Saturday, October 18, 2014

Psalm 83 - Free download Bible study

Click on the picture to download the study.
God's promises of the past provide hope for our future. Attacks come; the enemies of Israel rise up against her just as our spiritual enemy does against us. God may seem silent. However, He spoke victory years ago and His word will not change. This five part series goes verse by verse through Psalm 83.

What do I do with them?

Several people have asked for copies of various blog series over the years. We're thrilled to make them available to you in a free downloadable, printable format. We've even added questions at the end for personal reflection or group discussion.

Click here to view the full selection of available Bible study downloads.

As hard as this is to believe, not everyone in the world has an internet connection. Not everyone has access to online study resources or neighborhood Christian book stores. Some of those who do have access don't know where to start when it comes to Bible study. So here are some suggestions on what you can do with these free downloads...
  • Use them as a guide for your own personal Bible study time on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Send them to a friend, relative, or missionary living in a remote location.
  • Start a short term study with friends at work, in your neighborhood, or in your church.
  • Be creative! Let us know in the comment section how you may utilize these resources!
Click on the above picture to open a .pdf file. From there, you may either download it to your computer or print the file.

May God bless your time in the study of His Word!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Boots on the Ground: Engaging the spiritual battle

My local church is known for its cross-generational outreach. Many churches may choose to focus on a particular age group but we have made an effort to maintain an extended family atmosphere with plenty of young children, teens, young adults, and those who aren’t quite so young anymore. That’s why my friends range from twenty years younger to forty years older than me.

Al and Carolyn West are a couple that fall into that older than me category. They don’t act like it but they have grandkids older than my own kids so they must be older than me.

Al had the privilege to participate in a Heartland Honor Flight in recognition for his past military service. He wrote the following regarding his experience. I asked for the privilege to pass his insights along to you…

What an amazing experience to join other local veterans for an unforgettable visit to our nation’s capitol to pay honor to all veterans who have (or are) sacrificing and defending our heritage of freedom. It was truly an awesome day and one I will always cherish. …

While in Washington DC, I was amazed that our nation’s capitol was filled with so many memorials to the defense of our liberty as a nation under God. We visited the memorials to the fallen of battle from WW2, the Korean War, Viet Nam War, Arlington National Cemetery, the Air Force Memorial, and the Flag Raising at Iwo Jima (Marine Memorial). As the only Coast Guard veteran in the group, I returned home with a greater appreciation for our heritage, our national patriotism, and courage.

Until Jesus returns, there will always be conflicts and attacks against our way of life as we live out what is called our American Dream of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As long as there is sin and evil in this world, there will always be ideologies that will hate our individual freedoms and the fact that we are a “…nation under God with liberty and justice for all.” Visiting those memorials, I was reminded that they honor the physical conflict and sacrifice of a freedom loving people. But there is also a spiritual battle for the souls of men. All of us who name the name of Christ are soldiers, locked in that struggle to the death.



“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NASB).

The forces of evil cannot be “contained.” There must be “boots on the ground!”

When duty called, Al stepped up and served his country as have thousands of men and women in the past and present. What I appreciate even more, however, is Al’s recognition that as followers of Christ we fight an even greater battle. I repeat what Al wrote that we are also in “a spiritual battle for the souls of men.” We are “locked in that struggle to the death” as we fight for their freedom. The spiritual battle isn’t fought with air strikes; the spiritual battle for the souls of men requires boots on the ground. 


We are those boots. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Kingdom Parables - Free download Bible study

Click on the picture to download the study.

John the Baptist and Jesus Christ both began their preaching ministries with the same words, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2 and Matthew 4:17, respectively). Jesus also said in Matthew 13:11 that “the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know. What treasures of truth hide in their words? I want to know.


What do I do with them?

Several people have asked for copies of various blog series over the years. We're thrilled to make them available to you in a free downloadable, printable format. We've even added questions at the end for personal reflection or group discussion.

Click here to view the full selection of available Bible study downloads.

As hard as this is to believe, not everyone in the world has an internet connection. Not everyone has access to online study resources or neighborhood Christian book stores. Some of those who do have access don't know where to start when it comes to Bible study. So here are some suggestions on what you can do with these free downloads...
  • Use them as a guide for your own personal Bible study time on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Send them to a friend, relative, or missionary living in a remote location.
  • Start a short term study with friends at work, in your neighborhood, or in your church.
  • Be creative! Let us know in the comment section how you may utilize these resources!
Click on the picture above to open a .pdf file. From there, you may either download it to your computer or print the file.

