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Archive for April, 2010

God’s “I’s”

It was going to be a long, bloody, costly campaign.

An entire swath of land to possess. Embedded, war-like tribes to uproot. Hundreds of thousands of troops, many new to warfare, to lead into battle. And the iconic leader of this ragtag, sometimes dysfunctional army had, after decades of disappointments and deliverances, just passed off the scene.

The new general had his work cut out for him, looking across the river at the land that was his destiny. Joshua was, by no means, a wimpy figure. He had been Moses’ second-in-command, the leader-in-training. This was his time, his moment.

No-one could have blamed him for running off in corner and hiding.

But God did not elevate him to this place to hesitate, or retreat. He was to lead. And to do so, God gave Joshua his “I’s.”

“Arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them…”

“Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you…”

“Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you…”

I will not fail you or forsake you.”

“You shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”

And, the summary of all these “I’s”: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

On the bank of every Jordan, at the threshold of every new challenge, the temptation is to take stock of “me.” Bad idea. No strength, no courage to be found considering my own pathetic abilities.

But looking at it with God’s “I’s”? That’s a whole ‘nother story.

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Baseline to Finish Line

Was reading this morning in Psalm 69, a prophetic writing pointing to the abandonment and agonies of the Messiah as He would suffer for the sins of his people.

It’s pretty gruesome. When Jesus is called “Man of Sorrows” in the famous hymn, this psalm can easily be viewed as source material. Mocked. Scorned. All His earthly friends slinking off in the other direction so as not to share His humiliating (and undeserved) fate.

Alone. A target for the arrow of God’s wrath, taking it Himself so that all those who’d believe in Him would be freed from it.

Being overly uptight (internal wiring that is very slow to change!), I have often worried about reaching the “baseline” of being acceptable to God – sinful and flawed person that I am. Yet, looking at this psalm, I see that it is folly to think this way. God also “sets me securely on high” – He hears the needy, sets the prisoner free, and revives the heart. It’s not about me.

But more – what about the finish line? Will I make it through the treachery and trouble and evil that surrounds me (inside and out)? In wonderful imagery, we are assured that we’ll inherit the chosen city (Zion) and dwell there. God’s salvation is not just a one-time event, to get us to the baseline. It’s an every-moment care, all the way to the finish line.

Which makes today a happy day. For this overly-intense person, a day to learn more how to be carefree. To learn a lesson from the background picture on my computer monitor and live as a spring flower, soaking in the rays and letting growth happen.

Because, ultimately, it’s not up to me. And that’s a good thing…

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Reading through the Old Testament Book of Proverbs with my boys in the morning (and no matter how “Old” it is, the pithy truths there are ever-green!), I’m struck with the calls to resist, and the warnings against resisting.

Don’t resist God, His commandments, His generous offer of nearness, His provision, His good and holy ways.

Do resist, with all vigor, the siren calls of evil people and the temptations that pull continually at our hearts.

Resistance against God is futile. An ant may as well oppose a Hummer. It’s the way of death.

Resisting all that keeps us from God is required. It is the noble charge to His image-bearers. It is the way of life.

You will spend your life resisting – that much is clear. The question is: will it be futile? Or fruitful?

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Connect with Steve Woodruff

Twitter: @swoodruff

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