Walking with God – in Practice

But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
(Joshua 22:5 NIV)

Similar to the Micah 6:8 passage, Joshua reminds the Israelites as they settle into the Promised Land to continue walking with the Lord.

As I continue to ponder, study, and consider what it means to walk with God, here are some practical thoughts that come to mind:

  • We are called to walk with God – God is not a dream, fable, idea, thought, concept, nor a myth.  God is real, and is a being that wants to have a relationship with us, as a friend.
  • We are called to walk with God – that means that He leads, and not us.  This takes humility on our part to listen and obey Him, not running ahead, and not lagging behind.
  • We are called to walk with God – walking is a common thing, not some mystical experience, and is something that nearly every one (except for medical / physical conditions) can do.  Walking is something that we can do regularly, as an active habit, and can be carried out with a normal pace over the course of a day.
  • Walking with God is an internal practice, manifested outwardly in how we interact with others.
  • Walking takes time.  It is not as fast an an airplane, a car, or even a bicycle.  But it builds character in the process.
  • In our microwave pace of society, walking slows us down and allows us to think.
  • Walking also allows dialogue and interaction.  Running does not lend itself to such conversation.

So how is your walk with the Lord?  He loves hearing from us, and speaking truth and encouragement into our lives each day.  May you enjoy your walk with Him today.

Blessings,
~kevin

Walking Humbly with God

Walking Humbly with God

With what shall I come before the Lord
    and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

(Micah 6:6-8 NIV)

In Micah chapter 6, the Lord tells Micah the prophet to plead His case against Israel (vv. 1-2).  He tells Micah to remind Israel of all the Lord had done for them (vv. 3-5).

In verses 6 – 7, the Lord (through Micah) asks Israel what they think will please Him.  Israel was quick to offer sacrifices to the Lord, but they thought their dedication to Him was satisfied and ended there.  They thought that after their obligatory sacrifices were made, they were free to do as they pleased.

In verse 8, Micah speaks on behalf of God, and reminds them of what God desires:

  • act justly
  • love mercy
  • walk humbly with God

Based on Israel’s history and the track record of other nations at the time, justice and mercy were not the norm.  The norm was that every person looked out for themselves, and God was to be appeased, not related to.  In non-Jewish cultures, gods were self-absorbed and angry, and required sacrifice to appease them.

God showed Himself different from the other gods, in that He desired a relationship with His people first and foremost. God was more interested in a relationship with Him, than in their sacrifices.  Moses made that clear to Israel in Deuteronomy 10:12-13.  Jesus also spoke about sacrifice vs. worship in Matthew 23:23, where He called out the Pharisees for dutifully sacrificing one tenth of even the herbs in their gardens, but missing the heart of compassion that God desired.

When we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:34-40), our relationship with Him comes first, before anything else, including sacrifices to Him.  Out of that relationship comes love for others as God works in and through us to care for others.

Micah reminds us that we cannot act justly and love mercy without walking with God.  We may try (on human terms) to provide justice and show mercy from our own power and will, but it will ultimately fail without the right heart attitude.

May we walk humbly with the Lord today, showing love and mercy as He has shown us through the example of Jesus, His Son as He lived and loved and sacrificed for us.

Blessings,
~kevin

God’s Presence

God’s Presence

33 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.”

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
(Exodus 33:1-3, 12-16 NIV)

Moses and God were incredibly frustrated with the Israelites.  God was holding up His commitment to let the Israelites go to the promised land, but said He was not going to go with them (v. 3).

Moses was not willing to lead the Israelites from their present location unless God went with them (v. 15).  Moses knew that to go without God’s Presence would end badly for all concerned.

Moses had a deep relationship with God, and they conversed often.  Exodus 33:11 says that “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”  While the Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites, they were meant to call the people into relationship with God, and not to be a checklist to be followed in place of a relationship.

Verse 16 captures the heart of Moses’ impassioned plea to the Lord.  He knew that God’s Presence with himself, and with each person of Israel was what separated each of them from everyone else on the earth.  The difference was their relationship with God and His presence with them, and not their culture, nor their customs, their race, religious practices, nor anything else.

And so it is with us who are Christ-followers today… God’s Presence living in us is what makes the difference in our lives.  Christ living in and through us is also what attracts others to the Lord.  When we live out our relationship with Him, and more importantly, as we allow Him to live out His purpose in us, others see that and say, “You have something I don’t have – what is it?”

