The City of Refuge

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Today’s Passage – Numbers 34 – 36 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Corinthians 5 – 8; Proverbs 28; Psalms 141 – 145)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song  – Deuteronomy 32:4

Read the “0228 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment. And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge. Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge. These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.” – (Numbers 35:11-15)

I was the youngest of four brothers, and because I was the baby, I was favored by my maternal grandmother who lived with us while I was growing up. I would go and pick a fight with one of my older and bigger brothers, and when they came after me, I went and hid behind my grandmother who always protected me. She was my city of refuge. No one could hurt me as long as I was with Grandma.

In our passage this morning in Numbers 35, we read about the Cities of Refuge. These were six cities of the 48 Levitical cities that were strategically placed throughout the land of Israel. I believe there were three on one side of the Jordan River, and three on the other. Anyway, these cities were places that a person could flee to if he were “on the run”. Let’s say that a two men got into a fight, and one of the men unintentionally kills the other man. Even though in this case, this was not considered to be murder, the family of the man killed could legally exact vengeance upon the “slayer”, unless the slayer escaped into one of the six cities of refuge. Inside the city, the man could not be touched.

There is a great example of this in 2 Samuel 3. It is a long story, but in it a man named Joab kills a man named Abner because Abner had previously killed Joab’s brother in a battle between their two armies. But in order to get his revenge, Joab has to lure him out of the city, because Abner was located safely inside the city of Hebron, which was one of the six cities of refuge. It really is a fascinating story and a great example of how this system worked.

We have a city of refuge today in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, we also are all guilty before God and we are all deserving of judgment; and we also have an avenger and an accuser coming after us. The devil is seeking our souls, and he wants to sift our lives like wheat. But Christ offers us refuge. As far as our eternal destiny is concerned, Christ is our city of refuge; and even as far as our earthly lives are concerned, the will of Christ is our place of protection. We are all guilty. We could all be destroyed by the avenger of blood, but praise God, we have a Place to run to: a Person to run to, who not only wants to save us, but also wants to protect and provide for us, and give us a purpose in this life.

 


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Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out

Today’s Passage –Numbers 32 – 33 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Corinthians 1 – 4; Proverbs 27; Psalms 136 – 140)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song  – Micah 6:8

Read the “0227 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

 “And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war, And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him, And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” – (Numbers 32:20-23)

I have used the phrase “be sure your sin will find you out” many times as a parent, as a school teacher, and as a preacher. I usually use it as a warning to people who are in a situation where there are no human eyes on their conduct in order to try to keep them from the temptation of yielding to sin. For example, in our little Christian school, I have often had to walk out of the room when the students were taking a test. I would remind them that cheating is a sin, and that they could be sure that somehow I would find out about it, and even if I never did, God knows what they are up to. I remember telling my children when they became young adults that I could not be everywhere they were, monitoring their every move; but God saw everything that they were doing.

It is interesting, however, that I have never used this phrase exactly in the same way that Moses used it in the context of Numbers 32. In our text this morning, we see the tribes of Reuben and Gad asking permission of Moses to let them possess and develop the land that was on the eastern side of the Jordan River. This particular area was not originally supposed to be inhabited by Israel, at least not yet. Israel was instructed by God to cross the Jordan, and take possession of the land that was on the west side. Moses, at first, objects to their request because he says that the tribes of Reuben and Gad were needed to fight along with the other ten tribes as they took possession of the land on the other side of the river. Moses actually compares the situation to when the 12 men went in to spy out the land; ten of them returning with “an evil report”, which discouraged the people. Moses told Reuben and Gad that their absence from the battles will cause the other tribes to become discouraged as they finished the job of removing the inhabitants of the land of Canaan.  An agreement is finally reached when the men of the tribes of Reuben and Gad offer to go with the other tribes across the Jordan, and remain with them until all of the enemies of Israel have been removed from the land, and then when the job was done, they would then cross back over to their families and cattle waiting on the other side. However, Moses warns them that if they don’t follow through on what they promise to do, their sin will find them out.

