Archive for February, 2016

Turn away (Numbers 14-15; Psalm 90)

February 29, 2016

“…turn tomorrow and set out for the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.”  Numbers 14:28

One of the most tragic moments in a person’s life is when God says, “enough, I turn you away.”  This moment is often not even realized by non-believers, however by God’s people the moment is felt in the coldness and loss of God’s blessing, I John 1:3-4.

In Numbers 14 we see one of if not the saddest moments in Israel’s history.   God has blessed His people in every way, including giving grace after grace as they rebelled against God in every moment of their journey.

Two things demand our attention in this chapter:

  • We need to read very carefully this text.

The people continued to doubt the wisdom, power, and kindness of God, Vs: 1-4.  Only Joshua and Caleb really understood the greatness of God, Vs: 5-9.  The people crossed a line in their dishonoring of God, Vs: 11-12.  These people had despised God  over and over.God was going to destroy them.  It was only through the intercession of Moses that these people were pardoned from immediate judgment, Vs: 13-19.  Cross reference, Exodus 34:19.  Ultimate judgment will come as the people wander in the wilderness and die in the wilderness, Vs: 20-28.  The children had to suffer for the sins of the Father, Vs: 33, Cross reference, Ezekiel 23. The people think they can reverse the decision of God, Vs: 39-45.  Ultimately the Lord forces them into the wilderness through defeat, Vs: 45.

These are terrible words, “Turn and set out for the wilderness.”

  • We need to respond very carefully to this text.

Paul helps us to understand what is before us.  Cross reference is I Corinthians 10:1-10

Our response should be as follows:

  1.  I believe you are the only wise, powerful, and trustworthy God.
  2. I will go wherever you direct me to go.
  3. I will do whatever you direct me to do.
  4. I know you will go with me and I will come through every trial on my way to Your glorious Promised Land.

Here is good news brothers and sisters: “Even if we have failed, God offers hope beyond the judgment.”

This is clearly seen in Numbers 15 as God gives Israel instructions about how she is to live once she enters the Promised Land.  There is hope people judgment.  May we learn the truth of Psalm 90 and pray the prayer of Psalm 90 along this journey!!!

 

 

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What have you given? (Numbers 7)

February 26, 2016

“And they brought their offerings before the Lord…” Numbers 7:3

Two older guys were sitting at a table drinking coffee and they talked.  Someone at another table overheard their conversation.  One guy, asked the other guy, “how much do you give to the offering each week at church?”  The guy responded, “The Bible says, do not let your left hand know what you right hand is giving.”  The other guy quickly responded, “no more than you usually give, it will not make a difference.”

This morning we focus on one chapter in the book of Numbers.  A chapter with 89 verses.  It would seem as if Moses was simply copying and pasting the same offering for each tribe.  One might even wonder, “What is the importance of this?”  The fact is, God is very much interested in every part of our service to Him.”

These listings of gifts remind us of the following:

  • God deserves our best.  We are to never give Him our leftovers.
  • God has given us His best in the coming of Jesus Christ, II Corinthians 8:9
  • God delights in our best.  II Corinthians 9:6-7
  • God rewards those who give their best.  Here we see their names listed in His Holy Word!!

Question:  “What have you given?”  Has it been your best?  Often, we intend to give our best, but we get caught up in all the things we give ourselves and there is nothing left over.

Allow me to challenge you to rearrange how you budget what God has given you. Begin each month with first giving to God what He deserves.  Then make it a priority to buy the things that are necessities.  Finally save a percentage so that you can give to those things God places in your path.

If you follow this plan, You will be able to respond to the question, “What do people give,” with the following, “I give my best to the Lord.”

For further study consider II Corinthians 8-9.

The answer to an age old problem (Numbers 5-6)

February 25, 2016

“Command the people of Israel that they put out of the camp everyone who is leprous or has a discharge and everyone who is unclean through contact with the dead.” Numbers 5:2

In this section of our reading, Numbers 5-6 we continue to read of God’s directions for His people as they were preparing to walk through wilderness times.  The outline of these chapters is very straight forward:

  • God gives directions in how to preserve the cleanness of the people in the camp of the Lord, 5:1-4.
  • God gives directions in how to make restitution for wrongs, 5:5-10.
  • God gives directions in how to deal with secret sin, 5:11-31.
  • God gives directions for those who want to set aside their lives for God’s exclusive call on their lives, 6:1-21.
  • God gives directions in how to bless His people, 6:22-27.

It is to the third part of the outline that I want to us to focus on:  “God’s directions for secret sin.”

This is an age old problem.  The Bible teaches us, “there is not a man on the earth who has never sinned.”  The only perfect man was the God-Man Jesus Christ!  The problem is sin and the question is, “How do we deal with the sin?”

