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365 Challenge

Filtering by Tag: God's Glory

The Road Less Traveled

Wesley Skinner

There are a lot of verses that stand out to me when I think about what is most important. Most people have a few verses that they like or maybe they are comforted by. But my favorite verse is one that embraces discomfort. 

1 Samuel chapter 15 has influenced the direction of my life more than any other passage I can remember.  

Samuel, the prophet of God, has just told Saul, the king, his marching orders from God; 'Go and completely destroy the Amalekites;men, women, children, livestock. Anything that moves or breathes, I want their name blotted out of the history books.'(paraphrase) But that's not what Saul does. Saul destroys everything excepet the king and keeps the good of the livestock to make a sacrifice to The Lord. We find out later, whether it is true or just an excuse, that he did this because he gave into what he thought was expected of him by his soldiers. 

What Saul did was the good and right and acceptable thing in his culture. Their custom was to save the good of the livestock to make a sacrifice to God, thanking Him for victory. The problem was, God didn't want the culturally acceptable thing, He wanted obedience.  

The first time I remember this passage standing out to me was early in college. I was at a conference, sitting in the floor of the hotel lobby just doing my daily scripture reading. I had been wrestling for a while with the question of what God wanted from my life, and here was the answer. Obedience.  

What I had been trying to do for so long was work God into my plan for my life. I had bought into the Christian spin on the American dream. My focus was wife, kids, nice house, good job, lots of toys, to be important some how and give God 10%. The other 90% was mine. Or even to try and figure out how to serve God in a good and right and culturally acceptable way like be a youth pastor(nothing wrong with that just not where God was leading me, thank God!) I knew what God wanted out of my life and being a missionary, especially one who lives in America and hangs out with college students, doesn't fit the culturally acceptable paradigm. I knew that some people wouldn't understand, and after 7 years of this some people still don't. Even friends of mine in ministry that infer or sometimes just flat out say, 'when you're ready to do REAL ministry come plant a church with me.' The problem was then, and still is today, that would not be obedience to God's call in my life. 

Understanding that obedience to God will not make sense to everyone and you will feel pressure to compromise, even from well-intentioned friends is a tough reality to embrace. It is also not always an easy road, but this less traveled road makes all the difference. 

 

Start with Samuel!

Wesley Skinner

Want to read through the Bible this year but missed the start or got behind? start with 1 Samuel! Today in the One Year Chronological Bible I linked in a previous post, we have gotten through Genesis, job, exodus, Leviticus, numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges and Ruth. Now we start with 1 Samuel. And 1 Samuel is one of my favorite books! 

In this reading plan it only takes 10-15 minutes per day(another 2 if you want to read me blogging random musings as I read) and by the end of the year you will have made it all the way through! And if you missed the start, reading previous days as you have time can catch you up quickly.  

It's not too late! Don't wait for 9 months because you missed 3. Start today!  

Leaving behind the judges.

Wesley Skinner

I love the Old Testament! Most people think that's weird. When reading through the bible in a year, the Pentateuch is easy for me to get through. Yes, you see Israel quickly forget God's faithfulness and turn away, but they keep turning back to Him. Then Joshua continues along those same lines. In Joshua you see God deliver the nations into the hands of Israel as they take over the promised land. Then we hit the book of Judges. 

The book of Judges is difficult for me. Upon a first reading, Judges reads like an action packed adventure. It is fast paced and stars characters that seem superhuman. But there is a problem, a phrase that continues screaming from the pages "again, Israel did evil in the sight of The Lord and He[allowed them to be ruled by]...."

But God didn't forget about them, He raised up judges. Judges who break the very law they are supposed to be keeping. Judges who sacrifice their children and break their vows to The Lord and are faithless. Sure, the action in the book is exciting until you realize that this is not a movie. Death and destruction and war and captivity are not fleeting bumps with a happy ending. The are the consequences of sin and idolatry.

Judges is a dark book. And it is summed up in just a few words, "in those days Israel had no king, everyone did as he saw fit." Those words are more indicting than at first glance. As we leave Judges and move to Samuel you will see this talk of Israel having a king come up again. It is a slap in the face of God. It is Israel rejecting God as their king. So, here when it says, "Israel had no king, everyone did as he saw fit", Israel rejected God's rule and God's law. Everyone lived in darkness. And the darkness is seen clearly in one of the most sin-filled book of the Bible. I'm glad we are moving on to Samuel. 

 

 

God, the deliverer(Exodus 13-15)

Wesley Skinner

Exodus moves so fast! After reading Genesis which covers several thousand years over the course of 50 chapters, we now follow one group of people(Israel) led by one man(Moses) for 40ish years over the course of 4 books(Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers)! We also see God much more vocal. And as God expresses himself more, one major theme begins to come out, God's Glory!

Lasting ordinances: during the time of Moses we are going to see the institution of many things, in these chapters God gives Israel some lasting ordinances.  

1. Passover - Passover has become the longest continually celebrated festival in all of human history! The is no other celebration that still happens that predates this!  I could write much more about this, look for that blog post around Easter!

2. Consecration of firstborn. This is a really cool ordinance because we see the parents of Jesus observe it after he is born. 

Both of these, God institutes to remind Israel about the mighty hand of God that rescued them from Egypt.  

God's pressence: one interesting thing about the Exodus and the subsequent wandering is the visible pressence of God leading his people. He gives them a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. 14:19 let's us know that the angel of God was also traveling with them.  

Random oberservation: I know that it says God hardened Pharaoh's heart, but seriously, 10 horrendous plagues that destroy your country, one of which killed all the firstborn sons, now there is "the angel of The Lord" and a pillar of fire separating you from the people you are chasing, then you see walls of water opening a gap for you to go across the Red Sea. I'm thinking that's a bad idea. How much disaster is enough to get you to stop?!

God's Glory: over the course of this year, I will write extensively about this. For now I just want to mention three things, God hardened Pharaoh's heart for three reasons

1. So that Egypt would know there is a God in Israel. 

2. So that God would be glorified in Pharaoh's destruction. 

3. So Israel would fear God and listen to Moses.  

Israel complains way too much:  They have just seen God's miraculous deliverance and they give Moses a really funny complaint, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” Funny, but still, have a little faith people! And again, when they can't find drinkable water. This will be a pattern, Israel sees God's provision, but still doubts. Can't say I'm much different though. I, so quickly, forget God's faithfulness. 

Random observation: Apparently, God is right handed(totally joking) but look at 15:6

Cool verse for the day: Exodus 14:14 "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”