Perhaps the best way to apply this principle to us today is to use it the way Moses used it. Let me explain. God has given us an assignment today just as he had given the children of Israel. Our job is not, however, to invade the land and remove people. Our job today is to invade the land and save people. Well, we don’t save them, but we can introduce them to the One who can. Then we are to train these people through the teaching and preaching of the Word of God so that they can become less like the Canaanite world around them, and more like the Lord Jesus Christ; and as they become more Christlike, they then begin to influence the people around them. So, how does this relate to what Moses warned the people of Gad and Reuben about? Moses was concerned that the lack of participation on the part of these two tribes would discourage the rest of the congregation from doing what they were called to do. Are you getting it? When we don’t participate in the Great Commission: when we don’t support the services, the studies, the Sunday School, and the soul winning programs of the church with our presence and participation, it discourages others, and may cause them to want to stop coming as well. When we don’t participate in giving our tithes to the local church, and our offerings to special projects like world missions, it can be very discouraging to the others in the congregation. Our support is not only commanded, it is very necessary. When more of God’s people are involved, it encourages, and motivates the rest of the church to get more involved as well. But, if we don’t do our part, we are indeed sinning against the Lord, and that sin will come back to haunt us eventually. Get involved. Find ways to increase your participation in the ministries of the local church. Your involvement will encourage your pastor tremendously, and it will also stir up the people around you to get on board as well.

 


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God Knows Why

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Today’s Passage – Numbers 30 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 13 – 16; Proverbs 26; Psalms 131 – 135)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Isaiah 51:11

Read the “0226 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.” (Numbers 31:15-17)

Numbers 31 is a very somber passage of Scripture. Moses is commanded by the Lord to perform one last task before he dies, which was to “avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites”. 12,000 men from Israel went out and attacked a much greater number of Midianites, and were able to conquer them completely without losing one of their own men. Of course, the Midianites were not so fortunate; they ended up losing everything with all of the adult males being immediately slain. At first, the women and small male children were all spared. However, when the victors returned to camp with the spoils and the captives, Moses commanded that all of the small male children, as well as all of the adult women would also have to be slaughtered. Only the small girls were spared.

I must confess that Bible passages such as this are not the ones I look forward to reading. Later on, in 1 Samuel 15, God would once again order the annihilation of an entire nation of people (the Amalekites), including all of the women, children, and even the livestock. I have often wondered why God would command such a thing. I have examined these Scriptures carefully in the past and have even preached messages from them. I have explained to people some of the reasons why God would need to be so severe, but I was always left with more questions in my own mind. Wasn’t there any other way? Couldn’t God have spared even just the children? How do we reconcile this Old Testament God of vengeance with the New Testament God of love and mercy? My human reasoning cannot fully comprehend the answers to all these questions regarding what God was thinking when He chose such drastic courses of action.

I still don’t have all the individual answers to these and many other questions, but I have come to a place in my faith that has helped me tremendously. I no longer question God. There are a lot of things about God that make absolutely no sense to my finite brain, but I trust that He knows what He is doing, and He does not have to offer me any explanation. Why did God kill all of the Midianites? Why did He destroy the entire world with a flood? Why did He kill the Amalekites? Why did God allow the Towers to come down on 9/11? Why does He permit the pain and suffering of millions of people today? I know why, and yet I don’t know why. I mean, I may understand partially, but I can’t comprehend fully; but I do know God, and I trust Him that He knows why, and that’s good enough for me. I know God loves me, and I know He loves the world and all of the people in it, and I know that God does everything right, even when I can’t see any right in it.


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A Pastor’s Heart

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Today’s Passage – Numbers 27 – 29 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 9 – 12; Proverbs 25; Psalms 126 – 130

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read a previous post from this passage – “Bring Your Cause Before The Lord

Read the “0225 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered. … Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.” – (Numbers 27:12-13, 16-17)

Notice in Numbers 27:12 – 17 that Moses is being told by God that he is going to die. Can you imagine being given the time and location of your death? Consider Moses’ reaction to the news. There are no complaints, no arguments; just one request: Moses asked God to make sure that the people would be cared for. Moses was a true pastor/shepherd. He was not merely an hireling. He loved and cared greatly the people that had been placed in his care. Moses wanted to be sure that God would give the people of Israel another leader that loved them just as musch as he did.

