Archive for March, 2021

He Really Cares about You (Deuteronomy 21-23)

March 17, 2021

 14 Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you. Deuteronomy 23:14

Brothers and sisters please read the following carefully: God is far more concerned about your holiness than He is your happiness. Do you agree with what you just carefully read? To be revealed, I struggled with what you read when I first heard it. My mind immediately traveled to those text where God said, I will bless you. Just a few days ago we read Deuteronomy 11:26 “I set before you both a blessing and a cursing.”

We know that God offered Israel blessings in a New Land. In the New Testament God over and over blesses us by His grace and mercy (Eph. 2:8-10).

Please look deeply into this discussion. How is it possible for God to bless you unless He first transforms you from an unholy person into a holy person? Consider this, the chapters we have read today look like only laws of do’s and don’ts if we are focused on just being happy. However, if our focus is on the holiness God gives, then these chapters become our way of walking in the ways God loves. Now everything has been transformed.

The longing of our hearts now becomes a desire to walk in fellowship with Him. The happiest place ,to be in, is the place where you are walking in sweet fellowship with the One who created you. Peter challenged his readers concerning this truth:

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action,[b] and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” I Peter 1:13-16

So did Paul:

Finally, then, brothers,[a] we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification:[b] that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body[c] in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you, I Thess. 4:1-8

Father, it is my prayer that you would lead me to walk in Your holy ways. It is also my prayer that I would seek to lovingly walk in holiness before you and before others.

Questions:

  1. Do you pray more often for happiness or for holiness?
  2. When others see you, do they see you happy or holy?

Please Do not Bail Out (Deuteronomy 18-20)

March 16, 2021

 And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them,  Deuteronomy 20:2-3

In times of great distress God shines a clear light upon those who are pretenders and those who are true leaders. This past year has been such a time in our world. A recent CNN news article highlighted some of the times of distress. The article gave the off the chart numbers of both reported and non-reported estimated abuses in the home. The article shared stores of homes where the students are falling farther and farther behind in education. The article also told of the increased numbers of suicides across the country. Brothers and sisters, would these numbers be different if there were true godly leaders in those homes?

In our Scripture for today, Moses offers directions for the Hebrews about both life in general and life in the war-zone. There are two sections of our reading that stand out to me:

First there is chapter 20: 2-4. Moses reminds us that warfare is sure to come and we surely need godly leaders.

  • Moses called for the priest to step up and lead.
  • Child of God, you and I have been called into priestly leadership (I Peter 2:9-10) for the sake of our families and for our neighbors.

Second there is chapter 18:15-18. Moses writes of the day when the true Prophet (Jesus Christ) would come.

15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

John the Baptist proclaimed, I saw this Prophet, He has come (John 1:21, 25). Peter proclaimed, I walked with this Prophet (Acts 3:22-24). Stephen saw this Prophet (Acts 7:37). Moses said, listen to Him when He comes.

Brothers and sisters, you and I have the record of what He said. We call these the gospels of Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters, warfare is a part of our existence in the world. It is vital that you and I place all of our hope and all of our faith in this Prophet. It is vital to this world that we follow His leadership by becoming leaders in our homes and in our world. We are called to lead people to Jesus.

Here the assuring words of our leader:

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Questions:

  1. Whose the true leader in your life?
  2. Are you facing a season where you want to bail out? Please turn it over to Jesus.

The Poor Among Us (Deuteronomy 14-16

March 15, 2021

11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land, Deuteronomy 15:11

Having begun my life in Eastern Kentucky I felt like I had a good handle on the subject of the poor among us. From my earliest memories I remember how my parents taught me to love, value, and care for those who were poor. Through the years one of God’s deep and abiding burdens in my life has been to care for the poor.

In almost 29 years of ministry God has over and over expanded my viewpoint about the poor among us. I have been to places where people found their food in dumpsters. I have ministered to orphans who had only enough food to have an existence. I have ministered to the poor who lived in subhuman conditions.

When Moses spoke Gods Word in our focal text, he said: “there will never cease to be poor in the land.” I must confess those horrifying words sink deep into my soul today. I know what Moses said and later what Jesus would say, “The poor you will always have with you,” is true. I also know that as long as there is sin in the world poverty will exist.

If you are a consistent reader of God’s Word you know that the greatest poverty is spiritual poverty. Sin has caused every person to enter this life with spiritual poverty. Unless Jesus comes to ones rescue that poverty will turn into selfish living. Each person begins life crying for food and continues to cry out “I want, I want,” until the day they die.

Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God,” Matt. 5:3. Only when a person sees their spiritual poverty and only when a person cries out for the salvation of God does their heart attitude toward the poor and if it be the attitude toward their own poverty change.

