Friday, March 13, 2009

At the Threshold of the Promised Land - Part 5

Numbers 14:21-44

This is a long narrative, however, I feel that this passage has some important lessons that are applicable to our daily lives.

God forgives the Israelites for their unbelief, lack of trust, and ultimately their contempt. But, the consequences are still theirs to live with. No one that had treated with Him contempt would ever see the promised land. The saddest part is that even the children had to suffer for their parents sin. Not because God was punishing them directly, but because sin even affects the innocent.

When a husband or wife chooses to be unfaithful, their entire family is effected. What consequences are my children suffering because of my rebellion? Are they rebellious because I have allowed them to be? Do they have a complaining attitude because I do?

The last part of the story is the most tragic. The people realize they have sinned and decide they will go into the promised land. Moses tried to tell them that the Lord was not with them, but they would not listen. Sometimes we cannot go back. Sometimes the opportunity for obedience is forever lost and we must live with the consequences. Persistent failure to trust God and obey Him is always disastrous.

Not all sin has to end in disastrous consequences. The time to believe and repent through our actions is now. The Israelites never got to see their promised land. I pray we don't miss ours. Don't just stand on the threshold - GO IN!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

At the Threshold of the Promised Lard - Part 4

Numbers 14:13-20

Again, we see the wonderful character traits of Moses. Moses was more concerned about the reputation of the Lord than he was his own purposes. Moses reasons with God to forgive them for His namesake. Moses wants the nations to know that God is The LORD and that the one, true God keeps His promises.

We should be ever mindful of the Lord's reputation as we live our lives. During this time and even today, the world is looking for the one, true God. The world is looking for a god who keeps his promises. We can show them this God, the only God through our lives.

One important thing to point out about this passage is that Moses appeals to God's love and His mercy - not His justice. To appeal to God's justice would have meant certain death. We do not want God's justice. If God treated us justly, we would surely be destroyed.

As we pray for our country, let us confess our sins and plead for God to be merciful to us and to our country. Let us ask God to show the world again that He is the One, True God and that He keeps His promises!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

At the Threshold of the Promised Land - Part 3

Number 14: 1-12

I must tell you that reading this vivid passage in the Bible literally brings me to tears. These people had seen the wonders of God, the provision of God, the blessings of God, and the literal glory of God yet they still do not believe. It is hard to comprehend.

Deuteronomy 1:27 tells us that the people literally grumbled in their tents saying, "the LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us".

What makes this so heartbreaking to me is that I know that I have felt that way. I know that when I have been faced with opposition I have wondered, "why are You doing this to me?" Oh, how I have distrusted my loving God! It breaks my heart that the Israelites did it, but it breaks my heart even more that I did not learn from their example.

Moses and Aaron hit the dirt out of shame, but also probably because they were afraid God might justifiably wipe the people off the face of the Earth! Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes and tried to reason with these unbelieving people. But, then God shows up and speaks with Moses. God asks Moses how long would these people, His people, treat Him with contempt!

When we fail to trust God and believe His promises, we are treating the Lord with contempt. It is rebellion and it is sin. Is that really how we want to treat the God that gave His only Son so that we might have a relationship with Him? Do we really want to treat Him with contempt? Do you really believe God? Not do you believe in God, but do you believe Him?

He is worthy of our trust. Ask Him to reveal any area of unbelief to you today and then ask Him to "Help your unbelief". An honest cry for help He will not deny.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

At the Threshold of the Promised Land - Part 2

Numbers 13:26-33

This passage starts out so encouraging! Can't you just hear the people saying "Ohh" and "Ahh" as the spies give their report! Unfortunately, one little word changes everything. "But". The spies begin to tell the people why they can never take possession of the land. But this, and but that! Then Caleb steps up and becomes the voice of faith in a God that had seen them through and proven Himself faithful.

Caleb says "we can certainly do it", but the other 10 basically say, "no we can't!". They compare themselves to grasshoppers! However, with God, grasshoppers can overcome giants! Let me give you an example...

