Saturday, February 28, 2009

God's Legal System

Focus verses: Exodus 23:1,2

God is particular about His people. He knows they need a framework within which to live and operate. So He sets out a system of laws and redresses.

Today, however, lets look at the one that says "Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong."

We are swayed, today, too much by vocal minorities and silent majorities. We have crowds of people pushing God's standards aside to do "what feels good." And many of us who know the truth stand silently in the wings, watching the players making bad laws and perverting God's truth.

God loves each sinner. But God still hates the sin that separates that individual from Him. Constant sin, unrepented, can eventually erect an eternal barrier between the sinner and the Lord.

And we stand silent yet in the name of tolerance and diversity. We must be accountable for our silence just as we would be for any other sin.

If My people who are called by My name will turn from their wicked ways and pray and seek My face, then will I hear from heaven and will heal their land. Our land needs healing. We are called to pray and turn from our wicked silence.

Father, God,

Give us the boldness to speak Your truth in all situations. Help us to speak with love to those who are defying Your laws. Grant us favor with those who most need to hear Your truth.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The King

Focus verses: Deuteronomy 17:14-20

God knows the hearts of men before they know themselves. He knew His people would look around and the other countries and want a king just like their neighbors. So he gave them some standards for the selection and conduct of a king.

They are not to choose independently. They are to choose the man whom God selects as king. This king is not to use his position for the acquisition of wealth. And he is most surely to remember that he serves under the law. He is to uphold the law as laid down by God.

We have just been through the choosing of a leader. We call him president, not king. But the function is much the same. He has the responsibility of all the people upon his shoulders.

He should not be using the office to acquire wealth for himself. He is not to let his heart be led astray. (This doesn't have to come from having multiple wives. He might be seduced by publicity and power.) And he must be looking to the law as the ultimate authority under God.

This is a heavy burden for any one man. Because he holds his office with the permission of God, we as citizens should spend much time in prayer for the man whom God has chosen as king/president.

Father, God,

We ask your blessing on the president. Open his ears and his heart to hear Your voice and do as You would have him do. Keep us in prayer, always, for our country and its leaders.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Word!

Focus verses: Deuteronomy 23:21-23

More regulations and stipulations are laid down in today's reading. But one of them is foundational. It deals with integrity of purpose.

"If you make a vow to your Lord..." Any vow you make is made before the Lord. As Christians, our word is our bond before the world. And how we fulfill those vows is our witness before the world.

When we fail to live up to our vows, the world notices. But we don't bear the onus , our God does. You've heard it. Christians are no better than anyone else. See them at church, gossiping about the neighbors. Well, you know how he made his money. Did you hear about her? And on it goes.

As ambassadors of Christ, we are called to a higher standard. And it begins with keeping one's word. When you make a commitment, it must be kept. Even if it turns out to be to your own detriment, you must keep you word.

If your word is worthless, what about your invitation to Christ to come into your life? Is that worthless as well? I certainly hope not.

Father, God,

Help us to guard our tongues. Keep us from rash speaking. Strengthen our resolve to discipline ourselves to keeping our word as if it were Your word.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Unclean, Unclean

Focus verses: Numbers 19:1-10

Today's reading is full of the details of purification. There are prescribed offerings for different types of uncleanness. And there are prescribed offerings for the person who is too poor to offer the prescribe offering.

It gets complicated.

Jesus simplified this for us. We can approach the throne of the Father simply by using His name. He is the offering once for all. His death on the cross atoned for our sins and uncleannesses. His blood was shed to wash us clean.

Does this mean that we can do whatever we like and still be clean, pure enough to approach the throne of God? Indeed not!

It means that we come humbly, reverently, aware of our inadequacy. It means that we work to avoid uncleanness because we love God and are fearful of grieving His Holy Spirit.

It means that we have been blessed beyond all measure. Not because we are worthy, but because He is worthy.

