THE APOSTLE PAUL #1

06/16/2020

Acts 20:16 –  Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time…in Asia for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem.”

The Apostle Paul was on his way to Jerusalem.  He knows if he stops in Ephesus, it will be hard to get away.  He helped start a church there and the congregation just loves him.  But he has something to tell them because he wants them to pray for him, so…

Acts 20: 17-19:  From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them, ‘You know how I lived the whole time I was with you…I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.’”  

Acts 20:22a –  “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem.

“Compelled by the Spirit…” The King James Version says, I go bound in the Spirit,” bound like the rudder on a ship that’s been tied down so the ship can only sail in one direction, or like the steering wheel on a car that’s been locked in place so the car can only travel straight ahead.

I am bound. I am compelled. I am focused. I am unexplainably and irresistibly driven by something deep inside me. I can’t explain it, but I know it’s from the Lord. The Lord is calling me. The Lord is sending me. The Lord wants me to go to Jerusalem.

Acts 20:22b  “I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there“ I am going…not knowing.The purpose is unclear. The future is uncertain. I’m going in faith and I believe the Lord is asking me to trust Him. 

Acts 20:23 – “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardship are facing me.” I’m sure it won’t be easy, but because the Lord wants me to do this and He is with me, as long as the Lord is in control, I know it will all be worth it,

Acts 20:24 – “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace,”

The only thing that keeps me going; the only thing that gives my life any purpose or direction is to finish the race and complete the task.  Paul saw the Christian life as a race; a long distance, cross-country marathon that required a lot of discipline, a lot of determination, patience, and perseverance on the part of the runner.  

 The Amplified Version says, “I want to finish my race with joy.” I want to sprint across that line with a big smile on my face and both arms raised in praise and victory; the way all winners finish a race. 

In this series of teaching posts, we’re going to be watching the Apostle Paul, paying particular attention to the people the Lord brought into his life and the situations the Lord led him into, to see how the Lord used these people and these situations to help Paul finish the race and joyfully complete his task.

We won’t be conducting a strict verse-be-verse study of Paul’s  complete itinerary. We’ll just be looking at a few key stops along the way. The whole objective of this study  is to learn how to recognize and fulfill the will of God for our lives. 

After saying good-bye to the elders from Ephesus,  Paul gets back on the ship and continues his journey toward Jerusalem.

Acts 21:3-5a  “After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre where our ship was to unload its cargo. Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit, they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way.”

Paul says he is being “compelled by the Spirit” to go to Jerusalem.  These disciples in Tyre are urging Paul “through the Spirit” not to go to Jerusalem.   Isn’t it supposed to be the same Spirit?  What’s going on here?     

When Paul gets to Caesarea, (21:8) he meets Agabus

Acts 21:10b-12  “A prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, ‘The Holy Spirit says, in this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and hand him over to the Gentiles.’ When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.”

Paul’s response was (21:13b) “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord, Jesus.”  “For me, to live is Christ.”(Philippians 1:21)  Life only has meaning for me; life only has value when I’m living for Jesus.  Dying for Jesus is even a greater honor.

 Acts 21:14    “When he would not be dissuaded;” when he would not allow himself to be un-persuaded; when it became painfully obvious that he was not going to let anyone or anything change his mind; “we gave up.”

 Do you know who those “we” happened to be?  “We” included Luke, one of Paul’s best friends who’s writing this all down.  It included Philip, a fellow apostle, one of the original 12 apostles.  It includes the prophet Agabus and the congregation in Caesarea.  The prophet couldn’t talk him out of it.  The church couldn’t talk him out of it.  Even his best friend couldn’t talk him out of it.  He’s going to Jerusalem. “We gave up and said, ’the Lord’s will be done.’”  

Does that mean that if I believe God is calling me to do something and my wife, my friends, my pastor and the rest of the church think I’m crazy and keep trying to talk me out of it; I shouldn’t listen to them?  I shouldn’t take anyone’s’ advice.  I should just do what I believe God is calling me to do regardless of what others are saying or what others think?  Does that mean I’m not being stubborn; I’m just being “compelled by the Spirit.” 

Before I allow myself to jump to that dubious conclusion, I’d better take a closer look at what is happening to Paul here.  There are3 things to consider when we want to know what the Lord’s will is.     (1)  What does God want for me?  (2)  What do I want for me?  (3)  What does everybody else want for me?   We need to reconcile all three of these areas before we can figure out what the will of God might be.

Lord willing, we’ll get into that next Tuesday. Hope you’ll continue to follow along and find these posts to be relevant and helpful. Invite someone else to get in God’s Word with Pastor Buj.

Joshua #9 – Sharing the Victory

06/09/2020 –  The Wrong Place at the Right Time

PHASE 3 – Living out the Word of God – The battle of Jericho is underway. 

 Joshua 6:14 – “So on the second day they marched around the city once and they returned to the camp. They did this for 6 days.”  They marched around the city of Jericho for 6 days without saying a word. 

There are two things we can do when we’re marching around the city trying to be obedient when we’ve been ordered not to say a word.

(1) We can keep doing what the Lord has asked us to do.  We can keep listening to those trumpets, stay focused on Jesus, remember what He has commanded and promised, and keep marching as we’ve been told-  OR, 

 (2) We can spend the whole day thinking about what we’re doing, asking ourselves a lot of questions, and trying to second guess the Lord. 

The first few days they marched around the city were probably pretty exciting as they were thinking about what the Lord was going to do for them.  About the third or fourth day, I imagine it was starting to get a little boring.  By the end of the week, it was undoubtedly getting old. This is ridiculous.  There’s got to be more to it than this. 

By the last day, the seventh day, they’re probably thinking, this is taking too long. What are we waiting for?  We should have attacked at night and taken them by surprise.  Now they all know we’re coming.  They all know how small and unprepared we are.

Because the Lord commanded His people to remain silent the whole time they were marching, they would not be able inject their own brilliant ideas or infect each other with their own personal anxieties, doubts, and fears.  He didn’t want His army to defeat itself by creating an epidemic of negative thinking and lack of trust. 

Victory is not possible unless the Lord is in complete control. Since the day the manna stopped and Joshua met that man with the drawn sword in His hand, things would never be done the same way again.

