A God Who Is Slow To Anger

slow to anger

The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation. (Numbers 14:18)

A God Who Is Slow To Anger But Does Not Excuse The Guilty

The Hebrews had suffered under the tyranny of the Egyptian bondage for generations before the Lord came and freed them by His mighty hand. Through the miracles of the plagues the Lord showed the Egyptians and the Hebrews there was no God as great as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The promises made to the fathers would be kept as the Lord led the people out of bondage into a new land. When the people came to the Red Sea, the Lord showed His immense power to deliver His people as they walked across on dry land. Pursuing the Hebrews the Egyptian army was caught in the deluge of water that came crashing down upon them as the Lord destroyed the might and power of Egypt. Arriving at Mt. Sinai, the law was given to the Hebrews making them the nation of Israel. The Lord God would fight their battles and give them victory against any army. All the provisions of the people would be provided by the hand of the Lord as He fed them, gave them water and blessed them above any people on the earth. A new and fertile land was promised to them as the reward for obedience and faithfulness. Arriving at the borders of Canaan, everything was prepared for the rise of a new nation among the peoples of the world to show forth the glory of the Lord God of Israel. Spies were sent in to secure information about the Canaanite people and their cities. Ten of the spies returned disheartened and filled with fear. All they could see was disaster and death. The giants of the land were so large no army could defeat them. Their cities were fortified bastions that would resist any army. There was no hope in the heart of the people. Only Joshua and Caleb came back with a message of power and might. They suggested that with God’s help there was nothing to fear. Their message fell on deaf ears as the people rebelled against the Lord God who delivered them from Egypt and made them a great nation. God was angered and was determined to destroy all of Israel and begin anew. Moses interceded for the people and the nation was spared destruction at that time. The punishment for their rebellion came over the next forty years as the people wandered around in the wilderness. All those who were above the age of twenty would perish in the wilderness without seeing the Promised Land. Only Joshua and Caleb would live to see the fulfillment of God’s promise.

When Moses interceded for the people, he described the incredible character of the Lord God. He defined the nature of God as slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. The people of Israel deserved to be destroyed for their constant bickering, complaining and murmuring. They complained about the conditions of the journey, the food provided by God and everything they could imagine to complain to their benefactor about. Their empty faith to enter the Promised Land was the last straw for the Lord. He wanted to destroy them and start over. Moses knew how compassionate the Lord was for His people and that mercy would save them from destruction. The people were guilty but God was able to forgive them and bless them. However, this did not mean there would not be consequences to their rebellion. Moses also said the Lord did not excuse the guilty. Those who rebelled were punished for disbelief. There would be many people who would die in the wilderness as the wrath of God meted out divine justice to those who disobeyed the word of the Lord. God is the Lord of mercy and pardon but He is also a God of wrath and justice.

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. He died on the cross to provide a way of atonement for all men to come into the holiest by a new and living way. The promise of eternal life is given through the blood of the Son of God. There is no greater sacrifice than the love of God to give the world His only begotten Son who for the love He had for all humanity willingly died for the sins of all men. In the cross is found the eternal longsuffering and abundant mercy of God. By the sacrifice of Christ, forgiveness is offered to remove the stain of the transgression that mars the character of a man. Like God delivering the children of Israel from bondage, only through the power of God can man find salvation. The final plague of the death of the firstborn became symbolic of the death of God’s Son for the redemption of the fallen. All of the grace and power of God is demonstrated through the grace of a redeeming Savior. Like Israel, the need for obedience and faith is necessary for salvation. God could have just given the Promised Land to the people but they had to learn obedience – and they failed. Everything man needs to find hope in eternal life is provided by the mercy of the Lord but man must obey to find those promises. When a man refuses to obey the word of the Lord he faces the consequences of a God who will by no means clear the guilty. Disobedience brings the wrath of God. Without faith and obedience, there is no promise of better land. God is the Lord of mercy and He is the God of punishment.