Father, God,

Let us approach You in all humility of spirit. Keep us from ever taking the sacrifice of Jesus for granted and save us from the arrogance of presumption.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Focus verses: Leviticus 25:1-7

Today's reading talks about a sabbath rest for the land. Every seventh year, the land is to lie fallow, not be tilled or harvested.

All ground can profit from a rest. As a farmer's wife, I watch my husband select patches to lie fallow, or to rotate crops to replenish the fertility of the ground. If it is continuously tilled for the same crop, it loses its ability to produce.

Writers, I think, can suffer from that same "continuous cropping" syndrome. Without seasons of fallow, we become stilted, stale, stagnant.

But more than just the rest, we need that sabbath time to draw closer to the Lord. Without His constant inspiration, we have nothing of value to say.

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to take a sabbath from time to time. Help us to draw closer to You, to hear, to heed, and to speak what You would have us write or say.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Blessing

Focus verses: Numbers 6:22-27

Today's reading begins with the details of offerings for sin and for the Sabbath and monthly offerings. And it ends with a familiar blessing. The Lord bless thee and keep thee. You know the rest.

In our reading, I believe this is the first time that God has instructed the priests to bless the children of Israel. And he gave them a specific form to use in that blessing.

The Lord bless thee -- not I bless you - or just bless you -- like when someone sneezes. When we are blessing someone, we are to acknowledge that only the Lord can bless them.

Whatever the occasion, the Lord is the giver of all blessings, and we need to acknowledge that. In fact, the Lord is the be all and end all in every situation. Too often we forget that He is all-knowing, that He has made provision for every circumstance that can befall us.

We will learn a little later along the way, that He has plans for us, plans for our benefit, not our harm. This blessing foreshadows those plans.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that You taught the Israelite priests to bless the people because that blessing is Your will for them. And by extension, it is also Your will for us.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Focus verses: Numbers 15:30,31

Today's readings talk about offerings for sin. God knows that we are fallible and will fall short of His designs for us. But he prescribes a method for bringing us back in to fellowship with Him. At least these readings detail those methods for the children of Israel.

We have a different mode of reconciliation. Jesus Christ. Because of His atoning death on the cross of Calvary, we can come directly to God with our failings, repent directly to Him, and ask His forgiveness.

And we can receive that forgiveness if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Our response to that forgiveness should be a turning from those sins and a renewed mind to follow the precepts of the Lord.

That's the way it should work.

But there is a terrible caveat in today's readings as well. The focus verses say that if someone sins defiantly, he blasphemes God and his guilt remains on him.

We seem to live in a society today where people sin deliberately, wantonly, defiantly. And we remain tolerant of their sins in the name of diversity. We fail to speak out when people defy God, and we act oblivious to the fact that when we remain silent, we are complicit with their sins.

Father, God,

Let us not grieve Your Holy Spirit with sins either of omission or commission. So touch us with Your love that our constant response is obedience to You and love for Your people - a love that speaks the truth of Your salvation.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

You and the Alien

Focus verses: Numbers 15:13-16

Today's verses talk about the prescribed offerings to the Lord. And these particular verses tell us that theses laws pertain not only to the Israelites, but also to the stranger living among them.

What are we to make of this? These laws pertain to everyone. The faithful and the rest of the world. God is not to be taken lightly. If one is living among the faithful, one is required to behave like one of the faithful

God is no respecter of persons. The requirements are the same for all. The community is to have the same rules for the member and the alien. But what does this mean for us today?

We are to have the same rules for the member and the alien. When we compromise the laws of God and allow others to violate them, it is as if we had violated them ourselves.

In our society, we have allowed the mores of the unfaithful to be equal to the laws of God. People call it alternate lifestyle, but God calls it abomination. People call it choice, but God calls it murder. And we have gone along with these euphemisms and made space for them in our laws and lives.

God will not be mocked. The law is the same for the Israelite and the stranger. Our country will reap the fruit of our assimilation of these infidelities. We will be held accountable for the innocent lives lost to abortion, for the lives ruined by alternate lifestyle.

God help us.

