Steve Norris

Rend Your Hearts and not Your Garments  - Posted: Tuesday, June 20

The prophecy of Joel laments a devastating locust plague that had stripped the land of Judah.  Even their enemies had never inflicted this degree of devastation to the land.

Joel is most famous for the Day of the Lord prophecies and specifically for the predictions about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32) that is quoted by Peter in Acts 2.

In the midst of this prophecy there is a strong call for rededication found just prior to the verses mentioned above .  He says, “Rend you hearts and not your garments, return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to  anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending      calamity.” (Joel 2 :12ff)

The Old Testament reveals a just God who wants to save,  a loving God who wants to forgive, a righteous God who wants to leave a blessing.

  

 

David's Three Mighty Men - Posted: Saturday, April 16

 

David was a great warrior. When he was chosen to replace Saul, even Samuel didn’t think he looked like a king. Jesse, David’s father, hadn’t even brought him up from the field when told to assemble his sons. Yet David turned out to be many times the military leader that Saul had been. Several times the scripture will repeat the refrain, "Saul has killed his thousands, but David, his ten thousands".

David surrounded himself with many mighty men of valor. They were dedicated to him, they risked their lives for him. Chief among these men were the three, whose names we barely know and scarcely remember: Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah. These three accomplished impossible military feats. They led and inspired the thirty mighty men mentioned in 2 Samuel 23.

On one occasion (2 Sam. 23:13-17) David and his men found themselves facing the Philistines near his home town of Bethlehem. David reminisced about the water from the well near the gate of the city. The three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines and brought David back a drink from that very fountain he remembered.

Two great and inspiring events happen in this story. First, these men are so dedicated to David that they risk life and limb to bring him water he loves. Their love for him and dedication to him is amazing. Second, David is so honored and humbled by what they do that he is unable and unwilling to drink the water. He pours it on the ground as a drink offering to God. Both David and his men show honor to their king!

 

 

 

Being Faithful as the Church - Posted: Tuesday, March 29

We are all saddened at times when we see the church fail to be the church.  Too many people have used the church as the battleground for fighting their own private war.  The battle is usually masked as a "doctrinal" one, but almost without exception, they are about personalities and preferences, power struggles and politics.

While reading about the conquest of Canaan through Joshua and Judges, we are reminded that Israel often failed to be Israel.  Yes, it was still their name and they still occupied the promised land, but they were not being the people of God.  As they were bowing down before idols--they were failing to be Israel!

Judges 13:1 reminds us that when Israel dishonored the covenant that God delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.  It has always been the case that when the people repented and cried out for help, the Lord was ready to deliver.  I wonder how many congregations of the Lord's people have been allowed to go their own way, on their own, because they had turned their hearts away from God.  You and I have both seen churches stalemated and stagnate for a generation or two because of sin and conflict from within. 

 I suppose the application is too obvious to spell out specifically!  I do wander sometimes what we give up, as far as the blessings that God would love to shower down upon us, simply because we neglect to honor the covenant?

 Being Israel was about putting God and his will first.  It was about being faithful to the covenant they made with Jehovah.  It was about being blessed as the people of God.  One of the saddest things about this period was the lost opportunity of missed blessings.  What could Israel have been had they been the constant recipients of God's great blessings?

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