Pastor Keith’s Blog

Such Violence

Sometimes when reading through the Old Testament, specifically the book of Joshua when the children of Israel conquer the land, it can seem like God is initiating much violence.  Kingdom states are wiped out as the children of Israel obtain their promised land.  Could there not have been a better way?  Isn’t God a God of peace?

In reading Deuteronomy chapter 20, God gives a principle about when the children of Israel go to war.  “When you go near a city to fight against it, then proclaim an offer of peace to it.  And it shall be that if they accept your offer of peace, and open to you, then all the people who are found in it shall be placed under tribute to you, and serve you. Now if the city will not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it.” (verses 10-12)  Though each particular account may not have shown these verses in action, the book of Joshua is clear in declaring that Joshua kept all the commands that the Lord and Moses gave him (Joshua 1:7, 11:15; 14:5).  Peace was offered, the nations could have surrendered to the Israelites and have had peace, yet in almost every situation the peace was rejected.

In a personal way, we also fight many battles and struggles.  Financial pressures, relational stress, health issues, discrimination and abusive situations attack us and rob us of joy and tranquility.  Constantly people and situations rise against us and sometimes they rob us of our peace.  Before the battles start and in the midst of the battles, God also offers peace to us.  Jesus speaks in John 16:33 saying, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The teaching and the example of Jesus are to bring peace into our lives.  When we apply His principles, submit (surrender) to Jesus, trust in His help, then peace is present.  This “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7)”

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God’s Commands, Your Wisdom

In our present day the standards of God and those that follow His commandments are rarely seen as possessing great wisdom and understanding.  Instead the keepers of God’s law are seen as foolish, prudish, outdated or even deceived.  Yet this is not what Moses declares in Deuteronomy 4:6 “Therefore be careful to observe them;  for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’”

Are the laws and ways of God so distant from the hearts and minds of our present society that they cannot be valued or could it be that we as Christians have failed to properly convey the truth and beauty that is hidden within these commands of God?

What truth can we see about the nature of God. How do we convey such truth in ways acceptable to the public around us?  Some laws are obvious even to our conscience calloused society, and they are especially obvious when they affect people.

Lord help us to convey and walk in Your truth, so that Your wisdom is obvious to all, may others then attribute that wisdom as being from You.

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Jesus Did not Commit Himself to Them – Part 2

John  2:23 – 25 says,  “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.”

Jesus did not commit Himself to them – the word “commit” is the same Greek work that is translated “believe” in verse 23, or in John 3:16, or in most other places in the New Testament.    It means to put trust or confidence in.  Jesus did not put trust or reliance in them because He knew their heart.  This word of caution is also stated in Psalm 118:8, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Yes, people are important and we are to work with and trust our leaders, parents, and those authorities over us; yet people have faults and they fail, but we can put our sure trust in the words, actions and character of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Knowing the heart, the purity, the faithfulness, the mercy and the loving nature of our Lord (1 John 4:16 “God is love”), we should confidently be willing to commit ourselves, to put our trust and our confidence in Him.  This is true believing.
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Jesus Did Not Commit Himself To Them

John 2:23-25 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.  But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
Many times we cry out for more of the Lord, for more of His power, for greater manifestations of Him.  Could it be that since He knows our hearts that He also knows what this power and the manifestation of Himself, might do to us, so God holds back. Not that what He has to offer is not good, but that at this time in our life it would do more damage to us than it would do good to us.  In His love He refrains, till we come to a greater level of maturity in Him and a greater level of humility that we might be able to properly use what He has for us.

  • In Acts 8 Simon the sorcerer is not able to obtain the Holy Spirit because “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.” Though there is much for us yet growth is necessary for us to receive all that He has.
  • There are some things that our Lord gives freely, Salvation is such a free gift, but then there are other things of Himself that are held back for it is required that we first need to properly respond to what we have and then He will entrust more to us, of what He has for us.
    • Lu 16:11 “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”
    • Mt 25:21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”
    • In Galatians 4 we are told that the heir as long as he is still at the maturity level of a child is no different than a slave, though he has the potential of being heir of all.
    • God knows the hearts of all men, 1Sa 16:7; 1Ch 28:9; 29:17; Jer 17:9,10; Mt 9:4; Lu 16:30; Ac 1:24; Re 2:23 and He searches and looks for the upright of heart.   (Jer 17:10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.)

Truly God searches our hearts and knows all about us.  “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb 11:6). Are we diligently seeking Him, have we done the necessary heart preparation of seeking Him so we can receive more from Him, even the next level of what He has for us?
Lord help us so that we don’t get in the way of what You truly want to give us and so that in a pure heart we can receive all that You have for us.
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