Father, God,

Forgive us our lack of fidelity. Help us to speak out when your laws are violated. And give us the boldness to work for the reinstatement of your precepts in our country.
In Jesus most precious name.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Focus verses: Leviticus 16:29-34

Today's reading in the Chronological Bible gives us the three major feasts of the Jewish calendar, one minor fest, and one day of fasting prescribed by the Lord for His people.

The Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur is the only day of fast that God provided. Atonement for the sins of the people must be made one each year by the high priest. And this is an everlasting ordinance for Israel.

We have no such day in our calendar now. Jesus did on the cross what was prescribed for the people of Israel on the Day of Atonement. He made atonement once and for all, for one and all.

Because of His sacrifice, we have the option to take our sins directly to the Lord for forgiveness, not just once a year, but once an hour if needed. And some of us need it that often.

We need to keep short accounts with God where sin and confession are concerned. The moment we realize that we have sinned, we need to go to the throne, contrite, repentant, and begging forgiveness. And we are assured that forgiveness.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (Paraphrased from John.)

Father, God,

Keep us ever mindful and sensitive to those things we do which offend You. Give us the grace and wisdom to come to You immediately, contritely, to confess and seek Your forgiveness and restoration.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Matters of the Spirit

Focus verses: Deuteronomy 18: 9-14

God is quite specific that His people shall have nothing to do with sorcerers or witchcraft or people who practice spells. These practices are detestable to the Lord. And I believe that is because they take the emphasis off God as the author and finisher of our faith.

When you seek our someone to tell the future, you are essentially saying that you don't believe that God is big enough to hold the future. That you don't trust Him to make provision for you. That He is not the most important thing in your life.

And that smacks again of idolatry.

The only spirit we need to seek is the Holy Spirit. All other spirits lead to the devil. They are his counterfeit of the Holy Spirit, poor imitations of the real thing.

The Holy Spirit is one person of the Triune God. He is the Paraclete, the comforter that Jesus promised His disciples. He is the portion of God that can live within us when we become His children. His presence in our lives keeps us connected with the power and will of God.

If God is the power source and we are the lightbulbs, the Holy Spirit is the wire that connects us. No other spirit can connect us with God's power. Why should we settle for a line that goes nowhere?

Father, God,

Keep us ever mindful that You are the Alpha and Omega, that all knowledge and truth resides in You, that there is no truth or knowledge outside of You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Focus verses: Deuteronomy 5:5-10

God's first command to the Israelites deals with His essence and primacy in their lives. He tells the who He is -- the God who delivered them.

Then He proscribes worship or invocation of other gods. But time after time we see the children of Israel intermarrying and falling into the worship of other gods. Won't they ever learn?

Won't we?

We also fall away. When our total focus is our business, how does that honor God? We should put Him first in our business dealings. We may be the CEO of our business life, but He is the Founder and Owner.

Then there are our interpersonal relationships, family, friends, acquaintances. When we allow them to have first call on our lives, we have effectively turned them into idols. Anything that usurps our attention and draws us away from God is an idol.

So what is most important in your life today? Is it that project that must be done? Or is it time with God? A simple choice.

Father, God,

Help us to keep You first in our lives. Draw us ever nearer to Your heart and inflame our hunger and thirst for more of You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

God's Will

Focus verses: Deuteronomy 10:12, 13

Have you ever noticed that people get bogged down in trying to find God's will for their lives? Good people, who are otherwise pretty much pulled together, wallow in indecision as to whether this course of action or that one is what God would have them do.

The children of Israel were told exactly what God's will was for their lives. They were to fear the Lord, walk in His ways, love Him and serve Him with all their heart and soul, and to observe all His commands.

How different are we from the children of Israel? If that was God's will for their lives, it must also be His will for ours because not only is this command in the Old Testament, but we find it in the words of Jesus in the New Testament as well. We are to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and strength.

If we love the Lord, the rest will follow. You don't deliberately run away from someone you love. You want to please them and will bend over backward to be of service.

