Rabble-rousers!

Scripture Reading for February 13: Numbers 9-12

In today’s reading, the Israelites are ready to move out from Mt. Sinai after receiving the ten big ones.  They have just eaten the Passover meal on the first anniversary of leaving Egypt.  They have been traveling and camping in the wilderness for a year now and are ready to go to the land of promise.  What excitement must have filled their hearts as they prepared to follow the cloud of God to their new home!  The tribes were set in order and the trumpets were ready to sound and call the people to move out. (Numbers 10:1-7)  The Ark of God was carried by the Levites and went in the lead with the cloud overshadowing them.  What a sight!  Nearly 3 million people and animals moving through the desert!

Shortly after moving out from Mt. Sinai, the rabble began to cause trouble by murmuring and complaining.  The rabble were people who lived on the fringes of the camp.  They were often not true Israelites and were of mixed descent.  They followed God’s people, but really did not have a relationship with this God of Israel.  They experienced the miracles and deliverance, but weren’t really believers.  When the manna got old, the wilderness got hot and dry, and the journey got long and tiring, these “rabble-rousers” began to cause trouble.  They began craving the foods of Egypt, remembering that the food there was “free”. (Numbers 11:4-6)  They were tired of the manna and let God and Moses know about it!

God sent fire, burning up some of this group and Moses prayed for them. (Numbers 11:1-3)  The people began wailing and complaining and Moses became distraught with God for all the trouble.  Rabble-rousers have a tendency to stir up a stink!

Life is no different today.  There are those in the church who  like to complain and belly-ache!  They are not happy unless they stir up some trouble.  Their pastor never does anything right.  God has brought them to this point to let them die.  They don’t like the music.  They don’t like the youth pastor.  The pastor’s wife is cold and aloof!  Nothing is as good as it used to be with the last pastor!  The sermons are too long, the drums are too loud, and the pastor walked right by me and didn’t say hello or shake my hand!

When we complain, we are actually accusing God of failure to take care of us and do right by us.  This complaint makes God angry! (Numbers 11:10)  The leader usually feels bad too.  When things don’t go as you expect or desire, avoid the temptation to complain.  Instead, pray for your leadership.  Ask them how you might help them.  Look for something good to say and encourage them. Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.  Remember that rabble-rousers always end up taking the heat! (fire from God!)

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God’s Blesses His People!

Scripture Reading for February 12: Numbers 5-8

Everyone loves a blessing!  Blessing assures us of something good coming our way that costs us nothing and that sometimes is the opposite of what we really deserve.  God’s grace is a blessing to us who really deserve His wrath and punishment instead.  Today’s reading contains the Aaronic blessing found in Numbers 6:22-27.

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites.  Say to them: ” ‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;  the Lord turn His face towards you and give you peace.” ‘ “So they will put my name on the Israelites and I will bless them.”

I love to say this blessing!  I usually give it at the end of every service I lead.  This is God telling His priests how to speak a blessing over God’s people.  God really wants to bless His children!  God wants them to experience his provision and protection.  Blessing speaks of provision and abundance without any sorrow or trouble.  “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth and he adds no trouble to it.” (Proverbs 10:22)  Keeping us implies safety and protection.

God uses the picture of His face shining on us.  Think of someone with a smile that radiates love and warmth.  My mother has that kind of smile!  God is telling us that His face is smiling at us and His grace is being poured out on us.  When He is looking at us and smiling, we have peace that passes understanding.  God is not angry with His people when they come to Him for forgiveness, fellowship and favors.  We are dependent people.  We need God and are so blessed to know that He loves us and is pleased with us.  This pleasing doesn’t come from our perfect behavior, but in spite of our sin and rebellion!  Jesus Christ has pleased the Father by his perfect obedience.  When we trust in Christ and believe on Him, we are given a gift of right standing and the smile of God’s face can be turned toward us!  God has been so gracious to us by sending His Son to restore the smile of God in our lives!  May the Lord bless and keep you today, may His face smile lovingly on you and your family!  May His peace fill your lives!  May His name be upon you!

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God loves F.A.T. People!

