Monthly Archives: February 2009

Numbers 34-36

Scripture

 

“..select some towns to be your cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone accidentally may flee. They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that a person accused of murder may not die before he stands trial before the assembly. These six towns you give will be your cities of refuge.” Numbers 35:11 – 13 (NIV)

“He must stay there until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the holy oil.” Numbers 35:25b (NIV)

 

Observation

 

God provided places of refuge where people, who were guilty of unintentional murder, could run to and live in safely, until the death of the current high priest.

 

Application

 

Jesus is my present-day “city of refuge” to whom I can flee to from the sin in my life. It may not be murder, as described in this passage, but any sin separates me from God. There is no way I can save myself, unless I flee to Jesus. He is the only way to God. I cannot appear before God, in judgment, on my own. But Jesus, who lived a perfect life and made atonement for my sins, hides me in Himself. One day, when I stand before God in judgment, He will not see me for what I really am, but rather for what Jesus really did. Hallelujah!

 

Jesus is also my High Priest. “But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:24,25 (NIV)

 

I need to remain in the safety and refuge of Jesus and not stray from Him. I need to remember that I cannot do life on my own, but rather I need Him to cover me all the time…even when I think I have it all together and life is going along smoothly. Complacency can become very dangerous!

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father,

How thankful I am for the gift of Your Son, Jesus! He sees to the depth of my soul and still longs to cover me and give me refuge in the safety of His arms. Please help me to not become complacent about my relationship with You, to remain humble, and reliant only and always on You.

Amen.

 

Beckie (look2thehills)

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Numbers 32 and 33

Scripture

“Drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places.” Numbers 33:52 (NIV)

Observation

The Lord tells Moses to speak to the Israelites, giving them instructions of what they must do.

In Numbers 31:14, we know that Moses was angry because the Israelites captured Midianite women and children.  Later, the soldiers had to kill all the boys and any woman who wasn’t a virgin. I don’t know the circumstances that led the soldiers to bring back Midianite captives, but Moses was pretty mad that they did. 

I found it interesting that when they were sent into battle this time, the Lord gets more specific about things: including destroying and demolishing idols and high places. He knows how easy it is for someone or something to come between his people and him.

“But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.” Numbers 33:55-56.

Application

The Lord knows my weaknesses. And he knows my need to worship. I don’t have any carved idols in the house, but there have been things that separate me from God. Sometimes I can’t tell what they are until suddenly they’re the first things I think of in the morning or where I spend too much time. What was once (and still) a fun pastime can become the thorn in my side when I’m facing tasks that are left undone because of poor prioritizing (should that read careless idolizing?). It’s easy to measure the cost of idols in my day-to-day: if I’m scrambling at the end of the day to make up for how I wasted my time, then there’s a problem. And it’s usually pretty obvious if I’m making pancakes for dinner or the laundry isn’t done. But when God becomes displaced because of my activities, sometimes that measure is harder to gauge: a spiritual loneliness, a selfish attitude, quicker irritability with family or friends, apathy towards issues at large.

Prayer

Lord, I don’t want my life whittled away by things that won’t last. Help me to be ruthless in eliminating the things and activities that take me away from the work you would have me do.

Courtney

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Numbers 30-31

Scripture

“If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.

3“If a woman vows a vow to the LORD and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house in her youth, 4and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. 5But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the LORD will forgive her, because her father opposed her.  Numbers 30:2-5 ESV

Observation

God begins this section of commands saying that a man is bound by his vow. If he makes a commitment, he must follow through. This is a strong caution to think before you speak.

For women, the same holds true, with an exception. God put a sweet protection for the overly eager and somewhat loose-tongued females. If they are still under their father or are under a husband this man can step in and negate their vow. All will be forgiven and the man protects the woman from a burdensome commitment.

This shows both sides of this relationship — women are bound to their fathers and then their husbands (until death or divorce), and men have an obligation to stay involved and aware of their daughters’ and wives’ commitments in order to protect them from unwise obligations. This built in accountability is an amazing part of the marriage relationship.

Application

We all need to be cautious of the commitments we make and restrain from over commitment

God put fathers and husbands in a role over women. Men need to remember to stay aware and act on this role in love and wisdom. Women need to remember to respond with gracious thanks to God and their father or husband.