George Mueller, an ordinary man that lived in the 1800s, felt God calling him to care for orphans in Bristol, England. He did not have the means to do this on his own, yet he trusted God and made a covenant with God that he would never ask anyone for financial assistance. He would only ask God for the provisions needed to care for orphaned children and himself. God proved Himself faithful as George Mueller provided for over 10,000 children during the course of his ministry! George Mueller was just a grasshopper, but he overcame a giant by trusting in a giant God!

What giant in your life is holding you back from entering the promised land? God does great things with grasshoppers who trust Him. How will you trust Him today?

By the way, if you have an extra minute, click on George Mueller and read his story. It is quite amazing!

Monday, March 9, 2009

At the Threshold of the Promised Land - Part 1

Numbers 13:1-3, 17-25

The Israelites were finally there!! They made it to the promised land! In this passage, we see the Lord instructing Moses to send spies into the land to check it out. However, based on Deuteronomy 1:19-23 we see that this was a concession made by God to allow them to explore the land. But, the decision had already been made. They were to inhabit the land.

The Israelites knew that they were to take possession of this land. They didn't have to question whether this was the right place or the right time. They had all known since childhood that one day God would deliver them to this land. Yet, here they stand on the edge of it and doubt.

Although we might think that we might just walk right in, let's stop and think for a moment... Do we do everything that we know God has commanded us to do? When God gives us instructions to do something, we are to do it. We are not to see if it is "do-able". We are to do it! The decision has been made and we are to do it. Specifically, this means that instructions that are given in His Word are to be carried out.

As we will see later this week, failure to trust God and follow Him in obedience can be disasterous. Where do you need to be obedient? What has God told you to do in His Word that you are not doing? Can you confess that you aren't doing it either because you don't want to or because you don't trust Him enough to follow Him? Ask God to change any area of disobedience in your life today. Let's not miss out on the promised land.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Judgement, Repentance, Intercession, & Restoration

Numbers 12:10-16

God's judgment falls on Miriam and it is severe. Leprosy. At this time, there is no cure for leprosy aside from divine healing from God. Aaron looks at her and as high priest knows that he will have to pronounce her unclean and send her out of the camp forever. Knowing that he has sinned as well, Aaron humbly confesses and repents of this sin they so "foolishly committed". Aaron begs Moses to intercede for their sister.

Moses, who had been so deeply hurt by them, cries out in intercession for his sister. This is exactly what Jesus Christ does for you everyday of your life. He is the offended and we are the offenders. Yet, He cries out to the Father on our behalf and pleads for our forgiveness. Thank Jesus for doing that right now.

One lesson we can learn from Numbers 12 is that jealousy hurts everyone. Moses was hurt, Aaron was hurt, and Miriam was hurt. Jealousy enslaves us and the root of it is dissatisfaction with what God has blessed us with.

There is hope in this story as well. First of all, God comes to the defense of His faithful servants. He defended Moses against his family, and God will defend us as well. Lastly, Miriam and Aaron were restored. Yes, they were humbled - especially Miriam - but God forgave them and restored them. Aaron and Miriam continued to serve the Lord. Even when we fail, God can still use us if we will turn from our sin and turn back to Him.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

It's a Boy!

Just wanted to let all of you know that we found out today that we are having a boy! We are all very excited, but I think Joel, our 5 year old, is the most excited. He said, "that's great! Just like Noah!" Ha! We have so enjoyed our 2 boys, why not have 3! I will try to get a sonogram picture on here soon. Please continue to pray for us when you think of us!

Thanks and Praise be to God!

Too Close to Home - Part 2

Numbers 12:4-9

Talk about accountability! We know that God hears and sees everything we say and do, but here we see God Himself coming to hold Miriam and Aaron accountable for what they were saying about His servant Moses. God basically says to them "How dare you!" This is an extremely important lesson so I don't want you to miss it:

God is not pleased when we criticize those He has placed in leadership.

Who does this include? No, our pastor and other ministers at our churches are not the same as Moses. But, they have been placed as overseers of God's church. We must heed the question God asks in verse 8 very seriously. "Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" Will we respect those that God has placed over us or will we belittle them? Will we pray for them as God leads through them or will we demean their efforts to serve God?

