May 20-26 Obedience is Better Than Sacrifice!

May 20 – (1 Sam. 15-16) As you read this account of the fall of King Saul, remember a very important lesson here found in 15:22. Obedience is better than sacrifice.  Another way to say it… It is better to obey what the Holy Spirit is telling you than to keep thinking, saying, doing, what you have always habitually thought, said, or done.                   

As Samuel was picking a new king to replace Saul, The Lord guided him to pick David.  In that process, the Lord made a profound statement that encourages us “not so perfect-looking people”.  It also encourages us to continue to renew that “inner man”! 


May 21 – (1 Sam. 17-18) David slew the giant.  We all know the story.  Can you apply it to your life?  What “giants” do you face?  Do you ever try to kill them with someone else’s weapons?  David picked five stones.  List five ways you attack those “giants” in your life.  Name one stone that has hit “The mark” one time.  May I give you an example?  At one point I needed a “heart change” and I needed it quick.  It was one of those “Lord change how I feel (or I may do something stupid) or change the situation (you know we always just want the situation to go away).  My stone was fasting.  It took several days but God did a 180 degree in my thoughts and feelings and He revealed something I never saw before in the situation. (I was able to act with genuine “God’s love” whether I agreed with the actions or not).  It was a wonderful victory, but it didn’t stop there. There were times since then that I struggled with the same emotions. I would need to go back to the Lord for a refresher in seeing things as He saw them.  The renewing of the mind was still not complete in that area.  Did you know that even though David kill Goliath and many Philistines were killed, that Israel continued to struggle with them?  The Philistines defeated the Israelites on Mount Gilboa, killing King Saul and his three sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malkishua (1 Samuel 31). Hezekiah defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory (2 Kings 18:5–8).  Let’s be encouraged that God meets us in those battles we wage while we remember He has already won the war!!  Thank you, Jesus!! 


May 22 – (1 Sam. 19-20) As Saul becomes more aggressive in his attempt to kill David, David runs to the prophet (and judge) who anointed him to be the next king.  I can just imagine David’s conversation with him.  “Samuel, you said God has chosen me as the next king.  Why is Saul attacking me?  Should he not be helping me make this transition into what God has clearly ordained?  Why is God allowing this struggle?  How can this be good for the Israelites to see?”  As I did some research on Naioth, I realized this was a place where a school of prophets were dwelling.  It was so anointed that even those who came there would begin to prophesy!  What a wonderful picture!  It tells me that only seeking God and listening to the Holy Spirit will give us victory as we are listening and patient for God to move…. or move us!   


May 23 – (1 Sam. 21-23) When David fled from Saul (for the last time), to whom did he first go?  What were the two things he asked for?  When we get into difficulties where should we first head?  This part of David’s life is such an enigma to me.  David knew he was chosen by God to be king and yet he was sought after to be killed.  Do you ever feel like you know what God has called you to do but there is someone or something preventing you from walking in that calling?  Let’s watch David’s life and see if we can learn more about what to do (or maybe what not to do). 


May 24 – (1 Sam. 24-25) David had a choice to get rid of the person who was trying to get rid of him.  Why did David choose not to take that opportunity?  It’s interesting that when Saul finds out what David has done (or not done) that Saul weeps and realizes that David will be the next king.  What is the one thing Saul asks of David when he becomes king (24:16-21)? How does this line-up with what God told Saul would happen to his descendants when Samuel told him his disobedience caused him to lose the crown (I Sam. 13)?  I think Saul was still trying to hold onto something God had taken away! 


May 25 – (1 Sam. 26-28) When David fled from Saul, where did he settle?  Isn’t this interesting that this is the very city Goliath was from?  Why do you think the Philistine king allowed him to settle there?  It wasn’t just David and a few men either.  It was 600 men and their families plus David’s two wives.  This just amazes me! 


May 26 – (1 Sam. 29-31) Does it surprise you that David and his men are now going with Achish (king of Gath) to help attack Israel?  The other rulers of the Philistines make David go back and not fight with them.  Do you think David would have killed fellow Israelites, had he gone along?  I think God was protecting him from something in the battle.  Can you figure it out?  (I Sam. 26:9-11; 28:19) Have you ever recognized God protecting you from some life-changing devastation when you weren’t even aware of the danger?  Jehovah Nissi!

                In light of the last question and discussion, look at this!  What city did Achish (king of Gath) attack right after he sent David back to Ziklag?  Which of David’s wives were from that very city (1 Sam. 14)?  Can you imagine the “conflict of interest” there would have been? So many times, I don’t understand why God does (or doesn’t) do things, to find out later that what I thought should happen would have ended in disaster.  More and more, it has caused me to trust in His timing and circumstances! 

May 13-19 What Do Challenges Do For You?

May 13 – (The Book of Ruth) Ruth shows how God’s people can experience His sovereignty, wisdom, and covenant kindness.  These often come in hard circumstances and are expressed through the kindness of others. Over the past years I have been learning to know that hard circumstances will always show me God’s love and kindness as I trust Him when I don’t see the end yet.

                 I just love reading ‘the end of the story of Ruth’!  Not only is Ruth saved but Naomi as well.  Have you noticed that Naomi wanted to be called Mara (means bitterness)?  But you never hear that name used again.  Naomi’s story can remind us that though the way may be dark in our eyes, God ALWAYS has good planned for us and has gone ahead ‘to make preparations’!  Remember that ‘good’ is not always physical or financial but spiritual!

                DID YOU KNOW? Redemption is the key theme of Ruth.  The words “redeem, redeemer, and redemption” appear 23 times in these four short chapters.  


May 14 – (1 Sam. 1-2) The central theme of the books of Samuel is how the Lord (1) established a dynasty (“house) in Israel for David rather than Saul and (2) how He chose Jerusalem as the place where David’s successor would establish the temple (‘house”) for the worship of the divine King Yahweh.

