Zero Casualties

The whole army then returned safely to Joshua… (Joshua 10:21).

The only time any deaths in battle are mentioned in the whole military campaign of Israel conquering Canaan is at Ai when 36 men died (7:1-5). Other than that, zero casualties.

A massive Israelite army, waging war against huge armies “as numerous as the sand on the seashore” (11:4), many of them entrenched in fortified cities, several of the warriors are giants, fighting on terrain that is unfamiliar to them—zero casualties! 

But why should this surprise us?

God doesn’t see masses of people; He sees individuals. He knows how many hairs are on each soldier’s head! He is able to keep alive all His children despite the rigors of warfare.

Total victory. Zero casualties!

The casualties at Ai were due to Israel’s disobedience. The ongoing victories were due to Israel’s total obedience: “As the Lord commanded His servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses” (11:15).

“All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fights for Israel” (10:42), with zero casualties!

We wage a spiritual warfare today that is no less rigorous or dangerous than the military campaign the Israelite army fought. God is still able to keep those who are His until He calls them home. 

Missionary John Paton, while surrounded by hostile cannibals, said, “I realized that my life was immortal till my Master’s work with me was done.” 

The same is true for you. Don’t fear the enemy. Don’t shrink from the battle. Obey God, and trust Him to bring you safely home to Heaven. Then you can say with the apostle Paul, as he neared the end of his campaign—

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). 

Jesus is able to keep you from falling until He brings you into His Father’s presence—zero casualties!

Our Priestly Service

… pronounce them clean … pronounce them unclean … (about 40 times in Leviticus 12-15).

The Old Testament priests could not cure anyone, they could only pronounce cleanness or uncleanness. Only God could cure. So when Jesus walked this earth, He showed His deity by touching lepers and saying, “You are clean,” by stopping the flow of blood that made a woman unclean, and by restoring maimed limbs and blinded eyes that kept people from entering into the place of worship. 

Jesus said to His followers—and He still says to us today—“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you“ (John 15:3). Jesus cleanses our bodies and our consciences, and He keeps us clean until He presents us to His Father in Heaven (Hebrews 10:22; Jude 24).

We have been cleansed for a purpose. What is that purpose? In short, it is for our priestly service to our world. 

I find it interesting that the person in the Old Testament who was pronounced clean was then anointed in the exact same ways as the priests were when they were consecrated for service in the tabernacle (Leviticus 14:14-18, 25-29; 8:23-24, 30). When Jesus sent His followers out to minister, He consecrated them with the New Testament mandate, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, CLEANSE those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give“ (Matthew 10:8). 

Not just, “Pronounce them healed, raised, cleansed, and freed,” but “Heal, raise, cleanse, free”!

Jesus has cleansed us AND consecrated us to be His ministers. He has given us His authority not just to make pronouncements, but to actually heal and deliver! 

8 Quotes From “The Gospel Of The Kingdom”

T.M. Moore has written a book that I think is a must-read for those who want to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3)—the orthodox Christianity that is presented in the Scriptures. You can check out my full book review of The Gospel Of The Kingdom by clicking here. 

“We can only discern these wayward ‘winds of doctrine’ when we have a clear understanding of the Gospel of the Kingdom. The better we understand and the more wholeheartedly we embrace this Good News as Jesus and the Apostles taught it, the better able we will be to counsel and lead our fellow believers who may be ensnared in the thrall of a ‘different gospel’ and therefore in danger of having believed in vain.” 

“In the divine economy now established within the Kingdom of God, the Spirit of God works with the Word of God to build the church and further the reign of Christ. An ethic of love and hope prevails within that realm which serves as a platform for embodying and proclaiming the truth of God and Christ. Salvation comes to those who believe, bringing them into the community of the saints and dramatically affecting every aspect of their lives in relationships of mutual service and love.” 

