Leaving the System

“As long as you live, you must never promote the welfare and prosperity of the Ammonites or Moabites.” -Deuteronomy 13:6

The Ammonites and Moabites weren’t just different from the people of God, they were hostile.  For generations, they intentionally refused any help or assistance, and in some ages even attacked and oppressed the Israelites.  Because of this, God issued this blanket command to His people that they were to offer no help to these enemies of the Lord.

That’s one of many reasons I find the story of Ruth so encouraging.

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A Tithe and a Party

I’ll be frank: I am pretty sick of the way most teaching about “the tithe” (giving 10% of your income to God) is presented.  Anyone else?

It’s usually talked about in one of two ways, and perhaps if you’ve spend any time in church you’ve heard one or both of these:
WAY ONE: “God expects you to tithe, so you’d better do it.”
WAY TWO: “God  promises that if you give Him 10%, He’s going to bless you way more.”

Now don’t get me wrong, Biblically both of these are true, but is that the only way we can understand the tithe?  Really?  My motivation to give to God is either duty or self-interest?  Are those the only two options?

It’s because of this frustration that I was so excited about what I read in Deuteronomy 14.  Nestled away in the middle of this thick book, God talks about the tithe, not in terms of losing something, but rather using something for God’s glory and the joy of His children…

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Scripture Notes: Numbers 9

“…Whenever the cloud lifted…the people of Israel would follow it…so they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them to do through Moses.” -Numbers 9:15-23 (selected)

What a great picture of the Christian life, as we follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting and listen to the authorities in Christ that God has given us.

Indeed, the Christian life is one of LISTENING and FOLLOWING, HEARING and DOING, responding both to the leading of the Spirit and the leaders of the Church.

Father, settle my heart so I can hear your Spirit, and settle my pride so I can follow your servants.

Tears of Eternity

Why do we cry when we face the reality of eternity?

Whether the passing of a loved one or an entry into new life in Christ, the heart responds with such surges of emotion that they simply cannot be contained.

My grandfather has passed into eternity, and I am not sad, but happy.  I will certainly miss him, but probably not too much.  I am simply not that type of person, and yet, though I rejoice at his homecoming, when I think about it I am moved to great sobs.  Why?

The Bible tells us in Romans 8:26 of times when the person of the Holy Spirit intercedes in pray for us with “with groanings too deep for words”, and I wonder if perhaps the reason for my tears is found here…

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Scripture Notes: Numbers 7

“But he gave none of the wagons or oxen to the Kohathite division, since they were required to carry the sacred objects of the tabernacle on their shoulders.” -Numbers 7:9

God gives His children the things they need to carry out the tasks He has given them.  Often, He will graciously withhold superfluous (“extra”, “unnecessary”) things because they would only get in the way and serve as a distraction from the goal.

Be at peace, O my soul, with the blessings the Lord HAS given you, and do not fret about the ones He hasn’t yet.

Scripture Notes: Numbers 6

“Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.” -Numbers 6:27

In the nation of Israel, the priests were God’s authorized representatives on earth.  Yahweh gave them the authority to act “in my name”, and as such, they mediated His favor to the people.

Now, the Church of all believers is the authorized representative of God.  We ourselves are the ones to whom God has given the right to act “in my name”, to whom He has given “the keys to the Kingdom”, the right of blessing and cursing.

We have the authority.  What are we doing with it?

Kohathites and Contentment

Numbers 4 tells of the duties of the different clans of Levites regarding the service of the Tabernacle.To the Merarites, the duty given was “to carry loads”.

No special assignments to the holy things.  No great honor of sacrifices.  Just carrying stuff.

The Kohathites, on the other hand, were different.

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Faith and Trust

I am struck by the way the New Living Translation renders Numbers 20:12…

“Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel…”

Somehow in the midst of crisis, Moses and Aaron’s response was to use God’s PRINCIPLES, but neglect His POWER. They took what He said, but applied it in their own strength instead of relying on His.

How hard it can be to not only trust God’s WORDS, but also the WAYS He chooses to work them out. It often seems far easier to use my own principle and plans, because it makes me feel I have more control.

Be careful of that temptation. Faith is not just about what we BELIEVE. It’s also about what we SURRENDER.

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