                As we head into I Samuel, we’ll see that it is a book of good starts but bad finishes.  It’s a book about men who sought God but somewhere along the way decided to do it “their way”.  We can be encouraged as we read these verses that no matter how good things are or how bad things are, if we’re not listening to the Lord, we are headed for trouble!  Read on, dear pilgrim and learn.

                                It’s so hard being a parent isn’t it?  Now, put on that the pressure of leading God’s people while your children are running around being children.  I understand a little of how Eli felt but also understand that we have to guide and discipline our children no matter who is watching or their expectations.  Only with God leading will godly children follow Him.   


May 15 – (1 Sam. 3-5) Why were the Israelites defeated by the Philistines and the ark captured?  Parenting is a serious job.  It reminds me that raising children is a serious “ministry”.  We not only affect our children, but those with which they come in contact, throughout their lives.  “Please Lord, guide us all!”

                DID YOU KNOW?  Samuel! Samuel! When God called Samuel to his service, he called out his name twice (3:10).  Abraham, Jacob, and Moses also heard the Lord speak their name twice at a crucial point in their lives.

                DID YOU KNOW? The term “Hebrews” is used in 4:6 by the Philistines to describe the Israelites as an ethnic group.  The term literally means “descendants of Eber” (Gen. 10:21-25).  After David established the monarchy, the nation was referred to as “Israel” rather than the Hebrews.  


May 16 – (1 Sam. 6-8) Why did many Israelites die at Beth Shemish (6:19)?  Way back, was there a command concerning this (Num. 3-4)?

When the Lord told Samuel to warn the people about wanting a king; he made a statement that we need to remember as we witness to people.  Though it may sadden us, it will help us when rejection comes (8:7).

What was Israel’s reasons for wanting a king (8:19-20)? There were three things they demanded.  Can you name them?  This is so interesting!  Here’s what I see: 1. They wanted to be like the people around them. (Didn’t God say, “don’t take on the ways of the Canaanites”?) 2. Way back at Mt. Sinai, the people wanted Moses to talk to God, so they wouldn’t have the responsibility of initiating it themselves and maybe doing it wrong.  3. They didn’t want to do the work necessary to live in peace.  (Each tribe was to root out the enemy in their location.) They wanted someone else to think and do for them. 

                DID YOU KNOW? Ebeneezer means Stone of help (Samuel said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us!” 7:12). What Ebeneezer can you “raise” today?  


May 17 – (1 Sam. 9-11) Before prophets were called prophets, what were they called?  This reminds me of one of my personal soap boxes!  That is: The world is changing our values by distorting our language.  In the end times it says wrong will seem right.  I believe it began partly by changing the meaning of words!  Ex. Remember when some said, “That’s bad!” and it meant “That’s good!”? I could go on, but you get the picture and I will step down off my soap box.  


May 18 – (1 Sam. 12-13) In Samuel’s farewell speech (12:16-25), he reiterates how asking for a king was evil and asked God to show the Israelites with a physical sign.  What was the sign?  After that, Samuel gave them advice on living in God’s favor.  This applied to the king and the people.  What was the advice?

            Saul’s whole future changed when he chose to give in to impatience.  What was the result?   Good verse to remember, “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Ps. 27:14

DID YOU KNOW? A king is crowned. Saul becomes the first king of all 12 tribes of Israel in chapter 12.  Only three kings (Saul, David, and Solomon) will rule over the entire nation before the people split into the nations of Judah and Israel.

                                                Lord of lords. Beginning with Saul and David, kings ruled over Israel.  But kings did not have supreme authority.  That position still belonged to the Lord.  Any king who undermined the authority of the Lord or the words he sent through his prophets would eventually see his kingdom fail…sometimes sooner…sometimes later.  


May 19 – (1 Sam. 14) This chapter focuses on Saul’s son Jonathan, who will become a friend of David.  Jonathan’s act of trust in this chapter is sandwiched between two examples of Saul’s disobedience (ch. 13 and 15). If someone were looking at my life today, would they put me more in Jonathan’s description or Saul’s description? Selah 

May 6-12 Real Victory = Not Going Around The Mountain Again

May 6 – (Judg. 1-3) Many cities were put under tribute and not completely driven out, which God commanded them to do (1:1-2:6).  What was the result?  Do we do that today?  We try to change behaviors that we think need changed (we put them under tribute). Strongholds in our lives need to be completely driven out not put under our “control”.  They will come back and overpower us.  Selah

                We also see a leader emerging (Jdg. 3:7-11; Jos. 15:15-17). He was from the tribe of Judah (something to remember). Who became the first judge (remember who was given Caleb’s daughter as a reward of conquering Debir)? Already Israel has broken covenant with God and worshiped other gods.  Because of this they came under the ruler of Mesopotamia for eight years.  Then Israel cried out to God and He sent this man to deliver them and then judge them.  How long did the land have rest? What happens when he dies?

                *2:5 - Bochim=Weeping 


May 7 – (Judg. 4-6) After Ehud died, Israel went back to their old ways again and God sold them into hand of Jabin king of Canaan (chapter 4).  Who was the prophetess who spoke with the commander of the Israelite army to subdue this people? How long did the land rest after this? Lesson: when God tells YOU to do something, don’t try to pass it off to others. 

                Do you see the pattern here?  “The children did evil in the sight of the Lord” so the Lord delivered them into the hand of….one of the nations that God had destroyed but the Israelites chose not to dispossess (Deut. 31:3). They were in bondage for many years until “they cried out to the Lord because of … one of many nations (Canaanites, Philistines, Sidonians, Hivites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites and the Jebusites). Remember these were the Jebusites that pretended to come from afar and because Joshua didn’t seek the Lord, he made a treaty with them, and they were not destroyed. God would raise up a judge or prophetess to lead the Israelites to subdue that specific nation for many years until they forgot about God’s help and the cycle would start all over.  Do you see that cycle in your life?  I do.  Lord show us the “nations” we need to dispossess once and for all, so we don’t keep going around this same mountain!