In the days of Moses God used an unusual way in making known what was done in secret.  This pictures for us the revealing work of the Holy Spirit, John 16:8-11, that brings to light the hidden things of men.  This also pictures the work of the Scripture that also sheds light on the hidden things of men, Hebrews 4:12.

God gave Israel a way to determine if a woman sinned and she was “not taken in the act…” 

God also gave Israel a way to deal with adultery if a man and woman were caught in the act, Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22-24.

But these ways only pointed out the sin and punished the sin.  Surely there must be a remedy for the sin?

We see the answer to this in John 8:1-12:

 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them,“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]]

I Am the Light of the World

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Here is how we deal with the age old problem, “We come to the light of the world.”  When we are before Him the following happens:

  • We admit that we are all sinners.
  • We admit that we cannot stopping sinning on our own.
  • We  admit that our present ways are ways of darkness.
  • We  confess that Jesus is perfect in holiness.
  • We  submit ourselves to His cleansing and His making us new through the Spirit.
  • We must now decide every day to walk in the light as He is in the light.

This is God’s answer to the age old problem.  Thank you Jesus for the answer to our problem!!!

 

The behind the scenes people (Numbers 3-4)

February 24, 2016

“They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle.” Numbers 3:7

Question:  “Are you a behind the scenes person?”  In every church I have ever been a part of, it has been the behind the scenes people who have really done the bulk of the work of church.  I could fill this blog with name after name of people who I have watched work so faithfully behind the scenes.

Please take time to read the names of the Levites who worked so faithfully behind the scenes in the Tabernacle of God.  We see them and their work in Numbers 3-4.

Here was what they were tasked to do:

  • They were to care for the structure of the Tabernacle, 3:21-26.
  • They were to care for the furnishings  of the Tabernacle, 3:27-32.
  • They were to care for the small things in the Tabernacle, 3:33-37.
  • They were to care for the protection of the Tabernacle, 3:38-39.

Each of these Levites had specific work to do in the House of God.  Question, “What is your work in the House of God?”

The New Testament is clear about what we are to do in the house of God.  I challenge you to take time to examine these texts:

  • We are to gather in the House of God, Hebrews 10:25.
  • We are to use our gifts in the House of God, I Corinthians 12.
  • We are to give our financial gifts in the House of God, I Corinthians 16:2.
  • We are to grow with God’s people in the House of God, II Peter 3:18.
  • We are go from the House of God spreading the seed of the gospel, Matthew 28:18-20.

Oh how I pray that you and I give thanks for those who work so faithfully behind the scenes, but that we would also join their ranks for the glory of God!!!

Ready for anything (Numbers 1-2)

February 23, 2016

“From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war , you and Aaron shall list them, company by company.”  Numbers 1:3

Question:  “Is it okay for me to place you on the list of people who are ready for anything?”

Maybe you are thinking, “that’s a strange question for a Tuesday?”  The Bible teaches us in I Peter 5:8 that we are at war with an enemy that is very powerful.  The Scriptures teach us to always be on guard, ready for war at any moment.

Consider the people of Moses day.  They have spent 13 months being prepared by God (Exodus, Leviticus) to walk with Him and to wage war against those who were the enemies of God.  Now it was time.

Numbers one and two teach us the following:

  • God is preparing the people for  war, Chapter 1.
  • God is preparing the people for worship as they prepared for war, Chapter 2.

This is really, really important.  In my study Bible there is a chart that shows how God has positioned the tribes of Israel on the 4 sides of the tabernacle.  As they camped the Tabernacle was in the middle (representing the presence of God).  As they would march it was always in a square (representing God’s leadership in war).

If the people obey God, they will be ready for anything!!!

This is really, really, really important.  “The book of Numbers tells us of Israel’s journey’s during 40 years of wilderness wandering because they proved they were not ready for anything.”

This book should remind us of our need to keep the worship of God in the very center of our lives, Hebrews 7:25.  It is God who must be our Warrior Leader, Revelation 19.  It is He who we will worship in the city of Jerusalem, Revelation 21:16.

As we read through this book, keep in mind our need to worship God in both faith and love!!!  When we do this we are ready for anything!!!

What Will Your Answer Be? (Leviticus 26-27)

February 22, 2016

“Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase a thousand, and your enemies shall fall before your sword.” Leviticus 26:8

But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments,” Leviticus 26:14

If you are a daily reader of this blog you notice how unusual it is for there to be two scriptures listed at the beginning.  This morning I found it very revealing to see the contrast between the blessings and judgments of God.