Walking with God is a difficult exercise but it was a mark of high esteem when it was said of an Old Testament character that "he walked with God." Walking with God implies that day after day, step after step, we are in sync with God and His plans for our lives.

The old hymn "In The Garden" says "he walks with me and he talks with me. And he tells me I am his own." But we must make time for Him. We must come to the garden alone. This is an intimate, one-on-one time. And this is the time to listen to the specifics of His will for our lives.

Father, God,

Help us to make time alone for You. Give us ears to hear and hearts to love and feet willing to walk in Your footsteps.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Focus verses: Deuteronomy 8:11-20

God knows us well. That's why He cautions us about complacency when things are going well. When the world around us seems to be kindly towards us and life is good, we have a tendency to think it's because we have done it for ourselves - the self-made man syndrome.

The children of Israel were warned about this syndrome. God delivered them from Egypt. God provided manna in the wilderness and water from the rock. God defeated their foes. God gave them the land. God is the mover and shaker in all this.

The duty of the children of Israel was to be faithful, to trust and obey Him. When they did, things went well. When they didn't, they suffered the consequences.

The world would have us think that all the answers are within ourselves. That we can be self-reliant. Poppycock!

"I can do it myself" is the phrase of a three-year-old learning to tie his shoes. We all know how that ends -- delay in accomplishing the feat, shoes that come untied in moments, and frustration for both parent and child.

God, however, doesn't get frustrated with us. He merely lets us reap the natural consequences of our prideful actions. He does, however, want us to learn humility and dependence upon him. That's why He reminds the Israelite children about his deliverance and cautions them not to forget their dependence upon Him. We can take a leaf from that book.

Father, God,

Help us to remember all Your provision for us and our lives. Keep our dependence on You foremost in our minds. Teach us to seek Your counsel in all that we propose and give us ears to hear Your words to us.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Live Long and Prosper

Focus verses: Deuteronomy 4:32-40

Just before the Israelites enter the Promised Land, Moses recaps their exodus from Egypt, their wandering in the wilderness, the miracles of the Lord, as well as their victories and defeats. This oral history is a summary of the lessons they should have learned during this trek.

Their victories came when God went before them, and they were obedient. Defeat was the order of the day when they went out on their own, or when they fell into idolatry.

We live in a different day. God is no longer as visible as He was for the Israelites. We don't have Moses to go up the mountain and come back with the rules.

The fourth commandment reads something like this: Honor your father and mother that your days may be long in the land which the Lord is giving you.

And at the end of Moses' recitation of their history coming out of Egypt, he says something very similar. Acknowledge the Lord and keep His commands so that it may go well with you and your children and you may live long in the land which He is giving you.

Acknowledge the Lord and keep His commands. Honor your father and mother.
It will go well with you and your children. You will live long in the land God is giving you. It is a road map for us today.

Faith in the Lord comes first. It is the only solid beginning for anything. Without God we can do nothing of lasting positive value.

Respect is another valuable quality. Respect for parents, family, the world around us. If you treat people with respect, you honor the Lord, because He is their creator as well. Treat all His creation as tenderly as you would your most precious possession. When you look at someone, remember that if that person had been the only person in the world, He would still have sent Jesus to redeem that one. If that person is so precious to God, we dare not treat him with contempt or impatience.

Following these two principles will get you far in this world. But most importantly, as you learn to make them a part of your life, you will feel better about yourself and everything else. There can be no better prosperity than living at peace with yourself and the remainder of the world.

Father, God,

Help us to keep our eyes on You, no matter the circumstances around us. Help us to see that precious soul You love in all we meet.
In Jesus most precious name.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Intolerance or Purity

Focus verses: Numbers 33:50-56

When the Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land, they are told to utterly destroy the holy things of the people they are about to displace. They are told to drive out the inhabitants, not simply to conquer them.

God is not talking about vengeance here. He is talking about purity. If they allow the holy places of the pagans to remain, they will become what is legally known as "an attractive nuisance." People are drawn to the forbidden. Tell a child not to go beyond a fence, and you can't turn your back but what he's trying to scale it, or burrow beneath it, or unlock the gate.

