Honeymoon Period (Joshua 7:2-5)

It was giggles and winks. The happy couple were on their honeymoon and their public display of affection was both endearing and distracting. While most onlookers wished them well, a few sarcastically commented, “How long before the honeymoon period is over?” This term is usually applied to marriages but has been adapted for other situations. For example, in business relationships, one may ask this question after a successful deal is closed. In the beginning, all involved parties are smiles and pats on the back but when problems arise, cracks may occur. Before long, the honeymoon period is over and conflict inevitably results. 

What about spiritual matters? The Bible gives us an interesting account of the nation of Israel after Joshua had taken command and led them across the Jordan river. Their first victory was a miraculous triumph, conquering the walled city of Jericho. Joshua then sent spies to survey the next city of Ai and, brimming with confidence, they informed Joshua that they could easily conquer the city with far fewer men. The result was an embarrassing defeat. The honeymoon period was over. 

Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.” So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away. 

Joshua 7:2-5 (NLT)

What was the reason for their defeat? The Israelites did not seek God’s approval or advice before they attacked. God then revealed to them that one of their own, a man named Achan, had sinned by not giving all of the plunder from their previous battle to God. Overconfidence, greed, and disobedience brought the spiritual honeymoon period to an end.

It does not have to be this way. As Christian believers, we are part of His Church, the bride to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are spiritually yoked to Him and He promises to bless us exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. We can always remain in our spiritual honeymoon period because He is God, the perfect bridegroom. 

Amen!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Insider Story (Luke 24:31-32)

I love programs that have the host or guest give an inside view of events that occurred during a famous historical event. These insider eyewitness accounts often shed new and unexpected light, and sometimes, their accounts completely rewrite the history of what happened. The Bible records one such event through a very dramatic encounter. 

It was three days after the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. All of the followers of Jesus Christ were feeling utterly defeated. Their Lord was dead. Three years of listening to His teaching, seeing and experiencing His miracles, and receiving His intimate fellowship were gone. Their hope was gone. Two of Jesus’ followers were walking on a road to Emmaus, a small village outside of Jerusalem. They were dejected and discussing the events of the past few days. Unknownst to them, the Risen Jesus Christ appeared alongside them but God prevented them from recognizing Him. 

He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” 

Luke 24:17-18 (NLT)

Jesus walked alongside these two men and explained to them all of the writings of Moses and the prophets, concerning all the things written about Him and how He was to die and be resurrected. When they arrived at Emmaus, Jesus broke bread with them and God opened their eyes. 

Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 

Luke 24:31-32 (NLT)

Can you imagine? The God of the universe was walking alongside these two men, explaining His master plan for redemption! Yet, for several hours, God prevented them from recognizing Jesus. Yet, they knew they were listening to something very special, so much so that their hearts burned within them as they listened to Jesus. They were receiving the ultimate insider story of God’s plan of redemption and salvation for the entire human race!

This is how God shows His love to us. He meets us wherever we are walking in life. Even if we don’t recognize Him when He is guiding and instructing us, He is always there, giving us the insider story of why we exist and why He loves us. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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More Curses Than Blessings (Deuteronomy 28)

Psychologists debate the merit of whether individuals respond better to positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement. I believe that in the short term, negative reinforcement is a better motivator but for long term results, positive reinforcement is superior.

I don’t know if God agrees with this but certainly His commands, which are recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy, could support this. When the Israelites completed forty years of wandering in the desert, after being miraculously delivered out of slavery in Egypt, God wanted to spiritually prepare them to enter the promised land of Canaan. 

The entire 28th chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy focuses upon blessings and curses that await the Israelites depending upon their actions. It is instructive that the fourteen blessings that are listed in verses 1-14 begin with the following promise.

Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.

Deuteronomy 28:1 (NASB)

In contrast, there are at least forty eight curses listed in verses 15-68. These include such horrific statements like the following:

The LORD shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them, and you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.  Your carcasses will be food to all birds of the sky and to the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away. 