May God bless your time in the study of His Word!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

El Elyon: Determine which God claims the throne of your heart

What goes up must come down.

You reap what you sow.

Every action requires an opposite reaction.

Most high means something else is most low.

Our focus this month on Grow Barefoot social media is different names of God found in the Old Testament. Each day on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, I post a little something about a different name for the one true God based on the first place Scripture uses that name.

I found a really cool one this week so, of course, I want to share a little more of it with you!




El Elyon

The Hebrew name El Elyon means God Most High. It’s first use probably won’t seem significant at first… “Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was a priest to God Most High” (Genesis 14:18). Yawn, some king with a hard name, some bread, and some wine was a priest. Who cares?


Context is everything

Please hover your cursor here to read Genesis 14:17-23.

Abram (God later changed his name to Abraham) experienced a great military victory to rescue his nephew, Lot. After the victory, the king of Sodom and the king of Salem both came out to meet him.

Melchizedek, the king of Salem, brought bread, wine, and a blessing for Abram. Bera, the king of Sodom, brought nothing; however, he told Abram he could keep all the goods he had retrieved as long as he gave the people back to Bera. Melchizedek was not only king but also priest of the Most High God. Bera – well, he was the king of Sodom. We can guess the quality of his character.

Abram had two very different responses to the two men. He responded to Melchizedek by giving him a tenth of everything. In contrast, Abram declared to Bera that he wanted nothing from him and nothing to do with him. His reason? Abram had made an oath to God Most High. Allegiance to one necessitated total rejection of the other.

How does this fit with the name El Elyon?

Each new name for God reveals a new aspect of His character and our relationship with Him. The context helps us understand these new aspects.

I taught my daughters a few years ago about superlatives; for example, the best, the worst, or the hardest. We only use superlatives to compare three or more things. Again, as an example, the comment “That girl jumped the highest” indicates at least two other girls were jumping with her and she was the highest of the three.

The name God Most High indicates at least two other beings who would like to also be god. Yahweh God is most high over these other beings. And you know what? I can quickly think of two other beings who would rather be god instead of Yahweh – Satan and us. Yet, God is God Most High over both of them.

How does this fit with the story of Abram’s battle?

God, Satan, and Abram’s own ego fought for the throne of Abram’s heart. Any of them could have walked away with the victory.

Abram

Abram just completed an impressive military victory. He and his 318 men defeated an army that had terrorized the region for fourteen years. During that time, they had conquered and ruled over fourteen different people groups. Pride could have overcome Abram in the aftermath of his victory. He could have become the god of his own heart.

Bera, king of Sodom

Bera held claim to all the goods and people Abram received in his battle. Although Bera wanted to retain rights to the people, he freely offered Abram the goods of the whole city. This would have made Abram a very rich man.

Bera reminds me of Satan in this story. He’s the king of a city totally opposed to the message of God. The prophet Ezekiel wrote her sin was that she “had pride, plenty of food, and comfortable security, but didn’t support the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49). Also similar to Satan, Bera is willing to give Abram all of the riches but he wants to hold onto the lives of the people. Satan is after the people, not the riches.

Satan – working through Bera and his city of Sodom – could have claimed the throne of Abram’s heart. He could have lured Abram away with his promise of riches, security, and tempting indiscretions.

Melchizedek, king of Salem

Just as Bera reminds me of Satan, Melchizedek points us to the one true God, Yahweh. He came to Abram not wanting to take but to give. He brought Abram bread and wine – perhaps this foreshadows Jesus as King and Priest who gave His body and blood for us in a sacrifice we remember with the eating of bread and drinking of wine.

Melchizedek also gave Abram a blessing just as Jesus did us. “Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and told the good news ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you. So those who have faith are blessed with Abraham, who had faith. ... The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:8-9, 14). Or more simply put, “Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Ephesians 1:3).

God – working through His priest Melchizedek – could have claimed the throne of Abram’s heart with His gift of bread, wine, and blessing.


Which did Abram choose?

Abram emphatically declared to Bera, king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand in oath to Yahweh, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:22). He went on to tell Bera that he basically wanted nothing to do with him.