The Israelites are told to destroy the images and idols of the pagans. To demolish their places of worship. If they don't do this, they will be tempted just to see what goes on there. To look at the idols and images as pieces of art. And they are apt to be seduced by what they see, and their worship of God will be adulterated.

In some sense, you can't be both tolerant and pure. If you harbor people of differing beliefs, you must be strong and pure in what you believe, or you are apt to be led into believing half-ruths and innuendo.

God requires an undivided heart. If you give Him anything less, you are subject to judgment. He is a jealous God because He loves us. Not because he is a petty tyrant. He knows our propensity to be lead astray by curiosity, by idle wondering.

Father, God,

Help us to drive out anything that would hinder our fellowship with You. Show us the idols and high places in our lives so that we may destroy them in order to serve you better and draw nearer Your throne.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, February 13, 2009

An Accounting

Focus verses: Numbers 26:64-65

After forty years of wandering, the Israelites prepare to enter the Promised Land. God orders a census, a final accounting of the numbers of the men of Israel. This census will be the basis of the distribution of the lands.

Some of the tribes have increased; some have decreased. But the total number of Israelites is smaller. They have been diminished by their faithlessness and rebellions during these forty years.

Korah, the Levite who rebelled, was swallowed up, but God preserved a remnant of his line for entry into the promised land. God always preserves a remnant of the faithful.

Of all the men who followed Moses into the desert, only Joshua and Caleb are alive. The rest have died of one cause or another because the Lord told them they would die in the desert.

But why? Their sin was one of disbelief. God had told them He was giving them the land, but when they went to look at it, they became fearful of the inhabitants. And they believed their own eyes rather than God's promise.

There is always a day of reckoning. Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. The faithlessness of those men of Israel resulted in their being denied entrance to the Promised Land. Conversely, the faithful report from Caleb and Joshua is rewarded by their being allowed to enter the Promised Land.

How will we stack up at the day of accounting? Have we been faithful to believe all that the Lord has told us? Have we been rebellious? Have we been lukewarm, S in our ardor to know Him better?

I'm so glad that our salvation doesn't rely on our personal accounting. It relies, instead, on our belief in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross. Only Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient to cover all our shortcomings -- past, present and future.

Father, God,

We thank You for Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Keep our hearts faithful to you that we may not be found wanting in the day of accounting.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Enemy Within

Focus verses: Numbers 25:1-9

Israel has been given every advantage over her enemies as she wandered in the wilderness. But they are dwelling in a land of unbelievers. It isn't the might of the enemy that gets to them. It's the seduction of their own flesh that lures them into sin with the Midianite women.

They pay for this straying with their lives. The plague takes the lives of 24,000 of them.

So often when we are found lacking, it's not because of something someone else did, but because we gave in to our lesser natures. We keep forgetting that we are fallen creatures in need of a savior.

We have that savior. But we are still susceptible to the lures of the flesh. Envy, lust, greed, ambition, and all the rest war in our members to lure us away from worship of the one true God. When we put anything else ahead of Him, we have committed idolatry.

We think idolatry used to mean worshipping other gods. But we commit idolatry every time we put our own self-interests or desires ahead of what God has ordained for us.

Father, God,

Help us to conquer the enemy within ourselves. Teach us to lead every thought captive to obedience to Christ, that we may be made worthy by his sacrifice on our behalf.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blessing and Cursing

Focus verses: Numbers 24:10-25

Most of us are familiar with the story of Balaam's donkey. The donkey could see the angel of the Lord when Balaam was totally oblivious. Why should the donkey be more sensitive than Balaam to the presence of the angel of the Lord?

Balaam was on his way to Balak with the Lord's permission. But with the injunction to say only what the Lord told him to say. Balaam is not a follower of the Lord. He's a soothsayer, not a prophet of God.