                So far, they were sold into the hands of their enemies all around (Judg. 2:14-15):

 -The king of Mesopotamia for 8 years, then Otheniel led the Israelites to subdue them with 40 yrs. peace (Judg. 3)

- Moabites for 18 years, then Ehud led the Israelites to subdue them with rest for 80 years (Judg. 3:12-30).

-600 Philistines were killed by Shamgar and he also delivered Israel (Judg. 3:31)

-Canaanites for 20 yrs., then Deborah (prophetess and judge) led Barak and the Israelites to subdue them with 40 yrs. rest (Judg. 4-5)

-The Midianites for 7 yrs., then Gideon (with an angel of the Lord) led the Israelites to subdue them with another 40 yrs. rest. 


May 8 – (Judg. 7-9) It seems that Midianites were Ishmaelites.  How did they know they were Ishmaelites (8:24)?  You remember where Ishmael came from right?  Very interesting.  What did Gideon do with the gold and purple robes?  Why do we rely on God to deliver us but when whatever needs conquered is subdued, we take our eyes off God and worship or rely on the past victory and not the God who made it happen!  Selah

                How many sons did Jerubbaal (Gideon) have (8:30)?  It seems one son (Abimelech) from Shechem incited the people of that city to choose himself to reign over them rather than 70 sons.  Only one other son survived and foretold what would happen to them.

                There was also a king in Abraham and Isaac’s time that had the name of Abimelech (Gen. 20:1-18; 26:1-33).  What did Abraham and Isaac do to this king? Isn’t it interesting that both father and son did the same thing to the same king? 


May 9 – (Judg. 10-12) After Abimelech there arose Tola (a man of Issachar) to save Israel.  He judged Israel for 23 yrs. Next was Jair (a Gileadite), who judged Israel for 22 yrs.  He had some interesting sons (10:3-4). Now Israel did evil in God’s sight AGAIN.  They were sold into the hand of the Philistines and Ammonites for 18 yrs., and then Jephthah came on the scene as a very different leader. He judged Israel for 6 years.  Jephthah was an underdog from what they considered the wrong side of the tracks with a scrappy mentality and manner.  Yet God used him to rescue the Israelites once again.  It gives us hope that we don’t have to be “special” from the worlds’ standards, to be used of God for His glory!

Ibzan (of Bethlehem) judged Israel for 7 years, Elon (the Zebulunite) judged Israel for 10 yrs., Abdon (the Pirathonite) judged Israel for 8 yrs.  


May 10 – (Judg. 13-15) The story of Samson is so very intriguing. It’s interesting that Samson’s first wife tried to get Samson to divulge secrets and when he finally did, she went right to her Philistine family and told them. This weakness or disobedience in marrying a foreigner will be repeated again to his final demise.  Joshua warned him (and Israel) not to take on foreign wives (Josh. 23:6-13). Disobedience to God’s commands is deadly. Yet God did not forsake Samson and even granted his last desire.  There is always hope!

                God made water come out of a hollow (?) so that Samson could quench his thirst.  This sounds a lot like the Israelites in the desert wanderings doesn’t it?  


May 11 – (Judg. 16-18) We have a story about Micah…. Not Micah the prophet!  It begins with Micah stealing money from his mother and really goes downhill from there.  In the end he used money to create his own false religion.  False religion seeks peace but will not find it.  A true relationship with God requires whole hearted obedience to Him alone and that is where we find true peace. 


May 12 – (Judg. 19-21) Doesn’t this sound a little like Sodom and Gomorrah? Sometimes it’s hard to read the ways of the people in those days.  But God’s judgments never change.  His mercies endured to all generations! “God, have mercy on us!”

                When the Benjamites were all but destroyed (25,100 out of 26,700) because of their sin, what two things did the other tribes do so that they would not lose one of their original 12 tribes?  All this was really hard for me to understand until I got to 21:25, and then it made more sense.  When our eyes are not fully on God and His commands, we will make our own judgments.  Those judgments or choices will have consequences later.  Even with that, we can lean on God’s grace to walk us through! 

Apr. 29-May 5 Let The Dispossessing Begin!

Apr. 29 – (Deut. 22-24) Why do you think this was an abomination to the Lord?  What was men’s clothing? (I don’t see pants in any of the movies!) What was women’s clothing? There are so many laws in here to try to relate with.  Some of these laws are part of our Christian way of living but some are not. Let’s pick two or three that we observe today and thank the Lord that we are living in His blessing when we obey.  Then pick two or three that we don’t observe or only partially observe and ask the Lord for further understanding.

                                *(23:17) Hebrew feminine word for harlot is qadesh; Hebrew masculine word for perverted son is also qadesh but it means one practicing sodomy and prostitution in religious rituals.

 


Apr. 30 – (Deut. 25-27) Chapter 25:4 is one of my favorite verses to verify its ok to “sample” food when you are preparing it!  Keep it sanitary and no double dipping though! J

In chapter 26, it talks about giving a tithe of your increase to the priest.  In doing that it says you have not given food to the dead (v.14).  It reminds me when I had my nails done for our kids’ weddings that there was a little Buddha statue there and they had put some food in front of it.  Do you think that is talking about the same thing?   Research someone?

Chapter 27 is so very interesting.  First of all, it is always good to remember what God has done in your life!  How did God have the Israelites remember?  I find it significant how God placed the tribes on two different mounts; one for blessing and one for a curse.  The people had to agree verbally to each curse on them if they did any of these acts.  Whoa!!! 


