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Showing posts from February, 2012

Leap Day Love

Scripture

1Cor. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1Cor. 13:13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Observation

It's leap day today and the normal software I use for my daily devotions had nothing to read today.  Somehow no one had programmed in the fact that every four years we find ourselves with a leap day.   I went back to a portion of yesterday's reading found in 1 Corinthians 13.  Paul was talking about the very most important thing for Christians to understand.  That is, the very nature of God.  The very nature of God is not completely comprehensible for us yet, but someday it will be.  So, on this leap day, let's be reminded about what is the most important concept for us to understand.  Living the Christian life is not about things that we are able to do -- preach, prophesy, speak in tongues or oth…

Daughters of Zelophehad

Scripture

Num. 27:1 ¶ Then the daughters of Zelophehad came forward. Zelophehad was son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh son of Joseph, a member of the Manassite clans. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
Num. 27:2 They stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and they said,
Num. 27:3 “Our father died in the wilderness; he was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin; and he had no sons.
Num. 27:4 Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brothers.”
Num. 27:5 ¶ Moses brought their case before the LORD.
Num. 27:6 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
Num. 27:7 The daughters of Zelophehad are right in what they are saying; you shall indeed let them possess an inheritance among the…

Sheep with no Shepherd

Scripture

Mark 6:34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Observation


Jesus often uses shepherd imagery when speaking about the relationship which is found among people and their need for a leader.  Of course, the people of his day certainly understood this language for there were sheep herders to be seen in every direction.  You understood how sheep behaved when there was no shepherd.  They would do dumb things, both singularly and collectively.  The shepherd gave direction and protection.  The people of Israel, the ones who should have been following God and his word were not.  They were lost and Jesus recognized this.  He was not angry with them because they had lost their way, but rather, he had compassion on them.  That day he brought them the protection and direction that they so desperately needed. 

Application

Two things can be seen here in this story.  One …

The Voice of the Lord

Scripture

Psa. 29:3 ¶     The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;
    The God of glory thunders,
    The LORD is over many waters.
Psa. 29:4     The voice of the LORD is powerful,
    The voice of the LORD is majestic.
Psa. 29:11     1The LORD will give strength to His people;
    2The LORD will bless His people with peace.
Mark 4:37 And there *arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.
Mark 4:38 And He Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they *awoke Him and *said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
Mark 4:39 And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and 1it became perfectly calm.
Mark 4:40 And He said to them, “Why are you so timid? How is it that you have no faith?”

Observation

The Psalmist was already aware of the power in the voice of the Lord.  He had experienced the peace which came when God spoke in the midst …

Intercessory Prayer

Scripture “Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.”
(Numbers 14:19 NASB)
Observation In this scripture in Numbers today we find Moses again and again interceding for the lives of the Israelites. Day in and day out they grumble against God who is dwelling with them. Moses on the other hand is a good and faithful man and loves his people, even when they are disobedient. Moses is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ who never, ever gives up on his people. Whenever the people turn their backs on God, it is Moses who mediates between the people and God. He literally gets down on his face before God and pleads for the people. There are times that the people themselves have no clue how repulsive their acts have been in the eyes of God. Many of them are very far from God and have no relationship with him, even if he is in their midst. Therefore i…

A Matter of Perspective

Scripture Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.”
(Numbers 13:30 NASB)
But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.”
(Numbers 13:31 NASB)
So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.
(Numbers 13:32 NASB)
Observation The spies had been sent out to look over the Promised Land. These are God's people who were experience the very physical presence of the Lord in their midst day in and day out. They could see him there in the fire and the cloud. God had promised them the land which just lay before them. Caleb gave a positive report of what he had seen. However, he had seen the l…

Waiting on the Lord

Scripture One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple.
(Psalms 27:4 NASB)
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.
(Psalms 27:5 NASB)
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.
(Psalms 27:13 NASB)
Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
(Psalms 27:14 NASB)
Observation I was probably born a bit impatient. I have always loved being on the go and getting things done. However, it is this characteristic that can get me out in front of God, instead of waiting on the Lord. Here the Psalmist reflects on the lessons that he has learned and they are a lesson to us as well.