He's aware that he cannot curse the Israelites. Yet he goes to Balak. And then he blesses the Israelites, not once but three times.The blessings and promises of God are sure. There is no changing them.

There are two lessons for us in this story. First we should cultivate an awareness of the presence of God. And second we should bless those whom God blesses. It isn't profitable to set oneself at odds with God.

Father, God,

Keep us ever mindful and aware of Your presence. Help us to draw closer to You so that the only words we say are those You approve.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

Focus verses: Numbers 20:2-13

Water in the desert is a reasonable request. Moses and Aaron took this request to the Lord and received instructions for bringing water from the rock. So far, so good.

But Moses was vexed with the people and rebuked them. In doing so, he forgot that he was merely God's instrument and his words, in effect, usurped God's glory unto himself. Forgetting that God is the source of all benefit is dangerous.

God's words to Moses show just how dangerous. Moses and Aaron will not enter the promised land because they didn't honor the Lord in the presence of the people. In fact, Moses' words would insinuate that Moses is performing the miracle of water from the rock.

There is a cautionary tale for us in this passage. We live in an age where the airwaves are full of preachers, teachers and spiritual mentors. Most are sincere. Some are misinformed. Some are charlatans. (We've been warned about wolves in sheep's clothing.) How do you tell which is which?

Easily! Where does the emphasis lie? On the speaker? Or on the Lord? Unless the teacher-preacher-mentor is always pointing toward God, you follow at your peril.

Test the teaching against scripture and keep your eyes on the Lord. It is written that the enemy will, in the last days, lure away even the elect if they're not careful.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that You are the source of all good. Let us not forget our total dependence on You. Keep our eyes firmly fixed on You only.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Peculiar People

Focus verses: Numbers 18:1-32

Dissension is common to most families. The Israelites are no exception. Some of the Levites rose up in jealousy against Moses and Aaron. They forgot that Moses and Aaron were in their positions because God had put them there. When the rebellious Levites rose up against Moses and Aaron, they rebelled against God.

When we rebel against authority we set ourselves against God.

Order in the family is God's design. Children are to obey parents. Husbands and wives are to love one another. Wives are to be submissive. Husbands are to be sacrificial. This doesn't mean that parents are more valuable than children or husbands more valuable than wives. It does mean that in God's order there are differences of responsibility. Our responsibility is to God.

The Aaronic priesthood could not function properly without the support of the Levites in maintaining the Tent of Meeting. And without the priestly sacrifices, the Tent of Meeting would be just another set of curtains waving in the breeze.

We are fallen creatures, frequently discontented andrebellious. We should remember that there is divine purpose in God's order and division of labor. If we are doing our own jobs properly there will be little time for discontent and rebellion.


Help us learn to be content with Your plans for us. Keep us faithful to the responsibilities You have assigned us.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Eyes of Faith

Focus verses: Numbers 13:1 - 14:10

God's promises are sure. He promised the land to the Israelites and told them to go explore the land he was giving them. So they went, one from each tribe. And they believed the eyes of their flesh. They knew the promise, but came back with a report that they were unable to take the land from those who currently occupied it.

At least that was the report from ten of the twelve spies. Joshua and Caleb came back and said the Israelites were well able to take the land. Not because of the strength of the Israelites, but because of the promise of God going with them into the land.

The Israelites paid with forty years of wandering for believeing the eyes of flesh rather than seeing with the eyes of faith. And none of the generation that had witnessed the miracles of God entered the promised land, except for Joshua and Caleb, who continued faithful.

When we are faced with a crossroad in our lives, do we believe the eyes of faith or the eyes of the flesh. I don't mean that we ought not look realistically at a situation. However, if we have a commission from God to do a certain thing, we need to move ahead as if victory were certain -- because it is.

The victory belongs to God because it comes from His sovereignty. When we believe in our own strength or weakness and forget that God is ultimately in charge, we get confused. Then we are led astray by visual perception, rather than being victorious in our God.