The contrast or the dividing line is clear.  If God’s people obeyed His commandments, they would be blessed.  If God’s people disobeyed His commandments, they would be judged.  How much clearer could God be in placing before them a choice?

Now, the above question seems a little arrogant coming from a person who at times blows it in obedience to God!!!  Each day we are faced with many decisions.  A recent health report revealed the following:  “On an average day, the brain makes 3,500 decisions per hour.”  That is a lot of decisions!!!

When we consider life in this vein we see that life can be a little more complicated than just “Yes” or “No.”

However, if we consider life under the microscope of God’s Word we see how life does boil down to one daily decision: “Will I obey or disobey God.”

Here is the outline of Leviticus 26:

  • Israel will be blessed if she obeys God. 26:1-13

The blessing will be seen in prosperity in the land, protection from the enemy, and fellowship with God.

  • Israel will be judged if she disobeys God.  26:14-45

God’s judgment will be severe, but even then He offers grace if they repent.

Pay close attention here:  Vs: 46 summarizes all God has directed them to do in the book of Leviticus.  It all boiled down to “yes” or “no.”

Brothers and sisters, this is an issue of the heart.  In Exodus 20:3 God spoke, “You shall have no other God’s before me.”  If His people are following Him they will say “Yes.”  If they have other God’s before them, they will say “No.”

If you are a Christ follower who has other God’s in front of you, God’s discipline is coming, Hebrews 12:5-6.

If you are a Christ follower who has God in first place, God’s blessings are coming, Revelation 21:3.

Father, I may go through many storms, but I know you are with me.  Each storm reminds me of your great blessing through the storms of a broken world.  May I never turn away or look away from the God who loves me.  

Who Are These People (Leviticus 19-21)

February 19, 2016

“…I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples.”  Leviticus 20:24b

The age old question comes to our spiritual minds as we example Leviticus 19-21, “Is there to be a difference between the church and the world?”  Many people have varied views that range from a legalistic look (no contact with the world) to a liberal look (everything is for the attraction of the world).

Ours is the task of simply discovering God’s view and dedicating ourselves to God’s view.

I am convinced of the following:  God intends for His people to live holy lives in the world so that people will come to understand and obey Him.

We see this in clear terms in chapters 19-21:

  • In chapter 19 we are taught, “We are to handle life differently than the world.”

Now some people try to reason these chapters away from our need to obey today.  They use arguments as follows:  “They are out of date; they are for a different time; and they have no purpose today.”  However, “God’s moral laws apply to all generations.”

Here is one example, Vs: 9-10.  We are called to care for the poor.  Our lives are to be so different with the people around us, I John 3:18-19; James 2:14-19.

  • In chapter 20 we are taught, “We do not live depraved lifestyles.”

As followers of a Holy God we seek to be holy in all of our conduct, including how we view our children and our sexuality.  This chapter reminds us of our accountability in that we bear our own responsibility, “the blood is upon us.”  We are called to hold each other accountable, Matthew 18:15-20.

  • In chapter 21 we are taught, “We are all on display as examples before the world.”

The priests were to set the example before their congregations and before the world.  We also have been called to this same life, I Timothy 4:12 “Set the believers an example in…”

Question:  “Do our friends and neighbors notice a difference in us?”  Oh how I pray that you and I would follow the teaching of our Lord, “Be holy as I am holy says the Lord.”  I Peter 1:16

This is God’s chosen way for the world to know that He is holy!!!

“Because” (Leviticus 16-18)

February 18, 2016

“So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 18:20

If you are a parent you are oh so familiar with the following illustration:  “When my kids were younger they would occasionally respond to a directive with the question, “why.”  Here me clearly, “this is a trap, do not go here.”  I would often try to give the reason why, which would be followed by more and more “why’s.”  Eventually I would get weary of this and end the conversation with, “because.”  My kids knew what was coming next, “Because I am the dad and you are the child.”  Can I get an amen this day???

In our continuing studies of the book of Leviticus we are weeding through the many laws and many sacrifices.  In Leviticus 16 we are amazed at the glorious atonement that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, I John 1:7. Here are some extra scriptures to consider: “Hebrews 7:25-26; 13:12-16; Isaiah 53; I Peter 2:18-24.”

In Leviticus 17 we are reminded of the two important laws that insure the people’s proper sacrifice of God alone and their valuing of the life of all men.

In Leviticus 18 we come to the “Because.”

Two points leap from the text:

  1.  We see the depravity of the nations clearly defined, Vs: 1-22
    1. Ungodly sexual relationships including incest; Child sacrifice; homosexuality; and bestiality.

2.  We see the depravity of the nations clearly forbidden, Vs: 23-30

God says, “You shall not do these things because I have a life that is so much better for you to live.”