May 1 – (Deut. 28) What a chapter of contrasts between blessing and cursing!  I love the “blessing” part.  I feel encouraged and ready to try it again.  But then we get to the cursing part, I get discouraged because who can live up to everything we have to do, not to be cursed.  Then I remember the cross and the blood of Jesus poured over me.  I am redeemed because of His blood!  I am already released from the curse of death…. Forever!  Now all I have to work on, is getting my thinking and then ultimately my actions and reactions to come in line with that Eternal reality!  Thank God He will always lead us in triumph!!!! 


May 2 – (Deut. 29-31) We all have a “Canaan” within ourselves to conquer (by the Lord’s strength) and live in (chapter 30).  This is the process of being sanctified or changed into the image of Christ.  We do choose life or death many times each day by what we dwell on in our thinking and then the actions that come from that “thinking”.  As we read through the “inhabiting the land of Canaan” ask the Holy Spirit to show you how your life may be similar to what they are going through.  Also ask Him to show you those teachable moments that choose LIFE!

                Joshua was appointed by God to lead them into Canaan to dispossess them (31:3-8).  Let’s look at the statement before that: The Lord your God Himself crosses over before you; He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them (31:3).   Do you see what happened first?  God destroyed those nations Himself!  It makes me so keenly aware that because of Jesus’ blood shed for me, that my enemies have already been destroyed!  It’s now my job to think and act out of that Truth and (TO DISPOSSESS!!!)  What “land” has God appointed you to be “Joshua” to lead in taking back the land already given to you in the first place (your family, your habits, your thoughts, your actions, your inaction). Be encouraged by 31:8; “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you.  He will be with you; He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed!” 


May 3 – (Deut. 32) Did you ever think that Moses and Miriam were songwriters?  Miriam had one song and Moses had two songs published (in the Bible of course!).  What was the major events that caused the writing of the songs?  Where were they sung (geographically)?   Who was the long-winded one?  Maybe Miriam was out-of-breath from dancing in celebration!  


May 4 – (Deut. 33-34) Compare what Jacob said about each of his 12 sons (Nu. 1, 26) with what Moses said about the tribes (Deut. 33).  You can see how the wilderness journey has changed them.   In many tribes you can see their character has done a complete turnaround.  I wonder if we could map our ancestors, would we see a change as well? Could it be perhaps that our personal “wilderness experience” will change the generations to come? Selah 


May 5 – (The Book of Joshua) Since we spent quite a lot of time studying the book of Joshua last year, let’s quickly skim the chapters for continuity in reading through the Old Testament. The book of Joshua seeks to explain God’s purpose in the events surrounding Israel’s capture of and settlement in Canaan.  Those events are seen as the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Joshua comes immediately after the Pentateuch and in many ways completes its story.  The theme of the first five books of the Bible is the progressive fulfillment of the “Patriarchal promise,” made first to Abraham, repeated to his son Isaac, then his grandson Jacob. The Lord promised Abraham and his descendants that they would be blessed and would become a blessing to others, that they would grow to become a great nation, and that they would be given a land of their own-and that these blessings would be enjoyed within a close covenant relationship with God. Joshua marks the end of that journey to the Promised Land and the beginning of entering Canaan. Joshua, “the new Moses” (Josh. 1:1-9), is to lead God’s people into the land, take it, and divide it among them as their inheritance from the Lord.

Apr. 22-28 Deuteronomy - Sermon by Moses

Apr. 22 – (Deut. 1-2) As we begin Deuteronomy, let’s get a little overview.  It is largely a sermon, or set of sermons, preached by Moses to all of Israel shortly before his death. It is a motivational sermon, urging Israel’s faithful obedience to the covenant laws given 40 years previously at Sinai. Moses encourages Israel to trust and obey God, and to conquer the land. He highlights God’s uniqueness, His power over other nations and armies, and His grace and faithfulness. He reminds the people that God promised the land, that God’s gift of the land is undeserved, and that the land is full of good things.

                Chapter one is pretty much history of what God had done for the Israelites and how the Israelites refused to obey the commands that went along with those blessings. Chapter two is more history but comes at the end of the 40 years wanderings. It shows God causing His people to pass peaceably through 3 nations that were distantly related. What you do if someone related all your fathers/grandfathers’ sins?  Then they talk about how God still provided in that history?  Hmm.  As we read and study His Word, we are reminded by the Holy Spirit of our sins.  We can choose to repent and work on renewing our minds… or not. No matter what we choose, God still provides for us (though we may be limited in those sinful areas). Selah 


Apr. 23 – (Deut. 3-4) After summarizing Israel’s history, Moses begins to encourage the people in chapter 4.  “And now, o Israel listen to the statues and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” (4:1) Here is the key to their success in taking the land.  Possession of the Promised Land is linked to obeying the statues and the rules that govern life. Is it any different for us today as we “reclaim” our mind, will, and emotions by obeying Him?  Selah 


Apr. 24 – (Deut. 5-7) These verses are worth memorizing (5:32-33).   It is a recipe for prolonged and well lives!

                List the foundational ways we are to grow up godly children (as well as ourselves (6:5-9).  How can we apply them to our “every day” life?  Which part do you plan to work on?

                Why does the Lord set His love on you (7:7)?  Oh, if we could only remember that every moment of our lives!!!  We certainly would act differently! 


Apr. 25 – (Deut. 8-10) God is reminding the Israelites again of His purpose for the wilderness journey.  What was His purpose (8:2-3)?  He is also cautioning them to be careful in who gets the glory for their upcoming victories (8:18-20).  I think I can apply both aspects to my journey as well.  God wants us in a place where we concentrate on Him, not so much what He can give us.  We should concentrate on seeking His face and not His hand.

Why did the Lord drive out the Canaanites from before the Israelites (9:5-6)?  I never saw this before.  Have you?  Tell me what you think.

What does the Lord require of you (10:12, 13)?  This is so simple, anyone who loves God can do this……. yet so complex without the Holy Spirit and God’s grace and mercy, it can never be fulfilled. 