Abram didn’t let his own military might and power rule. He didn’t let the riches and security of empty promises rule. He chose the third option and submitted to the Most High God. He openly displayed his choice by willingly giving Melchizedek a tenth of all that he had in response to the bread, wine, and blessing.



Why do we care about the name used for God?

Our circumstances may look different but we all still face the same choice. Who will rule over the throne of our heart?

Will we take pride in our own power and conquests as we exalt our own ego?

Will we allow Satan to lure us away with empty promises of riches and security?

Or will we pick the third option – the superlative best – and allow God Most High to rule in our hearts? 

He comes to us with the gift of His body and blood sacrificed for us and the promise of unimaginable blessing. Will we, like Abram, recognize His claim to our heart and lovingly return to Him an offering from all that we have?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

By Faith: Surrounded by witnesses of God's promise

I graduated from a Christian high school a couple years – um, decades – ago. Since it was a Christian rather than public school, we had a class verse. I heard it many times throughout my four years of secondary education – many, many times.


You may also be familiar with this verse – it’s a fairly popular one. Sometimes constant exposure to a particular passage makes us think we know what it says. However, sometimes we hear the words over and over while the message never penetrates our lives. Or, we get part of the message but more awaits us right beneath the surface.

Last month I asked my friends to share their favorite verses with me. I then picked one each day to use on our Grow Barefoot social media. This one happened to be on my list.

I made my picture to post on social media that day while pondering the verse. As I did so, a new thought occurred to me, “Who are these witnesses and why are they surrounding me?” For all these years, those questions had never occurred to me.


Who are the witnesses?

Never casually skim over a “therefore” in the Bible. We tend to divide one chapter from another as if their two topics aren’t related but when we see the word “therefore” we should pay attention because what we’re about to read is a culmination of what's been said.

It turns out the previous chapter is one of the most powerful and inspirational in the entire Bible! Followers of Christ commonly refer to Hebrews 11 as the “Hall of Faith” or the “Faith Chapter.” It lists a group of people known for their faith; people who sacrificed all – reputations, homelands, friends, prosperity – even their very lives.


What did they witness?

The Old Testament (OT) is the best source to understand the New Testament. In the OT, a witness served one of two possible duties. They either testified of the wrongdoing of another person like a witness does today in a court of law. Or, they testified to an agreement between two other parties, much like a witness at a wedding. In fact, even inanimate objects such as stones often witnessed an agreement between two parties. Remember that.

Going back to our cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12:1, no one has done anything wrong of which these OT heroes of the faith need to testify. So I don’t see that the first possibility fits our situation. The OT heroes of the faith are witness to an agreement made between us and God.

The book of Hebrews calls this agreement a “promise;” it begins describing the promise in chapter four…

Some may have fallen in the desert as they wandered for forty years (Hebrews 3:12-18) but “the promise to enter His rest remains” (Hebrews 4:1). The Israelites entered the Promised Land as they crossed the Jordan River but rest in a spiritual Promised Land still remains today.


  • A land promised to “those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance” (Hebrews 6:12).
  • A promise confirmed with an oath by an unchangeable God (Hebrews 6:17).
  • A promise passed down through Abraham (Hebrews 7:6).
  • A promise on which Jesus Christ founded and mediated a new covenant (Hebrews 8:6).
  • A promised eternal inheritance made possible by Jesus’ spilled blood and sacrificial death (Hebrews 9:15).
  • A promise for those who persevere in doing the will of God until the end (Hebrews 10:36-37).
  • A promise passed down through Isaac and Jacob (Hebrews 11:9).
  • A promise of a city built by God, of a country in heaven (Hebrews 11:10, 13-16).
  • A promise of countless descendants through a sacrificed son (Hebrews 11:17).

We’ve been building through most of the book of Hebrews. We reach the final mention of the promise just a few words before our great cloud of witnesses. In Hebrews 11:39-40 we read, “These [the OT heroes of the faith] were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better…” (Click here to read what God had planned. It’s in an article I wrote a few months ago.)


Why do they surround us?

As I’ve studied through this, a single word keeps popping up in my mind. Gilgal. You may not be familiar with it; if you are, you may not see the connection. So here we go.