            Every believer who’s totally committed and surrendered to Christ has to fight the battle of Jericho.  As long as we’re determined to fully live for Jesus; as long as we’re determined to stand up for Jesus in a world that worships and serves other gods, we’re going to be engaged in spiritual warfare against principalities and powers of darkness in the heavenly realms. 

As we continue to engage in that warfare, we’re going to learn that:

 (1) Every battle is different. We’re constantly coming up against new challenges and new obstacles.  Every battle is different, and we don’t fight them all the same. 

(2) Every battle has a purpose. The outcome of that battle always accomplishes something in us.  It always makes a change in us.  It always accomplishes something in the church and changes something in the church.  Every battle has a purpose. 

(3) We’ll never learn how to do this.  We’ll never master the art of spiritual combat.  The Lord will always be teaching us something new.  We’ll always have to depend on and trust in Him for the outcome.  We’ll never be able to take the lead.  We’ll always have to follow.  We’ll never learn how to do this.

(4)  We’ll never fight, and we’ll never win, any battle alone.  We’ll always be in this with the family of God.  When one struggles, we all struggle.  When one cries, we all cry.  When one laughs, we all laugh.  When one wins, we all win.

Jericho is about being in the wrong place at the right time. When we’re fighting the Battle of Jericho, we find ourselves in a  place we’d rather not be, at the time the Lord wants us to be there. We find ourselves doing what we’d rather not do when the Lord is telling us to do it. We’re fighting the Battle of Jericho when the Lord puts us in a place where we feel completely out of place. 

We’re fighting the Battle of Jericho when we feel the need to say something, but the Lord is telling us to be quiet. We’re fighting the Battle of Jericho when we just want to keep quiet and mind our own business, but the Lord keeps giving us something to say and He won’t let us rest until we say it.

  We’re fighting the Battle of Jericho when we want to be doing something, but the Lord is telling us to wait, or when we’d rather not get involved, but the Lord keeps telling us to do something. It’s always the wrong place at the right time.

Jericho is where we learn to let the Lord have control of our lives.  Jericho is where we discover we have no control of our lives.  In Jericho, things only go the way the Lord wants them to go and if we try to interfere, it makes things worse and everything just takes longer.  

Joshua 6:16 – “The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, ‘Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.”

 Joshua 6:20 –  “When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed, so every man charged straight in. and they took the city.” 

  In order for us to live the satisfying, productive, victorious, abundant life the Jesus has always intended us to live, the first wall that has to come down is the protective wall of our own independence; our defiant human will; our determination to stay the way we are; to hide behind, to continually excuse and justify our behavior; refusing to change or to be changed; insisting that it’s just the way we are and no one’s ever going to change us.  But the Battle of Jericho will change us. 

“They took the city.”  How?  By being willing to be in the wrong place at the right time.  By faithfully continuing to do everything the Lord wanted them to do the way He wanted them to do it. 

They achieved the victory; they reaped a harvest of blessing because they did not get tired of doing what they Lord had told them to do.  They did not get discouraged and they refused to give up.  Every personality trait was in submission to the will of God.  The Lord takes what we are individually, and He makes it all work together to accomplish His purpose. 

Hebrews 11:35-36: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”    

As we’re fighting the Battle of Jericho, when the world looks at us, they won’t see us as separate, weak, imperfect individuals.  All they’ll see is Jesus.

Next Tuesday, Lord willing, we’ll be moving on to see what we can learn from the Apostle Paul about recognizing the will of God.  As always, I appreciate your comments and questions. Do you know of anyone you could encourage to get in God’s Word with Pastor Buj?

JOSHUA #8 – Winning the Battle

06/02/2020

We’re ready for phase three of the Lord’s battle plan for taking the city of Jericho, living out the word of God; taking the knowledge we’ve gained from all those Bible studies and the sermons we’ve been listening to and putting it to work in our lives.  It’s going out and doing what the Lord has called us to do.  It’s time to stop learning how to fish and just go out and actually start fishing.

Israel is setting out to possess the land the Lord promised Moses He would give them.  Their first obstacle; their first challenge was the city of Jericho.  Joshua revealed the Lord’s plan for taking the city. It sounded ridiculous, even to his most loyal and trusting followers, but the Lord is divinely serious and in order to be successful, in order to achieve the victory, everything has to be done exactly as the He wants it to be done.

Joshua 6:8-9: “When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant followed them. The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets and the rear guard followed the Ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding.”

The Church received its marching orders from Jesus when He commanded us to “Go into the whole world and make disciples of all nations.”  (Matthew 28:19-20)  The march has begun. The church is on the move.  

Joshua 6:10a –   But Joshua had commanded the people, ‘Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices. Do not say a word.’”

When Joshua said that there were probably some people thinking; “That’s just fine with me.  I’m not a talker. I’m a doer.  I’ll do anything you ask me to do Lord, as long as you don’t ask me to stand up in front of people and say something.  Trust me, I won’t say a word.”

But there probably also people who were thinking; “Don’t say a word?  You can’t possibly expect me to march all day without saying anything. The Lord has shown me so much.  He has taught me so much.  I can’t keep it all to myself.  I’ve got to share it with others.  They need to know about our God.  I’ll do anything you say Lord, but please don’t ask me to be quiet. 

Joshua 6:10b –  “Do not say a word until I tell you to shout. Then SHOUT!

 I’ll just let the shouters do the shouting.  I told you I’m not a talker and I’m definitely not a shouter.  I’m a quiet person.  I like to keep my feelings to myself.  I prefer to keep my faith private.  I’ll go along with this for now.  But if he tries to make me shout, I’m out of here.  

Joshua 6:11 – “So he had the Ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the people returned to camp and spent the night there.”

That went well, don’t you think?  I know they were watching us.  I could hear them snickering.  Did you see the size of those walls?  They look even higher up close.  They must be thirty feet high and at least six feet thick.  Did you realize there was another wall behind the first wall and it’s at least twelve feet thick?  If we ever do manage to get past that first wall, what in the world are we going to do about that second one?  

Joshua 6:12 –  “The priest took up the Ark of the Lord,” The Ark of the Covenant represents the presence of the Lord among His people just as the Holy Spirit is present within believers and the church today.