Prayer

Precious Lord,

Thank you for building into my life a wall of protection from my own impulsiveness. Thank you for my father during those maturing years and thank you now for my husband. Help me not to take advantage of this protection but to think carefully before I speak. Help me to weigh my words and choices carefully as I commit my time and energy that I may retain balance in my life to serve You the best I am able. ~Amen

~Erin (5intow)

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Numbers 28-29

Scripture

“…hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.  As an aroma pleasing to the LORD, prepare a burnt offering…” (NIV, Numbers 29:1, 2…and repeatedly throughout both chapters)

Observation

As I read through the descriptions of the offerings and the feasts, a pattern emerged and the word, WORSHIP, came to mind. Throughout Leviticus and Numbers, the rules and regs have been laborious to trudge through. But today I saw them in a different light. They are an act of worship and God gave the Israelites some guidelines…

  • Gather a sacred assembly: there is value in corporate assembly. A crowd provides energy, common focus, accountability, a holy experience. This is a taste of heaven.
  • Do no regular work: put the cares of life aside; deliberately focus on God so He can speak and so we can hear.
  • Present a sacrifice with no defect: confess sin; acknowledge your redemption at HIS cost; celebrate your position as His righteous, fully forgiven child.
  • As an aroma pleasing to the LORD: God is honored, pleased, elevated, glorified, adored, recognized.

Notice there was no mention of singing. We too often limit worship to music. Instead worship is simply an expression of our love for God and can be (should be) exhibited in every thing we do. Is worship limited to assemblies? feasts? gatherings? burnt offerings? Of course not. Some of the most intimate records of worship were David’s personal prayers, poems, songs written to His God while tending sheep. And we witness acts of worship everyday as effective believers exhibit God’s love to the world around them.

Application

  • Is my life a pleasing aroma of worship?
  • Do I present myself a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God?
  • Are my actions, thoughts, words elevating my God or myself?
  • Do I build in focused time for worship both corporately and personally?
  • Do I set aside work so I can focus on God? (The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan changed my habits)

Prayer

God, you deserve so much more than I give. I want today to be an act of worship from beginning to end. I want you to smell a pleasing aroma as I live this day for You and You alone. But I can only do it with the help of Your Spirit. Amen.

-simply spoken

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Numbers 26-27

Scripture

 

“May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.” (Numbers 27:16-17)(NIV)

 

Observation

 

“Joshua: God’s right-time man”

 

What a shock it must have been to Moses to be informed that he would not be entering the Promised Land after all.  What a bigger shock it must have been to Joshua to realize that he would be one of the only two remaining original pilgrims to cross the Jordan River, and that he would actually be leading the way for everyone else!  While nothing is said in Numbers about Moses’ take on this substitution of authority and the prohibition on his entering the Promised Land, you can be sure he wasn’t happy with it.  Deuteronomy 1:37 recounts how Moses spreads the blame at his punishment to his fellow travelers, railing, “Because of you the Lord became angry with me also.” (NIV) 

While Moses’ reaction presents its own set of lessons, what struck me most about this passage was that Joshua’s quick replacement of Moses was met with no grumbling by the Israelites (an out-of-character response, considering the episodic complaints of Exodus 32:1, Numbers 11:4, Numbers 12:1-2, Numbers 14:2, Numbers 16:41 and Numbers 20:3, among others).  These were people who didn’t like how long Moses stayed on Mount Sinai, were tired of eating manna, thought they should be the ones to speak to God and were generally disgruntled at the manner in which God was leading them.  Why no argument when their chief was replaced?  

 

Well, it could have been that Joshua was eminently qualified to take on the role.  Joshua originally served as Moses’ aide, and ascended Mount Sinai with him in Exodus 24:13, where God gave the plan for the tabernacle to Moses. Joshua was also with Moses when they descended the mountain in Exodus 32:17 to find that Aaron had constructed a golden calf in their absence. Since there were only two non-Levite men who were with Moses after the Exodus from Egypt (Joshua and Caleb), Joshua was a natural choice.  He had the credentials. 

 

But more than that, Joshua was ready.  He made himself accessible to Moses, and therefore, to God.  References to Joshua’s efforts are peppered throughout Exodus and Numbers, but he never seems to be a sucker for the spotlight.  It seems clear from the text that he was simply happy to help Moses, a man he knew to be directly commissioned by God, in whatever way possible. 

 

It’s unlikely he had any aspirations of leadership himself – often willing to do what others were not (for example, in Numbers 13 Joshua was among those sent to explore Canaan – a land unknown to them with potentially hostile inhabitants.  In fact, in Numbers 14:10, he is threatened with stoning simply because he believed the Lord would make good on his promises, and give Israel the land of Canaan!)  Joshua was in the right place, at the right time, with the right spirit.  Joshua was ready to be used by God.  

  

Application

 

“There is no limit to what God can do through you, provided you do not seek your own glory.” – L.B. Cowman. 

