing with Milk and Honey. I would start a new church. His call and blessing would supersede all the negatives.

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Palm trees line Sherman Way in Van Nuys where I’m starting a Bible study.

And so it has been. No one back in Santa Monica can believe that after only a few weeks, we already have one or more quality disciples. I can’t believe it either. We just believed God, and He is going to build His church.

Don’t follow the money. Follow the call.

But there are giants in the land #ValleyBoyPastor

IMG_0367(1)Anytime you want to do something GOOD, major opposition looms.

If, however, you want to do something BAD, the path forward is a glittery and easy speedway.

What scared the Israelites and sent them back into the desert for 40 years, what kept them from their destiny, were giants. These guys were 9-feet tall — and there was no NBA back then. The whining spies said they felt like cockroaches compared to them.

It can be intimidating to do ministry. But God can knock those giants down. The taller they are, the harder the fall, as David found.

I’ve moved to Van Nuys to open a Bible study and possibly parlay it into a church. I’ve found the giant already. I’ve learned you have to stare down giants.

There was opposition going forward

the fat of the land

“The fat of the land” was the King James version translation of the prosperity and blessing promised to the Israelites once they took possession of their God-destined territory. But there were significant obstacles — giants and stuff and heavily fortified cities.

When the Israelites finally mustered their courage, God blasted the walls in a way that puts modern demolition crews to shame. And the giants weren’t such a problem. Boys with slingshots took them out. Why did the first generation succumb to fear, doubt God and die in the desert? Yeah, in THAT place, they lived on the “lean of the land.”

Not everybody sees “fat” as bad around the world. In Nicaragua, they call a chubby guy “hermoso” — beautiful. That’s because in places where malnutrition is a chronic health issue, chubbiness is seen as healthy and blessed. Here in America, we’re blessed, but our forefathers had to act with great courage to win those blessings for us.

I encourage you to courage. Don’t stay in your comfort zone. Take up the greatest challenge God is stirring you to because that’s where His blessing is for you.

The little guy

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I was the little guy who couldn’t do anything significant for God. Twenty years later, there’s a church and a Christian private school in Guatemala.

I like the word “hewn.” Look at the rock from which you were HEWN, and the to the quarry your cut out of… Abraham your father… I called him when he was alone and blessed him and increased him. — Isaiah 51:1

The present tense of hewn is “hew.” I’d never heard that before. “Hewn” means to be cut out of.

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This is Ibis and his wife. He was so shy and quiet. Now he is making big decisions for Christ.

God encourages the Israelites (who see Abraham as HUGE) to regard Abraham as SMALL in his beginnings. Indeed, Abraham didn’t have any children until he was 100 years old (and his wife was 90). Yet God had promised to make a nation out of him. Talk about feeling small. And not up for the task.

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With some “little guys” at the Liceo Bilingüe La Puerta.

Despite such an inauspicious beginning, Israel did become a great nation. It still is with Jews scattered over the world.

God is encouraging the Israelites — at a time when they are rebuilding their nation and are small and insignificant — that they will be able to do the impossible, to re-start their nation.

In God, small things lead to big. And you should never flag in faith because you are looking at your circumstances. Look at Abraham.

Embrace change

murmuringwithout murmuring. The Israelites complained so much at almost every step of the way out of slavery. They didn’t like the food. They were thirsty. They were afraid. God was too strict.

Then they said it. We were better off in slavery!

Can you imagine someone wanting to go back to slavery?

Ultimately, their bad attitude kept them from entering the Promised Land. The first generation died wandering in the desert. Their children possessed the good land.

If you’re in great upheaval right now, praise God for the trial. Try not to complain. I know it’s hard.

Image source: Beautiful pictures on Google+. I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it.

Stubbornness

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They crossed the line. One too many times, the Israelites provoked God. After He showed them His goodness by giving them food and water and delivering them powerfully from the Egyptians, they accused Him of being bad. They complained that it would have been better to die wandering in the desert than die by the sword taking possession of the Promised Land.

So God let that be a self-fulfilled prophecy. A generation died in the desert. Forty years later, the next generation of Israelites rose up and possessed the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership.

