Family Conflict

Joshua 22:1-34.

What do you do when one member of the family choses a direction the rest of the family does not agree with?

One member of the family goes a different way from the rest. How is this to be handled?

Joshua 22 tells us of a family conflict that nearly broke out into open war. Three tribes (Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh) had chosen to settle EAST of the Jordan River. The Land of Promise toward which Israel had journeyed for 40 years was WEST of the river. The other 9 tribes did not like it that these 3 tribes were stopping short of the destination.

War almost broke out and was only averted by calmly talking the situation through. I find four lessons:

  1. Latent anger in a family is deadly. Most families have some sort of challenge. Issues can last for decades.
  2. Good actions can be misinterpreted and unnecessary fights break out. The 3 tribes built an altar. Their intention was good. They wanted a memorial witness to their allegiance to their brothers on the west side of the river. But, the 9 tribes saw the building of the altar as a sign of idolatrous intent by the 3 tribes.
  3. The actions of one member of a family can affect the whole family. The 9 tribes saw the perceived idolatrous actions of the 3 tribes as provoking God’s judgment on ALL ISRAEL.
  4. Clear communication can avert further injury and possible tragedy. Conflict must be defused. The best way to do this is by asking questions and listening to answers. The original cause of the conflict (the latent issues) may not get solved. But, the immediate war can be avoided. Peace is possible, but it requires clear communication.

As time passes, all families go in different directions. Decisions are made and steps are taken. Israel settled in the Land of Promise even while 3 tribes stopped just short of the mark. Destinies are determined by such decisions. God may be more interested in HOW we walk these paths than He is in WHAT and WHERE it all ends up. Let’s love each other — even when we disagree!

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Discerning the Times

Luke 12:56. “…You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

Interpreting the times.

Discerning the times.

Implicit in Jesus’ words is the indictment: WE OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO SEE CLEARLY WHAT IS HAPPENING IN OUR DAY!

In an era of fake news — at a time when credible sources are rare — when cynicism abounds — God’s people are called to think clearly, to make good judgments, to take steps in accord with righteousness — to shine brightly.

I am concerned that vast portions of our society are today being sucked into conformity to an unprecedented moral agenda. I am concerned that we shake our heads at darkness and stand dumbfounded as the earthquakes open beneath our feet.

I EXPECT AN AWAKENING. I ask for it in myself. May God’s people awaken to Who He is IN our world.

Jesus lived in a chaotic time and He calls us to represent Him in our times. That requires DISCERNMENT — the ability to “see through” the situation. Discernment exposes hidden agendas and recognizes ultimate implications. There is a gift of the Holy Spirit called “discerning of spirits” (I Co. 12:10). God the Holy Spirit is giving us that gift today. May we live it out IN JOY and FAITH.

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The Sanctuary and the Sea

Psalm 77 is about REMEMBERING. It is one of the 12 Psalms of Asaph, who was a great worship leader of Israel during the formative years of the nation.

In a moment of distress, Asaph REMEMBERS. He remembers 5 things:

  1. In verse 3, he remembers GOD — who God is! He recounts the character and attributes of God Himself.
  2. In verse 6, he remembers his own MID-NIGHT SONG. He remembers the times he lay awake meditating, praying, seeking, calling out — singing.
  3. In verse 10, he remembers THE YEARS. He recalls the ways God has shown His hand in by-gone days.
  4. In verse 11, he remembers THE WORKS OF THE LORD. He reflects on the times God showed up and DID things.
  5. In verse 11 again, he remembers GOD’S WONDERS. God has done miracles for us. He has rescued us. He has done what no one else could do.

As a result of remembering, Asaph sees an important part of God’s plan for each of us. God’s ways are in the SANTUARY and in the SEA (verses 13 and 19).

The sanctuary is the place we meet privately with God. The sanctuary is the personal relationship we have with Him in which we kneel, we worship, and we sense His love and grace upon us.

The sea is the deliverance He has given us. The obvious reference in Psalm 77 is to the Red Sea and Israel’s definitive deliverance from Egypt. God parted the sea and Israel passed through on dry land. God made a “path in the great waters” (verse 19).

It is a blessed thing to slow down and REMEMBER. He has met us in the sanctuary and in the sea.

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Healthy Eyes

In Luke 11:36 Jesus teaches us about eyesight — not the natural eye but the spiritual.

“The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good (healthy), your whole body is also full of light. But when your eye is bad (unhealthy) your body also is full of darkness.”

Seeing is essential to health. This is not an exercise in positive mental attitude, but rather in REVELATION.

What do you see?

What hand do you see at work?

We can see one of three forces at work in our lives: the hand of God, the hand of man, or the hand of our enemy the devil. Most people see only the hand of man. This may take the form your own hand or the hand of those around you. It may be the hand of government or the hand of business.

