Friday, October 31, 2014

a promise between thieves

But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”
Genesis 31:24

God intervened in this broken, dysfunctional, manipulative family relationship. He helped two highly dominant deceivers make peace. Jacob is the original slick salesman. He had a nickname: deceiver. But he met his match in his father-in-law Laban. Laban used Jacob and changed the rules of the relationship beginning with a bait-and-switch wedding night, and continuing for decades. Jacob was tired of the constant insecurity of being used.

When Jacob had seen enough of this treatment, his plan was to sneak away with his family and herds under the cover of night and return to his father Isaac in Canaan. But that deceit was discovered and by the time Laban confronts Jacob, God intervenes to cool down the irate father-in-law who himself does not like being deceived!

There are several lessons to be learned from this moment. One is that God will use our own sins to get our attention. The natural course of consequence of sin is a mechanism that can draw the conscience back to God. After Jacob had spent so much time being deceived and continuing to deceive, he was ready to abandon the practice. From here forward in his story he has abandoned his constant manipulative behaviors. It took being manipulated to understand his own need for repentance.

In the end, Jacob and Laban made a promise to not treat each other this way any longer. Yes, it was an uneasy covenant between thieves, but it did reset the relationship. Jacob moved on to live back in the Promised Land with a large family. After settling these sinful differences with his father-in-law, Jacob actually begins pursuing faith duties with his own family, worshiping God in a new and better way. The reconciliation of the horizontal relationship, abandoning selfish ways of living with people, enhanced Jacob's relationship with the Lord.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

new king and kingdom

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.
Matthew 21:43

Jesus' own prophecy predicting the direction of the kingdom of God is one explanation for how and why I am able to write this reflection today. The kingdom of God is a worldwide phenomenon. It was not localized just to Israel. His gospel changes the world. When the leaders of Israel rejected Jesus, it only served to expand the reach of the gospel. The kingdom grows in the lives of the people who produce its fruits.

This does not mean that God has abandoned Israel. He has not. If anything the prophetic promises to Israel are more clear with Jesus' words. The church knows there is a future role for Israel. Jesus is Messiah for the Jews. Jesus will return to rule in Jerusalem. The New Testament ends with clear teaching of future events occurring there. There are clear Old Testament predictions that must also occur in the Holy Land because God does not lie.

But the "mystery" of the church is still on God's primary agenda until the times are fulfilled. The kingdom must then move forward in fruitful living among the followers of Jesus. The world needs the good news. Jews and Gentiles are still one in the Body of Christ. And it is this kingdom that is our culture... not mega-church attendance to programs, not Christian publishing, not conservative politics, not hip Christian radio or evangelical entertainment that sadly defines my generation. I am called as a subject of King Jesus to live in His kingdom and proclaim the gospel so that He may rule in the hearts of His people.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

civil authority and the Christian

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
Romans 13:2

It is quite interesting that Paul wrote these admonitions to the church at the very center of an authoritarian empire. Rome was a military dictatorship to her conquered lands, even if she was a kind of republic to her own citizens. The government she enforced came to the people at the end of a powerful sharp sword. The citizens of the empire may have known unprecedented peace and a high degree of prosperity, but it came at a price. Caesar was worshiped as a god. The military was an oppressive force. Taxes were high and payment was enforced ruthlessly.

Yet Paul commanded the Roman church to respect the authority of the empire's rule. His reason seems shocking: God instituted the government over them by His sovereign hand. To be subject to Rome's system was to be obedient to the will of God. And to resist the civil authorities was to invite judgment from God Who set it up as His plan. Paul even elaborates the reasons specifically further in his explanation by demanding submission at every level: payment of taxes, handing over revenue, giving respect, and honoring leaders (Romans 13:7).

We are in an election cycle (again) in the United States. It discourages me to see the endless blame and attack strategy that is 21st century American politics. But it is the government that God has instituted over me, like it or not, so I must respect it. So when I vote this coming Tuesday morning, I will be respecting what God has made. I can participate in it as one voice with my own small contribution of one vote. And I must respect that outcome as the wisdom of God because "there is no authority except from God and those that exist have been instituted by God". Romans 13:1 is true right now even as it was true when it was written about a brutal pagan empire.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

God can handle rejection.

I know your sitting down
and your going out and coming in,
and your raging against me.
Isaiah 37:28

God is not surprised, diminished, depressed or incapacitated by anyone's rejection of Him. God can handle it quite well. He has a sovereign plan in place to deal with everyone justly, including those who fight against Him with active rejection.