Apr. 26 – (Deut. 11-13) How do we worship the Lord our God today with things that other religions use to worship their gods (12:1-5)?  It would be very interesting to make those specific comparisons.

Here is a way to know if a prophecy is true (13:1-4).  Do you see that just because it comes true, it still may not be from the Lord?  The other important part is: Does it encourage you to go after other gods (anything you put before God)?  Selah 


Apr. 27 – (Deut. 14-16) Let’s list what is clean meat and what is unclean meat (14:3-21).  Would the clean meat be on our “healthy list” these days?

Isn’t it amazing that God chiseled out specific times for the people to relax and enjoy the blessings of the Lord?  First born animals, Passover remembrance, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles were designated times.  These were all times of “remembering” what God had done for them.  How often do we take time to recount the blessings of the Lord in our lives?  It is well with our soul when we do!  Why not take 5 minutes right now and list as many things with which God has blessed you recently?  They are there!!!! 


Apr. 28 – (Deut. 17-21) Here is another prime example that God already knows our future.  God has said to the Israelites “Don’t take on the practices of the people of Canaan.” Part of the “practices” was having a king.  God knew the Israelites would still want a king like Canaan.  He also knew what “power” can do to a person which also affects the rest of the country.  The question I ask myself is; have I taken on the “ways of the world”?  I find this out by measuring my thoughts and actions against the Word of God on a daily basis and asking the Lord to cleanse me of the “dirt” of the world.  Our daily reading of the Word is a “washing of the Water of the Word.”  Keep reading!

                What are some of the principles governing warfare (20:1-20)? What was the law concerning unsolved murder (21:1-9)?  Can we apply any of this to our lives today?

Apr. 15-21 "No Weapon Formed Against You Shall Prosper."

Apr. 15 – (Num. 21-22) In these two chapters two different animals were involved.  One caused death while the other prevented death.  God can use anything or anyone to make His will known.  I kind of envy the donkey in that she had eyes to see the angel.  “Lord may my eyes be as good as Balaam’s donkey.”  The people were complaining again, and death resulted.  Let’s choose this day to speak thankfulness all day. Selah 


Apr. 16 – (Num. 23-25) As I read these chapters, I think of the verse from Isa. 54:17 - “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”  Balak tried to curse a people that God had blessed.  Let’s go a step further. What are we doing when we gossip about God’s people?  No, it’s not quite the same but let’s take heart that all God has for us…He will do. When we criticize or gossip about others, it may be doing the same as a kind of curse.   


Apr. 17 – (Num. 26-27) The Israelites were about to enter the promised land.  There are steps to be taken that only God can direct.  A census was taken.  All of the tribes were counted. None but Moses, Joshua and Caleb are left from the original group. Joshua is appointed to succeed Moses.  We see order in God’s ways.  Many times, after the fact.  I am reminded yet again that our lives are ordered by the Lord.  Our peace and strength come from trusting God for that order, whether we see it or not.   


Apr. 18 – (Num. 28 – 29) Moses is still giving instructions to the Israelites from God. He will until God takes him to his reward.  These chapters are final instructions on offerings to the Lord. First among the final instructions are laws about public sacrifices.  The regulations make several points: 1. They show the importance of the sacrificial system in Israel.  These sacrifices must be offered daily on behalf of the whole nation.  3. They assure Joshua that the nation will become prosperous enough to provide for this expensive worship. 3. They show the importance of the Sabbath.  Every seventh day is a Sabbath and the number of sacrifices doubles on those days.  The seventh month is marked by a huge number of extra sacrifices. Especially during the Feast of Booths.  That feast is clearly the biggest celebration of the year.   

                DID YOU KNOW?  During the Feast of the Booths, the Israelites were to live in temporary dwellings (“booths”) as a reminder of their life in the wilderness.   The large number of sacrifices offered during the eight days shows the importance of this feast.  The Feast of Booths was celebrated in October., at the end of the agricultural year.  It was also a time to pray for plenty of rain in the next year.  In Israel, rain is expected only between October and April.  


Apr. 19 – (Num. 30-31) Have you ever made a vow? I don’t mean in marriage or maybe even to testify.  I mean in your house or maybe only in your mind. Maybe you called it a prayer: “God if you prevent X, then I will do (or won’t do) Y.”  I took a class that discussed the damage we allow when we make inner vows.  There is a solution to these inner vows in the form of repentance and placing Truth over that vow we made.  Lest you think you never did that let’s name a few common ones as examples.  “I will never let people into my life at that level again because of the pain I have experienced.”  I will always keep busy, so I don’t have to sink to that level again.”  “I will never be poor.”  “I will never trust affluent people.”  God doesn’t want us to limit ourselves because of past pain.  He wants us to live in His freedom alone. 


Apr.20 – (Num. 32-33) Chapter 33 is Moses’ account of their journey in stages from Egypt to Canaan.  This is the only chapter that specifically from Moses. Most of the rest of Numbers is to have been given to Moses by God.  This chapter then is seen as Moses’ testimony of what God has done for Israel during his lifetime.  Do you have your testimony written down?  When we moved last year, I tried to write down all the God-given miracles in that move while thanking Him each in moment.  Some contained waiting and still knowing He was working for our good and His Glory.  I can’t tell you what that has done for my faith.  We are this year moving my in-laws to Columbus, so we can help care for them.  Just recently, I was reminded that I should be writing down this testimony as well and all the God-given miracles He is providing yet again for our good and His glory. Are you going through a difficult or challenging time?  Try writing down your journey, thanking Him for the answers you like and for the ones you don’t like or are waiting for.  Selah 


Apr. 21 – (Num. 34-36) Chapter 34 describes the borders of the Promised Land God promised Israel. In general terms, Canaan consisted of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River plus modern Lebanon and a portion of modern Syria.  God even allocated who would divide the land. They were chiefs of the 10 tribes who would settle west of the Jordan.  No chiefs of Reuben and Gad are listed because they were settling east of the Jordan.