The Kingdom of God is advanced by those who can see God’s hand in their affairs. The good plans of God are not matters of happenstance, luck, or human ingenuity. The advance of God’s Kingdom is a matter of seeing, believing, and obeying.

May our eyes be opened today to see the Lord. He walks before us if we will see Him. It’s like stepping out of darkness into light. Healthy eyes lead to a healthy life.

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Possessions

Deuteronomy 2:1-37.

Deuteronomy 2 speaks of Israel POSSESSING THE LAND. This is the land of promise, long prophesied as the place in which Israel would find fullness of identity and fruitfulness.

But, of note is the PREREQUISITE to possession of the good land. Three times in Deuteronomy 2 Israel is told that which they would NOT possess. (Dt. 2:5, 9, and 19)

There are many false-futures on the way to the real and good future. There are many good places that can deter us from the best place. Three times God said, “This is not it,” before He uttered, “Begin now to possess it.” (Dt. 2:24, 31).

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Between the Dead and the Living

“And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped.” Number 16:48 (NKJV)

A plague had broken out within the people of Israel as they journeyed toward the Land of Promise. This deadly plague had occurred in conjunction with their mental and spiritual attitude (Num. 16:41). They had fallen into COMPLAINING about virtually everything — the food, the water, the way Moses was leading — everything!

This inward practice produced an outward plague.

As a response Aaron took fire from the altar. Carrying the holy fire in a censer, he ran into the midst of this dying people and STOOD. As a result, the death and dying was halted and life was restored.

A plague has also broken out in our day. I am not referring to the COVID pandemic. I am referring to the cynicism, the anger, the hatred rampant in our land. It is killing us.

It is time for someone to get holy fire from God’s presence and carry it into the “midst of the assembly.” We need to stand between the dead and the living. We bring the LIFE found in Jesus into the DEATH that works like a malignant cancer.

Only by an intervention of God can our land be healed. Only by the mediating work of Jesus can this plague be stopped. It is time for the “Aaron’s” of our day to GET FIRE, CARRY FIRE, and love as never before, speak as never before, shine as never before. This and only this can stop the plague.

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Romans 4:13. The Heir of the World

or the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. Romans 4:13(ESV)

What a promise. Like so much of the Bible, there are diamonds of truth laying along the path as we simply read. Paul drops a phrase as he unfolds the power of a faith-filled life. The phrase is “heir of the world.” God promised Abraham and his spiritual descendants that by faith an inheritance is given them!

We are all interested in INHERITANCE. Such gifts are valuable not only for the monetary value but also for the heritage of those bequeathing them to us. God almighty made a promise to Abraham that was world-impacting — that he would be “heir of the world.”

That promise comes down to us by faith in Jesus Christ. I behooves us to learn what this means. For many, the promise of the Gospel is a promise of HEAVEN. We certainly agree with that, but the promise here is not final destination but present circumstance: a life in the world.

It is worth unpacking the vast implications of the promise God makes to each of us today that as the seed of Abraham we would be “heirs of the world.” I think this means (at least in part) that we are called to lead our world rather than follow our world — we are called to influence and redeem or world rather than flee it and curse it.

The followers of Jesus are to be a REDEMPTIVE FORCE in the world that will usher in Christ’s peaceable and blessed Kingdom. We are ambassadors who have been given an inheritance that was lost millennia ago by our original father Adam. By faith in Jesus, we participate in the work of redeeming a fallen world. We are “heirs of the world.”

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A Man of God and a Lying Prophet

A STRANGE STORY

I Kings chapter 13 tells a remarkably strange story. It is the story of a man of God and a lying prophet.

The setting is the early days following the division of God’s people into the Northern Kingdom (called Israel) led by King Jeroboam and the Southern Kingdom (called Judah) led by King Rehoboam, Solomon’s son.

One of the first things Jeroboam had done after breaking away from Judah was to establish rival worship centers. Bethel and Dan were set up in the North to give Israel a Temple mirroring the one in Jerusalem. The big problem was these northern “temples” were pagan in nature. Continue reading

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The Best and the Worst

SOLOMON THE BLESSED MAN

Solomon was a blessed man. Following the lead of his father David, he led Israel to the pinnacle of international fame and prestige. Solomon’s wisdom was legendary. Yet, from the start, seeds of his downfall were sown.

Solomon may not be considered the worst political king in Israel’s history, but he certainly embodies the worst aspects of Jewish spiritual history. He had such a great start, but his end was not good — not good at all. Continue reading

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II Peter 3:10-11. What Manner of People Should We Be?

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, II Peter 3:10-11 (NKJV) Continue reading

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