I mentioned earlier that the Israelites crossed the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land after wandering in the desert for forty years. “After the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua: ‘Choose 12 men from the people, one man for each tribe, and command them: Take 12 stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night’” (Joshua 4:1-3).


The men did as Joshua instructed. “Joshua set up in Gilgal the 12 stones they had taken from the Jordan” (Joshua 4:20). The name Gilgal means wheel or a large circle of stones. The stones served as a memorial, in short, “that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God” (Joshua 4:24).

What does this have to do with Hebrews 12:1? The word for “surrounding” means to lay objects around something or to encircle it with those objects. Joshua laid the stones in a circle at Gilgal to remind the people that God is mighty and they were to fear Him as they entered the Promised Land. Likewise, God lays the witnesses around us to testify of His might and to remind us to fear Him – not our circumstances. In other words, to live by faith.

So…

God has made this incredible promise to us that we may enter the Promised Land – an eternal home in heaven with Him. The great heroes in chapter 11 witnessed that promise and, by faith, held out for the greater home of eternity.

Their stories encircle us as memorial stones. But God didn’t give us only twelve stones; He set up so many stones around us that He couldn’t even list all of them in the verses of chapter eleven (See Hebrews 11:32-38). He set up so many that together they form an indistinguishable and seemingly unlimited cloud around us.

They stand as a witness to the promise made between God and us that by our faith He will bring us into the Promised Land.

They stand as a witness to remind us of His power in our circumstances.

They stand as a witness to fear Him, not our situation.

They stand to remind us to live by faith.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Good & Evil: Where will we live after a world of evil

Boko Haram has emerged as one of the world's most dangerous and violent Islamic terrorist sects.”

This quote is from an article entitled Photo prompts speculation Nigeria’s Boko Haram leader killed in battle  at FoxNews.com (Warning: Link contains graphic images). We’ve talked about the atrocities of Boko Haram a lot over the last few weeks as we consider some aspects of Psalm 37. As you can probably guess by the title, the leader of this brutal terrorist group may be dead. But if you read the article, you’ll find that authorities don’t know for sure if he’s dead or alive. The man in the gruesome photos may be a body double. To further increase suspicion, neighboring militant groups have reported his death before only to be proven false later.

Perhaps he is dead, in which case I mourn for the state of his soul. Heaven doesn’t await those who reject the message of Jesus. Perhaps he is still alive, in which case hope remains for him. It’s happened before.

Either way, Scripture assures us of the outcome of the evil among us. That’s what we’re going to read about today in this final section of our study on Psalm 37.

We’ve already studied who we are as children of God in the midst of an evil world. We looked at what we should do and what God will do for us – His children – in an evil world. Today, we wrap up the study by comparing the final outcome of the children of God with the outcome of those who reject His message of salvation. Where will each group live for eternity?



Outcome for God’s Children

37:3 – Live securely. As a shepherd watches over his flock, God will watch over His children. That’s the message here; it’s a familiar one in the New Testament. “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:14-16).

37:4 – Obtain our heart’s desires. If we delight in Him, He grants our heart’s desires. The first half is the balance to the second half. God doesn’t give everyone everything we want. But for those who delight in Him – who make Him their reason to be happy – He will grant you your heart’s desires. A key factor here is that when He is our reason to be happy, then the desires of our heart align themselves with what He would want as well. “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17 NIV).

37:11 – Enjoy abundant prosperity. I’m not sure about the word “prosperity” here. The Hebrew is the common word shalom which can mean prosperity but is more commonly translated as peace. In our world of war, I like the idea of abundant peace in the end for God’s children. “And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

37:19 – Won’t be disgraced; will be satisfied. A reality of life is that hard times are going to come. Quite often, the presence of evil in the world causes those hard times. And yet, God’s children won’t be ashamed or disappointed during those times. They will be satisfied. “Then Jesus took the loaves, and after giving thanks He distributed them to those who were seated – so also with the fish, as much as they wanted” (John 6:11).

37:24 – Won’t be overwhelmed. The idea behind this phrase is something causes you to be hurled or thrown down. God’s children fell; we’ve all sinned. Satan sinned too and the result for him was to be cast down from heaven. We sinned but God sent a Savior so that we won’t be overwhelmed – we won’t be cast down from God’s presence in the end. “Anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

37:37 – Will have a future. This phrase is similar to the ones we read in verses 11 and 24. When the end comes, the child of God will know peace. The evil will be cast into the lake of fire but the child of God will rest in His presence. “Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).

