Archive for February, 2021

Remembering Your First Journey with God (Numbers 8-10)

February 26, 2021

13 They set out for the first time at the command of the Lord by Moses.  Numbers 8:13

Several days ago I was asked to go back to Kentucky to lead in a memorial service of a person whom wanted me to be there because they believed I had an impact on their lives. The truth is, God simply used me as His vessel to get the Word into this man’s life. As I traveled up and then back within a span of 30 hours, I found myself enjoying the beautiful sun light and I even enjoyed driving. The day after I got home I was reflecting on why I enjoyed even the driving. Brothers and sisters, the joy was in that I was journeying with Jesus.

This morning as we read Numbers 8-10 I believe I can say, it must have been the same way with the Hebrews as they began their first journey with God from Sina headed toward the Promised Land. Everything was in place:

  • The Levites were commissioned to lead the people, Numbers 8.
  • The Passover was celebrated in Numbers 9.
  • The presence of God was leading the people visualized through a cloud, Numbers 9.
  • Trumpets were made as the means of communication for the group, Numbers 10.

Now, it was time to travel. The Hebrews heard the trumpet and they were off toward the Promised Land. Question: Are you on a journey with Jesus? If so, you understand Numbers 8-10. For the Christian it is Christ who is their High Priest. It is Christ who is the Lamb of God who has taken away their sin. It is the Holy Spirit who is guiding the way and it is the Word of God that trumpets the day by day steps of a Child of God.

Oh how wonderful to walk in the footsteps ordained by Jesus. I just want to challenge you to enjoy this day, it is a gift from God.

Two questions:

  1. What steps do you need to take so that this day will be fully God’s?
  2. Are you ready for the trumpet to sound, I Thess. 4:13-17?

I really want to! (Numbers 5-7)

February 25, 2021

“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite,[a] to separate himself to the Lord, Numbers 6:2

One of my favorite sayings, given to me by a dear friend, is “we each make time for what we want to do.” Brothers and sisters, I know this is true in my life and I think it is in yours as well. At the same time it is also true that I am very good at making excuses for not doing what I really do not want to do. I will go even farther and admit that sometimes I even sin by making excuses for not doing what I really don’t want to do. But when I want to do something I will make great sacrifices if necessary to ensure that I get to do what I want to do.

This is probably a good point to hit the pause button and reveal how my mind arrived at this discussion.

This week we are walking with thee Hebrew people as they are in the last moments of their preparations before they make their way to the Promised Land. God was directing Moses concerning different things they needed to understand and to do. In chapter 6, God instructed Moses to write about the proper way to commit oneself to a deeper fellowship with God. The Hebrews labeled this as “the Nazarite Vow.” The word Nazarite means “to separate oneself from ordinary life for a special time with God.”

Question: Do you want to separate yourself from ordinary life for a special time with God?

If your response is genuinely, I want to, you will lean into this text. But if you say, I want to but your really don’t the excuses will come very quickly. Moses was told by God, when the people want to, they must do the following:

  • Separate themselves from wine which meant they would separate themselves from the pleasures of life.
  • Separate themselves from cutting their hair which meant that they would not focus on self.
  • Separate themselves from anything dead which meant they would remain ceremonially pure.

The person making the vow determined the length of the vow. This was all about freely wanting to get closer to God in fellowship. We might ask, how does this apply today?

  • We are to live separated lives being not filled with drink but with the Holy Spirit, Eph. 5:18.
  • We are to live separated lived by mortifying the deeds of the flesh, Rom. 6:12-14.
  • We are to live a separated life of walking in holiness before God, II Corinthians 7:1.

Brothers and sisters, what do you want to do? Pastor Joey Gallaway said, “God has a destiny for all people, but most people never reach their destiny because they want too many other things.”

  1. What are the things you want to do with your life?
  2. What does God want to do with your life?

More Than Just Names (Numbers 3-4)

February 24, 2021

 “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister to him. They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle. Numbers 3:6-7

In recent months the Lord has continued to press deeply into my heart a spirit of thankfulness toward the countless people who have been either a servant to me or with me. I could list page after page of people who would for many of you just be names. But to me and more importantly to God, they are more than just names.