  1. God opens the affluent’s eyes to the reality that God has blessed them to bless others.
  2. God opens the physically impoverished to the reality of the different way God intends for them to live their lives.

When Moses gave directions to the Hebrews, He wanted them to know that they were being called to deal with poverty, not as the world did, but in a God-centered approach. They were to open their hands wide. They were to care for each other.

Notice the clear teaching of Jesus:

3And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:33-36

God has challenged me in two ways this morning:

  1. I need to check the status of my heart. I John 3:16-18.
  2. I need to check the status of my hand.
    1. If I am begrudging others, it reveals that I am filled with self.
    2. If I am wasting what God has given me, I have nothing in my hand.
    3. If I am honoring God with all that He has given, I will have plenty in my hand to give to others.

2 questions:

  1. What is in your heart?
  2. What is in your hand?

Whose First in Your Life? (Deuteronomy 5-7)

March 12, 2021

“‘You shall have no other gods before me. Deuteronomy 5:7

Father open our eyes to see you as you are. Father open our eyes to see ourselves as we our. Father open our hearts and minds to genuinely desire for you to have first place in our lives.

As Moses stood before the Hebrews (5:1), he called them to hear what God had placed before them. But this was not his only call. He called them to both listen and learn God’s commandments for the purpose of being careful to carry them out.

Certainly we could be asking the following questions:

  1. Why does God want me to do these things? Our answer could be because God will reward us with blessing (7:14) and God will remove their enemies (7:20-21).
  2. What will happen if (as a follower of God) I do not do these things? Well the answer is obvious, God will do the opposite of blessing us and our enemies will over come us.

Brothers and sisters, I feel compelled to tell you that there are greater reasons to put God first in your life:

  • We put Him first because we love Him. He is the one who brought us out of slavery and He is the God who has established a new life for us and is building a new home in Heaven.
  • We put Him first because we want to be closer to Him. Brothers and sisters, I want to stand by Him (5:30). I want to know His ways. I want to have a heart that mirrors His heart (5:29-30).
  • We put Him first because we desire to serve Him. I could not possibly know what He desires for my life if I am not listen to Him. The only way I can listen is if He has first priority in my life.
  • We put Him first because we want everyone to know Him. Father this is my heart cry (6:6-9).

Brothers and sisters there could not be any better reasons than these. Oh Dear Father I want to know you more.

Check out Matthew 9:9-13:

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

10 And as Jesus[b] reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

When Matthew put Jesus first, he in turn wanted everyone else to know Jesus.

Two questions:

  1. Who has first place in your life?
  2. Why do you want others to know Him?

I Know it is True (Deuteronomy 3-4)

March 11, 2021

35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. Deuteronomy 4:35

Brothers and sisters, I can tell you with full confidence that there is only one true God. In my life I have been blessed beyond measure to come to know this God because of His grace poured out in my life. I can tell you from experience that I have seen God’s hand in so many ways that it would be totally outrageous to consider that there are other true gods. I feel like Moses did when he wrote: “O Lord God, You have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand,” 3:24. Even as I write this blog I am crying out to God, I want to know you more.

Brothers and sisters, let us consider how we can come to know God more and more. In chapter 4 Moses offers us four daily actions that lead a Christian to know God better:

  1. Christians must listen to God’s Word, 4:1. As God’s Word is taught, ready, and studied God will reveal more and more of Himself to you.
  2. Christians must obey God’s Word, 4:2. If we obey His Word, we will have the honor of drawing closer and closer to Him
  3. Christians are to become disciplined students of God’s Word, 4:9.
  4. Christians are to walk in holy fellowship with God Himself, 4:35-39.

This is how it was in Moses day. Moses, in chapter 4, reminded the people of how God came down and spoke with them (4:35). Even though they only heard a voice they knew He was God. God revealed Himself to them by His mighty deeds (4:36). God entered into a loving covenant with them (4:37) and He make it clear that there was no other God but Him (4:39).

Oh, here is where this gets really good. The God who did all those things for Israel has done so much more for us so that we can know Him as the one true God. Here is how John revealed this to us:

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[a] from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.[b]17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God,[c] who is at the Father’s side,[d] he has made him known. John 1:14-18

I praise His name for allowing you and I the honor of knowing and serving Him.

Questions for the day:

  1. How many people do you know who do not know the One True God?
  2. Who will you share this glorious news with? I know there is one true God of mercy (4:31) who will redeem all who come to Him in faith (John 1:12).

God Goodness in Your Wilderness (Deuteronomy 1-2)

March 10, 2021

31 and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place, Deuteronomy 1:31

This morning I could not wait to get out of bed and to dive into Deuteronomy 1-2. The last words I prayed last evening were, “prepare me for my time with You in the book of Deuteronomy.” I love this last book of The Law. I love how God leads Moses to share with this new generation of Hebrews the law God had given their parents (1:5). I love how God leads Moses to share with this new generation about the goodness of God.

