Posts Tagged ‘our pet sins’

Joshua 15:20-63
The Towns Allotted to Judah

There are certain memories from your early childhood that stick with you while others vanish into the mist of time. Many of our experiences from birth to around age 6 are like this. There are seemingly random, disjointed memories that stick while others do not. They say that our best retained memories are those that have emotions attached to them. One of my memories from age 6 (in the first grade) is like that. There must have been high emotion attached to it. I remember the sequence of events to this day.

I remember that there was this page of almost like comic strip rows of figures that we were supposed to take the time to color with our crayons. Somehow, that day, I had been paired up with a kid whom I do not remember his name but he influenced me that day. He must’ve been an angry sort of kid so he did not follow the instructions to tediously color the characters in the rows of action scenes on the printed paper. He just marked back and forth across the page on each row of characters until the row of characters was not recognizable. One row was a purple blob. The next red and so on. So, instead of being the good little student that I was, I allowed the influence of taking the easy way out take me over and I did the same thing. And I turned the paper in. I remember the next day the teacher gave us our papers back. Of course, she gave me a failing grade and had a note stapled to it that I had to get my parents to sign. I remember being fearful of the repercussions at home so I balled the papers into a small circular wad and stuck it behind my chest of drawers in the bedroom that my brother and I shared. My dad was pastoring three churches in this rural area south of Sumter and Camden, SC called Rembert, SC (yeah, try finding that on the map – even today!). I don’t remember how I kept avoiding the returned of parentally signed paper back to the teacher for I remember being more than a couple of days. It may have been a week! Only when my mom and dad did their major housecleaning on Saturday mornings was this wadded up set up papers found. I felt like Lucy on I Love Lucy when Ricky would say, “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!” and she would go “ewwwwww!” as only Lucy could do. I had some splainin to do to my mom and dad about this shortcut I took at school and then the fact that I tried to cover it up.

There were so many things that my dad and mom were upset with me about. First, that they raised me better than that than to not respect authority and do what you were told. Second, that I was smarter than the work that I had produced. Third, I took the easy way out instead of doing the hard work necessary. And, finally, that I did not confess what I had done wrong and tried to cover it up. I was in deep doo-doo as a 6 year old. It was not like my parents did not invest in us when it came to school work when we were little. They actively participated in our studies when we were little kids. They invested much in us and it showed in how well we did in school. Much was given to us by our parents when it came to our schooling. So, much was expected. This early act of defiance was unexpected and it remains memorable to this day. I let some kid who I rarely sat beside in school influence me. I don’t even remember the kid’s name or his face. I do remember the influence I allowed him to have over me that day – to this day.

It was this idea of much being given and then not following through on expectations was what I thought of this morning as I read this rather mundane set of verses in Joshua 15:20-63:

20 This is the inheritance of the tribe of Judah, according to its clans:

21 The southernmost towns of the tribe of Judah in the Negev toward the boundary of Edom were:

Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur, 22 Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah, 23 Kedesh, Hazor, Ithnan, 24 Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, 25 Hazor Hadattah, Kerioth Hezron (that is, Hazor), 26 Amam, Shema, Moladah, 27 Hazar Gaddah, Heshmon, Beth Pelet, 28 Hazar Shual, Beersheba, Biziothiah, 29 Baalah, Iyim, Ezem, 30 Eltolad, Kesil, Hormah, 31 Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah, 32 Lebaoth, Shilhim, Ain and Rimmon—a total of twenty-nine towns and their villages.

33 In the western foothills:

Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, 34 Zanoah, En Gannim, Tappuah, Enam, 35 Jarmuth, Adullam, Sokoh, Azekah, 36 Shaaraim, Adithaim and Gederah (or Gederothaim)[a]—fourteen towns and their villages.

37 Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal Gad, 38 Dilean, Mizpah, Joktheel, 39 Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon, 40 Kabbon, Lahmas, Kitlish, 41 Gederoth, Beth Dagon, Naamah and Makkedah—sixteen towns and their villages.

42 Libnah, Ether, Ashan, 43 Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, 44 Keilah, Akzib and Mareshah—nine towns and their villages.

45 Ekron, with its surrounding settlements and villages; 46 west of Ekron, all that were in the vicinity of Ashdod, together with their villages; 47 Ashdod, its surrounding settlements and villages; and Gaza, its settlements and villages, as far as the Wadi of Egypt and the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea.