In Numbers 3-4 Moses gives out God’s assignments to the Levities. These were men called to God to serve both Aaron and God’s people. Chapters 3-4 may seem very insignificant to you, however they are there because God is reminding us of how everyone has an assignment from God and everyone’s assignment from God fits into God’s grand design of Kingdom Life.

The levities did the following:

  • They cared for the needs of Moses and Aaron.
  • They lead in the preparations for worship.
  • They offered sacrifices to God for the people.
  • They set up, maintained, and took down the Tabernacle.

Without the Levities the army of God would be distracted from their assignments. Question, are you starting to understand how important these leaders were? Brothers and sisters, ever person has an assignment from God and every assignment from God is vital to the whole of God’s Kingdom agenda.

This morning I think about Heather Evans and her team at JFBC. Without her, I would be worried about our facilities and we would each be distracted from our purpose. But because of her obedience along with her team, the work of the Kingdom goes forward.

This morning I think about Cary Mosteller and his wonderful team at JFBC. Without him, our ministries would be in the dark, cold, and without all the wonderful things we take for granted. He along with his team allow us to do the rest of the work of Kingdom Building.

I hope you are getting this now. I believe in Heaven God has recorded every workers name and beside their names are the works they as have done as Kingdom Citizens. Some day their reward will be great.

2 Questions:

  1. Who are the people who serve you? Make a list and send notes to them.
  2. What are your particular assignments from God? Give your best today because your life counts in the Kingdom.

In Romans 16, Paul gives thanks to so many people who served him and along side of him. Here is just one:

16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. Rom. 16:1-2

Set Apart for Service (Numbers 1-2)

February 23, 2021

46 all those listed were 603,550. Numbers 1:46

In our city there is a very large cemetery with many graves in it. I assume that every grave, in our city cemetery, has some type of marker that identifies at least the name of the person who’s remains are placed in the plot of ground beneath the grave marker. I have been in this cemetery many times. There are names that have very special meaning to me because of my connection with the person in their life-time. However most the markers bear names of people I have no connection with. But for those who know the names there is some-type of connection.

The Old Testament book of Numbers begins at the thirteenth month of the Hebrews journey’s from Egypt. God has given His people all they needed for the journey to the Promised Land. He had given them the Word to govern their lives. He had given them the tabernacle so that worship would be with them. He had given them the ways (laws) in which they were to conduct themselves. He had given them leaders who would direct the way. All that remained was for the people to walk with God forward.

As chapter one opens God directed Moses to choose 12 men to lead with him and then Moses was directed to take a census of all the men who were able to go to war. Those who were ready were 603, 550. The only men who were not counted were the Levites who had the calling to represent the people before God.

Brothers and sisters, it was their time to be counted as people who were set apart to serve.

Now it is time for me to get personal with you:

  1. I wonder what do others think about when your name comes up in conversation?
  2. In what ways are you making a difference in other people’s lives?
  3. What will others say about you when you are gone?

In Numbers one we would have to say that these people were being accounted as those who wanted to follow God. But by the time of the end of Numbers our views will have changed because all of those named except Joshua and Caleb will have died in the wilderness of rebellion.

Let this sink in. I know God has called each of you for a specific purpose. He has saved you for this purpose. He has equipped you for success. Your part and my part is to daily step forward in service to our Great King.

Here are two selected Scriptures from Philippians that bring greater clarity to our study:

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy[h] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, Phil. 1:27

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

1Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain, Phil. 2:12-16

I leave you with a quote from last Sundays message at JFBC, “What characterized me in the beginning of my journey should no longer characterize me after grace is applied.”

Giving and Taking Away (Leviticus 26-27)

February 23, 2021

“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Leviticus 26:3-4

This morning I arose to this amazing truth: I serve a kind and merciful God. Yes, it is true. As I take my first awake breath, I must say, He is so good to me. As my feet touch the carpet I say with heartfelt praise, thank you for giving me the strength to walk once again. The words of a song fill my mind and heart, “how can I keep from shouting your praise, I am loved by a King. So my heart wants to sing.”

I know it is Monday and it may seem hard to get your mind wrapped around this, but it is important that you realize that no matter if you are tired, weak, or ready to get back in bed, God is kind and merciful.

