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The Ark Returned

The ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months.Then the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us what we should send with it to its place.” They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed and will be ransomed; will not his hand then turn from you?” And they said, “What is the guilt offering that we shall return to him?” They answered, “Five gold tumors and five gold mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines; for the same plague was upon all of you and upon your lords. So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps he will lighten his hand on you and your gods and your land. Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had made fools of them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? Now then, get ready a new cart and two milch cows that have never borne a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. Take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart, and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off, and let it go its way. And watch; if it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-shemesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm; but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance.” The men did so; they took two milch cows and yoked them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. They put the ark of the Lord on the cart, and the box with the gold mice and the images of their tumors. The cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went; they turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh. Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. When they looked up and saw the ark, they went with rejoicing to meet it. The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh, and stopped there. A large stone was there; so they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord.The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was beside it, in which were the gold objects, and set them upon the large stone. Then the people of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and presented sacrifices on that day to the Lord. When the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron. (1 Samuel 6:1-16, NRSV)

The Philistines kept the Ark of the Covenant for seven months and all the time they had it havoc was over all their lands. So they called their priests and diviners and asked what should be done. And they were told to return the ark to the people of Israel but not to send it alone, but to send a guilt offering with it.

So they prepared the cart for the Ark and the guilt offering and sent it away.

And the people of the town it was last in offered burnt offerings to the Lord along with the guilt offering sent with the Ark so that God may find a little favor and ease the havoc on their lands.

Once again this reminds us that God’s will will be done and He is always with and for His people.


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shall not return…

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. (Isaiah 55:10-13, NRSV)

God’s word goes out and will not return empty. It will accomplish what God intended for it to accomplish.

Meaning, with you or in spite of you, God’s will will have the effect God was looking for.

So know that God’s word works in and through our lives and will accomplish what God needs it to and it will not return to Him empty or before it has accomplished what it needed to.


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the way

The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
but the years of the wicked will be short.
The hope of the righteous ends in gladness,
but the expectation of the wicked comes to nothing.
The way of the LORD is a stronghold for the upright,
but destruction for evildoers.
The righteous will never be removed,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.
The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,
but the perverse tongue will be cut off.
The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable,
but the mouth of the wicked what is perverse.
(Proverbs 10:27-32, NRSV)

When we follow the path that God has set before us it may not be smooth. It may not be easy. It might go up and down and over some pretty hard terrain. But it is the easy path for sure.

The way of the Lord is a stronghold for life and in that way, we will not be removed and will be accepted because of God.

So walk in His way, and know He is always with you.


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160726I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything. On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth. They shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD. For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138, NRSV)

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you protect me.

Though I walk through uncertain times, you are with me.

Though I know not what is happening to me or around me, you give me shelter.

Though I turn away from you, you stay beside me.

Jesus has promised to always be with us, and the walk with us through everything that comes our way.

He will always be with us, through whatever life deals us.

Stay with Him, and He will never leave you!


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I will praise!

But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all day long, though their number is past my knowledge. I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD, I will praise your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. Your power and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my honor, and comfort me once again. I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have rescued. All day long my tongue will talk of your righteous help, for those who tried to do me harm have been put to shame, and disgraced. (Psalm 71:14-24, NRSV)

All the things the Lord has done for me are in the past, they are a memory, yet they make me want to sing His praises!

I want to sing of the praises of His righteousness!

Of how I was taught by Him in my youth to follow and adore!

How in my gray hairs I am still able to proclaim His wonders and love in the world I am in.

I remember how in my troubles and calamities He walked by my side and let me fall, but never out of His reach! He was always there to catch me and keep me going.

He brought me out of the depths and gave me life and love when I did not deserve them.

Oh How the love of the Lord for me makes me want to shout it from the roof tops and sing it to all the world!


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Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ’ Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’ Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’ Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” ’ Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. (Matthew 4:1-11, NRSV)

Bread, pinnacle and kingdoms of this world! What would you do?

Satan tells Jesus He doesn’t have to suffer the hunger. If He is truly the son of God, He can turn the stones all around Him to bread and eat. Heck why not fillet minion!

And then Satan takes Him to the pinnacle of the temple, the closest point in Jewish understanding from earth to heaven. This is the highest place anyone can go without ascending into heaven. And Satan tells Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself off… ” You will not be harmed.

And then Satan offers Him the kingdoms of this world, which if He is the Son of God are truly His anyway, right…

But you see the biggest word and most intriguing word in this passage is if. It makes us think that Satan is not sure who Jesus is. Like he is asking Jesus if He really is the Son of God.

But Satan is not asking, he is affirming who Jesus is. You see in Greek the word for if, also means since. So to me this passage is Since you are the Son of God, turn these stones to bread and jump off the highest place on earth because you will not be hurt.

Satan wants Jesus to worship him, and that is what he wants from us as well, by questioning who Jesus is. Satan knows and we can be sure that Jesus is the Son of God and He does walk with us in out journey!

So since He is with you, go and share His grace. And don’t question that!


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“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34 ESV)

The law would be cool if it were something new and sleek. In the latest techno style that our give it to me now society had gotten use to. We are so concerned with how we can speed things up and get things done now we have made easy Mac and Cheese, and easy hot dogs. As if macaroni and cheese is really that hard to make from a box, and hot dogs are really hard to make…

We have been handed so many things we are wanting more and more and we keep getting left out. We are looking out for the next big thing, when all we need to do is stop and look within.

You see God told us that He would write His law on our hearts. Not literally, but He is living in us. He is helping us to love others. Not keep a list of rules about what to eat and wear, but how we treat ourselves and our neighbors, which is everyone. You see that is what the 10 commandments are about, how we treat our neighbors. If we love God and keep His name holy and remember that we need to rest (one we often forget!) then we will be able to treat others like we want to be treated. Don’t take their stuff, don’t kill them, don’t have sex with them if you aren’t married to them, don’t want their stuff, and don’t tell false things about them. Love them like God loved you.

That is God writing His law on your heart, or living in and with and through you to help others.


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