December 2, 2018
Today begins the season of Advent in preparation for Christmas. We are making a devotional booklet available to purchase this morning on the porch to help you get ready.
Read Joshua 20
To read this text go to: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=joshua+20&version=NLT
Scripture- Joshua 20:9- These cities were set apart for all the Israelites as well as the foreigners living among them. Anyone who accidentally killed another person could take refuge in one of these cities. In this way, they could escape being killed in revenge prior to standing trial before the local assembly.
Observations- The Israelites were now called to follow through on God’s command from Moses to set up “cities of refuge” whose purpose was to help ensure justice and fairness and prevent revenge and overzealous attempts to go beyond what Law would allow. 3400 years ago “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” served Israel as a graceful limit on the amount of revenge one could enact. The command to set up these special cities pointed to justice and fairness as ethical and aspirational values.
Application- Attitudes and behaviors matter to God. Motives matter to God, too. There are many times when we assume the worst possible motives for someone else’s behavior, instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt. We must learn, as folks on the way with Jesus, not to jump to negative conclusions about another person’s motives. We must sift, analyze, and thoughtfully consider the motives when someone hurts us. No matter what Jesus commands us to stay in the process of forgiveness for our own long term benefit. The One we call "Lord" turns the command against taking “too much” revenge upside down, not to negate it, but to fulfill it more completely. Matthew 5:43-44: “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!" How could we possibly live out this ethical command with anything less than the full power of the Holy Spirit at work within us?
Prayer- Dear God, I thank You for Your call to live beyond myself and into the way Jesus lived and loved. Help me not assume the worst about the motives of others. Help me also keep my own motives in check. Help me be a person that others can see as a “refuge” from injustice, unfairness, and harsh prejudgments. Help guide New Hope to be a haven of blessing and place of peace where people who are hurting can find in us a refuge of healing, help, and hope. Amen.
"The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble." (Psalm 9:9),
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