Paul captures this idea well:

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
(Colossians 1:27 NIV)

May you experience God’s Presence, your hope of glory today, as you go about your day.

Blessings,
~kevin

Update on Today’s Post

Hi folks,

Apologies for the second post… this is the first time I have incorporated a video link, so am having to learn as I go.

For those of you receiving this post from email, you will need to click on the blog header hyperlink in your email (“God’s Providence”) and go to the website to see the video there.

Blessings,
~kevin

God’s Providence

Throughout our study of the book of Esther, we have considered God’s Providence, the reality of God working behind the scenes through normal, ordinary means to bring about His will and care for His own.

If you missed the introduction to the book of Esther, where we looked into the idea of Divine Providence, or if you just want to review, click here for the link to that post.

Below is a video link that demonstrates the idea of providence at a human level.  If we can love others unconditionally with our finite resources and limitations of time and space, how much more does our Heavenly Father love us?

The video is just under nine minutes; if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, fast forward to the 5:55 mark and watch the last three minutes.

Blessings,
~kevin

Esther Chapter 10

A Tribute to Mordecai

10 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores.And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.
(Esther Chapter 10 NIV)

The author ends the story by paying tribute to Mordecai and the good he did for the Jewish people.  God used Mordecai to watch over His people while serving a gentile king.

God raised up Mordecai to the office of Prime Minister (second-in-command only to the king), similar to Joseph under the Egyptian Pharaoh, and Daniel under the Babylonian rulers.  Like Joseph and Daniel, Mordecai served well under the king, and brought peace to the land during his tenure.  The Jewish people had not experienced peace with their captors / neighbors in a very long time, so this was truly a blessing from the hand of God.

Verse 1 states that the king instituted a “tribute” (tax) from one end of the kingdom to the other, even to the remote islands.  While this statement seems a little out of place, it was likely mentioned because the king put Mordecai in charge of collecting the tax from the various provinces.  Mordecai likely made sure the tax was administered fairly, and there was no corruption or scandals within the governmental ranks.

Throughout this book of Esther, we have seen God’s Providence, His quiet movement behind the scenes to protect and provide for His own.  How much that applies to us today, as we go about our daily lives, where the Lord uses people and places and things and circumstances to bless others and protect and provide for His own.

God is working all around us; most of the time, we are not even aware.  As we lay down our busy schedules at the foot of the cross, we make way for “divine interruptions” where God can use us to encourage and love and care for those around us.  God doesn’t need our skills or abilities (although He often uses them) – rather, He is mainly interested in our availability to serve Him and humbly be part of His plan and work.

May we have eyes to see, and ears to hear God at work around us, and faith to step into His calling.

Blessings,
~kevin

Esther 9:20-32

The Feast of Purim Established

20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration.  He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite,the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. 25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles. 26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.

29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. 30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom—words of goodwill and assurance— 31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. 32 Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.(Esther 9:20-32 NIV)

Mordecai wanted the Jewish people for all generations going forward  to remember what God had done for them, how God had given them rest from their enemies.  So he established the Feast of Purim and sent an official letter out to all the Jews across the Persian empire with a reminder about the nature of the feast, and how to celebrate.

In true Jewish fashion, good news was to be celebrated.  Listen to David’s words:

You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy…
(Psalm 30:11 NIV)

Mordecai wanted this memorial time to be one of feasting and celebration for what God in His Providence had done for the Jewish people.  This celebration was not to be about what the Jewish people had done for themselves, bur rather how God had intervened in their day of distress.

Verses 29 – 32 tells us that Esther also sent out a letter to the Jews across Persia to reinforce what Mordecai had written.  Note that neither of these letters were signed by the king, so they were not laws to be enforced, but rather, celebrations to be enjoyed.

God often instructed Moses to mark days on the calendar as official celebrations of what God had miraculously done on behalf of His people.  Examples included the Feast of the Passover as they left Egypt, the picking up of the twelve stones from the bottom of the Red Sea as they passed through, and the building of the alter on the other side with those stones as a memorial, the Feast of Booths, etc.

What “markers” or memorials do you have in your life or your family’s life, of how God intervened, either miraculously, or through His Divine Providence using regular means, for your good?  Do you celebrate those times each year, remembering and praising the Lord for His provision?  If not, now is a good time to make your list and add it to your calendar…

Blessings,
~kevin