“The Gospel of the Kingdom is not, in the first instance, about you and me going to heaven when we die. It is about the Kingdom of God, first and foremost—about a new reality that has broken into human experience with irresistible, transforming power, making all things new and bringing the knowledge of the glory of God to light in the sight of all men and nations.” 

“Apart from the saving mercy of Christ and liberation into His Kingdom, men can look forward only to lives of uncertainty, doubt, disappointment, false hopes, fear, and death.” 

“The Gospel of the Kingdom is the power of God for transformation, a transformation so complete and thorough that it finally makes all things new. Those who know this power are changed by the glory of God so that, increasingly, their lives actually begin to reflect the living reality of the risen Christ, their King. The fruits and virtues that flow from their lives, like rivers of living water, are precisely those most to be desired and least in supply in a fallen world.” 

“The Kingdom is Good News because it brings power exceeding and abundant to be and do more than we could ever ask or think [Ephesians 3:20]. Here is a power we can never exhaust and that springs up day by day in ever fresher, ever more abounding ways to make all things new in our lives.” 

“Joy, it appears, is not determined by what we can see in our immediate environment. Instead, Joy is a condition that attaches to knowing the Lord and being able to see past what is seen in order to engage what is not seen. …The ability to know joy—in spite of any untoward circumstances or conditions—is dependent on the extent to which one actually knows the Lord and is intimately engaged in a relationship with Him. … Your salvation is an experience of living in the Kingdom of God, where we know the hope of glory, experienced and expressed, as a daily reality, then our joy will be more constant and full because our relationship with the Lord will be as much for the ‘here and now’ as for the ‘then and there.’” 

“God is always ready to meet us with joy, and He has provided ample means whereby we may engage Him for the joy that is to be known in His presence. Only our slothfulness, distractiveness, or neglect of His salvation—or the idolatry of seeking our joy in places other than the presence of God—can keep us from living in joy now, and in anticipation of the fullness of joy yet to come.” 

The Gospel Of The Kingdom (book review)

In the 1940s, C.S. Lewis presented a series of radio talks which became the book Mere Christianity. It was in this book that Lewis went beyond any denominationalism to the basic tenants of Christianity as outlined in the Bible. T.M. Moore persuasively warns us today of the trend away from “mere” Christianity to what he terms “near Christianity.” The Gospel of the Kingdom is an important book for those who desire to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 3). 

An increasing number of people who call themselves Christians—and even more alarmingly, those who are in positions of church leadership—aren’t living or preaching the full Gospel as presented in the Scriptures. Moore sounds the clarion call: “We are in danger, I believe, of having embraced, not the Gospel Jesus and the Apostles proclaimed, and for which our forbearers in the faith lived and died, but another gospel, a shallow, self-centered, merely sentimental gospel, which ‘assures’ us of heaven but does not equip us for the kingdom of God.” 

The followers of near Christianity tout how they have been saved from hell, but their profession and lifestyle don’t go beyond that. In other words, there is very little—if any—evidence that Jesus has become the Sovereign of their lives, and that they are living as citizens of God’s Kingdom. “Near Christianity, therefore, produces little in the way of kingdom evidence in the lives and churches of those who embrace it,” says Moore. 

In The Gospel of the Kingdom, Moore fully defines the imposter known as near Christianity, and then systematically details the characteristics of the Kingdom of God that should be evidenced in the lives of those who call themselves Christians. This isn’t just Moore’s opinion, but this short book is thoroughly cross-referenced with over 100 biblical passages.

All Christians—and especially those in the pastorate or other leadership roles—would do well to digest this book. If we aren’t vigilant, near Christianity may dominate the landscape of our churches, which really isn’t Christianity at all. 

I am a Wax Tablet Publications book reviewer. 

