Friday, January 31, 2014

Putting God where He belongs...

Numbers 2:17 “Then the tent of meeting shall set out, with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camps; as they camp, so shall they set out, each in position, standard by standard. To many people the book of Numbers seems like a painstaking list of peoeple and places, but if we step back and see the big picture of what is going on, God is showing us some very important spiritual pictures. Several times we are told that the tabernacle, with all of its furniture and utensils, was always in the middle of the camp. Whether they were one the move or at the mountain, the dwelling place of God was in the center. That's where He needs to be in our lives as well - in the middle of everything. Where is He today in my life and yours?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Totally Devoted

“Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD's; it is holy to the LORD. If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman's staff, shall be holy to the LORD. One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.” (Leviticus 27:30-33 ESV) As the book of Leviticus comes to a close, Moses concludes all the classes of laws with those about vows and tithes and offerings. The bottom line is this: everything belongs to God, and those things which we give back to Him, our Word and our possessions, are especially His. He has full claim to them. We are not to try to hold back what we like best, swap it for something else, and give God what we feel like. We are to keep our vows and give Him the first and best of our resources. That's because His is our LORD; we are His people, and He does better with who we are and what we have than we do ourselves. There is no substitute for total devotion and submission to Him.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Did I happen to mention???...

“So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the LORD. And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 22:31-33 ESV) As one makes his or her way through Leviticus, it would be easy to get hung up on the repetition of the "long lobe of the liver" or turn red with all the forms of fornication prohibited by God in His law, if we miss this one big statement, repeated thrice in these three lines: "I am the LORD." Don't miss how many times He says that in these lists of laws. That statement is what is repeated the most. He is holy and He is the One who makes us Holy. He knows what He is doing, and though it may not seem like a big deal to us, He knows what will lead us down the right path, and what will take us the wrong way. So the question becomes: "Will I live like He is the LORD?"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Loving Law for the Leper...

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “This shall be the law of the leprous person for the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest, and the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall look. Then, if the case of leprous disease is healed in the leprous person, the priest shall command them to take for him who is to be cleansed two live clean birds and cedarwood and scarlet yarn and hyssop. And the priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water. He shall take the live bird with the cedarwood and the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, and dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. 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. And he who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water, and he shall be clean. And after that he may come into the camp, but live outside his tent seven days. And on the seventh day he shall shave off all his hair from his head, his beard, and his eyebrows. He shall shave off all his hair, and then he shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and he shall be clean. (Leviticus 14:1-9 ESV) Often times when we come across accounts about lepers in the Bible, we grieve that they were put outside the camp, the mainstream of daily life; they had to cry out unclean as they came near others; they missed out on the celebrations of Passover and other Holy days. To be sure, these laws were given to protect the other people from contagious disease, but were they not heartless towards this afflicted people? No, they were loving and hopeful. Not only did God provide a way and a hope that they could be pronounced clean once again, He also was protecting them. As Jews, they were expected, yes commanded to take part in these celebrations. There was a heavy penalty for them not doing so. But they were in a quandary - how could they obey God and NOT go to these crowded commemorations? By being declared "unclean" they were given an excuse to not attend. That helps explain why a Jew would every go to the priest to be examined instead of trying to hide it; he realized it was the loving thing to do for his fellow Jews, and his means of protection for not attending the festival. God is loving and merciful in all His ways.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Down to the last detail...

And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys. (Exodus 40:33-38 ESV) Reading through the last third of Exodus, it seems like such a drastic change from the action adventure of the Exit from Egypt. Everything is about God telling Moses how the tabernacle is to be built, then repeating each and every detail as it is being built. Why the repetition and monotonous details? We find out if we are patient enough to get to the conclusion here: The Glory of The LORD came to dwell throughout all their journeys. This was God's tent. Whereas before God would come to talk to Moses at his tent, we are told here even he could not enter this ten because HOLY GOD came in. The point is that before Israel could go anywhere, the tabernacle had to be completed; this had to be done and be done right. For us to go on in our lives, on the journey God has planned, we need to stop, take the time to allow Him to work the changes He wants to, overwhelm us with His presence, and then let Him lead us forward. Details matter.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How hard-hearted are we?

Exodus 12:29-32 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!” One benefit of being behind in your Bible Reading? Yesterday we read this. What a sobering verse for Sanctity of Life Day! It took the death of his own son for Pharaoh to finally let God's people go and see who they really were: they were the ones God was blessing and through whom he and his nation could be blessed! So not only does he ask them to leave; he asks for their blessing. Sad to say, this is a short-lived change of heart. What will it take our nation to stop being so hard-hearted? How many firstborn will need to die before it hits home in enough hearts?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The LORD says to not just me...

The LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which he had sent him to speak, and all the signs that he had commanded him to do. Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. Aaron spoke all the words that the LORD had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped. (Exodus 4:27-31 ESV) God had been speaking to Moses a lot. But he was not alone. God spoke to Aaron as well to "get him on the same page." The two became a dynamic duo, often speaking and thinking the same things (God would speak to Moses; Moses would speak to Aaron; Aaron would speak to the people.) When we learn to listen to God and to others who are listening to God... people believe Him and worship Him. That's what we're looking for! May you and I both listen to God today, hear Him speak to our hearts, obey Him together, and live lives that bring Him Glory.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

He speaks right where you are...

Exodus 4:19 And the Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” As The Lord spoke to Moses, He spoke to him where he was. Like when it comes to doing God's will, God is speaking where we are; it is not something we have to wait till we are "in the right place" to hear. Sometimes He takes us to a special place so we will be undistracted and hear Him more clearly (like Mt. Sinai...) but He is ready and willing to talk to us now, today, here, where you are. Are we willing to stop and listen???