When Sennacherib came up against Jerusalem with the brutal power of the Assyrian army as his threat, he came mocking God. He ridiculed king Hezekiah but worst of all, he dared Israel's God to save them, as no pagan god had ever turned back the Assyrian superpower. The pride and swagger in Sennacherib's boasts seemed all too true to the citizens of Jerusalem. A brutal army outside the city gates prepared to bring Jerusalem to ruin. But the king of Assyria had never encountered the true God of heaven and earth. In response to a passionate prayer from Judah's king, God would humiliate the boastful Assyrian dictator.

God was intimately familiar with the situation. It did not catch Him off guard. Sennacherib's every move was God's intimate knowledge. He was well aware not only of the mocking voice of the Assyrian king, but also of his greatest weakness. In one night the entire army died in its sleep. And the Assyrian king, spared with only his life, quietly returned home impotent, only to die by assassination by the hands of his own sons later that year. God knew the raging of this king. He knew how to stop it. And He justly saw an end that would assert the glory of the God of Israel.

So over every person, institution, or movement that rages against God, the Lord is absolutely sovereign. Even the rejection of God by those who falsely trust human autonomy is orchestrated by God's hand for the ends of His glory and praise. When I see it in my day, I will be reminded of the humiliation of an ancient Assyrian loudmouth.

Monday, October 27, 2014

change & decay

Man wastes away like a rotten thing,
like a garment that is moth-eaten.
Job 13:28

Let's just say that this week has been a season reminding me of this truth. Sometimes the decay of life accelerates for some reason. You watch cherished parts of life change and crumble. It isn't evil... it is just part of the way the world is ever since sin changed things from God's perfect design for us. God is above it, somehow, in ways my eyes don't always see in the splintering decay.

The words of this old hymn are an insightful comfort to my soul:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, October 23, 2014


The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
Psalm 19:1-2

I have always really loved to study astronomy. I can sit outside under a night sky and marvel at the work of God. It amazes me to pull out my telescope and view the moon up close or to see Saturn's rings live with my own eyes. We live in a vast universe filled with the wonders of God's creative mind.

I believe that I have "scriptural" encounters with God. By that I mean that reading the Bible provides for me the opportunity (I believe the only opportunity that I should actively seek and promote) to "hear" the voice of God. But I also know that I can see God in creation. Some of my most life-stirring thoughts and confirmation about God have come just from such times. I vividly remember the summer of 1980, laying on my back in a mountain meadow and watching meteors streak across the Milky Way. I was in awe of God then. I know I celebrated God's creative power when I held my first wild brook trout in my hand. I've seen God's handiwork in the shimmer of the northern lights. I know God's power in the pounding cold of a mountain waterfall. I have been immersed in the depths of His love in the rolling ocean surf. I have been amazed at His diverse creativity snorkeling with colorful reef fish surrounding me. I have marveled at His greatness in the beauty of a desert canyon. I understood first in a way that I still cannot fully put into words what it is for God to be my Father when I held each of my newborn children close to my own beating heart. Creation confirms what His Word reveals.

I see You work in this world. I am astounded at the universe You simply muttered into meaning! I hold Your greatest thoughts in my hands when I open Your Word and listen to You there. Thank You for being such as accessible, meaningful, powerful Lord!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

people forget

And the people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side

Judges 8:34

I read these episodes in the Book of Judges and am incredulous. How could Israel so quickly forget what God had done for them? It seems crazy, as if mass amnesia affected them all. Exactly how does a nation forget its recent history?

This text has a clue. The reason Israel could so easily forget is that their hearts were idolatrous. They turned time and again to the worship of false gods. The text says they went after Baal with whorish hearts (Judges 8:33). A wild energy was devoted to the pursuit of false gods. They lusted after them like sex. And that misplaced affection led the nation to reinterpret their recent history, telling it without God present in it.

Spiritual decline begins not so much in absent-minded forgetfulness, but in deliberate fixing of the heart on an idol. And as that idol starts to direct the heart, God is further and further from the thoughts. Soon He is no longer even a memory as the new idol holds us in fascination and demands our worship as it controls us.

So this warning about the process of spiritual decline is personally instructive. It keeps us clear and aware of the dangers. We will worship something if we do not worship the Lord. That is the big repeated theme of the book of Judges.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

at home with God

From there he went up to Beersheba. And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham's sake.” So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac's servants dug a well.

Genesis 26:23-25

When Isaac conversed with God the impact of that meeting was so strong that he just moved into the place where it occurred. He simply wanted to live where he knew God was working in his life. He pitched his tent at the spot where God had encouraged him. He made it a habit to simply dwell with God. He lived there. It was beautiful.