Joshua 6:13a – “The seven priests…marching…and blowing the trumpets,”  This was definitely not meant to entertain or impress the Canaanites with how well Israel’s priests could play those trumpets. The priests were blowing “Shofars, “ or ram’s horns. Those horns were blown to unite the army and to give them confidence and courage. The horns were also intended to alert the enemy that Israel’s God was coming against them.

The Word of God calls the Lord’s people to worship. When God’s people unite to praise the Lord, it serves as a witness to everyone around them that Jesus is real, Jesus is alive, and Jesus is here

Joshua 6:13b – “The armed men went ahead of them.” The armed guard out in front represents the “Prayer Warriors” of the church; those faithful souls who devote themselves to calling on the name of the Lord for the protection, for the provision and for the victory of the church. There can be no victory without unceasing, fervent prayer leading the way.

Joshua 6:13c – “The rear guard followed the Ark…while the trumpets kept sounding.”

 The rear guard represents careful study of God’s Word guarding against false teaching, stopping the enemy’s attempt to dilute or corrupt the truth of the Gospel.  It’s another way of saying, “Don’t forget to lock the back door.” Don’t get carless in your understanding of the truth. Don’t slide into compromise.

1 Peter 5:8 –  “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Stay together. Don’t drift back. Don’t go off on your own. We need each other.

I realize that this post is a little shorter than the others. But if I keep going, the post will become too long. So, we’ll pick it up again, Lord willing, next Tuesday. As always, I appreciate your comments and questions. I hope these teachings make the Word of God more relatable to whatever you may be dealing with right now.

JOSHUA #7 – Fighting the Battle

05/26/2020 –  You’re Serious, Aren’t You?

The Bible, especially the Old Testament, is often criticized for being extremely brutal and violent. The truth is that the ancient world was a very brutal and violent place and extreme measures were needed to survive. The Bible shows us how our God, the only real God, is greater than all the other gods that are created out of the hearts and minds of a sinful world.  Our God alone can defend us, protect us, provide for us, deliver us, save us, and display His love for us. Our God alone is worthy of our love, our trust, and our praise.

The important lesson for us to learn from reading about the many battles Israel had to fight in the Old Testament, is that ALL these battles teach us something about our struggle against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”(Ephesians 6:12)  

When we study the battle of Jericho and study all the many other battles fought against the “flesh and blood” enemies of Israel, we learn the basic strategies and principles that make us victorious in our spiritual battles that we may be fighting daily.

The Lord’s battle plan for taking the city of Jericho and for being victorious in spiritual warfare, unfolds in three phases: knowing the word of God, proclaiming the word of God, and living out the word of God.

PHASE 1Knowing the word of God: learning the will and the ways of the Lord and how He gets things done.

First, the Lord reveals His will to Joshua.  The Lord is unfolding His unique and perfect plan for victory.  This is how God wants it done.  We can’t take a step without knowing the word of God, learning the plan of God, and discovering the will of God.   Doing it any other way always ends in disaster.

            Joshua 6:3-5: “March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of ram’s horns in front of the Ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”

So, you’re telling us to march, blow trumpets and shout until those walls fall down.  Then we walk in and take the city. That’s it? That’s your battle plan? You’re kidding, right?  I know your ways are nothing like our ways, but that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.  But you’re not smiling.  You’re serious, aren’t you, Lord?  Thinking we know better, challenging the wisdom of the Lord with our human understanding is a tragic and fatal mistake.

1 Corinthians 1:19-20 – “For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate. Where is the wise man? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has God not made foolish the wisdom of the world?”  

The world really has no wisdom except in its own mind, but it keeps trying to convince everyone that it does.  Believe what you want.  Think what you want and laugh at me all you want.  But if the Bible says those walls will collapse when the people start shouting and those trumpets are blowing, you’d better get out of the way because those walls are coming down.  The battle begins with knowing what the Bible says.  

PHASE 2 – Proclaiming the word of God.

Joshua 6:6 –  “So Joshua…called the priests and said to them, ‘Take up the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.’”   

Joshua told the priests exactly what the Lord had told him.  This is more commonly known as “the foolishness of preaching.”

I Corinthians 1:21 – “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.”

I Corinthians 1: 23-25: “But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who God has called…Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is greater than human strength.”

It’s not enough for me, as a preacher, to believe something that seems so ridiculous and foolish to the world.  Because it’s gotten me so excited, I’m determined to get you to believe it too.  I want to share what I’ve discovered.  I want to keep talking about what I’ve heard from God’s word until you can hear it too and become as excited about it as I am.

Joshua 6:7 – “Advance! March around the city, with the armed guard going ahead of the Ark of the Lord.”

 “Advance!”  Step out.  Start marching!  Jesus has told us to “Advance.”  He said go out into the whole world.  Preach the gospel and make disciples.  “Repentance and forgiveness of sin will be preached in His name to all nations,”(Luke 24:47)   The march has finally begun.

We’re ready for PHASE 3 of the Lord’s battle plan, living out the word of God; taking all the faith that our knowledge has created, taking all the information that we’ve gained from preaching and all those Bible studies and putting it to work in our lives.  It’s going out and doing what the Lord has called us and taught us to do. 

But, to keep this post from becoming too long, I think we’d better save that for next Tuesday. I appreciate hearing if these postings have been clear and helpful for you.

JOSHUA 6 – Pick a Side

 05/19/2020 – Preparing for Battle

Joshua and nation of Israel have just crossed the Jordan River and are preparing to possess the land the Lord promised Moses He would give them.  

Joshua 5:13a – “Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand.”

The man was obviously a soldier.  But he wasn’t just dressed for battle, he was standing there as if the battle had already begun.  His sword had been taken out of its sheath and he was ready to use it.

 Joshua 5:13-14: “Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’ ‘ Neither,’ he replied, ‘but as commander of the Lord’s army I have now come.’ Then Joshua fell face down to the ground in reverence, and asked, ‘What message does my Lord have for his servants.” It’s clear from this passage that the one Joshua saw was not an ordinary man and He was more than an angel.

For one thing, in the Bible, “angels” are always referred to as “angels.” This “man” identified himself as the “commander of the army of the Lord.” That is the title given to “the Lord of Hosts,” ADONAI , the Lord God Almighty,God Himself.