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Aristarchus

god knows name

Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. (Colossians 4:10)

Aristarchus

The Bible is filled with the names of great people, wise men, heroes of faith, scoundrels of infamy, false teachers, faithful apostles and a host of names that nothing is known. Names like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Peter and Paul resonate in the minds of the Bible student because they had a major role in the development of the plan of God to redeem humanity. Men like Aristarchus are slightly revealed on the pages of inspiration leaving the mind to wonder what kind of person he was and what role he had in the early church. Paul mentions him in his letter to Colosse as a man who shared a prison cell. Aristarchus was a traveling companion of the apostle Paul and had suffered abuse at the hands of the people in Ephesus when a riot broke out. He and Gaius were dragged before the magistrates of the city before the clerk of the city quieted the mob and released the men. Paul took Aristarchus with him on his journey arriving in the home country of Aristarchus which was Macedonia and then traveled to Greece. In the letter to Philemon, Paul commends Aristarchus as a co-worker. Here is a man who is mentioned by the Holy Spirit in three of the New Testament books but nothing else is known of him. His name is inscribed in the hall of faith among the saints who suffered with Paul in the work of teaching the gospel and we know hardly anything about him. Admittedly, there are many more that we know less about than Aristarchus.

Luke writes that Aristarchus is from Thessalonica (Macedonia) along with a fellow native named Secundus. Where did Aristarchus learn the truth and how did he come to follow Paul in his arduous trips around the Roman Empire? The name Aristarchus remains a mystery for all the ages but his name is not missed by God. In someplace and at some time, the gospel moved the heart of Aristarchus to obey the gospel of Christ. As a Greek, what moved him to accept this new idea of the Christ and the teachings of the early church? His belief was not a passive one but vibrant to accepting the challenges of imprisonment and the hardships he would face with the apostle Paul. God knew who Aristarchus was and this man of faith knew that God held his name is reserve for eternal life. It is doubtful that more information will emerge of who this man of God was but the one thing that is certain is his name was in the Book of Life and that is all that really mattered to him. Names are important because this is what is found in the memory of God’s grace or the measure of His wrath. Aristarchus kept the faith and like Paul, finished the course as a faithful child of God. His name will not be found in the marble ruins of Rome or the historical documents of days long gone. Aristarchus lived in such a way to inscribe his name in a place that could never be taken away. The hand of God wrote the name Aristarchus in eternity because God knew who he was. Names carved in stone fade away. Those names found in the Lamb’s Book of Life will never fade away as eternity unfolds.

The apostle Paul wrote his letter to Colosse many years ago but the whole world can still read of a man called Aristarchus. He left a legacy of a name that means faithful and true. He was born in Thessalonica but no one knows where he died and where he is buried except God. The body that was placed in the ground was not who Aristarchus was and he did not live for the glory of the flesh. Whenever and however the companion of Paul died it was a day of glory and a moment of victory. Like Paul, he suffered because he believed Jesus was the Son of God. Death unleased the bonds of physical restraints to open the portals of eternity for a man whose name; while unknown for generations; was known by the Lord God. The world is filled with all those who seek to make their name great and hoping that history will bear their names with the badge of glory but to what end? Those who were great in one generation will be forgotten in the succeeding generations as whispers of the past. Names etched on marble fill the landscapes of burial grounds forgotten as only a moment in a time long ago. When the heart of a man believes and obeys the gospel of Jesus Christ, his name will never be forgotten in the mind of God. Men will forget but the Lord will never forget the names of the faithful saints – men like Aristarchus.

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Jesus Is The Reason For The Season

Bible cross

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

Jesus Is The Reason For The Season

There are three words that are imperative for the church today: preach the word! There is nothing more fundamental yet so often disregarded as the exhortation of the apostle Paul that preaching must find itself rooted and grounded in the message of Jesus Christ. Preaching the word is more than unraveling a yarn of interesting stories with humorous antidotes and pithy sayings to excite the ears of the listener. The word is based on the character and the divine nature of the Son of God and nothing less. All men will stand before the Lord God and receive a judgment in accordance with the words of the book – the Bible. A grandfather was asked by his young grandson why he always read his Bible, the aged man said, “I am studying for my final exam.” If the word of God is going to judge the hearts of men in the final day those who preach the word are obligated to preach the words found on the pages of holy writ. Paul reminds Timothy of the day when God and the Lord Jesus Christ will judge the living and the dead. He then declares the need to preach the word and that word is found in convincing, rebuking and exhorting the saints with the message of the risen Christ. There will come a time when men will not endure the doctrine of Christ and turn away to hear something more appealing. This is evident by the many different brands of churches that fill the land. Brand A Church teaches a different doctrine than Brand B Church which differs from Brand C Church and so it goes. If everyone preached Jesus Christ how could there be any division or disharmony? A denomination is a divisive mathematical term showing the fallacy of human wisdom trying to preach the doctrine of Christ from different viewpoints. The cause of religious division comes from men failing to teach the doctrine of Christ and Christ alone. If preaching was done through the authority of Jesus Christ all men would be united but they are not. This shows that all men do not preach Jesus Christ but their own doctrines.

