Monthly Archives: February 2019

Numbers 19-21; Acts 19; Psalms 28-29

God gets the credit. He gets the honor. He gets the glory. It’s all his.

I think of times in my life where I exhausted myself in my own efforts to no great accomplishment or success. And then surrendered to the Lord, “I’ve done what I could do. It’s all yours.” He has shown up, time and again, and handled things he always had under control to begin with. He is patient and faithful to me. He is trustworthy in the waiting. He is transforming me and developing my faith. That is the faithful love of a father.

The people were thirsty and God would provide.

Moses and Aaron turned away from the people and went to the entrance of the Tabernacle, where they fell face down on the ground. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord said to Moses, “You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the whole community and their livestock (Numbers 20:6-8, NLT).”

I’m familiar with the story of God bringing water from a rock, and sometimes I read over things too quickly. But when I slow down, things stand out and things sink in.

So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. 10 Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill.

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” 13 This place was known as the waters of Meribah (which means “arguing”) because there the people of Israel argued with the Lord, and there he demonstrated his holiness among them (Numbers 20:9-13, NLT, emphasis added).

The majesty of Psalm 29 speaks of God’s power in thundering, splitting bolts of language. But he is in the quiet and unexpected of the everyday too. I praise you, God, for truth. You are my strength and shield. You fill my heart with joy. Oh, I trust you!

Praise the Lord!
    For he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and shield.
    I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. (Psalm 28:6-7, NLT)

I delight in the Lord and his goodness and glory. I praise him for the great things, for the small things, and for the details that almost escape notice. Lord, you are the way, the truth, the life. Thank you for giving me new vision. I am so grateful.

Courtney (66books365)


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Numbers 15-18; Acts 18; Psalm 90

I love the laws recorded in Numbers – they reflect the seriousness of God’s expectations in my life. The idea of obeying has never left the ways of following God – nothing is left to personal discretion. The work of obedience is a difficult and a careful one in my life. God has a reason for His call in my life even when I cannot see it. In some ways this screams faith to me.  I do know that God has higher aims for me, more than I can appreciate, and He does know what it will take for me to achieve them. I see His challenges as an opportunity to build strength and capacity so that I can succeed. At the end of the day I want to be holy.

So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.  I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God.” – Numbers 15:40-41  ESV

When I read how Paul taught the church in Corinth how to be holy, he provided the concept that God designs us to follow Him. I have seen these in my own life. When God designed me He changed me, He put people in my life so that they could be changed and I could be changed even more, and most importantly, for me in the now, I believe He is designing me for what I cannot yet see.

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent,  for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” – Acts 18:9-10  ESV

For that reason I love the prayer that Moses prayed in Psalm 90, and especially this verse —

So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12  ESV

I really do want to be taught by God. I want to have a heart of wisdom. This verse reminds me of something Jesus said He would do. He promised me the Holy Spirit who would teach me all things.

Father, thank You for today. I am challenged so much to be what You want me to be. You ask me to be holy, I cannot do this without You. Make me into Your image, to love You, to obey You, to follow You. When life gives me opportunity to come to You as my Father with my needs, disappointments, struggles and failures, may I remember that Jesus has offered to walk with me and that I will accept His yoke so that I may place these burdens of mine on Him. I know He cares for me. I will glorify You always and am so thankful that in You I have my hope.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

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Numbers 12-14; Acts 17; Psalms 27

“They said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?” But the Lord heard them. (Now Moses was very humble-more humble than any other person on earth.) “And the Lord said to them, “Now listen to what I say: “If there were prophets among you, I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams. But not with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face, clearly, and not in riddles! He sees the Lord as he is. So why were you not afraid to criticize my servant Moses?” Numbers 12:2,6-8 NLT

What does it mean to ‘see the Lord as he is?’ Is it trusting in his goodness, even when life seems out of control? So often, I am like the Israelites and question his plan. I sit too long with the past, instead of moving forward.

“Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off in plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted against themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”  “And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me. even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?” Numbers 14:3&4, 11 NLT

The Israelites wanted a new leader. But, their rejection did not detour Moses from pleading to the Lord on their behalf (Numbers 14:17). His humble spirit shown through. He might have been hurt, but he didn’t let his feelings get in the way of God’s call on his life. He trusted the Lord.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.” Psalms 27:1-3 NLT

Dear Father, thank you that you are not a God of confusion. But of clarity and peace. Help me to listen to your voice. And not be so quick to lose heart. Thank you for your faithfulness to me. Amen.

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.” Psalms 27:13 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Numbers 8-11; Acts 16

“On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped.” Numbers 9:15-17; ESV

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

Oh, what I would give to have a Cloud and a Pillar of fire guide me. I mean, come on! Looking for a new job? The fire will lead you to the right company. Wondering if you should sell your house and move? The cloud will let you know that it’s not time yet. Who wouldn’t want that kind of visible and direct guidance. I know I would! And yet…I don’t get it…or at least I haven’t been able to see the cloud or fire.

Maybe it’s my vision or maybe God chooses to reveal Himself differently to me. When I was a child I often thought that if I had been an Israelite, I would not have wandered away from God like they did so many times. They had so many visible reminders of God’s presence and yet, they kept turning away. As I have grown, however, I have come to realize that God has done amazing things in my life…that I have forgotten. I have seen answered prayers and received guidance and then become angry when it wasn’t provided again exactly when I wanted it and how I wanted it.