Secondly, “Joshua fell face down in reverence.” He worshipped this “man” and was not rebuked for doing it. The Lord is the ONLY one who may be worshipped.

Third, Joshua calls the man, my Lord,” meaning “master,” and refers to himself as, “his servant.” That’s not something you would ever say to an angel.

Finally, in Joshua 5:15 – “The commander of the Lord’s army replied, ‘Take off you sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” That’s what Moses was told to do when God spoke to him from a burning bush. (Exodus 3:5)  “God is Spirit”(John 4:24)  Moses was in the presence of an invisible God “who lives in unapproachable light,(1 Timothy 6:16) but Joshua was in the presence of God who appeared in the flesh. Jesus is the Lord of Hosts. He is the commander-in-chief of the Army of the Lord. (Revelation 19:11-16)

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON, ours or theirs?  “Neither.  I’m not here to take sides.  I’m here to take over.  “As commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”  God is not on OUR side. If we want to be victorious, we have to be sure we’re on HIS side. He is the Lord of Hosts, the Commander. He plans the strategy and He gives the orders.  We’re either WITH Him or we’re AGAINST Him. (Matthew 12:30)  So, pick a side. The battle is not ours, it’s His

A consecrated life is no longer MY life.  It’s completely, 100%, His life.  He bought it with a price. (1 Corinthians 6:20) A consecrated life belongs exclusively to Jesus and He really does have a plan.  He really does have a strategy.  He really does have a message for His people.  His ways are nothing like our ways and when He tells us His way, He expects us to listen.  When He shows us His way, He expects us to accept it, even though we think our way is better and it’s not the way we’ve done things before.

Joshua 6:1 – “Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.”   The city was completely shut up and locked down and it was because of the Israelites.  But the Israelites had no way of knowing that. It all seemed so terrifying and impossible to them from the outward appearance. But, everything seems terrifying and impossible to us when we fix our eyes on what we see, instead of fixing our eyes on Jesus, (Hebrews 12:2)

Israel had no idea that behind those enormously high walls and thick gates, there was a terrified army that had heard how Israel’s God brought them through the Red Sea and across the Jordan River.  They were not looking forward to finding out what Israel’s God was planning to do to them. 

Satan may not be afraid of US, but he IS afraid of the one standing in front of us with a drawn sword in His hand.  He’s there!  Don’t forget that.  Never lose sight of the fact that, whatever we’re going through, Jesus is always standing there in front of us with a drawn sword in His hand to make sure we conquer and overcome. Nothing formed against us will stand. (Isaiah 54:17)

Joshua 6:2a – “Then the Lord said to Joshua…”   The strategy for overcoming, the plan for becoming more than a conqueror rests entirely on what the Lord says.  Everything we do together has to be anchored in and faithful to the word of God, the Bible.  The word of God reveals truths to our hearts that our human eyes cannot see, and our rational minds choose to ignore.  The word of God creates a faith within us that overrides and defies all the fears and anxieties our human imagination and understanding struggles to create.

  Everything in the Bible is God-breathed, God-inspired, infallible, unchangeable, and true.  Nothing else can be trusted to produce a satisfying, productive, victorious, and ever-lasting life.  We know we’re going to win before the battle even gets started.  God’s word has guaranteed it for us, and nothing can change it.  We will not lose because God cannot be defeated.  If we’ve picked the right side, we know we’re going to win but the victory won’t come without a fight. 

Joshua 6:2b – “See, I have delivered Jericho INTO YOUR HANDS. along with its kings and its fighting men.”

The Lord doesn’t keep us from the enemy or shield us from the damage the enemy can cause.  By faith, He wants us to see that He has delivered the enemy into our hands.  We put on the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:11) Then when we’re face-to-face, nose-to-nose, eyeball-to-eyeball with the devil and his angels, He tells us to take our sword of faith, stand firm, and “resist.”(James 4:7)  

As long as our lives are completely surrendered to Jesus, we’ll continually be engaged in spiritual warfare. We’ll constantly be fighting to possess the abundant life Jesus came to give us because the enemy wants to stop us from living it. It’s time for the battle to begin and, Lord willing, we’ll look at that next Tuesday. I hope these studies are meaningful, relevant, helpful, and worth the time spent reading them. Love hearing from you. Invite a friend to get in God’s Word with Pastor  Buj. 

JOSHUA 5 – Are We There Yet?

05/12/2020 – Come Out, Cross, and Fight

Joshua 5:1 – “Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites before we crossed over, their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.”

What a shame Israel didn’t know that. Ever since they arrived in this strange and hostile new land, they’ve lived in constant fear and uncertainty about the nations around them.  All the cities had huge walls.  The armies were large and well equipped. Israel had no idea that their enemies had given up before the battles even started. The Amorites and the Canaanites weren’t afraid of Israel, but they were scared to death of what Israel’s GOD was able to do. No god they believed in was able to do those things.

It’s a shame Christians don’t know the truth about how Satan feels and what he’s thinking. How tragic that Christians continue to struggle daily with doubt, anxiety, discouragement, and fear.  They don’t realize that Satan knows he’s not going to win.  He’s no match for the Lord God Almighty and he knows it.

Satan knows his time is short and, even though he knows he can’t win, he’s determined not to go down without a fight.  He wants to take down as many believers as he can. He may not be able to change the outcome, but he’s going to do everything he can to delay the inevitable.

Joshua 5:12 – The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year, they ate the produce of Canaan.”

How can we tell if we’re in the Promised Land? When can we expect to start living that abundant life? We’ll know we’re in the Promised Land when the manna stops. Every morning, for the past 40 years the Lord would drop the manna down from heaven and the people would gather it up and eat it. It didn’t taste very good, but it kept them alive.  It was a minimum amount of nourishment that required a minimum amount of effort.

But, one day, the Israelites went out and there was no manna on the ground. When we have surrendered our lives to Jesus and we’re totally consecrated to Him; when we’re ready to start living the quality of life the Lord has prepared for us to live; He will not spoon feed us anymore.  We become accountable; we become responsible for our own spiritual diets and nutritional health. We can’t complain about “not being fed.”