 

I get goose bumps when I feel the Lord passing by – when I realize I’ve been perfectly positioned by Him to accomplish something for the Kingdom and often unthinkingly (striving instead for simple obedience) am able, through His power, to do just that.  I want to be one of those people – a Joshua, an Esther, a Paul – who is positioned at the right time and place to be used by God in a mighty way. 

 

But this requires humility.  After all, Moses himself was described as “more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3)(NIV).  It also requires a daily, impulsive obedience that is the hallmark of that willing and humble spirit – a spirit like Joshua’s.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, living for you is never boring.  Every day presents another opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to you.  You never promised us it would be easy, but oh how exciting it is when we see your plans coming together in our lives, and in the lives of others!  What a privilege it is to have a ring-side seat at the unfolding of mankind’s greatest story, played out in breathtaking detail all around us.  Make us accessible to you, Lord.  Give us the discretion and sensitivity to follow your leadings to the “right time” and “right place” so that your work may be accomplished.  Let us listen carefully to your direction so that we may step in like Joshua and fill the roles that, from the creation of the universe, you envisioned for us.  Make us bold!  Make us ready! We want to be your right-time people.  Amen.

 

– Sarah

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Numbers 23-25

Scripture

“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19, NIV)

Observation

Immutability. It’s one of my favorites of God’s qualities….

“But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (Psalm 102:27)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

God simply will not change. What He says, He will do. What He promises, He will fulfill. He is immutable.

Application

People, however, do change. Friends move away or break trusts. Spouses—even the most faithful of spouses!—are still humanly fallible. Circumstances aren’t always reliable, either. Illness, job loss, economic upheavals…the only constant in the world, in fact, is change.

How I need God’s immutability! How I crave it in a world of chaos and unknowns. I’m thankful that He uses the unreliability of this world to draw me closer to Him. And even though I sometimes wish that God were human, so that I could understand His ways, I am so grateful that He is higher. Better. Immutable.

Prayer

Lord God, thank You that You never change! You are faithful—always faithful. What You say, You will do. What You promise, You will fulfill. I rest in Your constancy. You are constantly loving and merciful, constantly holy and true. Thank You, God! Amen.

-amystorms

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Numbers 21-22

Scripture

Balaam replied to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of the Lord my God. “Now please, you also stay here tonight, and I will find out what else the Lord will speak to me.” God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise up and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you shall you do.” So Balaam arose in the morning, and saddled his donkey and went with the leaders of Moab.

Numbers 22:18-21

Observation

How sad that although Balaam was obedient to the word of God, his heart longed for his own good and not that the greater work of God would be done. Balaam willed his own benefit over the good of an entire nation and repeatedly sought to find a way to curse them that he might become enriched. Three times he sought for a way to get the money offered to curse the children of Israel. What could Balaam’s legacy had been if his heart had truly beaten for the kingdom of God to be established. Balaam was one who worked for God, but at least at this time in his life he did not know God. Balaam knew the letter of God’s law but was blind to the Spirit of the Law.

Application

I would love to pick on Balaam and sneer down my nose at him for his short sighted selfishness. I would love to scoff at him for choosing the wealth and riches of this world over the joy of being an instrument in tune with God’s directing. I would love to be able to condemn Balaam for pursuing his own good over the good of the people of God. There is just one problem . . . too often I have the heart of Balaam. What is more, too often I will not go as far as Balaam did. At least Balaam was obedient and would not disobey God even if his heart desperately wanted to. I cannot even say this much. Far too often in my life I become consumed with my own “needs” and with pursuit of my own “well being,” and I ignore the call of God. I stray from His heart and mourn my own loses instead of having my heart break for the things that break His heart. Even worse, I pursue things that perish at the cost of imperishable joy and glory. If only in my work for God I could consistently pursue Him and His heart instead of my own selfish ambitions. But then again, praise God for His grace and mercy and for His Spirit who convicts us of these things. Praise him that we can have our hearts mended and that we have one in us who can teach our hearts to beat with the passions of God. Praise God that Jesus has lived as we cannot, that he was the prophet of God who not only was unwilling to curse Israel, but was willing to become a curse for Israel that she might live!

Prayer

Lord God thank you that Jesus has done what we cannot and that He has made a way for us to become what we should be and what at least part of our hearts long to be. Thank you for the example of Balaam who shows us the bankruptcy of doing your work with a heart disconnected from you. I ask that You would give me the grace to submit to Your Spirit that he might teach me to have a heart that breaks for the things that break Yours and that rejoices in the things in which You are eternally joyful; for this is my “well being” and this is my greatest need. Nothing more than Your presence in my life.

M Hipsley

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