After God encouraged Isaac with a renewed covenant commitment, Isaac seriously entered into the responsibilities of that relationship. He began to pray. He built an altar and offered sacrifices. He seriously committed to his relationship with God in a new and costly way. It was a powerful thing and God rewarded his willingness to stay there. A home was established in Beersheba. An altar was built for worship. A well was dug. His family settled in to life with God at Beersheba.

That picture is an encouragement to me right now. I did not sleep well last night. I haven't slept great for weeks. Worries of my own, the cares and burdens of the church, and the hurts of others that I dearly love kept me up. So I eventually gave in to the inevitability of short sleep. I sat up in the wee hours of the morning in a dark room in my favorite comfy chair and just prayed. It was both confusing at times and strangely clarifying. And after that I read my assigned passage and came upon this encouraging story from Isaac's life. God spoke loudly in His Word. I did not need a mystical voice. I did not have to do any weird twilight zone exercises or mental Jedi mind tricks to hear Him. He ALWAYS  speaks in His Word. The Bible is His voice. Just read it! And I did and am blessed. I am glad that I can live in my own home, Beersheba-like, and find God's peace.

Monday, October 20, 2014

we gain more than we give up

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life."

Matthew 19:29

The promise of Jesus to His followers is of eternal satisfaction, not just temporary reward. Jesus gives His disciples this assurance: it is well worth any personal sacrifice to follow Him. And that promise extends to those who follow Him today.

There are sacrifices both material and relational that we must make to truly commit to following our Master.  Jesus mentions the physical cost of houses and lands. No material asset should keep our hearts from Him. In the immediate context, Jesus has just seen the wealthy young ruler walk away from Him because he could not turn from his possessions (Matthew 19:16-22). Peter remarks that Jesus' disciples have left it all on the gamble of Jesus' kingdom. And that was true. Love any earthly possession and you cannot truly love Jesus. You are blessed by Him when you possess only Him.

Relationships also change. We cannot love any person more than the Lord, for it would make that person an idol. And Jesus warns that even the closest of family relationships is "left" to follow Him. Jesus must have my heart in order for me to be His disciple. It is more than just "learning". Those who only define a disciple as a "learner" miss this. Discipleship is a commitment to the core of what I want or what I love. And it is rewarded by Jesus intensely if I truly commit to being His disciple.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Christianity is a culture of love.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:9-10

Love makes the culture of the church a pleasant place. It leads to unity, service, and honor holding the church together beautifully as the Body of Christ. We should be known by our love. Jesus said it was to be the way in which His disciples could be found in the world (John 13:35).

What these two verses say about that love helps us know what it looks like. It is genuine and from the heart. It is not fake or manufactured. We know this through the commitment we have to disdain what is evil and cultivate holiness with each other. You can't get any more "real" than when we keep each other accountable for godly lives... in love.

We are to love with a strong family loyalty. Brotherly affection is family love. You don't turn family down. You don't turn your back on them. You care BECAUSE they are family. You live together, share together, love together, struggle together, care for each other up or down together, and rejoice together in a family together. You share all the experiences of life as a family. Christian love is a family experience.

We must love with intense honor and respect. Each of us should seek to "out love" the others around us. We honor each other with our care, not out of duty, but out of the respect for God's kingdom that we see in His church. We honor King Jesus when we love each other as He loves us, respecting Him as we respect one another with His love.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

peace for anxious hearts

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;

in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

But you were unwilling,

Isaiah 30:15

God longed to restore Israel, but their own sinful choices had them frantically running away from Him in the opposite direction. He longed to give them peace. God longed to calm anxious hearts. But as long as they rejected Himm, they could not find that peace.

God loves to show us His grace and mercy. Even as Israel ran from God and right into the wall of His justice, God offered His grace for their return. He waited to be gracious (Isaiah 30:18). The Lord loves His people. He longs to bless them if they would but stop running from Him and come again to Him.

And so His promise of peace is there for our own anxious hearts. The rest that He promises is the best. The quietness of soul that comes in trusting in God is the source of an amazing joy and an inexplicable perspective on life. It is what our hearts need to feel and our minds need to know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

sarcasm unleashed

Then Job answered and said:

“No doubt you are the people,

and wisdom will die with you."

Job 12:1-2

Sarcasm isn't always a good thing, but in this case with Job, it is a sign of his health. He is responding to yet another string of personal attacks disguised as "friendly advice". Sarcasm shows that Job has not been taken in by the cut-and-dried inadequate theology of the masses that his friends subscribe to vigorously. It shows he knows God better than they do.

This delicious dig at their counsel: "You ARE the people... wisdom dies with you..." shows that Job stills trusts God more than the people around him. He may be tired of their approach, but he can still make his case for the truth that God has revealed to him in his suffering.

