Keeping to the right…

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Scripture: Psalm 106:34 (The Israelites) did not destroy the (natives of the Promised Land), as the Lord commanded them, 35 but they mingled with the nations and learned to do as they did. 36 They served their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; 38 they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood. 39 Thus they became unclean by their acts, and prostituted themselves in their doings.

Observation: God gave clear instructions to his people Israel when they occupied the Promised Land. They were to eliminate all of the inhabitants so as not to be influenced by their pagan religious practices and customs. And in some cases this is what God’s people did, but in other cases they didn’t. They left some living among them.

Now I’m sure this made perfect sense at the time. Why kill them all when they can be put to work? Some of them likely had great skills that could be useful. Others could be taken in as concubines or even as wives to bear children. If nothing else, they could be sold off as slaves and used as a source of income. And besides, wasn’t it the humane thing to do to leave some alive? You get the idea. There were 100 reasons why it made logical sense to keep some of the native inhabitants alive – anyone with half a brain could see that.

But they were wrong. And, ultimately, their second-guessing of God was their undoing. Their mistakes left them weak and unprotected by God, which led to their demise.

Application: While I’m certainly no advocate of genocide, there is a lesson for us here. Bad things happen when we go with what makes sense to us instead of what God has clearly commanded. I see this most frequently as it relates to how we handle two of the most precious resources we have – time and money. We think Sabbath rest is a luxury to be embraced once in a while. In the meantime, we work. And work. Maybe when things slow down we’ll find time to “abide” with the Father. But when we wait until things slow down, they never do. We get run down, burned out, never seeming to catch up to the demands on our time.

We also live as if returning to the Lord a tithe (10%) of our income is something we’ll do when we can “afford” to tithe. When we don’t have so many financial obligations. Or when we see a sharp rise in our income. THEN we’ll embrace tithing. But many never do, so we live life stressed out about money. Even if we have above average incomes, it never seems to be enough. “More” doesn’t lead to contentment. Never has. But something happens on the inside when we embrace the tithe. There is a peace that “more” can never deliver.

Prayer: Lord, as you continually remind us, your ways are not our ways. Give us grace to overcome our tendency to follow our own counsel instead of yours. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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