 Joshua 5:12b – “They ate the produce of Canaan.”  There is a delicious, nutritious feast of great food prepared for us at the banquet table of the Lord; everything from the milk to the meat and it’s all in God’s Word.  Look for it.  Find it.  Eat it and enjoy it.  It’s all prepared especially for us by the Holy Spirit.

OK, so we’ve passed through the Red Sea. We’ve crossed the Jordan River. Are we there yet? Can we finally relax and live life to its fullest? Not yet. There’s one more detail that has to be taken care of.

From the start, Israel had no choice.  If they wanted to stay alive, Israel HAD to come out of Egypt. They were in bondage. They were forced to make bricks without straw. They were starving. They were suffering. If they had not come out, they would have died there as slaves.

Like Israel, we have to COME OUT of our Egypt TO ESCAPE our bondage to sin and the power of sin over our lives. We have to come out of our Egypt to escape God’s judgment for our sin. We come out of Egypt when we repent. We have to be willing to accept the reality of our sin and repent.  We have to turn away from that sin and turn toward Jesus. We have to come out of that old life, or we’ll remain captive to it and will eventually die in our sin. We have to accept Christ as our Savior and trust in Him alone for the forgiveness of sin. (John 3:16)  

  After coming out of Egypt, Pharaoh and his entire army were coming after them to take them back to Egypt, back to their life of misery, hopelessness, and bondage.  They had to pass through the Red Sea to live and be free. (Exodus 14)

Do I have to pass through the Red Sea?  Absolutely! It’s part of the escape from Egypt. When Israel passed through the Red Sea, all their old enemies, including Pharaoh, were destroyed. They knew they would never be slaves there again.  The Red Sea is a type of baptism. It doesn’t save us but it publicly declares that our old life is dead, and, in Jesus, we have been made new.  We will never be the slaves of sin again.

Do I have to cross the Jordan River?  Not really, it’s not a matter of life or death.  If you’re saved, you can be sure that, by grace through faith, you’ll be in heaven someday. But you’ll continue to wander around aimlessly with little fruit to how for your efforts until you’re ready to cross your Jordan River.

            We cross our Jordan River when we decide to stand firm against the powerful circumstances in our lives that have become barriers; that have become obstacles; that have become excuses for not fully serving the Lord.  We consecrate ourselves in full surrender. We put Jesus first and we move forward.  We CROSS TO OBTAIN the life the Lord desires us to live.

  But before Israel can relax, settle down, and begin to enjoy their new home, they have to FIGHT TO POSSESS; to possess the new land they’ve been given. 

Some of life’s toughest battles are fought right after we decide to stand firm for Jesus.  But, if Jesus came that I might live a full, productive, and victorious life, if the Lord wants me to enjoy my life, if He wants me to live in peace and be at rest, if the Lord wants my life to have meaning and purpose, if He’s giving me these things, if these things are mine, why do I have to constantly be fighting some kind of battle to possess them?

 The land of Canaan was occupied by people who had been there a very long time.  They considered it to be their land and they were not about to move over or move out without putting up a fight.  This world is currently being ruled by what the Bible calls, “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”(Ephesians 6:12) It’s what we, as believers, commonly refer to as “spiritual warfare.”

Satan considers this to be his world.  He’s used to giving the orders and having his own way.  The principalities and powers that rule this world are not just going to roll over or move out without declaring all out spiritual warfare against anyone who tries to stand against them.

  When the Lord gives us joy, they keep trying to take it away.  When the Lord wants to heal us, they fight to keep us from receiving it.  They’ll lie to us and tell us that the Lord doesn’t want us to have these things.  They’ll keep saying He’s angry at us.  He’s given up on us.  We’ve failed Him.  We’ve disappointed Him.  We don’t have enough faith.  Life was better before we became Christians.  That old life really wasn’t that great, but it was safer.  It was quieter. 

Living the abundant life can be a real struggle, but the rewards are worth it.  Like Israel, we fight to possess a full, productive, and victorious life.

Next time, Lord willing, we’ll watch Israel begin fighting to possess their inheritance.  Love hearing from you.  I hope you’re finding these blogs to be helpful, meaningful, relevant, and worth the time spent reading them. If so, invite others to get In God’s Word with Pastor Buj.

JOSHUA 4 – Don’t Forget to Remember

05/05/2020 – Think, Look, and Remember

We just saw the nation of Israel cross the Jordan River in a surprising and miraculous way. Everyone is safe and everyone is dry but, before they moved on, there is still one little detail the Lord wants taken care of.

Joshua 4:1b-3: The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Choose twelve mem…one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan…and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight. While the priests are still standing in the River bed holding the Ark of the Covenant, the Lord tells Joshua to choose twelve men to go back to where the priests are standing, have each one pick up a large stone and carry it to the other side..

Joshua 4:6-7: to serve as a sign among you.  In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord.  When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be A MEMORIAL to the people of Israel FOREVER.

  Israel was commended to observe the Passover every year. The Lord knows the importance of remembering.

Exodus 12:24-27: Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land the Lord will give you as He promised, observe this ceremony. And WHEN YOUR CHILDREN ASK YOU, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ tell them ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egyot and spared our homes when He struck down the Egyptians. 

 The Lord wanted Israel to remember their deliverance from Egypt. After that dramatic crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus 13, Israel began celebrating the Passover in the Wilderness. (Numbers 9:5) He wanted every generation to know WHAT happened, HOW it happened and WHY it happened. He knew they would soon turn away from Him if they forgot it.  So, He commands them to observe the Passover meal every year. Don’t forget to remember it. 

            It was the Lord’s way of telling them, as you celebrate the Passover, THINK of where you were.  You were a slave and you had nothing to look forward to but death.

LOOK at where you are. You’re alive and you are free. You have hope and a future. You are no longer a slave. You are on your way to a new home and a new land.

 Now REMEMBER how you got here. It’s not a result of anything YOU did.  You never could have gotten yourselves out bondage in Egypt. GOD DID IT ALL FOR YOU. If He hadn’t, you would have died there

            Here, in Joshua 4, Israel has just crossed the Jordan River in a very dramatic, and miraculous way. He commanded them to carry twelve large stones out of the Jordan River and set up a lasting memorial because that is something else the Lord never wanted them to forget.

            Joshua 4:21-24: In the future, when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground….The Lord your God did to the Jordan what He had done to the Red Sea when He dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.