37:3, 9, 11, 18, 22, 27, 29, 34 – Inherit the land and dwell in it forever. I saved the best for last; isn’t it amazing how these are building one on the other? What an example of God’s perfect word! God promised the land to Abraham for his descendants. This physical Promised Land symbolizes a spiritual Promised Land that awaits each of Abraham’s descendants – an eternity in heaven! You can read all of Romans 4 to see this but for now, “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness. … This is why the promise is by faith, so that it may be according to grace, to guarantee it to all the descendants – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of Abraham’s faith. He is the father of us all” (Romans 4:3, 16).

Outcome for the Evil

37:2, 10 – Will wither and wilt. The evil have no lasting place. They’re like a plant that is here today and gone tomorrow. “The grass withers, the flowers fade when the breath of the LORD blows on them; indeed, the people are grass. The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever” (Isaiah 40:7-8).

37:15 – Pierced by their own swords. Their own actions – their own choices – will bring them to destruction in the end. “The LORD has revealed Himself; He has executed justice, striking down the wicked by the work of their hands” (Psalm 9:16).

37:15 – Bows will be broken. God will not allow their wars and evil to continue. In the future, He will return a second time to reign in peace. At that time, He alone will be exalted among the nations. “He makes wars cease throughout the earth. He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; He burns up the chariots. ‘Stop your fighting – and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth’” (Psalm 46:9-10).

37:17 – Arms (or power) will be broken. The Hebrew word for “arms” is often symbolic of power throughout the Old Testament. It is even translated as such a few times. The power of God and the light of His truth are foundations for followers of Christ. Yet, for those who reject Him and choose evil, “Light is withheld from the wicked, and the arm raised in violence is broken” (Job 38:15).

37:20 – Will perish and fade away. They come to nothing. No one remembers the wicked in grandeur. The hopes of the wicked die with them. “As smoke is blows away, so You blow them away. As wax melts before the fire, so the wicked are destroyed before God” (Psalm 68:2).

37:9, 22, 28, 34, 38 – Will be destroyed. Wicked, evildoers, cursed, children of the wicked, and future of the wicked; God brings all of it to destruction. The outcome for God’s children ends with our freedom to inherit and dwell in the land forever. It’s not so for the evil. “For the upright will inhabit the land, and those of integrity will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous uprooted from it” (Proverbs 2:21-22).

So,

We’ve asked a series of questions and looked to Psalm 37 for answers. We could probably ask several more. But we’ve seen the truth already; we must decide what we’re going to do about it.

Who are we in a world of evil? We’re those who live differently from the ways of the world as we follow the way God designed for us to live.

What should we do in a world of evil? We can turn our focus to Almighty God as we trust Him and intertwine our lives with Him.

What does God do in a world of evil? He is there for us in ways we can never imagine providing us with all that we need.

Finally, what are the outcomes for both the good and the evil? Where will they live for eternity? This is the question where we face a decision. We’ve talked about the evil of groups like Boko Haram and ISIS. But we’re all evil. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and our “heart is more deceitful than anything else and incurable” (Romans 3:23 and Jeremiah 17:9, respectively). We are among the evil until we choose to surrender to Jesus and give Him our sinful heart by faith. In His infinite grace, He forgives the evils of our deceitful hearts and makes us one of His children. He brings us into the sheepfold and allows us to be among those who inherit the land, as we mentioned earlier in this article. Click here to read more about finding a relationship with Christ.

Click here to read the previous article in this series.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Good & Evil: What God does in a world of evil

As we enter the third part in this current series, the terrorist organization ISIS has given us a new consideration of evil this past week. After the previous executions of two American journalists, they broadcast internationally via YouTube as they beheaded British aid worker David Haines.

This trio of murders is both appalling and horrific. And yet, they represent only a small portion of the evil atrocities committed in our world even in just this past week. God alone knows the number of those who have suffered at the hands of the violent.

I don’t personally know John Yakubu or any of the Nigerian Christians slaughtered by Boko Haram this past summer. I’ve never met James Foley, Steven Sotloff, or David Haines. My daily life might be more comfortable if I ignored their stories along with the stories of all those who suffer. But every act of evil ripples out over the earth; eventually those ripples intersect with my life.