Paul declares the nature of preaching as something that is without regard to what the world accepts or denies. Preaching the word must be done in season and out of season. In other words, a man must preach the word of Christ whether the time is favorable or not, whether people accept it or not. Jesus is the reason for the season if it is a sunny day and Jesus is the reason for the season if it is a day filled with storms. Preaching must convict the heart and as Dee Bowman says it must storm the will. Assaulting the bastions of the human heart requires diligence to preach Jesus Christ when it appeals to the minds of the audience and when it does not. There is much in the teaching of Jesus that does not tickle the ears of the listener. Like His Father, Jesus taught His goodness and His severity. Preaching Jesus is telling the audience there is judgment, hell, condemnation and contrary to popular preachers today, there is something called sin. Jesus was full of love, compassion, mercy, and grace. If a man is to preach Jesus he must preach the whole counsel of Jesus in the good seasons and in the difficult seasons.

Jesus is the reason for the season because He is the only message. Vance Havner said, “Make Jesus Christ your theme! I have seen preachers espouse causes and champion movements, and when the cause died and the movement collapsed, the preacher vanished too. But the man who glories in Christ never grows stale.” What is remarkable about the message of Christ is that what a man preached in the year 1245 or 1492 is just as powerful today as it was then. For two thousand years, the doctrine of Jesus Christ has remained unchanged. What has destroyed the unity of the body of Christ is the changing nature of preaching where men stop preaching the word and begin teaching the tenets of human wisdom. History is filled with the failed efforts of those who preach a different gospel. There is only one message of Jesus Christ and it is found in the word. If the world accepts the teaching of Jesus the Father is glorified. When the world fights against the teachings of Jesus Christ and persecutes the saints of God the preaching of Christ remains powerful. It does not matter what the political, social or moral climate of the world becomes – preaching Jesus is the only imperative. He is the reason. Preach Christ.

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Imprisoned For Burning A Flag

Burning-American-Flag

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:10-13)

Imprisoned For Burning A Flag

In December 2019, Adolfo Martinez was sentenced to serve 15 years behind bars charged with removing a rainbow flag in June 2019 symbolizing gay pride from the front of the United Church of Christ in Ames, Iowa and burning it. Martinez said he did not believe the church should support the ideals of the LGBTQ movement and that he despises homosexuality. He was found guilty of a hate crime – a class “D” felony – third-degree harassment and reckless use of fire. The harsh sentence was given because Martinez had been convicted of two previous felonies and under Iowa law, his criminal history tripled the maximum available sentence for arson from five years to 15 years. It is clear that Martinez violated the rights of the United Church of Christ in Ames and by stealing property and burning it violated the law. While his sentence was expanded because of previous crimes, what is disturbing is the ability of the courts to impose a stricter sentence for burning a rainbow flag than what is prescribed by law for the national flag. At present, it is not illegal to burn a flag representing the United States of America. The Supreme Court ruled in 1989 (Texas v. Johnson) that flag burning (US) is protected by the First Amendment and invalidated state laws criminalizing the act of burning the US flag. However, the individual can be charged with a misdemeanor for starting a fire without a permit. Burning the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ is considered a hate crime and not bound under the First Amendment. There is nothing right about what Martinez did but what is concerning is the continual movement of society to protect homosexuality and enforce laws of those who disagree with the perverted lifestyle. If Martinez had burned the U. S. flag few would have taken notice. Taking the rainbow flag and burning it becomes a crime of hate instead of an expression of First Amendment rights. This precedent will lead to other movements (some have already taken form) that will ban the criticism and condemnation of homosexuality and anything connected with the LGBTQ movement – including churches that preach against it.