 I want everyone of earth to know of my mighty power and I never want you to forget it. If you forget to remember, you will become unfaithful and that close, loving relationship I want us to have together will be destroyed.

THINK of where you were: wandering aimless in circles for forty years, never accomplishing anything and never getting anywhere, constantly grumbling and complaining.

 LOOK at where you are. This land is your land, the land the Lord promised Abraham He would give to you. You didn’t earn it and you don’t deserve it, but the Lord is giving it to you as a gift. The Lord did it FOR you.

REMEMBER how you got here. Just like Egypt, you could not get here on your own. None of this would be possible without the Lord your God. Tell your children and teach your children to tell THEIR children about the meaning of those twelve stones from the Jordan River.  Don’t forget to remember what those twelve stones represent.

Nothing destroys our close, intimate, personal relationship with the Lord faster than forgetfulness. When we’re facing a crisis, we cry out to the Lord for help.  In mercy, love, and grace He reaches out and delivers us.  Of course, we’re thankful when He does that, and we give Him joyful praise.

But as our situation improves and we’re no longer facing a crisis, we become increasingly focused on our daily routines. We get busy. We spend less time in prayer, less time in praise, and less time in His Word. In other words, we quickly forget. The Lord has commanded us to remember.  Because of our sinful, human nature, if we do not remember we will not remain faithful.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same wy, after supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

 Think of where you were:You were separate from Christ, excluded…foreigners…without hope and without God in the world.(Ephesians 2:12) You were a slave to sin. You were dead in sin, deserving nothing but the eternal wrath of God, and there was nothing you could do about it. You could not save yourself and nothing you tried to do could change God’s mind and make you acceptable to Him.

Look at where you are: But now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far away have been brought near. (Ephesians 2:13a)

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John3:1)

Let us then approach the Throne of Grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

We no longer stand in condemnation for sin. (Romans 8:1) Because of God’s grace, those who repent of their sin are forgiven and their sins are remembered no more. (Hebrews 8:12)

            REMEMBER how you got here. You who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! (Romans 5:-9)    Moses did not part the Red Sea. Joshua did not stop the waters of the Jordan River and WE did not do anything to make ourselves acceptable to a holy God. Jesus paid it all. All to Him we owe.

            For it by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.(Ephesians 2:8)   Eat the bread. Drink the cup and remember the one who died and rose again to save you and give you an abundant, everlasting life.

 DON’T EVER FORGET TO REMEMBER.  The Bible makes it very clear that the leading cause of unfaithfulness is forgetfulness.

Thanks for staying with this. Lord willing, we’ll be back next week to get In God’s Word with Pastor Buj. Love hearing your comments and questions.

JOSHUA 3 – Go and Stand

4/28/2020 – Crossing the Jordan River

            After forty years of aimless wandering, the nation of Israel is finally ready to enter the land God promised Abraham He would give them. But in order to enter that land, they have to cross the Jordan River. They have consecrated themselves. They are determined to do whatever the Lord says. They and God are finally on the same page.

            Joshua 3:9 – Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘COME HERE AND LISTEN to the Words of the Lord your God.’My sinful, human nature wants to do all the talking. It wants the Lord to come and listen to MY words; listen to my grumblings, my complaints, my excuses, and my fears.

            But in order for Israel to BE where the Lord wanted them to be, to HAVE what the Lord wanted them to have, and to DO what the Lord was telling them to do, they had to be willing to LISTEN to what the Lord wanted them to hear.  The only way they could cross that river was by faith and faith comes from hearing the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

            The Jordan River was at flood stage. There was only one way to cross that river right now. There was only one way the Lord would bless, and it took a willingness to come…and listen to the words of the Lord. The redeemed nature, the renewed nature is thirsty to hear and is eager to go wherever the word of God is being spoken. If we’re not hearing the word of God where we’re going, we should be going somewhere else.

            Joshua 3:10 – This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that He will certainly drive out (your enemies) before you. This will erase all your doubts. This will remove all sense of being able to do this on your own. This is something you’ll never be able to forget. You’ll know the Lord is with you and know you’re going to make it all the way.

            Joshua 3:11 – See the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you.  Wherever the Lord is leading us, whatever difficult obstacle or impossible situation might be in front of us, we can have the assurance that the Lord our God is not only with us, but He has also gone ahead of us. He has made a way for us and He is waiting for us.

            Joshua 3:12-13: Now then, choose twelve men from the Tribes of Israel, … And as soon as the priests who carry the Ark of the Lord… set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing donstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap. WOW! Really? That’s exciting. I can’t wait to see that happen.

            But Joshua, where did you get that part about the waters being cut off and standing in a heap as soon as the priests step foot in the river? I can’t find where the Lord ever said that. In chapter 1, He said He was giving us the Land. He promised He would always be with us and would never leave us or forsake us.

            But I don’t see where He ever said anything about the water in the river. All He said was, Go and stand in the river. To me, that sounds like the priests are going to be standing under water and the rest of us are going to be in over our heads.  But Joshua believed the Lord was going to do “amazing things among” His people. (v.5)

                For the past forty years, Caleb and Joshua were both unshakably convinced that, regardless of how difficult or how impossible their situation seemed to be, they were going to live in that land because the Lord had promised to give it to them.

            The first time the ten spies came back and told Moses what they had found, eight of them began listing all the reasons why they shouldn’t go there. Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said,’WE SHOULD GO up and take possession of the land FOR WE CAN CERTAINLY DO IT.(Numbers 13:30)

            Now, forty years later, when Joshua gets to the bank of the Jordan River and sees how deep it is and how strong the current was, he must be thinking, “I know this is what the Lord wants us to do.  He’s promised to be with us and to go before us, so I’m not going to be afraid and I’m not going to worry about it. I don’t understand it, but somehow God will make a way.

            God has a plan.  He knows the end from the beginning. He sees the complete picture.  I don’t understand how or why, but I know we’re not going to die in that river.  It’s not all going to end in that river because I believe the power of God is greater than the power of that river and the grace of God is deeper than the depth of that river.  Somehow our God will make a way. Have you ever stared into the face of a frightening, seemingly hopeless, and impossible situation and said, “I don’t know HOW, but I know I CAN, because God WILL?”