Scripture reading for February 11: Numbers 1-4

Today we begin a new book of Moses, Numbers.  Numbers is so named because of all the counting and lists of numbers in the book.  God was apparently very interested in numbers and specifically assigned jobs to each family group.  According to the reading today, there were 603,550 men 20 years old or more that could serve in the army and fight from 11 of the tribes.  (Numbers 1:46) The only tribe excluded from the duty to fight was Levi.  The Levites belonged to God and were set apart to serve in the Tabernacle.  (Numbers 3:5-7)

Often, today, many people think that God doesn’t really care about numbers or individual people.  The reading today shows just the opposite.  God cared about each person and family group.  He wanted the leaders to know how many they had to help with the work and protection of the nation.  God uses people and knows each one by name!  He knows even the hairs on their heads.  He knows the purpose and jobs that He has designed and gifted them to do.  It doesn’t matter so much what you do, as long as you are (F)faithful, (A)available, and (T)teachable!

To the Gershonites clans was given the care of the tent curtains and coverings.   God assigned the Kohathites to be in charge of the sanctuary.  (Numbers 3:27-32) He assigned the Merarite clans  to carry the poles of the tabernacle. (Numbers 3:33-37)  The Levites were to serve Aaron and his sons and they belonged to God because God took them in place of the firstborn from every Israelite woman. (Numbers 3:11-13)  He had redeemed them by the blood of the Passover Lamb!  All these men were called by God to do a specific job and to do it as unto the Lord.  If they got out of line and tried to look into the holy things when they were not assigned, they would die!  (Numbers 3:38)

God is looking for faithful and available workers.  They must be teachable and humble enough to obey orders.  When He finds these workers, He shows Himself strong on their behalf.  They are blessed and God’s love and protection covers their homes and families.  It is not how much you do, or what kind of talent and position that makes you special to the Lord.  He blesses  F.A.T. people!

1st Corinthians 12:18– “But in fact, God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, exactly as he wanted them to be.”

Isaiah 6:8–“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”  and I said, “Here am I.  Send me!”

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The Year of Jubilee!

Scripture reading for February 10: Leviticus 24-27

In our culture, Golden anniversaries are special.  When a couple has been together 50 years there is always a celebration!  God also uses the 50th year as a special year.  He called it the year of Jubilee!  It was a year of freedom and restoration for all of God’s people.  On the 50th year, debts were to be forgiven and property that was taken or bought from the original owner was restored and given back.  On this year, no one was to work the land.  The land would be left to rest and whatever grew without any human effort was to  be used for food for the people.  It was a blessed time that the people looked forward to.  It pictured the reign of Messiah, when he would come and restore the fortunes and possessions of his people and vanquish their enemies.

The Jubilee was the culmination of 7 periods of 7 years.  After 6 years, the Israelites were to rest their land for a year.  God promised to provide enough for them in the 6th year to carry them through until the harvest of the 8th year.  There were to be 7 cycles of 7 years and following the 49th year, on the Day of Atonement, the priests were to sound the trumpet and announce the beginning of the Year of Jubilee! (Leviticus 25:8-10) What a joyous occasion!  God giving us a picture of his amazing restoration and rule of grace!

The problem was that the Israelites never took the Sabbath years every 7th year and they never did have a Year of Jubilee.  They knew about it because of Leviticus but failed to do what God asked.  When we fail to obey, God always has his way.  The Israelites went for 7o years of captivity in Babylon so that the land where they had lived and neglected God’s command could have it’s rest! (2nd Chronicles 36:20-21)  God has the final word!

In the New Testament we find the Jubilee in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 4, verses 18-19.  Jesus announces his calling and ministry by reading from Isaiah 61:1-2.  The proclamation of the “year of the Lord’s favor” is a reference to “Jubilee”!  Jesus is our Jubilee!  In him, we have restoration and a return of our stolen property.  God wants us to find our food, fulfillment, and blessing from his grace, not our own efforts!  Jubilee is a picture of Jesus’ provision for every person who trusts in Him by faith!

This is good news for us today as well!  We rest in what Jesus Christ has done for us.  We take a sabbath rest every six days!  We can remember the year of rest every seven years and be blessed with God’s grace to provide for us in supernatural ways.  When we think of Jubilee–God’s promise of restoration and provision for his people, we can be happy and celebrate!

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds  to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1st Thessalonians 4:16-18

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Dressing for Success!

Scripture reading for February 9th: Leviticus 21-23

Today, people seem to want to come to church in the most casual attire possible.  They are very individualistic in their tastes and often want to stand out because of some unusual hair style, color, tattoo or piercing.  Some shave off all their hair and others wear various hair pieces.  Some wear jeans and others dress in suit and tie.  A few years back, almost everyone dressed up for church and put on their most special clothes.  What was it like in Moses day?