That generation was too accustomed to a mouth that constantly b-tch-d — mmm, complained bitterly.

If you dig in your heels and insist on sinning, the consequences could be grave.

Slavery success

Since when is slavery a path to riches?

God made the Israelites into slaves for 400 years — and this was His plan to make them rich! After enduring 10 successive plagues, the Egyptians were all to eager to be rid of their slaves and so they sent them off with loaded with gold and bedecked with jewels.

God prophesied to Abraham about this: After (the period of slavery) they will come out with great possessions — Gen. 15:14 NIV.

Well, ministry is not a six-digit career. But God can make the riches gush out of the unlikeliest places. He makes water come out of the rock, gold coins come out of fishes mouths — and wealth out of slavery! Ministry is NOT as bad a slavery, so don’t be afraid to fulfill your call for monetary fears.

And, when you pray for finances, it’s never a problem for God, though we fret needlessly. He can even make slaves into millionaires!

Your words = your reality

Biblical authors rightly reasoned, inspired by the Spirit, that if a person’s negative words could convert into reality, a positive confession would also.

The first instance of confession-prophecy was when the Israelites complained to Moses that God had brought them out of Egypt only to die and not inherit the Promise Land. God responded: So be it; your negative confession shall be a prophecy.

As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: In this desert your bodies will fall–every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me — Numbers 14:28-29 NIV.

But the principle works both ways. If negative words could lead to bad, positive words would also be honored by God. So in Jesus’ time, if you confessed faith in Jesus, He healed you. The proverbist said: Death and life are in the power of the tongue — Prov. 18:21 KJV.

When you pray today, make a positive confession.

By thunder and lightning

Without sword, without spear, without shield and bow and arrow, the Israelites crushed the Philistines at Mizpah.

The mighty enemy army quickly mobilized and blitzkrieged the Jews while they held a service with the Prophet Samuel. Surprise-attacked, the defenseless Israelites resorted to their only option at hand: prayer.

While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the LORD thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. — 1 Sam. 7:10 NIV.

Other battles were won with weapons — that is, human weapons. This battle stands out in the whole Bible for the wild delivery wrought by God. It shows us to trust more in prayer than human mechanisms. God responded with a terrifying display of the elements of nature.

 

From 40 days to 40 years

It should’ve taken 40 days to traverse the wasteland from Egypt to the Promised Land, but instead it took 40 years for the Israelites. A lack of GPS was not the problem. The problem? Grumbling.

Grumbling and ministry are a noxious blend. Because of grumbling, the Israelites ticked off God so bad He punished them, sent plagues on them, swallowed some of them up in the Earth, and finally sent them back into the desert for 40 years.

Their grumbling may have been justifiable. They were formerly slaves, so their education and cultural level was low. They behaved like what they were, not what God had made them. They refused to release their clutch on the past. So we make a case for comprehension.

Be that as it may, the bottom line is that their grumbling derailed them from the destiny. No matter how justified you feel for grumbling, don’t do it. You could get stuck in the desert.

Out of thin air

Practical. That’s what we are. It’s only natural that we look to logical sources of income: church members who tithe, donors, special offerings. etc. We do our accounting with precision.

So it was natural that the Israelites would complain: Why did you bring us out here in the desert – to die? There was no identifiable source of food out there in the God-forsaken desert. Just scrub brush, sand, rocks, sun – lots and lots of sun. Wind. Where were they going to get grub from? Slavery in Egypt was bad. But dying of starvation was certainly worse.

But God is NOT practical. He operates outside of our dimensions. He is NOT limited to logical sources of income. When he provided manna for the Israelites, he manufactured it — out of thin air. Einstein taught E=mc2. The equation tells that material can be converted from energy and the speed of light. I don’t know if God used Einstein’s equation. But when he brought angel’s bread, he conjured it out of nothing.

This is the kind of miracle we need. We need money for ministerial urgencies now. Where is going to come from? Out of thin air. Don’t be discouraged about impossibilities. God will bring in the money you need, and you needn’t worry about the origin of the money. He can make it out of thin air.