The Psalmist desires to be in the house of t…

God's Leading

Scripture Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning.
(Numbers 9:15 NASB)
So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
(Numbers 9:16 NASB)
Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp.
(Numbers 9:17 NASB)
At the command of the LORD they camped, and at the command of the LORD they set out; they kept the LORD’S charge, according to the command of the LORD through Moses.
(Numbers 9:23 NASB)
And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him,
(Acts 28:30 NASB)
preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.
(Acts 28:31 NASB)
Observation …

Anointing, Consecrating, Meeting

Scripture Now on the day that Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed it and consecrated it with all its furnishings and the altar and all its utensils; he anointed them and consecrated them also.
(Numbers 7:1 NASB)
Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him.
(Numbers 7:89 NASB) Observation Moses and the children of Israel followed all of God's instructions and built the tabernacle. God's intention was that his presence would be there in the midst of his people. I imagine a loving parent that wants to live right in the middle of their children, sharing with them day in and day out in their lives. The tabernacle was completed and it was time to put on the finishing touches. First of all Moses anointed the the tabernacle, along with all of the furnishings, the altar and all …

Forsaken -- reality or imagination

Scripture My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
(Psalms 22:1 NASB)
They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.
(Psalms 22:18 NASB)
But You, O LORD, be not far off; O You my help, hasten to my assistance.
(Psalms 22:19 NASB)
You who fear the LORD, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.
(Psalms 22:23 NASB)
For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.
(Psalms 22:24 NASB)
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations will worship before You.
(Psalms 22:27 NASB)
For the kingdom is the LORD’S And He rules over the nations.
(Psalms 22:28 NASB)
They will come and will declare His righteousness To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.
(Psalms 22:31 …

Bribery or self-control?

Scripture But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.”
(Acts 24:25 NASB)
At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him.
(Acts 24:26 NASB) Observation Here again, we find the topic of bribery. It was a commonplace act in society and everyone simply expected to be offered bribes. This is the reality in much of our world today. Entire nations function on a system of bribery and without it everything comes to a grinding halt. That is exactly what happened to the Apostle Paul. Everything in his life came to a grinding halt because he refused to stoop to bribery to get himself out of prison. None of his friends who were a part of "the Way" tried to bribe the officials either. That is because they had been radically transform…

The Holy Tithe

Scripture ‘Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S; it is holy to the LORD.
(Leviticus 27:30 NASB)
‘For every tenth part of herd or flock, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD.
(Leviticus 27:32 NASB)
Observation The concept of tithing is brought to us directly from God. Here we find the law given to Moses regarding the tithe. The people of Israel were never to consider that everything they owned was theirs, but rather, that one tenth of it all belonged to God. It wasn't a gift back to God, but rather, it was his. It was a tenth of everything, including all their property, and everything that it produced. One tenth of everything was considered holy to the Lord, and it was to be his!
Application We live in a day and age where the attitude toward tithing has changed and seems to continue to change. There is no perception that it is something that already belongs to…

A handful of bribes

Scripture O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house And the place where Your glory dwells.
(Psalms 26:8 NASB)
Do not take my soul away along with sinners, Nor my life with men of bloodshed,
(Psalms 26:9 NASB)
In whose hands is a wicked scheme, And whose right hand is full of bribes.
(Psalms 26:10 NASB)
But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; Redeem me, and be gracious to me.
(Psalms 26:11 NASB)
My foot stands on a level place; In the congregations I shall bless the LORD.
(Psalms 26:12 NASB)
Observation Living for many years in the former Soviet Union it seemed that we lived day in and day out with people constantly wanting bribes. This was not something that was done in secret, but rather, had become the commonplace practice of society. Excusing the requests for bribes people would say, "well, we need to eat too." However, the pervasive undercurrent of a lack of morality continuously chipped away at the society leaving a moral vacuum.

The Psa…

Are you going up the hill?

Scripture Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?
(Psalms 24:3 NASB)
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.
(Psalms 24:4 NASB)
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
(Psalms 24:5 NASB)
This is the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face—even Jacob. Selah.
(Psalms 24:6 NASB)
Observation Somehow today I had pictured in my mind "Jack and Jill went up the hill." That's one of my earliest childhood memories of making the climb up the hill. They were diligent in what they needed to accomplish, because they needed a pail of water! We, too, are encouraged to be a part of the uphill climb but it's not for a pail of water, but rather, for the ultimate goal that God has for each and every single one of us, and that is to be with him. We are invited to ascend the hill and join …

An Inheritance among the Sanctified

Scripture “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
(Acts 20:29 NASB)
and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
(Acts 20:30 NASB)
“Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
(Acts 20:31 NASB)
“And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
(Acts 20:32 NASB)
Observation Paul was deeply emotional as he visited with his spiritual children in Macedonia. He knew that he would never get to see them again on this earth. He had spent three years with them, pouring out his heart and soul to them as day after day he preached the good news about Jesus Christ. These folks had "gotten" it. They had fully understood what Paul intended and they had …

The Discipleship of Apollos

Scripture

Acts 18:24 ¶ Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures.
Acts 18:25 He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Acts 18:26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately.
Acts 18:27 And when he wished to cross over to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. On his arrival he greatly helped those who through grace had become believers,
Acts 18:28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus.