According to our reading today, priests had very strict dress and behavior rules.  God was holy and they must be holy too or they might die!  (Leviticus 22:9) For me, this is a good enough reason to pay attention to God’s rules!

In Chapter 21, God warned his priests not to shave their heads, cut the edges of their beards, or cut their bodies. Their appearance was somehow connected with holiness. These men had to present offerings to the Lord each day. The High Priest who had been anointed with the holy oil could not let his hair become unkempt or messed up! He could not touch a dead body, even that of his mother or father! He was under strict rules because of his position and responsibility before God.

The priests could not marry just anyone either. They could only marry a virgin from among their own people. They could not marry a widow or divorced person or anyone engaged in prostitution! The reason given is that this would defile the offspring and make them unfit to serve in the priesthood and handle the holy offerings. (Leviticus 21:7-8, 13-15)

Priests could not serve and handle offerings if they had a skin disease or had been near a dead body. If they did handle the offerings knowingly when they were unclean, they must be cut off from God’s presence and never allowed to offer sacrifices again! God looked at these requirements with great seriousness and did not allow for levity or laxity! (Leviticus 22:1-4)

So, what does this mean for us today in the twenty-first century? Holiness is not determined today by how we dress outwardly. Jesus fulfilled the law. We must be dressed in His righteousness and cleansed by His blood to be clean. However, our dress outwardly often reflects our heart attitude. Many are lax about their approach to God. If they are seeking more to be noticed by others or to express their individuality and right to expression by modifying their bodies or displaying them inappropriately, then beware! Our God is still a holy God and those who approach him must come with humility and holy respect.

Marriage is another area of disreguard in today’s culture. Adultery and fornication are regular practices of people who approach God and say that they love Jesus. Divorce and the breaking of vows made before God is a routine practice even among professing Christians. God does not take this as lightly as we do. He desires holiness and holy offspring! (Leviticus 21:15; Malachi 2:15)

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Sunday Rest and Reflection

Wow!  Leviticus really makes you appreciate what we have today because of Jesus Christ!  I know I would have had a hard time bringing all those animals to offer for my sins.  It’s hard to admit sin privately before the Lord.  I can’t imagine having to confess my sins to the priest and then offer an animal that would die right in front of my own eyes!  Sin might become detestable after a few times!  Maybe that was God’s intent!

Being a priest would have been difficult and very messy!  Killing animals daily and sprinkling blood and washing and lifting dead carcasses up before the Lord would have been gruesome work.  Going into the Tent of Meeting knowing that you might die yourself would also not be exciting.  I am sure that Aaron had his moments too.  He lost two sons who went into that Tent, probably under the influence of alcohol.  Can you imagine his thoughts each year as he had to go in with the blood of a bull for himself and his family and then the blood of a goat for the whole nation?  He had to go in alone and by faith make the acceptable sacrifice.  It was probably not something he took lightly!

We have it easy today!  Jesus has done it all!  He is our high priest and intercedes for us.  He sacrificed his own body and blood for our “atonement” covering of our sins.  Our sins are taken away and our consciences are cleansed!  It is finished!  He did not have to sacrifice for Himself, like Aaron, because He was without sin.  He ever lives to make intercession for us!  Take time and reflect on this past week’s reading and thank Jesus for fulfilling all the law!  Ask Him to make you holy, as He is holy.  By faith, claim His righteousness.  True Christianity brings rest and true joy!  God bless you and have a great sabbath rest!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  . . .”God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2nd Corinthians 5: 17, 21.

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Pastor’s Walk Podcast: Genesis Summary Part 2 (Isaac)

In this podcast Pastor John talks about Isaac and the blessings that he received from following God’s will and direction for his life.

Sin that makes the earth vomit!

Scripture Reading for February 7th: Leviticus 18-20

SEX!  There, that got your attention!  God talks about sex and all it’s perverted variations in these chapters of Leviticus.  He tells his people that they are not to have sexual relations like the nation of Egypt where they were enslaved.  God’s people are to live differently from the world.  God’s laws about sexual conduct are designed to bring about a holy people who have children who will be blessed by God with His presence and power through a relationship with Him.  If we want this blessing, we must become a holy people as He is holy.