Deuteronomy 28:25-26 (NASB)

There are nearly three times more curses as there are blessings that are promised to the Israelites if they do not obey God. Why? If I was present when these cursings and blessings were being declared by God, wouldn’t I have obeyed God? After all, He performed ten miracles to deliver me from Egyptian slavery. He miraculously provided a nutritionally complete food, manna, to sustain me for forty years. Wouldn’t these be enough to ensure my obedience? Isn’t this positive reinforcement enough? It wasn’t enough for the Israelites, and I am quite sure, it would not be enough for me. Although no one wants negative reinforcement in the form of punishment, it may be the only way to break down our stubbornness and reluctance to obey God. Only when we are punished and learn our lessons will we be willing to serve God and receive the positive reinforcement and benefits that He desires to lavish upon us. 

The wisdom of God is infinitely greater than our faithfulness to Him.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Multiple Email Threads (Psalms 147:4-5)

“So please send the slides and reports to Dr. Smith. I am copying his secretary on this.”

“Will do. Thanks.”

“Spoke to the oncologist, Dr. Harris. Please send the case to him at Empire Oncology.”

“Ok, will do so as soon as I receive the original slides from the laboratory.”

“I am the patient. Thank you for everything you are doing for me! I can pick up the slides from Dr. Wong’s office.”

“Just got off the phone with Dr. Lopez. He wants to review the case first, so please send the case to him at the university, attention to David Dean, his secretary. Copying David on this.”


These email threads continued through several more exchanges. Not all the recipients were included in all the emails and several recipients responded several hours after receiving the first email. During that interval, multiple decisions contradicting one another had been made. The urgent discussion was regarding a patient for whom I had made a diagnosis of a recurrent cancer. In an effort to expedite care, several physicians who were currently involved with the care of the patient wanted to have the case re-reviewed by experts at a leading university hospital, where the original diagnosis of cancer was made several years ago. To complicate matters, the patient had been included in several of these email exchanges. 

After 24 hours of following multiple email threads, I was frustrated. I issued an email to all the recipients, including the patient, physician consultants and their secretaries. I attempted to summarize what I believed was the latest decision, in an effort to confirm that everyone was on the same page for coordinating the care for the patient.

This exchange involved less than ten people but I had to stop, re-read all of the emails, and summarize the latest points for all stakeholders. It took nearly twenty minutes and even after that effort, I was not absolutely sure that I had included everyone’s requests. As I reflected upon the complexity of this exchange, I wondered, how does God do this for over six billion people alive on this earth? People pray to him at all moments, some believing in Him while others complaining to Him. Many prayer requests are in direct conflict and represent opposing views. And God is not simply listening to all these prayers, He answers each one.  I can barely keep track of multiple emails. How does God do this?

He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. 

Psalms 147:4-5 (NKJV)

Some astronomers estimate there are over 10*24 stars in the known universe. This number is almost unimaginably large and yet, God created each star and calls them by name. The Bible does not explain how God does this, He simply can and has done it, for all eternity! If God can do this, He can certainly listen and perfectly answer all of the prayers that are brought to Him. What is the proof? For all who trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, He promises His perfect peace that surpasses all understanding, sealing it with power of the Resurrection. 

An omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God. I chose to place my faith in Him and His promises!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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What Did It Cost Me? (2 Samuel 24:22-24)

Many years ago, I was involved in an organization that collected food for different homeless shelters. As part of the collection process, we were tasked with going to the local farmer’s market and at the end of the market day, we would introduce ourselves and ask each vendor whether they had any extra food they were willing to donate to us so that we could distribute it.

Many of the vendors were happy to participate in this program. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the majority of the vendors hand picked the choicest fruits and vegetables to be donated. I knew the recipients would never know the source of the produce but I was impressed by the care they took to ensure they would receive the very best they could offer, usually reserved for paying customers.

The selfless attitude of the vendors reminded me of a story in the Bible when King David desired to faithfully honor God. David was tasked by God to build an altar to the Lord on the property of Araunah to halt a horrible plague that was afflicting the kingdom. When Araunah learned why David was there, he was willing to give David the property for free.

“Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the LORD your God accept your sacrifice.”

But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen. 

2 Samuel 24:22-24 (NLT)

David graciously refused the generous offer of Araunah. He knew that it would not be a true sacrifice to God if it cost him nothing. If we truly desire to honor God, we will give him a sincere offering, one that demands a true sacrifice from us. We must always ask ourselves, what did it cost me? Even if no one else knows, we know that God knows.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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If Tomorrow Never Came (Matthew 6:34)

Source: Peanuts. 

Gotta love Snoopy!

His reasoning is irrational but completely amusing. And why not? Isn’t this how many of us think about life at times? The world informs us to just do it! Go for the gusto! Otherwise, FOMO! Because IF tomorrow never came, you may hate yourself. Makes complete sense! Yet, there is some truth to Snoopy’s reasoning. We sometimes fixate so much upon the potential problems of tomorrow that we miss out living for today. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught this thousands of years ago. 

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. 

Matthew 6:34 (NLT)

God’s wisdom is true because He is not bound by time. He created time. Thus, He controls and knows all the events of our lives that have occurred and will occur. Tomorrow will come and I am willing to trust God with my concerns and burdens of today because He already knows the outcome. He always has plans to prosper me and not harm me (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Praise God!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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“How Many Times Have I Told You?” (Deuteronomy 12:28)

“How many times have I told you?”

My father sternly shook his finger at me. Inside my head, I was rolling my eyes. Yes, Dad. You’ve told me so many times! Give me a break! It could have been any one of numerous issues for which he previously scolded me. So why didn’t I listen to him the first time? Was it because I did not think the issues were important enough to be followed? Perhaps it was because I didn’t truly fear the consequences? Indeed, all of the above and more. 

God, our Heavenly Father, similarly instructed the ancient Israelites in the same manner like my earthly father. In fact, God is far more explicit than my own father. 

Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God. 

Deuteronomy 12:28 (NASB)

In the Book of Deuteronomy, God repeatedly instructs the Israelites of the importance of obeying His commands. In fact, He uses this phrase and others like it at least ten additional times! Why did He do this? The Israelites had completed their forty years of wandering in the desert and were about to cross over the Jordan river to take possession of the promised land of Canaan. However, before they did, God reminded them of what He had done for them and what He promised to do for them, IF they obeyed Him. And of course, we all know what happened. Not only did the Israelites not obey God commands, they did the exact action that God warned them not to do! They chased after foreign gods. They intermarried with foreign peoples. The consequences were not a simple scolding and rebuke. God punished the Israelites by sending them into exile, conquered by foreign kingdoms. 

How many times have I told you so?

With God, it can never be enough. What is the reason we do not obey? We are hopelessly lost in our sinful nature. How desperately we need a living Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ!

Amen!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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“Here’s My Offer.” (2 Peter 3:17-18)

“So, here’s my offer. I will give you $100,000 for 30% of your company. However, you will create a board of directors with three people. You and I will be on the board and I may pick the third person.”

The young entrepreneur slowly nodded his head. “Okay, I like that better than the other offer to get $300,000 for 51% of the company. This way I don’t  have to give up control and ownership of my own company.”  Looking up and smiling, he exclaimed, “You got yourself a deal!”

Smiles all around, except for myself. I was watching a popular television show that featured nascent entrepreneurs pitching their product to a group of seasoned entrepreneurs and investors with the objective of receiving funding from them. This offer that was accepted was different from most offers which simply offered a cash investment in exchange for a percentage of ownership. It was a twist that seemingly offered the young entrepreneur an opportunity to gain the expertise of additional members on a board of directors. 

I have no formal business training but I do have a great deal of practical experience. The scenario I witnessed reminded me of a professional colleague who lost their business because they forfeited control of their own board of directors. After completing a round of funding which placed several new members on their board of directors, the new members garnered the support of other board members until the majority were on their side. They then unceremoniously fired my colleague. He lost everything. I feared this young entrepreneur on this television show may suffer a similar fate. 