Here is how Moses summed up God’s goodness in their years of wilderness wandering:

 For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.

I hope you noticed that I underlined the words “lacked nothing.”

Brothers and sisters, I am floored by the fact that God was good to a people who were in rebellion against Him. I am shattered by the reality that good is good to me even when I am in rebellion. Brothers and sisters, I sit in repentance and in ashes of mourning knowing that I have taken for granted the goodness of God.

God was so good to a people who often tested God. Here is a deeper look at God’s goodness:

Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years, 8:4.

Brothers and sisters it would do you and I very well to pause this morning and consider the goodness of God. I personally took time to write down what I discovered about God’s goodness to the Hebrews from Deuteronomy 1-2. Here are four observations about God’s goodness to this people:

  1. God was always going before them blazing a trail.
  2. God often carried them when they were out of strength.
  3. God supplied their every need.
  4. God empowered the new generation to to cross over into what their parents refused to experience.

Wow! I say it again, Wow!!! You and I could spend this day singing of the goodness of God. I pray we do. But at the same time I pray you and I are much aware of what could have been for the first generation. If they would have only fully obeyed this good God, their lives could have counted for so much more.

13 ‘Now rise up and go over the brook Zered.’ So we went over the brook Zered. 14 And the time from our leaving Kadesh-barnea until we crossed the brook Zered was thirty-eight years, until the entire generation, that is, the men of war, had perished from the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them. 15 For indeed the hand of the Lord was against them, to destroy them from the camp, until they had perished.

16 “So as soon as all the men of war had perished and were dead from among the people, 17 the Lord said to me, 18 ‘Today you are to cross

Brothers and sisters, I do not want to perish just experience the goodness of God. I want to leave this world having experienced the Greatness of God in walking in the Promised Land! I want this for you and for your family.

Questions for the day:

  1. Are you at the beginning of your journey of faith? Be careful to do all God’s will.
  2. Are you in the midst of the battle? Trust Him alone.
  3. Are you in a wilderness moment? Repent and cry out for restoration.
  4. Are you in the Promised Land? Keep in mind that you are not finished yet. Lean in and experience even more the goodness of God.

He Has Taken Care of Everything (Numbers 35-36)

March 9, 2021

34 You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the Lord dwell in the midst of the people of Israel. Numbers 35:34

I love when I get to go on a mission trip when someone else is in charge! I know that sounds selfish and maybe it is. But when someone else is in charge, I get to fully focus on my assignment from the leader without having to focus on everyone else’s assignments. It is truly a great blessing to have someone be in charge of my life.

As we come to the last two chapters of the book of Numbers, God is completing His directions to the Hebrew people. Within one month this people will cross the flooded Jordon river to begin their conquest of the Promised Land. What an honor it must have been for those people to know that God was their leader. In fact, I must ask, how could they lose because God had taken care of everything.

Think through this: In everything God had prepared them. He prepared them to worship (the book of Leviticus). He prepared them to live life (the book of Numbers). He had prepared them for war (The book of Exodus). God took care of everything.

Brothers and sisters, this same God has taken care of everything for us:


The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8

The song writer asked this question: “So why do you worry?” Do you remember this song?

Be not dismayed whate’er betide
God will take care of you
Beneath His wings of love abide
God will take care of youGod will take care of you
Through every day, o’er all the way
He will take care of you
God will take care of you No matter what may be the test
God will take care of you
Lean, weary one, upon His breast
God will take care of you God will take care of you
Through every day, o’er all the way
He will take care of you
God will take care of youHe will take care of you
God will take care of you

Two questions for today:

  1. If He has taken care of everything, why are you worrying about anything?
  2. If He has taken care of everything, why do we struggle with so many things?

When in worry and struggle turn to God’s directions called His Word.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. II Timothy 3:16-17

Read the Fine Print (Numbers 33-34)

March 8, 2021

55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. 56 And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.” Numbers 33:55-56

It must have been a trip down memory lane for Moses as he listed the 42 stops that the Hebrews made along the journey from Egypt (40 years earlier) to now the desert on the very boarder of the Promised Land. I hope you have the time to pause along the way in your reading in chapter 33 of Numbers and consider what God did in many of those places. Here is what I am called to remember:

  • God was faithful in all 42 stops along the way.
  • God was still being faithful to the Hebrews in Numbers 33.

I also realize God was promising to be faithful to the Hebrews in the days ahead.

Question: Was God always faithful to the Hebrews?

When one reads the book of Joshua the answer would be obviously yes. But when one reads the book of Judges, the question comes, did God fail His people? The answer is no.