Father, God,

Grant us the vision to see the vision You have for us. Give us the courage to walk in that faith and the perserverance to keep on keeping on when things look bleak from a human standpoint.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

On The Road Again

Focus verses: Numbers 10: 35, 36.

The Israelites set out at the blast of the trumpet. The tribes lead out in the order they encamp. Those from the east, followed by the tribes on the south, followed by the Levites, then the tribes on the west with those on the north being the read guard.

They camp when the cloud comes to rest and move when it lifts. But they are on the road only when God indicates they should move. Moses acknowledges the Lord's leading with these words: Rise up, O Lord. May Your enemies be scattered, may Your foes flee before You.

The Lord went before the Israelites, and they moved in safety.

We, however, are known for running ahead of the Lord. We have these goals and ambitions. They may be God-given, but we are in a hurry for their completion.

When the cloud rested upon the Tent of Meeting, the Israelites sat and waited. They didn't know -- didn't need to know -- why the Lord waited. They simply waited for the cloud to lift and the Lord to move.

Too often, we let our ambitions and goals move us ahead of the Lord's plans. Then we wonder why the job gets botched. Only when the Lord goes before the clans are His enemies scattered and fleeing before them.

Father, God,

Give us the wisdom to wait upon Your timing. Help us to curb our impatience and realize that Your plans are perfect, Your timing precise. Grant us the patience to wait upon You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, February 6, 2009

All in Order

Focus verses: Numbers 3:21-39

Our God is a god of order. When He spoke on the first day of creation, what had been chaos and desolation became an orderly progression of light and darkness, sea and sky, land and plants, creatures and man.

The Israelites were nomads. They packed and moved, unpacked and camped, then packed and moved again. But God set the Levites to the tasks of the Tent of Meeting. He designated who was to do what and when, and where they were to stay.

So the family of Merari camped on the north side of the Tent of Meeting after they had set up the framework.

The family of Gershom put up the tent and coverings, and then retired to their own tents on the west side.

Then the family of Kahath installed the furnishing before retiring to the south side of the Tent of Meeting.

So it is with God's order in our families and our churches. When one person know his job or place and fulfills that post, he waits for the remainder of the church or family to fulfill their posts as well.

Each person in the body of Christ has a unique position. No other person can fill that position. Nor can that person fulfill any other position but his own.

When we all remember this, our families and churches can be in God's order. If we forget this principle, we have relegated ourselves to chaos once again.

Father, God,

Give us the wisdom to know our unique function in the body of Christ. And grant us the grace to allow other to function in their unique positions as well.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Law and Grace

Focus verses: Numbers 9:1-12

The rules and regulations, the details and nuances of the temple and sacrifices have consumed the book of Leviticus. The Israelites are well aware of the penalties and ramifications of ignoring God's laws and ordinances.

The celebration and offerings of the Passover are the most important commemoration of the Jewish year. But sometimes circumstances intervene with participation. And the people went to Moses with a query because they didn't want to miss Passover, nor did they want to risk offering unworthily.

God provided an alternate date - the following month - so that they could celebrate Passover worthily. God is a god of grace as well as of detail and regulations.

How often do we remember that God's grace is an answer to our frailties? We are dependent and weak. We have limitations that God does not have. So he has provided allowances for us. The most important of which is Jesus, our intercessor, our high priest, our Redeemer.

Without Jesus there is no hope. He is the way, the truth and the life. But we don't have to do without Him. He is available if we simply accept His invitation to believe in Him.

Father, God,

Thank You for paying attention to the details and granting us grace for special circumstances. Thank You most of all for Jesus, the Word incarnate.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

First Born or Chosen

Focus verses: Numbers: 3:5-13

The Lord set apart the first born of Israel when he struck down the first born of Egypt. He claimed them all for himself. But instead of taking the first born of each Israelite family to serve in the temple, He chose the sons of Levi, the third born.

God chooses whom He pleases. He has chosen you for something special.

So what are you doing right now? To what service has He called you?

If you don't know, stop and look at what you like to do. The Bible says He will give you the desires of your heart. I believe that means more than just making a wish list and expecting the things you wish for to drop into your lap without effort.