The Hebrews in Leviticus 26 were hearing that their kind and merciful God was promising to bless them if they would only listen and obey Him. As I read this chapter I was moved to sing His praises. Consider with me all that God offered the Hebrews in His kindness in Vs: 3-12:

  • He would provide for everything they needed to live: He would provide rain and crop harvest. He would provide more than enough for them. They would be satisfied in Him, 26:3-5.
  • He would give peace in their lives no matter where they were in the world, 26:6-8.
  • He would multiply their nation, 26:7-10.
  • He would dwell with them in fellowship and worship. They would never be alone, 26:11-12.

This kind God warned the Hebrew people of the opposite effect if they refused to listen. God said, I will turn my back to you. So in this moment, I realize God’s kindness is more than I deserve. I realize the God who gives is kind even when He takes away. It is in His kindness that He takes away in order that you and I would remember where our responsibility lie.

So if you are feeling a little low today, just square your shoulders and stand up in humility and say to God, “I am here Lord to do your will.” Be assured God will release His kindness in your life today.

Two Questions: 1. In what ways has God shown you kindness in the last 7 days?

2. In what ways have you obeyed God’s voice in the last 7 days?

Holiness in Daily Life (Leviticus 19-21)

February 19, 2021

18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18

This has been a tough week for many people in America. For example, in Texas there are over two million people who have been without electricity for several days. As of this writing there have been reported at least 26 deaths because of people’s inability to stay warm. It seems kind of odd that something that is so beautiful to look at (snow) can be so deadly.

Question: Are there any beautiful things in your life that underneath the surface are deadly?

As the Hebrew people were preparing for their journey to the Promised Land, Moses was giving instructions for the success of the journey (Leviticus 19-21). In summary Moses said: “Be holy as God is holy.” Brothers and sisters consider how this directive from God would ensure their success:

  • This would set them apart from the world they lived in. 20:26 “You belong to God.”
  • This would ensure their protection from sin. 20:22-23 “The Hebrews were not to walk in the ways of the Gentiles.”
  • This would enable the Hebrews to reach the Gentiles. 19:10 “They were to care for the poor.”

Question: Could it be that God calls us to the same calling as the Hebrews? The answer is yes. Everything you and I have read about the Hebrew people reminds us that they were sinners who had been saved by God (He brought them out of Egypt). As saved sinners they were less than perfect at best. The sacrificial system was put in place for the covering of their sins until Jesus came.

The Hebrews were called to every day live a separated life. They were instructed to practice daily holiness. But it was impossible for them to do so. Brothers and sisters, I have come to realize this hard truth: Sin is an inside problem that cannot be fixed by an external solution.

Just like the snow that seems so beautiful in Texas, but is so deadly to those who have no source of inside heat, our sin is an inside problem that needs an internal solution. It would be the Prophet Ezekiel who would promise a inside solution:

 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules, Ezekiel 36:26-27

Jesus was and is the inside solution we need. Here are two questions for our day?

  1. Do you have the inside solution?
  2. If so, how did you receive it?

Here is what Jesus had to say about all we have been writing about:

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matt. 22:37-39

Brothers and sisters, I am so glad that Jesus saved me from the inside out!!!

The Best Day of the Year (Leviticus 16-18)

February 18, 2021

29 “And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves[b] and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. Leviticus 16:29

It happens once each year. The older someone gets the less they seem to emphasis it. By now you know I am referring to someone’s birthday. In many cultures ones birthday is not celebrated. But in others (like ours) it is celebrated as the best day of the year.

In Israel something also happened once each year. It was the Day of Atonement. Our Scripture reading for the day brings us to the details of this day. It is on this day when the High Priest would make atonement before God for his sins and the sins of his nation. For Israel this was the best day of the year. Leviticus 16:29 helps us to grasp this day, “You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins.”