Sadly, there are many people involved in the ministry today who do not have a pastor’s heart, as Moses did. Too many spiritual leaders are hirelings. They may be great administrators, and they can often preach and teach the doctrines of the Bible with passion and clarity; but they lack a love for the people that they minister to. They love the crowd, but avoid the individuals from within the crowd. The people are seen as a means to an end, and not an end in themselves. I find myself falling into this category at times. Perhaps it is because I have been hurt on occasion from individuals within the congregation. For whatever reason, I have caught myself distancing from the flock that God has given me to pastor.

The ministry is people. People have problems, needs, questions, and burdens. God has called pastors and other spiritual leaders to minister to the needs of people. The pastorate is not just about preparing and preaching sermons, though that is certainly important. It is also not just about praying in private for the people. It is not just about administrating budgets, facilities, and staff. All of these things are necessary and good, but they do not take the place of personal ministry – one on one – in the trenches, in the streets and lanes of the city, in the highways and hedges, and in the homes of the people.

Moses loved his people. He preached to them, he prayed for them, he protected them, and he personally cared for them and involved himself in their lives.

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” – (1 Peter 5:1-4)


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Which One Is The Jackass?

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Today’s Passage – Numbers 22 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 1 – 4; Proverbs 23; Psalms 116 – 120)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Read the “0223 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.” (Numbers 22:12)

“And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?” – (Numbers 22:28)

“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.” – (2 Peter 2:15 – 16)

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” – (Jude 1:11)

Chapter 22 of the Book of Numbers presents a very interesting and familiar story of a mule that was given by God the ability to speak audibly to her owner, Balaam. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to carefully read the passage in order to get the most out of what I am about to say. Besides, what God says in His Word is far more important that what I will say in this blog, so don’t skip the reading.

Anyway, in this passage we have the prophet Balaam, who is living in the land of the Moabites. Why he lived there and not with the people of God is a mystery. The king of the Moabites is watching very closely the nation of Israel as they are sojourning very close to his border. He wants them out, so he goes to the man of God and asks him to place a curse upon Israel. He doesn’t go himself, however, he sends some of his princes to do his bidding. After hearing their request, Balaam inquires of the Lord, and the Lord tells him not to go with these men, and not to speak anything against Israel because they are a nation blessed by God. Balaam the prophet goes to the men and gives them God’s answer. The men return a short while later and press him to reconsider. Now this is where Balaam begins to err. He already asked God, and God had already said no; but the princes promise him if that he would go with him, their king would give him great honor and a lot of money. Now, he should have just repeated what God had already told him; but instead he tells them that he will go back and ask God again. He wanted God to give him what he had already been told that he wasn’t going to get. Balaam’s problem is that he really wants God to curse the Israelites, because it would mean that he would receive great riches from this Moabite king. God is not at all pleased with Balaam, but he allows him to go. He permits him to do what is in his heart. He was not permitted to curse Israel, but he was permitted to cozy up with the enemies of Israel, and receive the rewards that came with it. So, I ask you the question: which one was the real jackass?

This is not the only time in the Bible that God has permitted things that were against His will. He gave Israel a king because they kept asking for one, even though He knew that it wasn’t what was best for them. Notice another example of God granting the continual request of a complaining people when the Israelites complained to God as they wandered in the wilderness:

“They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:13-15)

I know many people today who keep asking God for things that are clearly against His will. Why don’t we just take “no” for an answer. God knows what is best for us. Don’t keep pestering him to give you what He has already closed the door on. Too many Christians are practically breaking doors down that God has chosen to keep closed.


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Look to Jesus

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Today’s Passage – Numbers 19 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 25 – 28; Proverbs 22; Psalms 106 – 110)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song –Proverbs 27:15

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” – (Numbers 21:8)

I’ve a message from the Lord, hallelujah!
The message unto you I’ll give,
’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”

Look and live, my brother, live!

Look to Jesus now, and live;

’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!

It is only that you “look and live.”