I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest; So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man. 

Proverbs 24:30-34 (NKJV)

Some of us may look upon a situation and arrive at completely different conclusions. In business and relationships, this is very common. What may appear to be a good opportunity may harbor sinister details upon closer inspection. An investment in a thriving company may uncover a relationship with human trafficking. The amiable supervisor who reshuffles staffing to accommodate an employee’s personal needs now expects sexual favors from that same employee. 

We have ears to hear and eyes to see but are we willing to understand and discern what is truly happening within the situations we encounter? Our spiritual lives are no different. As Christian believers, we need to continually rely upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit to enable us to discern and make decisions that honor God and not man.

You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 

2 Peter 3:17-18 (NKJV)

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Church and State (Deuteronomy 17:18-20)

“In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.”

This quotation is not taken from a Christian pastor or clergyman. President John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, stated this. If a president or politician stated this today, they would undoubtedly be shamed and canceled by social media and the liberal press. Contrary to what these pundits vehemently contend, this statement is not a violation of the separation of the Church and State. President Adams was stating a fact that the founding fathers based many of the governing principles of this country upon the precepts of the Bible and Christianity. They were not advocating a theocracy. They were acknowledging and praising God for His wisdom that He imparted to men who governed a country. 

Founding a country based upon Christian ideals and principals does not mean that other religions are not tolerated. In fact, the very right to freely worship any religion is constitutionally guaranteed to all American citizens. Rather than being restrictive and exclusive, Judeo-Christian values have opened the door to the abolition of slavery, voting rights, and freedom of speech and religion. It has allowed America to become one of the most inclusive and tolerant countries in the world. Church and state are separate but work together. 

When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the LORD his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel. 

Deuteronomy 17:18-20 (NLT)

This passage from the Book of Deuteronomy shows that God commanded all of the future kings of Israel to have a personal knowledge of His Law. The ancient Kingdom of Israel was a theocracy and God desired to set Israel as the standard by which all kingdoms could come to a saving knowledge of God. It is instructive to see that God wanted the king to have humility before his fellow citizens. Even if America is not a theocracy, many of today’s politicians could learn great lessons about leadership if they followed the advice of God!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Layovers (Luke 7:2-5)

“Man! We would layover in Tahiti for five days! The entire flight crew would hang out at the hotel pool, all paid for by the airlines. We were all together-the pilots, flight attendants, even the ground crew!”

My dear friend, who has been a flight attendant for over thirty years, was fondly recounting a bygone era when airlines would pay the entire flight crew to layover in Tahiti after flying out there from Hawaii. At the time, the airlines believed it would be cheaper to pay for the crew to remain in Tahiti rather than fly them back to Hawaii and then return them.

“We had a blast!” my friend continued. “I keep telling my supervisor that this is the difference between then and now. Today, there is no camaraderie amongst the flight attendants and pilots. There is no time or opportunities to create relationships between the crew and management. It’s not the same anymore.”

It’s a familiar story. Companies seeking to cut costs are slashing perks and benefits that were previously quite common. Is it still possible for a modern company to create a supportive, even familial environment, and still maintain good profit margins? This story from the Bible is a touching reminder how relationships between employer and employee can be harmonious. 

And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” 

Luke 7:2-5 (NASB)

To place this story in its proper context, the Romans were the conquerors of the Jews and their homeland. Relations were understandably strained between the two groups, particularly amongst the Jewish elders. Yet, this Roman centurion distinguished himself from other Romans by being a kind and caring employer, even contributing from his own savings to build a synagogue for the Jews. His request to heal his slave was even supported by the Jewish elders who recognized his genuine compassion for their people. 

In today’s fast paced world, where profit margins dictate nearly all business decisions, God reminds us that all successful businesses begin with a harmonious workplace relationship. There are many ways this can happen and is only limited by our willingness to put the well-being of our co-workers first. Even in an acrimonious situation such as the Roman conquerors and the Jews, mutual love and respect can emerge. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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