That’s why I need to know how to live as a child of God in a world of evil.

To that end, Psalm 37 is proving to be a great source of information. First, we learned some of the qualities we should have as children of God in an evil world. Second, we learned some of the things we should do as God’s children in a world of evil. Today we’ll see some of the actions God has promised to us before we wrap up next week with a look at the outcome for both the wicked and the righteous.

You might want to take a minute to read Psalm 37 before proceeding.


What God does in a world of evil

37:17, 24 – The Lord supports the righteous. He holds our hand. He sustains us even when hard times press in so close we fear they may knock us to our knees. Isaiah wrote during an era when the evil Assyrian empire was growing and Israel was declining. Yet He said of the Lord, “You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You (Isaiah 26:3).

37:18 – The Lord watches over the blameless. God is watching; He knows what’s going on. He sees that you have stayed strong even when evil permeated around you. Job knew about holding fast to our beliefs even when we endure suffering. Yet he wrote, “He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold” (Job 23:10).

37:23 – The Lord establishes our steps. He directs the way we should go; He knows the way that is best. David faced a lot of adversity in his path to the throne of Israel. But in the end, he looked back – and forward – and realized, “When your time comes and you [David] rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13).

37:23 – The Lord takes pleasure in our way. When we follow in the path that God has established for us, He is happy about it! We please Him. The Israelites had their ups and downs as far as following in the path God had for them. However, after their 40+ year exodus from slavery in Egypt, they knew “If the LORD is pleased with us, He will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us” (Numbers 14:8). And you know what? We also have our own spiritual Promised Land waiting at the end of our journey if we follow in His way.

37:28, 33 – The Lord will not abandon us. God’s not going anywhere. He didn’t bring us this far just to abandon us here! Joshua journeyed a long ways with God under Moses’ leadership. When God called him to succeed Moses, He also reminded him three times, “The LORD is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8; see also Deuteronomy 31:6 and Joshua 1:5).

37:28 – The Lord will keep us safe. He will be on guard over you just as He would guard Himself. He has cut covenant with us which He can’t and won’t forsake. Nehemiah knew God’s covenants; that’s why when he mourned over the crumbling of Jerusalem he could also say, “Yahweh, the God of heaven, the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps His gracious covenant with those who love Him and keep His commands” (Nehemiah 1:5).

37:33 – The Lord will not allow us to be condemned. We’re guilty; all of us are worthy of condemnation. But God denies any condemnation for His children. The psalmist Asaph recognized God’s enemies rise up against us to imprison and kill us. Yet, he also knew the source of redemption when he wrote, “May the groans of the prisoners come before you; by the strength of your arm preserve those condemned to die” (Psalm 79:11).

37:39 – The Lord gives us salvation. Victory is ours; deliverance will come. Solomon – the wisest man who ever lived – realized we rely only on God when he wrote, “No wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel will prevail against the LORD. A horse is prepared for battle, but victory comes from the LORD” (Proverbs 21:30-31).

37:39 – The Lord gives us refuge. He is our place of safety; He alone is a harbor of protection. Nahum prophesied against Nineveh for her evil, cruelty, and barbaric practices. Even in the midst of such atrocities however, Nahum recognized, “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7 NIV).

37:40 – The Lord helps, delivers, and saves us. He will surround us in support. He will make a way for us to escape. He will bring us to victory. More than any other person in the Bible, Jesus knew unjust suffering. He felt the sting of His enemy in a way none of His followers will ever have to feel. That’s why the suffering of Psalm 22 is prophetic of His suffering. And yet, Psalm 22 includes “Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and you rescued them. … He relies on the LORD; let Him rescue him; let the LORD deliver him, since He takes pleasure in him. … Do not be far from me, because distress is near and there is no one to help. … Save me from the mouth of the lion!” (Psalm 22:4, 8, 11, 21).

So, …

Whether we choose to confront or hide from the prevalent evil, God promises that He will act. God will be there when the ripples of evil intersect with our life. He will support, watch over, and establish us. He will take pleasure in our journey toward Him. He will never abandon us and will keep us safe. He will not allow us to be condemned as He ensures our salvation. He alone will help us to a place of deliverance and refuge.

Thank you, Lord, for these powerful promises in the midst of an evil world.

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