The United Church of Christ is not the Biblical pattern of New Testament authority. They deny the teachings of the word of God accepting moral dogmas that are conflict with the will of God. Homosexuality and all sexual immorality is a transgression of the law of God. There is no distinction made between fornication, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, pedophilia, or lewdness in the mind of God – all are unrighteous. The apostle Paul declared those who practice unrighteousness will not inherit the kingdom of God. One of the great stories of grace in the New Testament is a statement Paul makes to the Corinthian church when he writes that some of the brethren at Corinth were in the state of unrighteousness but were washed, sanctified, and justified in the Jesus Christ. Homosexuality is something that a person can repent of and change their life to obey the will of God much like fornication or adultery. There is no sin that man has done the blood of Jesus Christ will not wash away if a man repents and obeys the will of the Lord. Homosexuality can no more be accepted than trying to justify fornication, adultery, incest, murder, lying, stealing, or cursing the name of God. There are one law and one lawgiver and what God has determined as sin is by His authority. Social acceptance and the laws of the land cannot change the law of God. Sin must be repudiated through the measure of grace to let the lost soul find eternal life in Jesus Christ. The problem the church will be facing in the years to come is the backlash from the community when this message of truth is preached in pulpits and in the homes of the disciples. What is disturbing about the disposition of the Martinez case in the manner the courts are siding with the LGBTQ community against all those who preach that homosexuality is wrong. Teaching against the acceptance of homosexuality is labeled a hate crime and can be punished with jail. The rights of the Bible believing disciples will be challenged more and more in the years to come with serious consequences for those who oppose the rights of the minority.

Paul reminded Timothy that all those who desired to live godly lives would suffer persecution. It was a very real danger when Paul wrote these words as he was in prison charged with being a disciple of Christ. He would lose his life not because he had committed some heinous crime but because he followed a path of righteousness declared by the Lord. This kind of fear that enveloped the Roman Empire against the Christians did not happen overnight. What will happen in this great country is that over time the laws will become more restricted and pressure will be mounted against all those who oppose homosexuality. It has already happened where civil authorities have demanded preachers to clear their sermons with city hall before preaching. It was quickly dismissed but the idea of such a thing taking wings is a frightening precursor to what will be coming. Sending a man to prison for burning a flag is a remarkable indicator of the direction the United States legal system is going. There were many factors contributing to the 15 years imposed but the principle is the problem. When preaching against homosexuality becomes a felony (and it will) the church will be challenged with standing for truth or bowing to the corrupt hearts of men. Evil people and impostors will flourish and they will deceive others and will also be deceived. The power of the gospel will never change.

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Paul And John Mark

paul and john mark

Then after some days, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (Acts 15:36-41)

Paul And John Mark

The work of preaching the gospel in the Roman time was an exhausting exercise fraught with uncertainty, danger and difficulty. It was a perfect era for the gospel to spread quickly as the system of roads, common coinage and language, afforded the early church great opportunities to travel throughout the area of the Mediterranean Sea. Compared to modern comforts, it was a tedious task. Traveling with the apostle Paul would be an adventure at best and not for the faint of heart. On his first missionary journey, the church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to preach and establish churches wherever they could. When they two men left for their work they also took with them the cousin of Barnabas by the name of John Mark. Their first stop was the island of Cyprus which happened to be the home of Barnabas. Arriving in Salamis, the group preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews with John Mark helping them in the work. The work took them throughout the island with many souls believing the word of the gospel. Setting sail from Paphos (western side of the island) they made their way to the region of Asia Minor with plans to go throughout the area preaching. Arriving in Perga in Pamphylia the company of Paul and Barnabas prepared to do the work of carrying out the commission of the Lord but something troubled John Mark. It is not revealed what his reasons were but somewhere on the short trip, the disciple had great reservations about his part in the work. He approached Barnabas and Paul telling them he did not desire to continue and would be returning to Jerusalem. No doubt there was no small dissension among the group about John Mark’s leaving but undeterred, the young man took his leave and returned to Jerusalem. This did not sit well with Paul. The group continued their journey going to the cities of Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe and to the surrounding region. It was in the city of Lystra the crowd stoned Paul and left him for dead. He survived and continued his journey strengthening the converts. Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch of Syria where the gathered the disciples together and told them the marvelous works of the Lord among the people. Where John Mark is at this time is unknown but obviously, he was not sharing in the good report of the apostles.

After some time, Paul told Barnabas he wanted to go back to visit the brethren in all the cities where they had preached to see how they were doing. Barnabas was excited about the trip and plans began to formulate among the disciples. As the list of people to accompany Paul in his return trip was put together, the name of John Mark was brought up by Barnabas to use him. Paul refused. John Mark had left them early on their first trip and the apostle Paul had no confidence in him. Barnabas insisted that John Mark be a part of the group but Paul continued to resist his participation. The contention became so strong among the two men; neither one backing away from the position; Barnabas took John Mark and sailed for Cyprus. This would have clearly upset Paul but he was determined not to take a man on his trip that had not had the courage to finish the first trip. There was a lot of work to do and John Mark shrank for his duties in the eyes of Paul. Silas, a prophet among the brethren in Antioch, was chosen by Paul to go with him and the company left for Tarsus and the region of Asia Minor. For unknown reasons John Mark had failed to finish the work on the first trip and Paul’s confidence in him was lacking. Paul and Silas would do great work as recorded by Luke in the second and third missionary journeys of the apostle. Nothing is known of the work of Barnabas as he is not mentioned again by Luke in the Acts of the apostles but there can be no doubt the kingdom of God increased mightily through the efforts of Barnabas and John Mark.