Wow! Picture the day when the High Priest finished all the sacrifices and emerged from the Holy of Holies. I rejoice as I picture the High Priest placing his hands on the scape-goat and symbolically placing their sins on the goat. Look as the goat is led away picturing how their sin were being taken away. This day, the Day of Atonement causes us to reflect on three joyous truths:

  1. All Christians have a spiritual birthday. Yes, it is the day when repentance was meet with the blood being applied, I John 1:7.
  2. All Christians have a glorious Savior. Leviticus 16:2

R.C. Sproul wrote powerfully about the mercy seat: “The blood-drenched cover of the mercy seat was the meeting point of the Holy God with unholy people. It symbolized the Heavenly sanctuary where Christ entered with His own blood.” Sproul, R. C. The Reformation Study Bible, Pg. 176

Praise God for the Lord Jesus Christ who shed His blood for you and me!!! Hebrews 9:12

3. All Christians are forgiven. Praise God we are clean before Him. I cannot contain my praise for not only the day the Lord saved me, but for every day since that He has continued to save me (Rom. 6:23).

Brothers and sisters, the best day of the year is every day in Christ.

Two questions:

  1. How old are you in the Lord Jesus?
  2. How long has it been since you celebrated your spiritual birthday?

A Beautiful Thing (Leviticus 14-15)

February 17, 2021

And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed of the leprous disease. Then he shall pronounce him clean and shall let the living bird go into the open field. Leviticus 14:7

Edged in each person’s memory bank are volume after volume of pictures of things that have taken place in ones life. When I think about my own journey I can recall both good and bad pictures. I still recall the horrifying picture of the first time I ever saw someone’s mangled body after they had experience a wreck that took their life. I recall seeing a burned body and I recall seeing children in the deepest of poverty. Those sights and many more are things I would rather have not seen. But at the same time I have volumes of pictures stored in my mind of wonderful and beautiful things that God has allowed me to see.

Here is truth: God specializes in taking bad things and redeeming them into beautiful things.

As I first consider Leviticus 14, I find myself picturing things I would rather not see. I picture the Leper Colony where people from all walks of life were forced to congregate together. I picture people there in misery and utter hopelessness. I sense the awful smell coming from rotting bodies. I strain in my hearing to hear anyone laugh. I hear the cries of people dying and people crying out for help.

But then it happens, something beautiful takes places. Someone cries out, I believe I am healed. Oh how beautiful to hear such news. It happened in Luke 17:11-19 when 10 lepers were healed by Jesus. In Leviticus 14 we read how the priest had the responsibility to both authenticate the miracle and to make atonement for the former leper. The text may seem strange and hard to grasp. If you will dig deep, you will see a beautiful scene.

The late R.C. Sproul offers us the beautiful insight we need:

  1. The first stage of cleansing took place outside the camp. The man washed himself and his clothes. Two birds were taken. The blood of the first was to purify the man. The death of that bird portrayed the end of man’s old life outside the camp, and the flight to freedom of the other pictured his liberation from the effects of the disease. He could enter the camp again.
  2. The Second cleansing stage brought the person back into full communion with God.

Sproul, R.C. The Reformation Study Bible

Think through this my brothers and sisters, what started out as a horrifying scene turned into a beautiful scene. How did this happen? We know it to be a miracle of God. I want you to know that God wants to take every horrifying thing in your life and to turn it into a beautiful work of redemption. Consider what the writer of Hebrews had to write:

1So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Our Lord and Savior suffered outside the gates of Heaven so that we could be born again to someday live inside the gates of Heaven.

Our Lord and Savior calls us outside the camp of spiritual leprosy to receive His beautiful healing so that we can walk in newness of life.

2 questions:

  1. Have you joined Jesus outside the camp? If so, praise Him right now for what beautiful things He has done and is doing in your life.
  2. Do you love someone inside the camp of leprosy? It may seem horrifying where they are. Cry out to God knowing that no leper is beyond His read.

A Fatal Diagnosis (Leviticus 11-13)

February 16, 2021

11 it is a chronic leprous disease in the skin of his body, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean. He shall not shut him up, for he is unclean, Leviticus 13:11

In the days of Moses there were may different diseases as there are in our days. But there was one disease that stood out as a fatal disease. We know the disease to be leprosy. We know the word leprosy is the label given to the different skin diseases in Biblical times and still today. In Biblical times the only cure for leprosy was a miracle from Heaven.