Following and Loving God isn’t a one time and done thing…It is a daily practice, a minute by minute trusting in His presence. For me it has been trusting that He will fulfill His promises even when it feels impossible.

“And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.” Acts 16:40

Paul must have desired similar direct communication with God…especially as he sat in prison again and again. He never seemed to loose heart. At the same time, he never stopped communicating with God…crying out to Him…asking for help…pleading for mercy. Paul was honest and open and vulnerable with the Lord, which allowed him to follow and to trust and to walk boldly.

Heavenly father, may I, like Paul, be persistent in connecting with you and hearing from You. Give me eyes to see your guidance. Give me ears to hear your voice. Give me wisdom to know when you are leading and give me courage to follow. Amen.

Mandy Baldwin (mkaybaldwin)

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Numbers 6-7; Acts 15; Psalm 22

I have read many of the laws the Israelites were commanded to follow over the past few days of this plan. The many laws and rituals involve sacrifices, clothing, vows; the list goes on and on. However, these laws become a subject of debate in Acts 15. Men from Judea got into a argument with Paul and Barnabas as to whether the new Gentile Christians had to follow the law of Moses.

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” Acts 15:6-11 ESV

It is faith in Christ, not the works I do, that will get me to heaven. The law of Moses debate was an important time for the early Church, who were just starting to accept Gentiles. However, the gospel message is for all and Peter knew that. The laws I have read in Leviticus and Numbers are like a crushing weight; they are impossible to fulfill fully and perfectly. That is the very reason Jesus came to die.

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:28-29 ESV

However, my new life in Christ does not give me the freedom to keep on sinning; instead it should push me to move closer to God and His commandments. Although I do not have to follow the traditional laws and rituals of Moses, I still need to follow God’s commands in my life. However, I will fail sometimes and nobody if perfect except for the LORD. Instead of sacrificing an animal whenever I sin, the perfect Lamb who pays for all my sins has already been sacrificed and is interceding on my behalf before God. Though I may be a great sinner, Christ is a great Savior and His blood paid for all my sins and fulfilled the law forever.

Dear God, Thank You for sending Christ. Please help me to follow Your words and commands as I know it pleases You. Thank You for Your grace and forgiveness for the times when I fail. Please help me to never loss sight of how precious a gift Your Sacrifice is. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Numbers 2-5; Acts 14

I read of family, purpose and responsibility in Numbers. Families that are set aside under a banner with specific tasks to lead in a direction, to carry special cargo or to manage a task. These themes are deeply meaningful to me. Family members are counted. They are unified in a common goal to serve as the Lord directs.

Again, these themes are deeply meaningful to me. I sit with the words and hold them like a precious gift.

Acts 14 and Paul and Barnabas are met with opposition. They flee to preach the Good News elsewhere and encounter a man with crippled feet.

While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. 10 So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking (Acts 14:8-10, NLT, emphasis added).

Father God, I am so thankful that when you look at me, you see worth, a daughter, a beloved. Thank you for bringing me into your family and entrusting me with tasks and responsibilities for your glory and my good. Oh, even if my father and mother abandon me, you Lord will hold me close.

Courtney (66books365)


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Leviticus 26-27; Numbers 1; Acts 13

In the beginning of Leviticus 26, God encouraged the people of Israel to obey Him by expressing the great rewards they would receive from their obedience. And then He said this:

Leviticus 26:13 (ESV)

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

He then shifted gears, and spent far more words warning of the consequences – the pain – they would experience if they disobeyed. The pain of acting in pride. The pain of acting in their own strength, in their own understanding, and in their own power.

The pain of forgetting God.

I think that’s why the transition between the promises of blessing to the promises of pain was a reminder of what God had done for the people to deliver them from bondage.

The single biggest factor in our obedience is remembering what God has done for us. If I could just remember how God has delivered me before, I’d have no trouble believing Him for this time. If I could remember how God answered my prayers before, I’d have no trouble asking Him for what I need now. If I remembered God’s faithfulness in the last trial, I’d find it easier to be faithful to Him in the current one.

But I forget. My fear takes over. Insecurity, pride, frustration, and the temptation to take matters into my own hands causes me to act like more like the Israelites than I’d like to admit. And it lasts longer than I’d like to admit, too. Because, while God offers so many promises and incentives for obedience, I find that I tend to respond far more to painful consequences than positive incentives.

I don’t think I’m alone in that. In fact, I think that’s why God spent more time talking about the painful consequences than the pleasurable ones. Because we tend to change only when the pain of staying the way we are becomes greater than the pain of change. That’s why pain is God’s biggest tool in our lives. He gets us out of the mess by pain.  And then, when we repent, as He promises in last section of the chapter, He can restore us and lavish on us the blessings of obedience that He’d promised in the first place.

If only I didn’t have to learn the hard way.

If only I could be faithful in seeking Him
before I find myself stressed out and overwhelmed.

If only I could decide to be kind
before my mouth gets me into trouble.

If only I could give forgiveness
before bitterness affects my other relationships.

If only I could learn to eat right
before I outgrow all my clothes.

Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. What’s the key? Remembering God.

Father, forgive me for trusting in myself and what makes sense to me instead of obeying your directions for my life. Help me to remember what You’ve done for me, how You’ve proven Yourself to me, and how You’ve proven your ways are better than mine. I want to be faithful to you just as you’ve been faithful to me. I want to be motivated by Your promises, not the by the pain of ignoring you. Help me to live in Your presence and in the light of Your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

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