There are many reasons given for why John Mark left the group. Was he afraid of going into the Gentile world of heathen idolatry and being persecuted? Paul was stoned and left for dead and this would take a strong spirit to think of the dangers of preaching in a hostile world. It is not known what made him decide to return to Jerusalem. His actions greatly disappointed the apostle Paul and for good reasons. Could Paul have been too hard on John Mark? The meeting between the two men would have been an awkward conversation as John Mark returned to Antioch joining Barnabas in the work in Cyprus. Was Paul again too hard on the young man and being more stubborn about the early failings of a disciple? The Holy Spirit does not reveal the words and thoughts of the group as they contended about John Mark. What we do know is that over the years John Mark redeems himself in the eyes of Paul. In the second epistle of Paul to Timothy, as the apostle lingers in prison awaiting certain death, he implores the young preacher to get Mark and bring him to Rome because John Mark has been a useful minister for the aged apostle. John Mark failed the apostle on his first trip but as Paul made his final journey to eternal life, John Mark was a bold encourager. Paul may have been wrong about John Mark in the beginning but he was not missing the mark in his letter to Timothy. John Mark may have had serious doubts about his courage in the early years but over time developed a strong faith to stand with the apostle Paul. There is a lot of Paul in all of us that sometimes make harsh judgments of weak brethren and there is a lot of John Mark in most of us that need time to grow to maturity. One thing is certain in the character of Paul: he did not hold a grudge and honored a faithful disciple who grew to maturity in his faith and service of the kingdom.

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It Seemed Like A Good Idea

bible word of God

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:1-5)

It Seemed Like A Good Idea

Peter was a devoted disciple of Christ that despite his often blunders of judgment; had an incredible heart of love for the Lord. He is a wonderful study of how a man goes from being an impetuous and rash decision-maker to the humble and spiritually-minded man of his final epistles. Along with James and John, Peter shared a special bond with Jesus allowing the three men to see things the other disciples did not see. The mount of transfiguration was a moment in time that Peter would never forget writing about it in his epistles. Standing on the mountain with Jesus, the three disciples beheld the visage of Moses and Elijah. What an incredible moment in time to witness the personal image of men who represented the Law and the Prophets and long before the days of imaging were able to see what these great men of faith looked like. Overwhelmed by the momentous occasion of listening to Jesus talk with Moses and Elijah about his death, Peter interrupted the Lord and thought it would be a good idea to build three tabernacles; one for the Lord, one for Moses and one for Elijah. This could have been Peter’s attempt to recreate the Feast of Tabernacles as directed by the law. Whatever reason Peter had in blurting out this suggestion, it was met swiftly by the voice of God that such consideration was not His will and Peter and James and John should listen only to the voice of Jesus. Moses and Elijah were taken out of sight and the three men fell to the ground. Peter had a good idea that seemed like a way to honor the three great men of God’s dispensation but this was not the will of the Father.

The greatest challenge man has with his Creator is to think he has a better idea about something that he believes would please the Lord. This does not dismiss the character of Peter as being flippant or disregarding the will of the Father but it speaks to the problem of the wisdom of humanity trying to go beyond the established law of God. Is there something immoral about building tabernacles for Moses and Elijah and Jesus? There is nothing fundamentally wrong about building tabernacles but it becomes wrong when it is not the will of the Father. Peter was not at fault for suggesting something but like most men, he saw the situation and decided that he had a better idea and went forward with his suggestion. If it had been in the power of Peter, James and John; three tabernacles would have been built on the mountain and many people would have been drawn to the place and great things could have been done in the name of God. However, the voice from heaven said this was not the will of the Father and all men must listen to the voice of Jesus Christ and Him alone. That is the standard of authority established that day on the mountain by the only one who had the right and authority to establish the truth. Building three tabernacles was not the will of the Father. To have done so would have been in rebellion to God.