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Struggling For Perfection

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Struggling For Perfection

     My own experience is a daily struggle with the evil within. I wish I could find in myself something friendly to grace. But hitherto I have searched my nature through and have found everything in rebellion against God. At one time, there comes the torpor of sloth, when one ought to be active every moment, having so much to do for God and for the souls of men, and so little time in which to do it. At another time, there comes the quickness of passion; when one should be calm and cool and play the Christian, bearing with patience whatever has to be endured, there come the unadvised word and the rash expression. Anon, I am troubled with conceit, the devilish whisper—I can call it no less—“How well you have done! How nobly you have played your part!” Then calls out distrust, foul and faithless, suggesting that God does not regulate the affairs of men and will not interpose on my behalf. Yet what would I not give if I might but be perfect! Sometimes I think that if God’s people mentioned in the Old and New Testaments had all been perfect, I should have despaired. But because they seem to have had just the kind of faults I grieve over in myself, I do not feel any more lenient toward my faults, but I do rejoice that I also may say with each of them, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me.” He will most assuredly, beyond a doubt, bring to perfection my faith, my love, my hope, and every grace. He will perfect His own purposes. He will perfect His promises, He will perfect my body, and He will perfect my soul. … That day, however, I believe, shall not come until we enter into the joy of the Lord and are glorified together with Christ in heaven. Then, but not till then, shall He present us “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).

From The Autobiography of Charles Spurgeon

I love that the Bible shows us imperfect people being loved by a perfect God. 

As Spurgeon said, it’s not that we should excuse our faults and imperfections by saying, “At least I’m not as bad as him,” but that we can say, “I’m grateful God’s grace reaches even me!” 

God is for you! He wants you to stand “faultless before the presence of His glory.” So right now—today!—the Holy Spirit wants to help you. Will you let Him? 

Joining The Angel Choir

The angels are highly visible around the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, but here’s the amazing thing—we are invited to join the angelic choir singing praise to Jesus! 

Nowhere else do we see such a concentration of angels as during Christ’s time on earth, and especially at His birth. In the Old Testament prior to Christ’s birth, and in the New Testament following Christ’s ascension, we don’t see as many angels clustered together on Earth— 

    • Gabriel brings a birth announcement to Zechariah 
    • Gabriel brings a birth announcement to Mary
    • an angel talks to Joseph in a dream (three times!) 
    • an angel gives instructions to the wise men in a dream
    • angels minister to Jesus in the wilderness after His battle with the devil 
    • angels are poised for action in case Jesus calls on them prior to His crucifixion
    • angels are present at Christ’s tomb after His resurrection
    • and a massive angel choir sings at Christ’s birth (Luke 2:8-14) 

Charles Wesley wrote a Christmas carol called Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. In the first stanza, we’re invited to “join the triumph in the skies.” But how can someone sing a song grand enough, majestic enough, or worthy enough to honor Almighty God?! That would be like me being asked to compose a song or play something on the piano to honor Mozart—how could I play anything worthy of his musical talent? 

In a similar way, when the Israelites thought about coming into God’s presence, they were gripped with knee-knocking, gut-churning fear (Exodus 19:16-19; 20:18-19)! 

But notice that the angels didn’t sing, “God is born in Bethlehem.” They sang, “Christ is born in Bethlehem.” Christ: the Messiah; the One who sets things right. No wonder this is such good news of great joy that brings peace and God’s favor (Luke 2:10, 14). 

The simple fact is that we couldn’t approach God and join in their angelic song. Instead, Jesus approached us as our Messiah, our Deliverer. How could this happen? Wesley’s carol reminds us that Jesus came so that God and sinners are reconciled! 

The First Advent is God approaching us. If we allow Jesus to reconcile us to our Holy Heavenly Father, then we have no fear of Christ’s Second Advent. His Second Advent will be attended to by angels just like His First Advent (Matthew 25:31-32; Mark 8:38; Jude 1:14-15). Those who haven’t had their sins forgiven will hear a song that is soul-crushing to them, while those who have accepted the reconciling work of Jesus will join with the angelic host in a victorious song bringing glory to God forever and ever (Revelation 14:9-11; 15:1-4). 

We don’t have to wait until we get to Heaven to join the triumph of the skies. We can join the angelic choir right now in singing our praise to God today. And every day! 