                Chapter 35 explains how to keep Canaan holy. It was holy because God dwelt there. He is the Holy One and sin and death are in absolute opposition to Him.  If the land is made unclean by violent death, atonement must be made.  Otherwise the Lord would not protect the land, and Israel would be exiled.  The cities of refuge and the laws associated with them showed how cases of homicide were to be handled.  The Israelite legal system involved the injured person seeking justice in court.  A man slayer was someone who killed any person without intent.  The man slayer was protected from the victim’s angry relatives.  He could flee to one of the cities of refuge.  There, the judges decided whether the killer deserved to be executed for his crime.  The guidelines for those decisions are stated in 35:16-34.  Do we see any of these descriptions in our justice system today?

                Chapter 36 has very interesting instructions.  The jubilee occurred every 50 years.  During that time, land that had been sold was to return to its original owner (Lev. 25:10-28). This did not apply to land transferred through marriage.  Normally when men married, there was no transfer of land; it stayed within the man’s own tribe.  But if a land-owning daughter married, the land would be transferred to her husband’s family and tribe.  To prevent tribal land being lost through intermarriage, Moses rules that Zelophehad’s daughters (Num. 27:1-11) must marry men from their own tribe (36:6).  In this way tribal lands would be preserved.  This insistence that everyone… should hold on to this own inheritance can be seen as a promise that the tribes will always live in their God-given land (Gen. 17:8).

Apr. 8-14 How clean is clean?

Apr. 8 – (Num. 5-6) The concept of uncleanness is important in the Bible, and it is not what most people assume the term means. There were different levels of uncleanness, ranging from a mild form caused by marital intercourse (Lev. 15:18), to moderate caused by skin disease (Lev. 13), to severe uncleanness triggered by sins like idolatry, adultery, and homicide.  Severe uncleanness had led to the Canaanites losing their land, and Israel was warned that the same thing could happen to them. (Lev. 20:22-23).  People who were unclean were forbidden to participate in worship.   Their uncleanness could infect the tabernacle, making it impossible for God to dwell there.  The Day of Atonement cleansed the tabernacle once a year (Lev. 16) to ensure God’s continuing presence with His people.  These regulations in these two chapters protect the camp from uncleanness so that the tabernacle will remain pure and God can stay with His people,.  


Apr. 9 – (Num. 7-8) The events in chapter seven took place on or soon after the “first day of the first month” (Ex. 40:2), a month before those described in Num. 1-6, which began on the “the first day of the second month” (1:1).  Placing chapters 1-6 first helps readers see the significance of what is described in this chapter.  Num. 3-4 describes the duties of the priests and Levites: chapter 7 shows how the other tribes supported them.  The Gershonites, who carried the tabernacle, curtains and hangings, and the Merarites, who carried the poles, frames, and bases, were given wagons and oxen.  The Kohathites, who carried the tabernacle furniture on shoulder poles, received none (v.9). Doesn’t this help to explain this chapter?

                Chapter eight illustrates how the Levites took the place of the firstborn Israelites (v. 16-18). Their cleansing made them fit to be offered to God.  The leaders then laid hands on them, symbolizing that the Levites represent the congregation (9-11). Then, like parts of a sacrifice, they are offered as a wave offering (v.11). 


Apr. 10 – (Num. 9-12) It’s amazing to me how God even orchestrated the movement of so many thousands of people.  God is a God of order. It is a reminder to me that He knows everything and has a plan…if we listen and obey! 

                Have you ever complained to the Lord about your life?  We all have.  Let’s take a lesson from chapter 11.  Things we don’t have are for a reason.  Only God knows what we NEED. Only God knows what is for our good and His glory! Pastor Torry spoke on this 3/17/19. It is from the “TRUE-ish” series. Taken from Phil. 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” You may want to pull up the podcast and have a listen. 😊 


Apr. 11 – (Num. 13-14) What do you focus on when you get a report? Do you dwell on the positive things or just hear the negative things?  I am a problem solver, so I hear what needs to be fixed and then try to figure out how I can fix it.  If I had been an Israelite then, what would I have heard? Would I have died in the wilderness?  Selah. Then I think of Caleb and Joshua. Because of the lack of faith of their followers, they had to spend 40 more years in the desert. Sometimes we have to bear someone else’s consequences.  Lastly, this is the passage that God says the iniquity of the fathers will visit his children to the third and fourth generation.  “God please show us our iniquity and helps us repent so our children won’t have to deal with it!”  


Apr. 12 – (Num. 15-16) What was the down fall of Korah? He was a Levite but not a priest. They camped near the tribe of Reuben from which the other leaders (Dathan, Abiram, and On) came.  These men of Reuben probably listened to Korah’s complaints.  Their reasoning that they were equal to Moses and Aaron came from the claim that “all…are holy” and could be based on the repeated call in the law to be holy (Lev. 11:45; 19:2; Num. 15:40). But the ethical holiness is not identical with priestly holiness, which gave the priest the right to approach God in the offering of sacrifice and incense. When the Kohathites claim that Moses and Aaron exalt themselves, they showed that they did not understand that the priesthood is a matter of God’s choosing (Heb. 5:4). How does this affect me today?  Gossip (listening to others’ complaints whether they are verified or not) changes our attitudes towards someone or something being done.  The Bible says go to your brother if he offends you.  It doesn’t say talk to everyone about a problem. Can you imagine how much better we would be?  


Apr. 13 – (Num. 17-18) It took the miracle of Aaron’s staff to finally convince the people that the priests had a special place in the life of this nation.  Doesn’t that amaze you? People were swallowed up by the earth.  A plague fell on those complainers who were left until a priest brought the censor to stop it. Then, they took a staff from each tribe including Aaron’s staff. When only Aaron’s staff buds, flowers and produces almonds overnight, they were convinced. This was a long, painful, and deadly way out of listening to and believing someone’s complaints.  Can you relate in some way?  “Lord, help us not to be so thick-headed!” 