Honor is important in sexual relations.  Incest dishonors your father or mother and you if you initiate it.  God also states that it is wickedness.  (Leviticus 18:17)  Sex with close relatives (incest) is wrong and dishonors the family.  Sex with another man’s wife (adultery) defiles you! (Leviticus 18:20) Sex with the same sex, homosexuality or lesbianism, is “detestable” to God.  (Leviticus 18:22) Sex with an animal (bestiality) is perverted! (Leviticus 18:23)  God has designed man for one woman for life and has promised to bless that monogamous relationship.  (Genesis 2:24)

When you commit any of these sins, God says that you defile the land where you live.  God states that this defilement causes that land to “vomit” out people who do these sins!  (Leviticus 18:24-28)  In fact, this is why God has destroyed all of the great civilizations up to this point in history!  Wow!  This makes me afraid for the land we live in today!   When will our land begin to “puke” out those who are committing sins of incest, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and bestiality?   God’s Word is truth and will ultimately come to pass.  We may appear to get by but the consequences of sin always find us out. (Numbers 32:23)

God’s people are to be markedly different!  They are to be holy because God is holy. (Leviticus 19:2)  This holiness is to be walked out in love and respect for God’s laws and in our conduct towards others. Jesus said that if we love him, we will keep his commandments!  (John 15:10) The other laws of Leviticus 19-20 give details about our conduct that could be summarized as “love your neighbor as yourself”. (Leviticus 19:34)  The two great commandments taught by Jesus are: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself!” (Matthew 22:37-39)   We find their basis here in the book of Leviticus among the laws for sexual purity for the nation of Israel!

America today needs our prayer and intercession!  Its sins are like those described here in our reading for today.  We are a nation who knows too much and applies too little.  These sins are prevalent in the church as well as in the nation we live in.  Take time today to repent and pray for God’s mercy.  The earth is ready to vomit!

“And if you defile the land,(with these sexual sins) it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” Leviticus 18:28

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The Scapegoat

Scripture reading for February 6: Leviticus 16-17

Man is always looking for someone to blame for sin. It was the “woman you gave me” for Adam.  Eve became his “scapegoat”!  It was the “serpent” for Eve that became her “scapegoat”.  God Himself was blamed by both of them as the ultimate problem.  Amazingly, God had already planned to provide a “scapegoat”!

God loves man and worked out a picture of salvation from sin which is recorded in these chapters of Leviticus.  God set apart one day a year when the High Priest could go behind the curtain of the Holy of Holies in the Tent of Meeting.  That day was called the Day of Atonement.  The term “atonement” simply means a “covering”. On this day, the Israelites could have a yearly “covering” for their sins.

First, a bull was killed and the blood sprinkled for the High Priest as a sacrifice for his sins.  Then two goats were brought before the Tent and lots were cast.  One of the goats was sacrificed and the blood sprinkled by the High Priest behind the curtain for the sins of the people.  Everyone waited outside to see if God would accept the sacrifice for sins committed.  They were relieved when the High Priest came out. (Leviticus 16:6-19)

The second goat was then brought forward.  The High priest laid his hands on it and confessed the sins and rebellion of the Israelites.  This goat was then led out away from the camp into the wilderness to a solitary place and left there.  As the Israelites watched the goat bearing their sins disappear in the distance, they were reminded of the sacrifice necessary to bring a covering for their sins.  God provided a “scapegoat” who would take the blame for them! (Leviticus 16:20-28)

God’s point was that sin was costly!  Life is in the blood and blood alone could “atone” for the sins of a rebellious people.  (Leviticus 17:11)  One bull must die for the High Priest and his family.  One goat must die for the sins of the nation.  One goat must be burdened with the sins of the nation and bear it into the wilderness to face the wild beasts and certain death.   This all was an illustration that taught of man’s need for covering from sin and our corporate need for a “scapegoat”!

Jesus Christ came as God’s designated “scapegoat”!  He offered Himself on the cross to make “atonement” for our sins.  He shed His own blood to pay the penalty for our sins, once for all time!  (Hebrews 9:11-14) He bore our sins and carried them away into a place of God’s forgetfulness, never to be remembered again!  (Hebrews 10:17)

Wow!  What we tried to do on our own by blaming others, God did for us by laying our sins on His own Son and sacrificing Him for us! All we can do is say “amen” to God’s work on our behalf! What a loving and giving Lord!

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV

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Grasshoppers for lunch, anyone?

Scripture Reading for February 5: Leviticus 11-15

I remember a missionary from Africa once bringing chocolate coated grasshoppers to a service and offering them to Read more

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