Join me this Sunday as we continue to look at the fantastic messages in our Christmas carols. 

Fight Or Flee?

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith… (1 Timothy 6:11-12). 

Psychologists tell us that when faced with certain situations our bodies instinctively prepared to fight or flight. Knowing which situations to fight and which to run from are crucial for living a long and productive life. 

It’s no different in the spiritual realm. 

Christian leaders must know which things are worth the fight, and which things they simply must flee. To flee from things we should fight shows a lack of courage. But to try to fight the things we should run from shows a lack of wisdom. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who knows what to fight and what to flee.

Three things you must FIGHT for…

  1. …the purity of the true faith (1 Timothy 6:12; Jude 1:3)
  2. …the disempowered (Proverbs 31:8-9; Matthew 21:12-13)
  3. …the devil (1 Peter 5:9; James 4:7; Ephesians 6:11) 

Three things you must FLEE from…

  1. …idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14)
  2. …sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18; Genesis 39:12)
  3. …earthly riches (1 Timothy 6:9-11)

Don’t try to fight the things you must flee from, and don’t run away from the things you must fight for. Pray for God’s wisdom to know which is which. 

This is part 29 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Who Can Bridge The Gap Between God And Man?

Mankind was created good and upright in God’s image and given dominion over everything God had created (see Genesis 1:26-28 and Psalm 8:3-8). But man was not given dominion over himself (Genesis 2:15-17).

As Oswald Chambers said, “The temptation came to him on this line—‘Disobey, and you will become as God.’ Man took dominion over himself and thereby lost his lordship over everything else. According to the Bible, the disposition of sin is my claim to my right to myself” (see Genesis 3:1-7).

“And sure enough, they then had knowledge of good and evil, but it was from the standpoint of becoming evil and remembering how good they once were” (Nancy Guthrie). Their disobedience created an unbridgeable gulf between God and man. 

There were other consequences of their sin too:

  • Consequence #1—They realized they were naked, making them ashamed of themselves and ashamed to be in God’s presence.
  • Consequence #2—They feared God and tried to hide from Him.
  • Consequence #3—They couldn’t accept responsibility for what they did because that acceptance would mean they would also be responsible for bridging the gulf, something they were utterly unable to do.
  • Consequence #4—They were completely separated from God. Now there was nothing that they could do except work, have children, raise a family, and try to make the best of things.

Even in the midst of this despair, God foreshadowed the hope that would be their salvation. First, God promised that their offspring would one day crush satan’s head. Then God sacrificed an innocent animal and used those skins to make more permanent clothes for Adam and Eve, foreshadowing what Jesus would do.

Adam must have glimpsed this ray of hope because he then named his wife Eve, which means life!

But who could bridge this chasm? Who could be a mediator between God and man? The only possible candidate would have to be Someone who was both fully God and fully Man—that is Jesus Christ!

Only Jesus can fully and eternally cover our nakedness, remove our fear and shame, and present us without sin before His Father (see Jude 24 and Romans 5:6-11).

If, as Oswald Chambers says, sin is my claim to my right to myself, then salvation is God’s right to myself because I have surrendered to the reconciling work of Jesus.

“Believers in Christ are seen by God exactly as Christ is seen by God,” wrote Ann Voskamp, because those who believe in Jesus are clothed in His righteousness!

If you haven’t surrendered yourself to God’s right to you, what’s holding you back from doing that today? If you have surrendered yourself to God, don’t ever let satan lie to you about your nakedness, shame, or unworthiness—you are “Christ’s friend, God’s child, Spirit’s home!” (Voskamp).