In Numbers 33 there is fine print offered even though it is in the same font as the whole chapter. Verses 51-53 offer us the fine print. Reread those verses with me:

51 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you and destroy all their figured stones and destroy all their metal images and demolish all their high places. 53 And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. 

God gave the Hebrews an assignment . They were to drive out the enemy and his gods. They were to destroy all the idols of the enemy. They were to take possession of the land and they were to worship God alone.

God Himself had an assignment. He would be faithful to empower them and to lead them in battle day by day.

In the book of Joshua the people fulfilled their assignment and God gave them victory. In the book of Judges the people turned away from their assignment and they failed.

Brothers and sisters, read the fine print. You never have to worry about God not doing His part. Ours is the task of doing our part.

Two questions for this Monday:

  1. How are you doing in keeping your part in the fine print? The fruit will be in the battles you are facing.
  2. How are helping others to read and heed God’s fine print?

Not on the List (Numbers 26-27)

March 5, 2021

 62 And those listed were 23,000, every male from a month old and upward. For they were not listed among the people of Israel, because there was no inheritance given to them among the people of Israel. Numbers 26:62

It was the week before I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My parents had been asked to participate in an evangelistic outreach of a sisters church. Because I was 7 years old I did not have any choice in the matter, so they carried me with them. When we arrived we were served a wonderful meal. I thought, this was not so bad. After the meal the pastor announced that we were going to see a movie. Again I thought, maybe this is not so bad. But my feelings changed as the movie began. The movie depicted the Second-Coming of Christ (Rapture) and the implications for those who were not on the list of those who knew Jesus. With each passing scene I became more and more afraid. By the end of the movie I knew I was not ready to meet Jesus. I can still recall the pastors words, he said “Heaven is real and so is Hell.” What came next stuck deep into my heart. The pastor asked, “is your name written in Heaven?” I would later come to realize that our names are written before the foundation of the world in the book, but on that day all I knew was that I was not ready to meet the Lord.

In Numbers 26, a new generation of Hebrews had positioned themselves to enter the Promised Land. God directed Moses to have the men of war counted (take a census) just like He had directed Moses 40 years earlier (1:2). I have often wondered how Moses must have felt as he looked over the list. Did his heart mourn because the names on the first list were now in eternity? I am sure he rejoiced as he considered the names of the those who he had known since their birth, but at the same time I believe he must have wept as he thought of those names that were not on the list. Two points leap from the text for me:

  1. I need to rejoice more in the God who has saved me, Rom. 8:16-17. “Thank you Jesus for writing my name in the Lambs Book of Life 46 years ago.:
  2. I am called to a deeper awareness of my calling to reach those who have never heard, Matt. 28:18-20.

I wonder, if you and I will have sorrow when we do not see people we thought we would see in Heaven? I guess this is one of the reasons (Rev. 21:4) God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Two questions:

  1. When was the last time you personally shared the gospel with someone one-on-one?
  2. What has our text stirred you to do today?

Balaam’s Advice (Numbers 23-25)

March 4, 2021

16 Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the Lord, Numbers 31:16

I think we all have those moments when things just seem to not make sense. When I first read the account (Numbers 22-25) of the false prophet (Balaam), I could not grasp how a false prophet could hear from God and how he could speak the truth given to him by God, but at the same time he could remain wicked in his heart and mind.

Here is one example of his teaching:

I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
    and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
    and break down all the sons of Sheth. 24:17

In this teaching, Balaam is predicting the coming of the Messiah. According to Matt. 2:2 and Rev. 22:16 Balaam was correct in his prediction. How can this be? Here a false prophet who, by the way gave advice to the king of Moab (31:16) that would lead the king to entice Israel (25:1-11) to worship Baal and to engage in whoredom, but was still speaking truth.

How can a person speak truth while being so wicked at the same time? This question is extremely relevant in our day. There are those who teach powerfully from God’s Word but in secret who have lives that are not marked by the Cross they teach.

Brothers and sisters we must be reminded that God’s Word is always true (I Peter 1:24-25) even when ungodly people preach the Word. The Word itself is pure. It is people who sometimes remain in their own darkness. It was the Apostle Paul would was strongly aware of this. His writing in I Cor. 9:27 speaks volumes to his commitment to practicing what he proclaimed:

27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[b] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified, I Cor. 9:27.

Balaam’s story is a tragic reminder of how a person can correctly speak God’s Word without being changed by God’s Word. Ours is the call to be transformed by the gospel into a person who is living in the Newness of life we proclaim (Rom. 6:4).

I want to challenge you to do three things today:

  1. Present your life to God for His transforming word (Rom. 12:1-2).
  2. Pray for all those who preach God’s Word.
  3. Pursue a life that illustrates the teaching of God’s Word.