            Joshua 3:14-15a: “So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them.  Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during the harvest.  The river is at flood stage but that doesn’t matter to the Lord.  All things are under His control. When the Lord is in charge, it doesn’t matter how deep it is or how impossible it looks.

            Joshua 3:15b-16: Yet as soon as the priests…reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing.  It piled up in a heap a great distance away…while the water flowing down to the Sea of Arabah…was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. Their feet never even got wet. Is that “amazing” enough for you?

            We have to be willing. We have to trust God enough to get INTO it before we can find out what He’s going to do ABOUT it. It’s not going to STOP until we STEP in it and discover that it’s not nearly as bad as we imagined or feared.

            My fearful, sinful nature looks at the future, sees what lies ahead, and says “What’s going to happen to me when I get into that river?” But Promised Land Faith says,” I can’t wait to see what the Ark of the Covenant is going to do to that river.”

            Joshua 3:17 – The priests…STOOD FIRM ON DRY GROUND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE JORDAN.  Everyone who has repented of their sin and accepted Jesus as their Savior is like those priests who were carrying the Ark. God is present in us. We have this treasure in jars of clay. (2Corinthians 4:7)   His love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us, (Romans 5:5)

            His word is living in us.  His power is at work in us. Nothing can possibly stop us.  Nothing can harm us No mountain is unclimbable. No river is uncrossable. No battle is unwinnable because Jesus Christ is living in us. Wherever we go, whatever we may step into, we’re always carrying the presence of the Lord.

Consecrate yourself.  Disconnect yourself from everything that’s competing for your attention and devotion and attach yourself completely to Jesus and watch Him do amazing things in your life.

            Lord willing, we’ll meet here again next Tuesday. I’d love to hear your comments and questions.  Invite a friend to get In God’s Word with Pastor Buj.

Joshua 2 – Be Prepared

4/21/2020 – Preparing to cross the Jordan River

            Joshua 3:5 – Joshua told the people, ‘consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’Basically, CONSECRATE means to attach yourself to something. Disconnect yourself from everything else and attach yourself to one thing. The only way we can get to where we want to be is to disconnect ourselves from everything else and attach ourselves to the Lord. The only way our lives will ever have any real and lasting purpose or direction is to become “set apart” or to“consecrate” ourselves, attach ourselves completely to Him.

            If the Lord has no plans for my life, MY plans are pointless. If the Lord has no purpose for my life, my brief life on this earth is a complete waste of time. But if I can honestly say that the purpose of my life is to glorify the Lord as He fulfills His plans for me, I will never be held captive to anything. I will never be a victim. In Christ, I will always be free and victorious. I will overcome every obstacle. I will conquer every challenge because Jesus has overcome the world.

            When we are willing to detach ourselves from our own personal interests and selfish ambitions to seek first His Kingdom, when we are willing to consecrate ourselves and attach ourselves completely to Him,  when we can honestly say, For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,(Philippians 1:21) we will see the Lord do many “amazing things” every day of our lives.

Israel is following the Ark of the Covenant. Their attention is focused on the Word, the Grace, the Power, and the Presence of their God. They have consecrated themselves. They have abandoned all other gods, all other interests, and all other plans and attached themselves to the Lord alone. It’s taken forty years for them to get to this point but now they are ready to cross the Jordan River to enter that land the Lord promised Abraham He would give them.

            Joshua 3:6-8 “Joshua said to the priests, ‘Take up the Ark of the Covenant and pass on ahead of the people.’ So they took it up and went ahead of them. And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘ Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so that they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests wh carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, GO AND STAND IN THE RIVER.

            Normally, standing in the Jordan River wasn’t much of a problem. Ordinarily, crossing the Jordan River was not a big  deal. They might have been forty years younger, but Joshua and Caleb both crossed that river when they first went to check out the land with the other spies,

            But at this particular time, according to 3:15, the Jordan is at flood stage all during the harvest. The Jordan River was flooded. The water level was at its highest, and the current was the strongest. Anyone with an ounce of common sense would know that this was the worst possible time to be trying to cross that river.

But the Lord always seems to ask us to do something at the worst possible time, doesn’t He? He always seems to speak to us about things like “tithing” at the worst possible time, doesn’t He? The Lord never waits until we have a little extra income to speak to us about tithing. God speaks to us about giving more when we think we have the least to give. He speaks to us about giving Him the “first fruits” when we’re struggling to give Him the leftovers.

“This is the worst possible time to be crossing that river, Lord. It’s been forty years. Would it hurt to wait another week or so until the water level goes down a bit? It would make things a lot easier.”

I’ve noticed that I always want to wait until I think I can do it before I’m willing to try. I’m always ready to do something when it doesn’t take any faith to get it done. But the Lord always asks us to do something when we have to depend on Him completely in order to do it at all.

The Lord commanded Israel to take the Ark of the Covenant and go…stand in the river when the water was the deepest and the current was the strongest, when they had absolutely no hope of doing it by themselves.

            The Lord told Moses in Numbers 14:24,My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly. That “different spirit” the Lord was talking about is a spirit, it’s an attitude, a mind-set, a determination that’s eager to do whatever the Lord says and is eager to go wherever the Lord leads.

 Well, right now Joshua, the Lord is leading you into that river and telling you to stand there. The Lord is asking you to do something that doesn’t seem to make sense and is impossible for you to do without Him.

            After knowing what the Lord wants, that “different spirit” that brings us to where the Lord wants us to be and helps us live the life Jesus came for us to live, is eager to do whatever the Lord says,  Joshua 1:16 – Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go, so if you want us to cross this flooded river right now, that’s what we’re going to do.

            I may be afraid, but my desire to please the Lord is greater than my fear of doing what He wants me to do  My desire to please the Lord is greater than my fear of enduring what He’s asking me to go through. Is YOUR desire to please the Lord greater than your fear of doing what He’s asking you to do or enduring whatever He’s asking you to go through?

            When the Lord brings us to the edge of OUR Jordan River, it’s not just doctrine anymore. It’s not hypothetical anymore. It’s not just empty words now. When we get to the edge of our Jordan River, IT’S TIME TO LIVE OUT OUR FAITH. It’s time to back up our words with action instead of trying to justify our actions or excuse our inaction with a lot of eloquent words.