Rick Warren On What Mercy Means

rick-warren“Mercy means…

…being patient with people’s quirks (James 3:17)

…helping anyone around you who is hurting (Proverbs 3:27)

…giving people a second chance (Ephesians 4:31-32)

…doing good to those who hurt you (Luke 6:35-36)

…being kind to those who offend you (Jude 22-23)

…building bridges of love to the unpopular (premeditated mercy) (Matthew 9:13)

…valuing relationships over rules (Romans 13:10)” —Rick Warren

6 Quotes From “Light & Truth—The Lesser Epistles”

Light & Truth The Lesser EpistlesHoratius Bonar’s insights on the Scriptures are amazing! So far I’ve read and reviewed three of the four commentaries he has prepared on the New Testament (you can read those reviews here, here and here). These are a few quotes from the third book on the epistles Galatians through Jude. Any reference in brackets is the passage from the Bible on which Bonar is commenting.

“It is a busy, lighthearted, laughing, pleasure-seeking world. But sin is here, and pain is here, and broken hearts are here, and weeping is here, and death is here, and the grave is here. Oh! in spite of all its laughter and vanity, it is an evil world. And the great proof of its evil is, that it cost the death of the Son of God to deliver you from it. … Give yourselves to Him Who came to deliver you from it, and Who stretches out His hands to you all day long, asking you to allow Him to deliver you. He yearns over you; and with sincere earnestness proffers to you His love, His friendship, His great salvation. Consent, O man, consent! His desire is to bless, and not to curse; to save, and not to destroy.” [Galatians 1:4]

“There never have been two gospels. There is not an Old Testament gospel and a New Testament Gospel. There is not one gospel for the Jew, and another for the Gentile, one gospel for the first century, and another for the nineteenth. It is but one gospel, as there is but one Cross and one Savior. Many ages, but one gospel; many sinners, but one gospel; many prophets and apostles, but one gospel. As our earth has had but one sun, so it has had but one gospel. Nor does it need more; that one is sufficient.” [Galatians 1:6-9]

“As the earth without rain or sunshine turns to barrenness, so is it with the Church or soul without the Spirit. … The age thinks it can do without the Spirit. Let the Church watch against this blasphemy. Let her keep hold of the Lord’s promise, the promise of the Father. Let her prize the gift; long for more of it. Let every saint seek more of it. Let our cry be continually: More of the Holy Spirit; more of His fullness; more of His gifts and graces!”

“Strength for the race is needed, hourly strength, superhuman strength; for it is no earthly race, but something lofty, supernatural, divine. Forgetting the supernatural source of strength, we betake ourselves to the internal or the simply external. And so we weary. For only God can supply the power which keeps us running. By Him only shall we run, and not be weary.” [Galatians 5:7]

“‘To Him who is able’—He is the Mighty One, the mighty God, the Lord God Almighty. Hear how this word ‘able’ is used. ‘He is able to subdue all things unto Himself’ (Philippians 3:21). ‘He is able to help them that are tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18). ‘He is able to save to the uttermost’ (Hebrews 7: 25). ‘He is able to keep us from falling’ (Jude 24). It is with the mighty God that we have to do; mightier than ourselves or our foes; mightier than earth or hell; omnipotent.” [Ephesians 3:20]

“Are you expecting the Lord? Are you living in this expectation? Is it a deep-seated, abiding, cherished hope? Is it a hope that tells upon your character, your life, your daily actings in public or private, your opinions, your whole man? Does it quicken you? Does it purify you? Does it keep you separate from the world? Does it keep you calm in the midst of earth’s most exciting events, or most untoward changes? Does it give you a new view of history as well as prophecy? … Let your expectation of the Lord’s coming be a calm and healthy one; not one that excites, but one that tranquilizes; not one that unfits for duty, but one that nerves you more firmly for it; not one that paralyzes exertion, but one that invigorates you for it; not one that makes you indifferent to present duty, but one that makes you doubly in earnest about everything that your hand findeth to do; not one that stops liberality, and prayer, and work, but one that increases all these a hundred fold; not one that dwells exclusively on the future’s dark side—the judgments that are at hand—but one that realizes the glory and the joy of Messiah’s approaching victory and triumphant reign.” [Philippians 3:20]

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