Observation

Apollos was a very educated man who had been trained in a city known for some of the finest education in the world, Alexandria.  He had received some rudimentary instruc…

Do you know your Father?

Scripture “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.
(Acts 17:29 NASB)
“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,
(Acts 17:30 NASB)
because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
(Acts 17:31 NASB)
Observation Paul was in Athens and he joined with the others who were on Mars Hill. This was the place where people gathered to consider the deep questions of the day, always wanting to learn something new. Paul realized that this would be a good place to proclaim the good news about Jesus Christ, for indeed it was new news for the people of Athens who had so many different gods. I'm sure that Paul, a very well educated man, took time to cons…

A Women's Gathering and Prison

Scripture

Acts 16:13 On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there.
Acts 16:29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
Acts 16:30 Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Acts 16:31 They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Acts 16:32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
Acts 16:33 At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay.
Acts 16:34 He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

Observation

What is the connection between a women's gathering and a prison?  In essence, one led to another and God used each for his work to be…

The Spoken Word

Scripture

Acts 15:21 For in every city, for generations past, Moses has had those who proclaim him, for he has been read aloud every sabbath in the synagogues.”

Observation

This one little sentence reveals the evangelistic hope of the spoken Word of God.  The apostles had gathered in Jerusalem for their first council meeting.  It was a serious discussion because there were many who were accepting Jesus Christ who were not Jews.  Of course, the Jewish Christians were following all of the law of Moses for they had done this from their birth.  However, they wondered what in the world to do with these Gentiles, for whom the Law of Moses would be foreign.    After much debate and discussion they decided that they would focus on the basics.  They would not require everything of the Gentiles that had been expected of the Jews, for they recognized that even by following all the rules, they were not saved.  Paul reminded them that it was the grace of God that saved them all, Jew and Gentile alik…

Unbelief vs. Disbelief

Scripture

Acts 14:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.

Observation

Paul and Barnabas were successful in their ministry in Iconium.  They would travel to the synagogue and share the good news about Jesus Christ.  Many Jews became believers and were becoming disciples.  One would assume that many Greeks were also turning to Christ.  However, there existed a group of Jews who did not believe.  The word used here has been translated different ways.  Sometimes it's called unbelief, while other translators have referred to it as disbelief.  Somehow the use of the term disbelief feels more accurate for in it lies something that, in my mind, leads to activity.  Unbelief sounds a little more passive.  However, these folks were not passive unbelievers, but rather became activists.  They went out actively with their disbelief and began to round up those who would listen to them and their tales of disbelief.  They went to the Gentiles,…

Prayer, Fasting, and Joy!

Scripture
Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 13:3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Observation

The young band of followers of Christ did absolutely nothing without the direct leading of the Holy Spirit.  While they were all very bright people and would have had excellent ideas of their own, they didn't go out on their own.  Instead they spent their time worshiping the Lord and fasting.  They were able to be quiet and simply listen for the voice of God.  Then came the unexpected.  The one who had been the persecutor of Christians was to be set apart for God's work.  He and Barnabas were to go out and travel together.  Back in the upper room, BEFORE they prayed the disciples had gotten together and cast lots as to who should take Jud…

Give God the Glory!

Scripture On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them.
(Acts 12:21 NASB)
The people kept crying out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”
(Acts 12:22 NASB)
And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.
(Acts 12:23 NASB)
But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.
(Acts 12:24 NASB)
Observation Not long ago we had seen the development of the relationship between Pilate and Herod on the day of Jesus' execution. These two men who had been rivals developed a relationship over a common goal which was politically expedient to them. However, as followers of God we are charged with following the Truth, even when that may not be politically expedient. Now, we hear of Herod's demise. On the final day of his life he dresses in his royal robes and placing himself above the people he …

Stop the Offerings

Scripture

Ex. 36:4 so that all the artisans who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task being performed,
Ex. 36:5 and said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.”
Ex. 36:6 So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing;
Ex. 36:7 for what they had already brought was more than enough to do all the work.

Observation

The people had become excited about building the tabernacle and Moses had called for offerings.  At this time they are so inspired that they are willing to give out of generous hearts.  They gave until there was simply too much coming in the offerings.  Those who were constructing the tabernacle had to come to Moses and ask him to tell the people to stop.  There was no need for more!  The language is amazing -- that the people were …