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Lord has a lot to say... Are we ready to listen?

Exodus 3:4-5 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” In the book of Exodus, many sections begin: "The Lord said to Moses..." God had a lot to say. He still does today. For many of us, like Moses here, He has to get our attention. We are going through life oblivious to His presence. We need to be awed by His holiness and power - that He is altogether different and deserves and demands our attention. We see God doing that a lot in Exodus. What it is going to take for Him to get our attention today?

Friday, January 17, 2014

More than mere numbers...

Exodus 1:7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them. When we move from Genesis to Exodus the transition is smooth, with Moses reviewing the tribes of Israel who had moved into Egypt. He summarizes this introduction with this verse. It is saying much more than Israel had grown into a big nation of people. It is saying that God had kept His promises made to Abraham Isaac and Jacob in Genesis; He had made them a great nation of people. God is still superintending the story; He is blessing; He is in control, doing what He set out to do. We are invited to join His people on the journey for this next phase to learn more about faith, forgiveness, and living life in His presence.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Something bigger than me

And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” (Genesis 50:24-25 ESV) Besides getting the truth about faith and forgiveness, Joseph had a real understanding of the fact that he was being included in a story much bigger than himself or even his time. He lived a long life of fruitfulness and fame, but he knew the best was yes to come. He wanted to go along for the ride, even after he was dead! Because God is not the God of the dead, but the living, and he knew that God's blessing would go with His people wherever they went, and he wanted to be in on it. Our hopes and joys are not just in this life, but the future as well, being a part of God's big plan, picture and purpose for His people. Let's live by faith and not miss a step.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Forgiveness and Faith over Fears

Genesis 50:15-21 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. As the book of Genesis comes to an end, there is one overriding conclusion: There is a hope for sinners. Having shown us the Fall and all sorts of failures in peoples' lives, the story of Joseph pulls together many pieces: God does keep His promise to build a great people from one man; people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons can rise above their fears and have peace and hope; and forgiveness is a reality, both from God and from man. Despite many ups and downs, the story of Genesis has a good ending, and God's story of man will have one too, if we will live by faith in our sovereign Creator and Lord, and be willing to come to Him for forgiveness.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jacob - a lesson on fears

Genesis 35:1-5, 9-10 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem. And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. As we follow the story of Jacob, his life was one driven by fears - fear of being left behind by his brother so he had to grab his heal; later fear of his brother's revenge; fear of his father-in-law taking advantage of him. Finally, Jacob comes to realize that God has always been there with him and that his fears have been in vain. It is at that point that he can finally become Israel, the father of the great nation God will use. How many fears are we allowing to hold us back from all God has for us?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Who is remembering?

Genesis 30:22-24 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!” In this chapter we have the ongoing soap opera of Jacob's wives and their maidservants who bore him children. In their envy and competition Rachel finally has son, and then she names him "May The Lord give me another one! We are never satisfied. Despite this, the LORD remembers us. He keeps His promises. He wants to bless us. May we stop our striving and stand back and allow Him to do things His way in His time; may we remember that He is good and He is God

Sunday, January 12, 2014

How awesome is the presence of The Lord!

Genesis 28:15-17 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” There is something wonderful when you realize God has revealed Himself and His truth to you. May we each experience His voice and His presence as we worship Him today!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Like father, like son...

Genesis 26:1-7 Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance. Isaac seems in many ways like his father Abraham - good and bad alike. He listened when God spoke to Him and went where he was told. But he also had the same fears and failures. As I look at my sons, I see how they all do many things I have done or wanted to do so much better than I ever could. But on rare occasion I see them struggle with some of the same things I did, and I know - they are truly my sons; they learned that from me. May we never deny the influence we have on our children, for bad, or for good.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The One Who Sees keeps Showing up...

So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” (Genesis 16:13 ESV) Hagar has been shut out and sent out by Sarah, because she is having Abraham's child. She is all alone - except that the Angel of the Lord comes to her. He is the God Who sees, and cares. And it is not just to Hagar, but Abraham and Sarah as well. In the next chapter He will come and visit them, and hear Sarah's laughter when she does not believe His message that she will also bear a son. God sees, and hears, and He keeps showing up in our journey. Do we see Him?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Journey: Learning that the Lord is enough...

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:1-6 ESV) This is not the first time God had spoken to Abram. There had already been the detour of disobedience in Egypt. God is trying to make a point. His is our shield. He will defend us. We don't need to go through life thinking if we don't watch out for ourselves no one else will. He will. We need to learn to trust in Him more than we do ourselves. He will keep His Word.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sent packin'...

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. (Genesis 12:1,20 ESV) It doesn't take long in Genesis to realize there is quite a journey going on. After the fall, Adam and Eve are sent packing. After killing Abel, Cain is sent packing. As things devolve, Noah is sent on a voyage. As mankind continues to worsen, the peoples are sent out over the earth. And then we come to Abram. He is sent packing toward a promised land, and when he gets sidetracked in Egypt and cowers in fear, he is sent packing again, this time by Pharaoh. It seems that all men do is get sent packing by God or by others, searching on a journey. What is boils down to is which path are we going to choose? Our own? That of others? Or God's

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The first softball game: God Hits a Grandslam and more...

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5 ESV) There's an old joke about Genesis 1:1 being the first baseball game in the Bible ("In the Big-Inning...") Baseball games usually have 9 innings, but softball and youth games often have seven, so I'll choose to call it that. The opponent here is the darkness. God's performance in each inning is more than impressive, and then the bottom of the inning comes, all there is is evening - to sit back and gaze on God's performance. What a place to begin - God creating all that is, for His good pleasure, and sharing it with us.