There are many tabernacles that dot the landscape throughout the world that are good ideas of how men have interpreted the will of the Lord. In many cases, there is nothing immoral or degrading about what is done or about how it is carried out. But like the suggestion of Peter, these tabernacles are not the will of the Father and do not follow the voice of God. The Father emphatically impressed upon Peter, James, and John that Jesus was the Son of God and He pleased the Father in every way and that all men should do one thing: Hear Him! Authority begins and ends with Jesus Christ. His word is truth. His way is the only way. Life can only be found in the word of God. Departing from His word is rebellion and building tabernacles without the authority of God. Religion is not based upon the good ideas of men but the will of the Lord alone. Salvation cannot be found in the profitable suggestions of human reasoning. Many are deceived into believing they are saved when they are following the doctrines of men to perdition. Peter had a good idea but it was the wrong suggestion. Eternal life will not be given to those with good ideas but to those who obey the word of the Lord.

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A Lasting Legacy

OTPE58

Now it came to pass after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being one hundred and ten years old. And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Serah, which is in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel. (Joshua 24:29-31)

A Lasting Legacy

There is much to be said about the son of Nun and assistant to Moses. Joshua appears on the pages of the Bible when the Hebrews face their first battle with the Amalekites. He becomes a close associate of Moses spending much time in the presence of God on Sinai and in the tabernacle. His character was unparalleled among the Israelites as one whose spirit wholly followed the Lord. Along with Caleb, Joshua became only two of those who came out of Egypt above the age of twenty that would see the Promised Land. When Moses died, the Lord placed on the shoulders of Joshua the task of completing the work of establishing the land promise given to Abraham. Under his leadership, the land was conquered and not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord promised to the people of Israel. All came to pass. At the age of 110 years, Joshua died. Before his death, he gathered the nation together to admonish and challenge them to serve the Lord. His speech is a moving and passionate appeal for the hearts of the people to remain faithful to the purpose God brought them out of Egypt. Joshua made a covenant with the people establishing a statute and an ordinance in Shechem writing the words of the covenant in the Book of the Law of God. He also took a large stone, and set it up under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord as a witness to the oath the people made with God. The legacy of Joshua was not just found in the 110 years of his life but the impact this man of God had on generations after him. The people of Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him—those who had personally experienced all that the Lord had done for Israel.

The life of Joshua was filled with the incredible story of being born a Hebrew slave and growing up in a world of oppression. If he were the same age as Caleb, he would have been somewhere around forty years of age when God delivered the people and would serve Israel for seventy years. He would see the miracles of the ten plagues, walk through the Red Sea on dry land and stand in the presence of God on Sinai. The scriptures call him an assistant of Moses. What a blessing to spend endless hours talking with Moses and discussing the affairs of Israel and the purpose of the Lord for the people. It would have been a daunting task to be given the leadership of the nation and walk through the Jordan River on dry land and begin the conquest of a heathen people. He never lost his faith. His dedication to the Lord was complete in fulfilling the word of the Lord. For 110 years the son of Nun gave his life for the work of the Lord. His example led the people to serve the Lord during his life and after he died. The legacy of Joshua was firmly implanted in the minds of the people. His faith was not a seasonal moment of time that would falter in disbelief. There were challenges he faced with courage such as the defeat at Ai but he trusted in the will of the Lord to accomplish the divine will. Because of his legacy, the lives of many Hebrews were moved to serve the Lord. As long as Joshua lived the people served the Lord. During the days after the death of Joshua, the people still honored his memory by serving the Lord in the days of the elders who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.

A legacy is a birthright that is passed on to the next generation. Men will live their lifetime amassing great amounts of wealth, prestige and honors but these all end in death. The monies garnered for a generation are wasted by others. Fame fades in time and honors diminish. Joshua had something that all men should desire. He influenced a nation to follow the Lord. It may not be possible to change the tide of the country but the power to change the lives of a community is fully within the grasp of every individual. He never swayed from his dedication to the will of the Lord. His battles were fought with the Commander of the Lord standing before him. Joshua and Caleb were spies who went into the land of Canaan with ten other men and were the only men who believed with the power of God the impossible could be done. Their leadership was rejected but they remained faithful to the Lord and served him as leaders for the next forty years. During the conquest, they fought valiantly although they were in their eighties. Age did not deter them from serving God. This all created a legacy that others took notice of. If there is anything a man can leave others is to give them a legacy of how to live. A godly life is the greatest measure a man can leave another. Marble monuments inscribe names and dates but the heart that is moved to serve the Lord is the greatest memory. Husbands who leave their families a legacy of godliness will leave greater wealth than all the money in the world. Fathers that establish an inheritance of virtue leave their children the hope of eternal life. Israel served the Lord during the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua. May God raise up more men like Joshua and the elders.

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