48 In the hill country:

Shamir, Jattir, Sokoh, 49 Dannah, Kiriath Sannah (that is, Debir), 50 Anab, Eshtemoh, Anim, 51 Goshen, Holon and Giloh—eleven towns and their villages.

52 Arab, Dumah, Eshan, 53 Janim, Beth Tappuah, Aphekah, 54 Humtah, Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) and Zior—nine towns and their villages.

55 Maon, Carmel, Ziph, Juttah, 56 Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah, 57 Kain, Gibeah and Timnah—ten towns and their villages.

58 Halhul, Beth Zur, Gedor, 59 Maarath, Beth Anoth and Eltekon—six towns and their villages.[b]

60 Kiriath Baal (that is, Kiriath Jearim) and Rabbah—two towns and their villages.

61 In the wilderness:

Beth Arabah, Middin, Sekakah, 62 Nibshan, the City of Salt and En Gedi—six towns and their villages.

63 Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah.

The first thing that you will notice here is that, compared to the inheritance of lands given to the other tribes, the list of cities and towns here is quite extensive. It takes 43 verses to list all the cities and towns. By comparison, the land given to the tribes of Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, and Benjamin are pretty small and take only about 7 verses each. The last thing you will notice here is that, in v. 63, there is the mention that the tribe of Judah was not able to drive out Jebusites from Jerusalem (and that the Jebusites were still living among them at the time of the writing of Joshua).

Here, we see that Judah was given much. This tribe was given the greatest allotment of land. This tribe was not only the largest of the tribes of Israel but they were the most influential throughout much of Jewish history. It is from this tribe that David, Solomon, and Jesus come from. So, to say that the tribe of Judah was the most important of the tribes would be an understatement. Much was given. Much should be expected.

However, we see here, in the last verse, that they did not drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem. They did not complete the job. They took a shortcut. They then stuck the wad of paper behind the chest of drawers and tried to ignore that they did not do what had been assigned to them. God directed them to do the whole job, whatever it took. They were to completely destroy and drive out the pagan Jebusites from their land. But they did not do it. Even after they had been given the most land, they could not do what they had been assigned to do.

Aren’t we that way sometimes? We wad up our papers of sin and stick them behind the chest of drawers of our lives – hoping no one will see that we are not being obedient to God. Outwardly we are doing and saying the right things, but we have this hidden secret of our disobedience to God’s Word. He gives us the instructions for living our life in His Word. However, sometimes, we want to take shortcuts so that we do not have to do the hard work of becoming more Christ-like. We want to keep our pet sins and keep them hidden. We want to say one way of behavior is OK even though it is against God’s Word because we do not want to give that behavior up. We think it is OK to take shortcuts around God’s Word so that we can continue reveling in our favorite sins.

Is it time for the Saturday morning cleaning in your soul? Is it time to come clean about the shortcuts that you take around obedience to God? Are you tired of wondering when you wad of sin hidden behind your spiritual chest of drawers will be found out? Or will that shortcut you take become a cancer to your spirit and drive a wedge between you and God. Will you let your disobedience grow like a cancer such that you cannot enjoy what God has given you?

What is your wad of paper of unconfessed sins of shortcuts taken that is stuck behind your chest of drawers that you don’t want anybody to see? We must bring it out in the open. Confess it. Drive it out. And seek restoration through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ!

Amen and Amen.

Luke 18:35-43— Careful what you ask for, the old saying goes, you just might get it. We often think we want something but when we find out what it takes to get it, we give up on it. I think this concept plays into what we learn from today’s passage.

There are several things that jump out at you in this passage. First, it takes a blind man to see the Messiah. Second, he would not be turned away very easily because he repeated his request. Third, why does Jesus ask the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” Isn’t it obvious?

The first thing that strikes me here is that this blind hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by. He immediately begins shouting (not speaking but shouting), “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy upon me!” It is so interesting that immediately upon hearing the name of Jesus, he recognizes that he is the Messiah. He calls Him Son of David. Son of David was a reference to the fact that the predicted Messiah in the Old Testament was to come from the lineage of David. Son of David then became an equivalent term for the Messiah. A blind man could see the Messiah but many of the religious leaders of the day could not see this fact even though they had sight. As a beggar, the normal operation was to beg passersby for money. But this blind beggar did not ask Jesus for money. He asks him for mercy. That means that he recognized Jesus as the Messiah. Have mercy on me. Show concern for me. Grant me relief. The beggar must of heard of Jesus’ ministry for him to ask Jesus for mercy. Mercy would be to lift him out of the state of life in which the beggar finds himself. He had heard of the wonderful miracles of Jesus. He was willing to throw himself at Jesus feet and ask for mercy. The lowly and humble seem to be able to see the Messiah more easily than the proud and self-sufficient. It was the pride of the religious elite that prevented them from seeing Jesus as the Son of David and throwing themselves at His feet and ask for mercy. Are you to proud to see the Messiah? Do you have a sense of self-sufficiency that prevents you from humbling yourself before the Lord? This beggar was able and willing to cast aside any pride and throw himself at the feet of Jesus. When we find ourselves mired in the sins of our lives, will we finally cry out to Jesus for mercy? How deep does your pit have to go before you cry out to Him?