Apr.14 – (Num. 19-20) Their wilderness wanderings are almost over. But they have to pass through Edom.  Edom was inhabited by Esau’s descendants, and we see yet again the struggle between Esau and Jacob handed down many generations.  You know where I am going here, don’t you?  How we “live” with our blood brothers and sisters can be seen down to many generations.  I am talking about BOTH kinds of “blood” brothers and sisters here!   😊 

April 1-7 Oh, The Blood of Jesus!

Apr. 1 – (Lev. 17-18) The life of a creature is in the blood.  Oh, does that not speak of the blood of Jesus shed for us that we might have Life?  Let’s spend some time pondering just that. Thank you Jesus for your shed blood that has given me life eternal!  


Apr. 2 – (Lev. 19-21) Chapter 19:9-18 describes ways to love your neighbor. It included allowing those less fortunate to have a way to feed themselves. The gleaning grain reminded me of Ruth’s story.  So once again God set laws in place that when followed would be part of the story of redemption!  Amazing!!

                Read Chapter 20:1-9 in light of recent developments about late term abortion.  God please save us!

                Chapter 21 describes stricter rules of holiness required of priests because they work directly with the holy objects of the sanctuary.  Before we say we need to relate this only to pastors and church leaders, lets ask ourselves: Are we not now, all priests before the Lord?  Selah

 


Apr. 3 – (Lev. 22-23) Let’s look at the feasts in this chapter. Do we observe any of these in some way today? The Sabbath principle is seen in each of these feasts, which are intended to express the divine-human relationship. Each feast requires (1) cessation from ordinary work and (2) dedication to the Lord by means of offerings.


Apr. 4 – (Lev. 24-25) Chapter 24:10-16 describes what should be done for those who misuse God’s name. It also includes those who heard the curse.  Even today the strict Jewish people will not even write God’s name. They just write G_d.  So, what about the OMG that are used so frequently? Selah

                The year of Jubilee was a year of release and liberty (v.10), when people were to return to their ancestral property.  Israelites who had sold themselves as servants were to be released and sent home.  This provided a periodic restoration of the means to earn a living for each family in a society where crops were their main source of livelihood.  The jubilee did not equalize all possessions in Israel, however, since possessions such as cattle and money were not reallocated.  The land was to lie fallow for two years in a row: the 49th year (sabbatical year) and the 50th year (Jubilee). This law prohibited the creation of large estates, which would have reduced many Israelites to being tenants on their ancestral land (Isa. 5:8). 


Apr. 5 – (Lev. 26-27) Chapter 26 describes the blessings of being faithful to God and keeping the Sabbath. It also describes the consequences when these laws are not kept. Did you notice that the blessings were explained in 13 verses while the curses took 25 verses (nearly twice as much)?  Does any of this apply to our lives today?  We live under grace, but sin continues to tear us away from God.  If we think our sin does not affect us, we are wrong.  Growing up, I always worried that I would die not having confessed a sin and that exempted me from heaven.  Now I realize what Jesus did for me covers me with His righteousness but my sins each day, prevent a closer intimacy with Him in that area.  I realize that I still am being renewed in my mind and still growing into His image as I confess those sins and find healing from strongholds I still have.  I am so thankful for Jesus saving me. I am so thankful for God’s plan for me to have communion with Him. I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit convicts and guides me into that renewed mind.   Thank you Three In One! 


Apr. 6 – (Num. 1-2) As we start Numbers, let’s look at the key themes as an overview. There are four elements to God’s promise to Abraham in Gen. 12:1-3, and they all play a role in Numbers: 1. The land.  Numbers describes Israel’s journey toward the Promised Land. 2. Descendants. Abraham had been promised that his descendants would be as many as the stars of Heaven (Gen. 15:5).  Jacob’s family consisted of 70 persons when he entered Egypt (Gen. 46:27).  The first census (Num. 1:1-46) showed the fighting men numbered 603,550, which did not include the Levites, women or children. 3. Covenant relationship with God.  The essence of the covenant was, “You shall be my people, and I will be your God”.  The Lord’s presence is seen throughout this book. 4. Blessing to the nations.  Even though the nations that Israel encounters are all hostile, Balaam recalls the phrasing of Gen. 12:3 when he says, “Blessed are those who bless you and cursed are those who curse you” (Num. 24:9). Nations who treat Israel generously by blessing her will themselves be blessed.

                Did you notice God’s arrangement of the families when they camped? It symbolized the Lord’s prominence.  It was arranged in a square with the east side of the camp considered the prominent position.  This pattern is still followed by tent-dwellers today in the Middle East.  In a Bedouin camp the chieftain’s tent occupies a central position. The families are then assigned positions around his tent.  


Apr. 7 – (Num. 3-4) These two chapters contain two censuses to count the Levites. The first (3:1-51) counts every Levite male over one month old.  The male Levites took the place of the firstborn males of the other tribes to serve the Lord, so the first census ensures that the number of Levites matches the number of other firstborn sons.  The second census (4:1-49) counts Levites between 30-50 years of age.  This census aims to find if there are enough able-bodied male Levites to transport the tabernacle. God then goes on with instructions on who carries what part and how it should be packed.  God had specific people to move “His Presence”.  Are we that respectful and careful when we come into His presence?  I’m not only talking about our corporate place of worship but in our private communion with Him, are we casual and easily distracted?  I am convicted in this thought.  “Lord, forgive us for being casual in Your Presence. Help us every day to realize and act like You are most to be honored and respected as our Creator and Redeemer and Father and…”

Mar. 25-31 What Are You Offering To The Lord?

 Let’s continue with our study of Leviticus. No matter how tedious the descriptions, they will always help us in our walk .We just need the Holy Spirit to apply them to our lives.