When a person either suspected themselves or someone else suspected they had leprosy, God said that they were to go to the priest for diagnosis (hence the reason for 3 chapters giving direction in the Bible). I tried to imagine how the person must have felt as they waited seven days for the diagnosis.

When the day arrived and the priest made his diagnosis one of two things was about to happen:

  • The person would experience relief and they would return to normal life.
  • The person who experience horror and they would never (apart from a miracle) return to normal life.

Imagine if the priest said to you, “you have leprosy.” According to Scripture, here is the new normal of you life:

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[b] 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.

Please do not just keep reading the blog without stopping to consider their new normal. This was nothing less than total isolation for their old way of life. Now here is where it truly becomes personal. In the Scriptures sin is often depicted as spiritual leprosy. We know that sin has separated us from God. We know that sin separates us from what is good. Sin contaminates everything in this world. The longer the leprosy remains in us the worse our condition becomes.

In the twenty-first century people do not believe they have spiritual leprosy. People actually believe spiritual leprosy is to be celebrated and to be enjoyed in all walks of life. Imagine what would happen if you approached some one and said, I see you have leprosy. Most likely you would not like the result of the conversation.

Brothers and sisters our beginning point with spiritual lepers is to share the story of Jesus coming to this earth. As we share His story, we are able to share the why of His coming. He came to take our leprosy so that we could have His righteousness. The greatest news any leper could have heard would have been, God has the cure for your leprosy.

We see illustrations of this in Mark 1:41-45 and Luke 17:11-19. I love how Peter describes what our leprosy healing Savior did for us:

24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. I Peter 2:24

Here are three challenges for you:

  1. Be the one out of ten who praises God every day for your spiritual healing (Luke 17:11-19).
  2. Be the one who loves God with all your heart for what He has done for you (Luke 7:47-48).
  3. Be the one who ministers in the leprous places of this world (Matt. 9:35-39).

Two questions:

  1. Who are the spiritual lepers around you? Make a list of their names and begin to interceded.
  2. How has your life become different since your leprosy has been healed?

Don’t Overlook This (Leviticus 8-10)

February 15, 2021

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Draw near to the altar and offer your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and for the people, and bring the offering of the people and make atonement for them, as the Lord has commanded.” Leviticus 9:7

My friend in Christ made this admission to me, “pastor, I started out so excited about reading the Bible through this year, until I came to the Book of Leviticus.” I must admit he was not the only person who wanted to either give up reading the Bible or who wanted to skip over this wonderful book of the Bible.

One of the needed things in the life of every Christian is a good Study Bible that contains footnotes that help a person understand difficult passages of Scripture. The book of Leviticus is a book that is so benefited by a Study Bible. Let me recommend two Study Bibles to you: The Reformation Study Bible by R..C. Sproul and the ESV Study Bible by Crossway Publishing. Both are excellent.

If you had either of these study Bibles you would discover the following important facts about Leviticus:

  • The theme of the book is the holiness of God (11:44-45).
  • The application of the book is God’s desire for people to live holy lives before Him .
  • The highest point is the understanding that only in the shedding of blood is their forgiveness of sins.

As you read through this book you discover that God was teaching Israel how they were to walk in practical holiness before God. The Jewish people entitled this book, “The Law of the Priest and the law of the offerings.”

In chapters 8-10 we discover how seriously God intended for His leaders to take their commitment to be holy before Him. Aaron and his sons were tasked to represent the people before God. Aaron’s sons did not honor God and God removed them by taking their lives (10:1-7).

Brothers and sisters, we ask ourselves how this applies to our lives?

First, we come to understand that we have a sinful nature that keeps us from being holy before God on our own.

Second, we come to understand that we need someone to represent us before God.

Lastly, we come to understand that we need someone greater than an earthly priest to represent us before God.

Aaron had to offer sacrifices for his own sin first and then for the people. Brothers and sisters, one greater has come. His name is Jesus. He made a perfect sacrifice for my sins (Heb. 7:27). I am so glad that I do not have to daily come to church with a sacrifice for my sins.

I have been set free from sin as have you. Now we offer sacrifices of praise and we offer our lives to be lived in holiness before God.

Two questions:

  1. In what ways do you need to live more holy in your life?
  2. How does it feel when you are clean before God?