            That’s all the words we have time for this week. Lord willing, we’ll cross that river next Tuesday. Remember, I love hearing from you. If you have any questions or comments, please drop a reply. If these posts are helpful or meaningful for you, please encourage others to follow along and get “In God’s Word with Pastor Buj.”

Joshua – 1

4/14/2020 – Following the Ark of the Covenant           

We’re actually going to begin in Joshua 3, but I’d just like to get a running start in chapter 1.  

After wandering around in the wilderness for the past forty years, the nation of Israel is finally ready to enter the land the Lord promised Abraham He would give them. The Lord miraculously delivered Israel out of a life of misery and bondage under Pharaoh in Egypt. Their deliverance started with the Passover and culminated with the parting of the waters of the Red Sea. As dramatic as that was, it wasn’t enough to cause God’s people to trust Him completely and remain faithful to Him

            The Lord miraculously delivered US out of a life of bondage to sin that began when Jesus shed His blood on the cross and culminated when He rose from the dead so that whoever would believe on Him, would not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

            Unfortunately, like Israel, many Christians, after their salvation, never seem to progress very far in their spiritual development.  They often seem to be wandering in a kind of spiritual wilderness, going around in circles, never accomplishing very much, and living a life that is far below the “abundant” life the Lord intended us to live.

The only way for believers to break the cycle of aimless wandering is to reach the point of being willing to put our complete trust in God and determine that we will live for Him and be obedient to His Word regardless of our circumstances.

                  Joshua 1: 2 The Lord says to Joshua Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about ready to give them (the Israelites).By GRACE, Israel has been given a second chance but in order for them to break the cycle of aimless wandering and begin living in the land the Lord wanted to give them, they had to cross the Jordan River.

                  Get ready to cross the Jordan river.  Get ready to change. Get ready to leave the safe, predictable, routine you’ve gotten so comfortable with over the past 40 years. Get ready to go where you’ve never gone and do what you’ve never done as the Lord moves you to where He wants you to be, to the life He wants you to live and to the work He has for you to do.

                  Joshua 3:1 – Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan where they camped before crossing over.

                  Is there some kind of Jordan River running in front of YOU right now? There always seems to be some kind of barrier, some type of obstacle stopping us: some reason, some excuse, some form of fear or anxiety. Whatever it is, it keeps pulling us down and sweeping us away whenever we try to make a deeper commitment to the Lord. We just can’t seem to move beyond it. Hopefully, what we learn from this study will help us overcome that.

                  Joshua 3:2-3a: After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people.  These are commands. This is how the Lord says it must be done. We’ll never be able to accomplish this our own way. The only way we can do this is by believing and obeying God’s Word.

                  Joshua 3:3b – When you see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God…you are to move out from your positions and follow it.  It seems like everybody today is either chasing something, running away from something, hiding something, or following something. 

                  Some are chasing after material wealth or power. Others are pursuing pleasure, seeking attention, or longing for the approval of others. Some just follow their own instincts. They only trust themselves because they don’t trust anyone or anything else to lead them. They’re determined to make their own way through life. This current time of social distancing and lock-down should make all of us question if what we’re following can take us to where we want to go. Israel was commanded to follow the Ark of the Covenant.

                  Inside the Ark were the Ten Commandments. Those commandments that Moses received on Mt Sini represented the WORD of God that revealed the WILL of God and explained the REQUIRENMENTS of God for His people.

                  The Ark also contained a piece of manna, that heavenly bread that kept them alive during the forty years they were wandering. It represented the LOVE of God, the GRACE of God, and the FAITHFULNESS of God to provide for His children even though they showed themselves to be unworthy and ungrateful.

                  Aaron’s rod was also in the Ark. It was the rod the Lord used to convince Pharaoh to release Israel from Egypt. It was the rod Moses used to part the waters of the Red Sea. It represented the awesome, mighty POWER of God, the power to save, to deliver and to protect His people.

                  The Ark of the Covenant with everything inside it, represented the presence of God among His people. It was Israel’s most precious and most sacred possession and they were commanded to follow it.

                  Joshua 3:4a- then you will know which way to go since you have never been this way before.   Do YOU know which way to go? Do you know where you’re going? Does it really matter which way you go? Are you concerned about the direction your life is headed? Are you sure you’re not lost? If you keep following what you’re following, are you sure it will take you to where you want to be?

                  The Bible says there’s a way that seems right, but it ends in death. (Proverbs 14:12)    Jesus said that the road that leads to life is very narrow, but the road that leads to death and destruction is very broad and that’s the road most people choose to walk on. (Matthew 7:13)

                  All roads do NOT lead to the same God. All religions are NOT worshipping the same God. If whatever we’re following or pursuing doesn’t bring us to Jesus, we’re headed in the wrong direction.  The path we’ve chosen to walk on is a dead end.

                  Joshua 3:4b – But keep a distance of about a thousand yards (about ten football fields) between you and the Ark.  At that distance, you couldn’t possibly see the Ark even if you were in the front row. You had to KNOW the Ark was there. You had to BELIEVE the Ark was there.  You had to REMEMBER the Ark was there.

                  When we’re facing hopeless and seemingly impossible situations, even though we can’t SEE Him, we have to KNOW the Lord is with us. We have to BELIEVE the Lord is with us and we have to REMEMBER the Lord is with us just as He promised He always would be.

                  but do not go near it.  Sin was the reason no one could get near the Ark. God is a holy God, perfectly clean and without flaws or defects. Sin causes a separation between God and anything that is unholy, imperfect, and defective, including you and me. We all have sinned. (Romans 3:23)

                  The Law required Israel to offer sacrifices for sin every day, but they were still not able to get near the Ark. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest was allowed to get near the Ark to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. But He had to do that every year.

                  But now, because of God’s grace, repentant believers no longer have to keep their distance. We have been invited to draw near to Him. When Jesus shed His blood on the cross for our sin, the veil of separation that made us keep our distance, was torn down so that all who are trusting in Him alone for forgiveness and salvation can approach the Throne of Grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.(Hebrews 4:16)

                  Got to stop here until next time. Would love to hear from you. Hope these studies are meaningful and helpful. Encourage someone you know to get into God’s Word with Pastor Buj.

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