Mar. 25 – (Lev. 3-4) In chapter 3, we have instructions on the peace offering. It expresses peace between an offer-or and the Lord.  As with the burnt offering, there are various motives for a peace offering, from petition to praise. For the burnt offering, the entire animal was to be burned up. For the peace offering only the fatty parts are to be burned.  The fat in ancient Israel represented the very best part of the animal (Compare “the fat of the wheat”. Num. 18:12) Here is an example how different from the meaning in Bible times is different from today.  Wouldn’t you say most people value the meat of the animal more than the fat of the animal?  Just saying.

                The sin offering is for restoring one’s broken relationship with the Lord, whether that was caused by an unintentional sin or by a sin of omission. The sacrificial animal was burned “outside of the camp” (4:12), rather than at the base of the altar.  This foreshadowed the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, who was crucified “outside the camp” (Heb. 13:13). 


Mar. 26– (Lev. 5-6) Chapter 5:1-6 describe four cases in which sinners either deliberately (v.1) or unknowingly (vv. 2-4) fail to do something that is required. In any of these cases, once they realize their guilt, they are to confess their sin (v. 5) and bring a sin offering.  Did you notice verse 4? “If anyone utters with his lips a rash oath to do evil or to do good, any sort of rash oath that people swear…”  Have you ever said “I swear, I will never…? Even swearing to do good was a sin.  Selah

                Chapter 6:1-7 talks about sinning against a neighbor.  It also states it causes a breach of faith against the Lord, so he needed to make it right with the Lord as well as the neighbor (Matt. 5:23-26). 


Mar. 27 – (Lev. 7-8) Chapter 7:1-10 focuses on how the guilt offering is to be made. The earlier passage (5:14-6:7) focused on when it was to be offered.  The peace offering is subdivided into three types: thanksgiving in response to God’s favor (7:12,13,15), a vow (an offering in fulfillment of a vow; v. 16), and a freewill offering (when there is no specific obligation to make an offering v.16).

                Chapter 8 contains nearly one-third of the uses of the word “commanded” in Leviticus. This concerns the consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests to the Lord.  Are we not now all priests to the Lord?  


Mar. 28– (Lev. 9-10) Now that Aaron and his sons have been ordained, chapter 9 describes the first tabernacle service.  Various offerings were required, because both the priests and the people were sinful.  God delivered his covenant to His people at Sinai; now He descends upon His altar to dwell with them. Let’s remember that this was a milestone in the progression back to intimate relationship with God.  Adam and Eve had it the best until they sinned and were driven from God’s presence. In this phase, God has come down to dwell near His people (in the tabernacle), but only the priests could enter in and only after all had been cleansed by blood sacrifices in a specific way.  We see all too quickly how any breach of these commands could bring death.    Chapter 9:7-21 describes an order that we need to consider as we enter into His presence.  First came the atonement for the priests (vv. 7-14), and then for the people (vv. 15-21).  As in other ceremonies, the atonement process moves from the removal of sinfulness (by the sin offering), to petitions and praise (the burnt offering), and finally to communion with the Lord (the peace offering). Thank Jesus, we no longer need to go through a priest first, but the elements of sacrifice may be a pattern for us to follow.  Selah  


Mar. 29 – (Lev. 11-12) In chapter 11, we see what is clean and what is unclean to eat, and then how to rectify that.  The reason a particular creature is called either clean or unclean is not clear. Yet the purpose of these laws is clear: to help Israel, as God’s holy people, see the difference between ritual cleanness and ritual uncleanness (vv. 46-47).  Seeing these differences in the ritual realm would constantly remind the people that they need to make such distinctions in the moral realm as well.  Further, obeying these food laws expresses Israel’s devotion to the Lord; Just as God separated the Israelites from the other nations, so they must separate clean from unclean foods (20:24-26).  This is why the restrictions can be removed in Acts 10:9-28 when the Jesus Vs. Gentile distinction is no longer relevant in defining the people of God.  In my observation, things seemed to be unclean when animals ate blood or from dead animals or touching dead things. Can you see the correlation between this and Jesus blood that covers us?   


Mar. 30 – (Lev. 13-14) These chapters speak about leprosy and skin diseases. It is pretty amazing that there were some rules/laws in place to prevent an outbreak. One commentary likened leprosy to sin. I thought the similarities were worth pondering: 1. It begins as nothing. 2. It is painless in its first stages. 3. It grows slowly.  4. It often remits for a while and then returns. 5. It numbs the sense – one cannot feel in the afflicted area. 6. It causes decay and deformity.  7. It gives a person a repulsive appearance.  It would be interesting to read these chapters again and see how they relate to the sin in our lives. SELAH 


Mar. 31– (Lev. 15-16) Chapter 15 reminds me of the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years (Matt.9:20-22).  She would have been considered unclean for 12 years! Anyone who touched her would have been unclean at least for the day.  She must have felt in many ways like a leper.  I’m sure Jesus’ healing of her health issue, was only the beginning of healing in other ways as.  Jesus heals us today in so many ways. I thank Him for His healing power.

                Chapter 16 describes the Day of Atonement Ritual. This annual observance highlights God’s grace.  Here God offers forgiveness and renewal for Israel’s worship site, priests and people.  All sins can be forgiven.  This ritual reminds us that forgiveness comes from God, whose presence was symbolized by the ark in the Holy of Holies.  Aren’t you so thankful we don’t have to wait a year to seek forgiveness?  It is instantaneous and soon as we ask! 

Mar. 18-24 It's not too late to join!

This is the last week of our 21 Day Fast. God is always faithful to meet us when we quiet ourselves enough to listen. No one is perfect at this but everyone who tries in some way will gain in their walk with the Lord. That only happens when you start…in some way. God does not give us a spirit of fear , but of power, and might, and a sound mind!