So the right sprinkling of sarcastic humor punctuates and seasons Job at this point. It is an insight into his soul and though he is suffering, he refuses to change what he knows about God. It is a way to stand for the truth, maintain his perspective, and relieve some of the stress of the constant attacks coming from well-meaning but misguided counselors.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

always before me

I have set the LORD always before me;

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Psalm 16:8

God is always present. We cannot run from His intimate involvement in our lives. But we must be more than just aware of this. We must incline our hearts toward God so that we personally apply ourselves to the advantage that comes with the accessibility of a God Who is near.

David kept God "always before" him. He preoccupied his thoughts and purposes around God. Not only was God always with David, but David made conscious choices to keep his awareness focused upon God. And that way in which David applied himself to the relationship he had with God made all the difference. God was near, and David did not have to succumb to his worst fears. He could trust God because God was his foremost life's thought and commitment.

There is a strength in personally committing to good theology. It is one thing thought to just know that the scriptures teach God's omnipresence. It is a much better thing to hold your heart close to the nearness of God and habituate your life's experiences around that fact. Personal disciplines that center my day around Bible reading and prayer help to focus me in this way. And my life has been blessed even in struggles when I do this. So I purpose to set the LORD always before me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

second generation says "meh".

And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

Judges 2:10

This account of the history of Israel after the conquest of Canaan describes a culture that lost its spiritual roots. The story scares me because I see the same dangerous pattern happening today. The worship of God collapses when a new generation fails to appreciate where the old generation was saved by God's hand. In the case of Israel, once the land no longer needed to be fought for, the easy life lulled them from God. It got easier to adopt the idolatry of the pagans around them. They did not know the Lord nor His work for them.

I see it now. My parents came to Christ unchurched, making me a first generation Christian when I believed. The gospel was a new thing in our family. It saved us in every sense. I know the Lord and His works, even in tremendous pain and loss that visited my home. God is real and His word is true. I know what once was and I know how the gospel saved us. I am blessed.

But somewhere along the way I have watched the generation after me take this for granted. My kids did not experience the gospel change in quite the same way as I did. The "second generation" Christians don't see what the first generation ones do. It is thus easier for them to be lured away. Indeed, I have noticed evanglicals in their 30's and younger who have a disturbing casualness to orthodoxy and don't commit to a real engaging evangelism. We must encourage these young Christians to look for God at work lest they forget and the book of Judges become the epitaph of the church.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned many days in the land of the Philistines.

Genesis 21:33-34

A stranger there

faith's forefather

trusted God

and journeyed on

Flocks grazed

children played

in a land unowned

while they travelled on

Pitching tents

by faith living

pursuing the Lord

obeying God's Word

Content to believe

a land would one day be his

Abraham staked claim

and let God build his fame

Always a stranger

but a believer still

he wandered a land

seeing God's hand

A son now here

God's promise known

The old man believed

and good gifts received

Thursday, October 9, 2014

religion blinds; grace enlightens

He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

Matthew 5:13-14

The tragedy with the Pharisees was that as close as they thought their smug legalism got them to God, they were really totally alienated from God in their sin and self-righteousness. The real proof of this was their failure to recognize God when He spoke directly to them as Jesus. Religion blinded them and made them blind leaders of the blind.

When men twist God's truth to their own path, the result is a religion led by the blind. It is what Jesus encountered in the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. It can be found today. I have seen it far too often. I have even fallen for it in fundamentalist legalism of my past, and can slip into it again so easily. I remember being liberated by searching out the New Testament for myself in my teens and finding none of the works-based rules of my childhood in there.

And so I have been on a life's quest to live in that truth without reverting to simplistic rules that miss God's grace. I want to be a plant rooted in good soil by the Father. I want to be nurtured in His grace, live in it, grow in it, and show it in a world that needs grace over sin... not rules-based false righteousness that creates more sin.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

the gospel and social activism

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17

The gospel must be proclaimed for faith to truly exist on the earth. Faith comes by hearing. It is that clear. If the gospel is not preached, faith will not come and people will not be changed. It must be heard.

These days there is a lot of pressure for Christians to be involved in social action. I believe that such good works are a result of the gospel changing us. But they cannot really do what we hope them to do without the gospel. The gospel must attend our commitments to social change. We cannot end sex slavery, poor health conditions, water shortages, etc. on our own human power. Our own humanity got us into these messes!

The fact that the gospel has not attended recent cries for social action has created some really weird situations among Christians. We now have some "Christian gay rights activists". They have chosen to point out the evil of descriminatory prejudice while ignoring what the scriptures teach about homosexual practice. They conveniently ignore scriptural teaching on marriage to insist upon redefinition of marriage. But the gospel must address the entire issue, and not just the point that gets us social acceptance.