The response of our world is simply this, “Why?”  Here is God’s answer, “Because I am God and you are called to obey me as sovereign Lord.”  All the depraved things we do is evidence of a life that is in rebellion against God.

When one surrenders their life to Christ he or she now has a different outlook on authority in life as well as actions in life.  Consider Paul’s writing to the Colossian church, 3:1-17.

Today, I found myself greatly praying for the nations of the world to awaken to the great because!!!  Today, I found myself pleading with God to keep my heart open to His authority in my life.

 

 

Welcome Home (Leviticus 14-15)

February 17, 2016

“And after that he may come into the camp…” Leviticus 14:8

So often I have felt the heartbreak as I have left home for a short period of time for mission trips around the world.  After almost 24 years of marriage it still does not get any easier.

The scene before us in Leviticus 14 is one in which I have tried to imagine.  Here is someone (male or female) who has been forced to leave their home and to live in seclusion with a spirit of mourning because they are a leper, Leviticus 13:45-46

45 “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip[a] and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ 46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.” ESV

But now, by the miracle of God, his or her case of leprosy has been healed.

This is a chapter of great hope for every spiritual leper of whom I am one.  Here we see the process for the healed leper to be restored to fellowship with God and with his fellow man.

  • The ceremonial cleansing to be restored to fellowship with his fellow man, Vs: 1-9

The priest goes outside the camp and examines the former leper.  The priest offers a sacrifice of a clean bird and also sends a clean bird away signifying the sin has been removed and the person has been set free.  What a picture of Hebrews 13:8-12.

  • The ceremonial atonement is made for the restoration of fellowship with God, Vs: 10-32

Brothers and sisters, I cannot begin to tell you how awesome of a scene this must have been.  I cannot begin to tell you how awesome this same spiritual scene looks and feels as a sinner comes home to Jesus.

We know the cleansing is totally God’s work, Luke 5:14.  We know that Christ alone restores us to God, Romans 8:12-16.  We know that Christ alone restores us to our fellow man, I John 1:7.

This scene continues to be laid out for us in Leviticus 15 in seeing how that everything about us is tainted by sin.  Our bodily fluids give evidence of life going out of us.  It is Christ alone who makes us new, Matthew 9:20-22.

I guess the hymn writer was correct when he wrote, “Christ died for such a worm as life.”  Thank you Lord for the cross. Because of the cross I am welcomed home.  

Bad news that can become good news (Leviticus 11-13)

February 16, 2016

“Then the priest shall look, and if the leprous disease has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean of the disease; it has all turned white; and he is clean,” Leviticus 13:13

There are moments when we do our best to soften the bad news that we sometimes are tasked to give to other people. I can remember, years ago, trying to figure out how I could soften the bad news that I had to give to grandparents that had just lost their granddaughter.

This morning I was considering this same situation as I turned the page in my Bible to Leviticus 13.  However, before we get there here is a simply reminder of a great point as you read Leviticus: “God cares about every detail about the lives of his people.”

  • In Leviticus 11 God gives His people details about the types of food that were to be eaten and not eaten.

This illustrated for the nations around them that God’s people were set apart.  Israel is represented by the acceptable foods and the Gentiles are represented by the unacceptable foods.  Only Christ pulled down the wall of separation, I Peter 1:16; Acts 10:15; I Thessalonians 4:7.

  • In Leviticus 12 God gives His people details concerning child-birth.

Again God’s people were to live separated lives.

  • Now to Leviticus 13.  The issue before us is the dreaded disease of leprosy (which is a picture of sin throughout the Bible).  In this long and laboring chapter we see God’s directions for dealing with this bad news.
  • Notice the process.

The priest was to examine the infected area and  to make a diagnosis.  The person would wait for either good news (no leprosy) or for bad news (You have leprosy).

  • Notice the pain.

I can’t imagine the pain one had in waiting to see the outcome.  If the person had leprosy they had to do the following:  They had to wear clothes of a person who was mourning.  They had to separate themselves from all people.  They had to always identify themselves as “unclean.”

Question:  “How is it possible to lighten this blow of such bad news?”

  • Notice the picture.

It is possible that the infected area could become white, which meant the disease was cured.  Here is the good news:  “God is able to take our sin and to cleanse it, making one new and as Isaiah wrote, “white as snow,” 1:18.  This is good news, Psalm 51:7.

This is news that Jesus illustrated by healing those who were lepers, Mk. 1:41-45; Luke 17:12-17.  This is news that Jesus died on the cross for so that it could become reality, I John 1:7.

Brothers and sisters, “In Christ the bad news can become the good news.”  Oh to hear the announcement in heaven each time a sinner comes to Jesus, “He or she is now clean!!!”