I'm sure that everyone reading this has had "fried pastor" or "fried worship leader" for lunch on Sunday at least once. However, God has convicted me over this so severely that I do not want to fall into this sin ever again. And I don't want you to either. If you know that you have talked poorly about the leadership of your church, confess and repent right now. God will forgive and restore you. Begin praying right now for God to move in the leadership of your church and commit to support them in whatever way God leads you to.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Too Close to Home

Numbers 12: 1-3

The problems that Moses faced in chapter 11, unfortunately were only the beginning. Only this time, it is a little too close to home. His own family is personally attacking him and his leadership. Why? Many believe it was because of Moses' wife threatening Miriam's position, but usually an attack of this magnitude would be something deeper than that. Moses' wife was probably just a smokescreen. Miriam and Aaron had become envious of their younger brother.

God had just anointed 70 new leaders. Possibly Miriam and Aaron felt that their position was threatened. Or maybe they were just jealous of Moses' special relationship with God. What we need to realize is that God has the right to choose whomever He desires. Have you ever been offended or jealous when God chose someone else to do a job that you wanted to do?

We see in verse 3 that Moses was "the most humble man on the face of the earth". (Just in case you are wondering if Moses wrote this about himself, the answer is - probably not!! This verse was probably added by Joshua since if Moses said that about himself, he wouldn't be very humble!) Moses stood silent in the face of his attackers. How could he do this? Moses could let this attack go, no matter how much it hurt him, because he was secure in God and God's love for him. He believed what God said about him more than what his family said about him. Wow!

What can you do today to help you not be so defensive in the face of criticism? Ask God to show you who He says you are and to help you silence all the other voices.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

True Leader of God

Numbers 11:16-30

I realize we have skipped around a lot in the 11th chapter of Numbers, but there are so many lessons to be learned that I don't want us to miss any of them! Today, I want us to look deep into the heart of Moses. I know we will see Jesus, but I hope we will see ourselves. If we don't, I hope we will want to change...

Moses was at a point in his ministry where he truly needed help. He took his requests to God and God gave him help. God gave Moses 70 leaders to help him share the burden of leading His people. When God put His Spirit on the 70 new leaders, they temporarily prophesied. 68 of the men were around the Tent, but for some reason, possibly because of ceremonially uncleanness, Eldad and Medad were not present. They were chosen to be part of the leadership, but they were in the camp. So, when God's Spirit came down they prophesied as well, and Joshua heard them.

Joshua had been Moses right-hand man since he was a boy. He was extremely loyal to Moses. When he heard these other men prophesying, he was afraid that Moses' authority might be threatened. Joshua even told Moses to "stop them"! This is when we see the true heart of a leader come forth. Moses tells Joshua that he wishes that God would put His Spirit on all of the people.

We must remember that during this time, the Holy Spirit came and went as He pleased. When we accept Christ, the Spirit indwells us always, but this was not the case for the children of Israel. Moses, Aaron, and Miriam had been the only ones that God had put His Spirit on thus far. Now God was giving His Spirit to 70 others. But, was Moses jealous? No.

Moses had no personal ambition of his own. He only had the ambition of the Father. Moses did not want to get in the way of God's work. How do you feel when someone else is used powerfully by God? Are you thrilled that God's work is being done or are you envious that He didn't use you or your church? Maybe the bigger question is: Are we about building God's kingdom or our own?

These are hard questions. We see the heart of Moses was to serve God's purposes. What are ours?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Their Fearless Leader?

Numbers 11:10-17

In this passage we see none other than Moses, the Israelites fearless leader, complaining! Oh no! Is he falling into the same sin that the people were committing? Actually, he isn't. We can see from God's response that Moses is not sinning against God by complaining. But why?

Their is a subtle difference that makes what Moses was doing not a sin. The Israelites were complaining about their circumstances and therefore complaining about God. Moses was not complaining about God. He was complaining to God.

God does not rebuke Moses for bringing his complaints to Him. He realized that Moses had a very heavy burden and that he was just a man. But, Moses had forgotten that God had made him a promise that He would be with him and would give him rest. God recognized that Moses felt like he was failing the people, himself, and ultimately God. God gave him others to come along beside him and help carry the load. God heard Moses and answered his prayer.

The lesson for us today is to remember to "carry our complaints to the throne instead of to the phone"!