The second thing that you will notice here is that after the recognition and pursuit of the Messiah, the beggar is told to keep quiet. He told basically not to continue trying to reach the Messiah. He is, thank goodness, persistent in the effort to reach the Messiah. He not only shouted once. He kept on shouting. He was told to keep quiet. Isn’t this also like the situation we find ourselves in when we first seek out Jesus. We see the mess of our lives and we begin to seek out for something more than the mess that we are in. We begin to seek out this Jesus thing. Many though will see our sin, our history of bad behavior, our history of not being good enough, our history of turning our nose up at God in our blindness, and will tell us to keep away from the Messiah. We don’t deserve the opportunity to address him. Either our old playground’s playmates will try to draw us back into our old lifestyle or the new playground’s playmates that we are trying to enter will appear to or may actually reject us trying to enter their playground. Beggars want us to stay with them begging. At the same time, many will not believe that we are serious about seeking the Messiah. You know that old beggar. He will be back to his old ways in no time. Let’s not accept him because we can’t waste our time on fakers. He just had a spiritual warm-fuzzy experience. He was not truly saved. Just watch. Help us Lord to leave our old life behind and be persistent in our pursuit of our new life. We must continue shouting His name. We must continue pursuing Him. We must focus on Him. Just as Peter could walk on water when he was focusing on Jesus ahead of him and fell into the water when he looked away. We must always keep our pursuit of Jesus as the forefront in our mind and soul. We cannot let detractors bring doubt into our mind. When we worry about what others think and say, it takes our focus off Jesus. Let us keep on invoking the name of the Messiah. Let us shout His name constantly. Never let anything deter you from pursuing the Son of David.

The final thing that is striking here is that Jesus asks the beggar a seemingly silly question, “What do you want me to do for you?” Duh, Jesus! The man is blind. What do you think He wants? Why does Jesus ask this question? Jesus is the Son of God so He already knows what the man wants. He sees his heart. I think Jesus asks the question for the benefit of the blind beggar. It will help him articulate what he really wants from Jesus. Sometimes, we cry out to Jesus but we really don’t want to change our situation. Some of us have become so comfortable in the culture of dependence that we have created that to change it would be too radical. Think of someone you know that seems to use their disabilities as a way to keep people doing things for them. They manipulate people through pity by using their disabilities to get what they want. We all know the type. Some of us too are comfortable in our sins. We pay lip service to wanting to change but we are rather comfortable with our favorite sins. We want to follow Jesus but it would mean to us that we would have to give up playgrounds and playmates that we don’t want to give up. Just as in the previous passage about the rich young man where the young man did not really want to fully sell out for Jesus because he was addicted to his wealth more than He wanted to follow Jesus. Sometimes, we cry out to Jesus but are not willing to let go of that which has become our custom, our god, our crutch, our schtick, our thing that identifies us, the thing in which we find our identity. To accept a new identity in Christ might me too much for us. We want to follow Jesus but…Here, Jesus wanted the beggar to vocalize his faith. The beggar wanted to see. There is more than sight here. He wants to change is his life. He truly wants to follow Jesus. His faith changes him. Jesus grants his request. The beggar then immediately becomes part of the family of Jesus and follows him. Leaving his old life behind immediately. In contrast to the rich young man, he accepts what Jesus offers and does not look back. He follows Jesus immediately. His faith is evident in the following immediately. He praises God for what has been done for him. No looking back. Only praising. Are you willing to give up your old life and follow Jesus? Are you the rich young ruler who can’t or are you the blind beggar who can?

Father, oh Father, give me the faith of the blind man to pursue you with all my heart. Father, help me to see that I must always keep my focus on you no matter what Satan tries to say to me directly or through other people. Help me to lay down all my pet sins and follow you with all my heart each and every day. Amen.