I believe that if you desire to please God, He will put desires in your heart that please Himself. He will give you an aptitude for the work He has assigned to you. And when you do this work, it will give you a deep sense of joy and fulfillment.

Remember that you have been chosen. Your position does not rely on an accident of birth. God has chosen you for something special.

Father, God,

Open our eyes and ears to hear Your call upon our lives. Make us swift in obedience and faithful in service.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Royal Priesthood

Focus verses: Leviticus 9:24 - 10:6

God is all-powerful. He demonstrated it by bringing the Israelites our of Egypt through the sea. He showed it in the pillars of cloud and fire. He revealed His glory in the Temple and consumed the offering with divine fire.

But when the sons of Aaron used unauthorized fire in the censors, God consumed them with that same divine fire.

When one is a minister to the Lord, he is held to a higher standard than those who do not approach the altar. And for him, scrupulous obedience is necessary.

Wait a minute. Because of Jesus, we no longer sacrifice as the Israelites did. We no longer have a priest who annually disappears behind the veil into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for our sins.

Jesus did that once and for all on the cross at Calvary. Not behind a veil, but in full view of all the crowd. And as He gave up his human life, the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom.

Because of what He did for us, we can each approach the throne of God. From the most dedicated cleric to the humblest layman, we are all priests to God.

What an awesome thought! And what a fearful responsibility!

Father, God,

Thank You for sending the Messiah to atone for us. Keep us ever vigilant to Your word and obedient to Your instructions.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Glory, Glory

Focus verses: Exodus 40:34,35

"The Glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle."

Again we're into details. Eight time we see the Isrealites did "as the Lord commanded." They followed their instructions in every specification.

When it was all completed, then the glory of the Lord filled the temple. So how do we apply this to our lives today? Well, there's obedience. No, it's not a dirty word. Obedience to the Lord is more to be desired than sacrifice.

So it wasn't the sacrifices themselves that brought the Lord into the temple. It was the obedience of the people.

He has promised to dwell with us, within in us, if we let Him. But any scrap of disobedience makes our hearts unfit to tabernacle the Lord. Try as we might, we are inadequate to be completely obedient to the Lord. That's where the blood of Christ atones for us. He takes on our sin and covers us with His righteousness.

Only with a heart bent toward obedience and a reliance on the blood of Christ can we hope to experience the Glory of the Lord in the tabernacle of our hearts.

Father, God,

Help us to hear and be swift to obey. Grant us the grace to acknowledge our shortcomings and the faith to believe that Christ atoned for them all.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bases and Circles

Focus verses: Exodus 38-21-31

God is specific about the building of the Temple - or Tent of Meeting. While this was a nomadic building, it was done with great precision and attention to detail.

And there is a strict accounting of the value of all the materials used. I've always wondered about this strict accounting. Is it because of the money or because of the ransomed men it represents. There are more than half a million of them.

The monies were used to make the bases for the sanctuary and curtain and the hooks for the posts and to overlay the tops of the posts and to make the band. Essentially this is the base and the fastenings that hold things together.

Is there a contemporary comparative? Are the people the base of the church. I'm not talking about our sectarian, denominational churches, but the body of Christ, the church. And are they the fastenings that hold it together? If it isn't, it should be.

So how do we become the base and fastenings of this temple that the Spirit of God can inhabit? What foundation can we bring?

Our first footing is faith, faith that God is faithful and will bring to fruition all that He intends. The second layer of this foundation is our understanding of the Word of God. We build this by constant study and continually reading the scriptures. Anything built on this foundation will be sturdy in the fiercest storm.

But what about the fastenings? That which knits all Christians together is their love of God. If we love him, we are connected to all the others who love him.

We complete the circle by letting our love of God spill over to love others as well. And they will know we are Christians by our love.

Father, God,

Help us to remember the root of love is in You. And help us to get ourselves out of the way so that we can be channels of Your love to others.
In Jesus' most precious name.