Christians should care about social issues. But we care with the gospel on our lips and in our hands. We know that hearing the word of Christ brings faith to some. And that faith in the gospel saves people who can then live the changed lives of the redeemed. The faith that comes by hearing is what the world needs most.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

God's plans, my praise

O Lord, you are my God;

I will exalt you; I will praise your name,

for you have done wonderful things,

plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

Isaiah 25:1

God's sovereign wisdom is to be praised. He is in control. Even when the world may seem to be collapsing, it cannot do so outside of Him and without Him having His way in it. This verse comes on the heels of judgment announced against Gentile nations. Chapter 24 is even more dramatic.... it is not just individual nations but the entire earth that is broken under the justice that will come in God's judgment. Read the chapter... the earth is a burned out, barely inhabited cinder of smoking ruin when God gets done judging humanity. And immediately the prophet is moved to praise. God's work is wonderful, even as it is frightful.

Nothing escapes God's sovereign control. It is a fact. And even the worst effects of a fallen humanity can be used to bring God glory. He is faithful even as our experience in a broken world is hard. He is true, even if humanity tells lies. He is sure, even if life is tenuous. He is worthy of worship, even when life events seem inexplicably awful.


I praise Your sovereign wisdom. I don't honestly understand all that happens in my life, but I know and I believe that You are faithful and true. Your plans formed of old shall not fail. You will be magnified in my life at every turn. And I praise Your grace in Your control of my past, my present, and my future.


Monday, October 6, 2014


Let him take his rod away from me,

and let not dread of him terrify me.

Then I would speak without fear of him,

for I am not so in myself.

Job 9:34-35

Job's wish is for a mediator, a true concerned person able to grasp both Job and God by the hand and settle out the "reasons" for Job's destruction at the hand of God. It is a plea that anticipates the coming of Jesus. Job is poetically prophesying and he doesn't even realize it. He is explaining one way in which Jesus was anticipated in the Old Testament.

Job's need for this is made more apparent by the attacks of his friends. They keep pushing him to consider that he had sinned in a way that made him "deserve" his situation as a punishment from God. Job contends that though he is sinful, God has done what He has, not out of punishment, but for some other mystifying reason that Job cannot discern. Hence his appeal for an arbiter to sort it all out.

Jesus is this advocate. We know that Christians have this assurance (1 John 2:1) that if we sin, Jesus is our "go-between" to the Father. And we should not dismiss that truth. Job would have been a lot less frustrated (and the book of Job a lot shorter) had he had then what we know now.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

corruption's cure

They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;

there is none who does good,

not even one.

Psalm 14:3

The natural state of the human race is that we are corrupted by our sin. We turn from God's ways. The effect of all the individual sins we do is that collectively humanity is twisted towards what is wrong. We will hurt one another. We will disobey God by our sin. We will destroy all that is around us. We live in an environment that is polluted by sin. It is our air and water, so much so that we cannot clean up the mess because there is nothing clean in us to work with. God must intervene.

This is our natural state. That does not mean that we are without hope though. God loves us even in our sin. His holiness met His love in Christ Who will redeem our iniquities and heal the damage of our sinful pollution. But first we must yield to our need of Him. We are powerless to correct ourselves. But God is mighty to save.

O Lord,

I trust You. I am a man of this world, born into a filthy environment, stained by my own sin, and in need of a Savior. And You, Lord Jesus, have saved me. You left me in this corrupt culture to lift Your lamp in the darkness and help others find relief in You. And so I learn Your truth and holiness and I share it in the gospel message. I can do no good except as Your grace transforms me and pours out of me in word, thought, and action!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

delight... not just duty

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Joshua 22:5

Loving God is loving and keeping His commands... at least as far as Joshua is concerned. You cannot love God and simultaneously decide to live contrary to His revealed Law. It doesn't jive. I like the way Joshua weaves love with devotion, delight with duty, heart's affection with obedience, and the soul with service. It can truly be no other way.

Religion is usually just about either knowing stuff or routinely doing stuff. But relationship with God is about the heart loving God and then following hard after what God has revealed. It is not blindly yielding to slavish demands. It is about the delight of the soul in the love of God. In observing the Law, the children of Israel were to love God, cling to Him, and serve Him from heart and soul.

That admonition speaks to my heart. I too am called to obey my Lord and Savior. But it must come in love of Him, not in blind rote ritual and not because of any intellectual assent alone. My heart must seek God and love Him first above all else. Even my own life cannot be my first concern. It is an enormous delight that my soul craves above any other thing.