In today’s passage we read the very wonderful story of the brazen serpent. The people of Israel were tired: tired of travelling, tired of the mannah; and frankly they were tired of Moses. The Bible tells us that they began to speak against Moses, and against God. Bad move. God sent fiery serpents among them, and many were bitten, and some died. The people quickly realized their sin, and they confessed it to God, and asked Moses to pray for God to do something. The last part of verse 7 is one of the sweetest sentences in the Bible. It reads: “And Moses prayed for the people”. How wonderful it is to know that someone is praying for you. Anyway, God tells Moses to make a serpent out of brass and attach it to a pole. Moses was then to lift up the pole and cause the people to look upon it, and whoever looked upon the brasen serpent was healed of the sickness caused by the snake bite.

There is a wonderful parallel to this passage in the New Testament that references this story:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” – (John 3:14-15)

Jesus tells us there that all we have to do in order to be saved is to look to Him. There is nobody else to look to.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” – (Acts 4:12 )

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” – (John 14:6)

Faith is simply looking away from everything else, and looking toward the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is simple. You must first recognize your need. You are a hell-deserving sinner, and you are helpless to save yourelf. Then you must turn to the one who was lifted up on the cross of Calvary for your sin. He offers salvation to you as a free gift. Receive Him today. Look and Live!

For more information on salvation, read the “Are You Saved?” page on this website.

And Christians, we need to keep our eyes on the Lord even after we are saved:

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – (Hebrews 12:2)

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Standing Between the Living and the Dead

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Today’s Passage – Numbers 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 22 – 24; Proverbs 21; Psalms 106 – 110)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

Read the “0221 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.” – (Numbers 16:48)

The passages of Scripture that we have been reading the past few days tell the story of the Nation of Israel as they travelled through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. The trip should have taken them only a few weeks, but because of their lack of faith in God they were sentenced to wander for 40 long years until those that doubted the power of God were weeded out. In fact, only two of the original group of adults that left Egypt would actually cross over into the the land Canaan. This travelling group of Israelites was not only fearful and faithless, they were also very “fed up”; and their discontentment caused them to grumble. Now grumbling is a sin which the Lord absolutely hates. In fact, I think if you were to carefully study the Bible, you would discover that God killed more of His people for grumbling and griping than He did for any other reason.

Not only did they complain because of their discontentment, they also challenged the God-given leadership of Moses and Aaron. They thought Moses “[took] too much upon [him]“, meaning that Moses was making himself a lord over God’s heritage. I dealt with this rebellion of Korah and others in  another post. (Click here to view post)

My thought this morning, however, is found in verse 48 of chapter 16. Notice there that it says that Moses stood between the living and the dead. It seems that no matter how bad the people got in their lack of faith, their fear, and their discontented complaining, Moses never stopped interceding to God on their behalf. There were times that God wanted to wipe them all out and start over again building a new nation from the seed of Moses; but Moses always reminded God of His covenant with Israel, and He always begged God to forgive them. He reminds me of another man, named Jesus, Who years later was rejected, beaten, and hung on a Cross, yet one of the last phrases that came out of His mouth was “forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”. And then later there was a man, named Stephen, who was preaching Christ to the Israelites who in turn stoned him to death; but here again, this man interceded on their behalf and said, “lay not this sin to their charge”. These men all stood between the living and the dead.

We get a chance to stand between the living and the dead in this generation also. We can intercede to God through prayer on behalf of a people that do not yet know Him. We can also go to them bringing the truth of the Gospel, which if received will restore their broken relationship with God. Oh that we would be more like Moses, Stephen, and especially Jesus, and stand for the Lord in middle of a generation of people who are dead spiritually, interceding for them and proclaiming to them the Truth that will bring them life.


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Obstacles

Today’s Passage – Numbers 14 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 19 – 21; Proverbs 20; Psalms 101 – 105)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 119:105

Read the “0220 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.” – (Numbers 14:8-9)

What do you see when problems or trials come your way? Do see the trial, or do you see the God Who is much bigger than your trial? How about obstacles? Is your God bigger than your obstacles? In Numbers 13 and 14 we see the twelve spies going into the land of promise to check it out. It is amazing how that all twelve witnesssed the same things, but only two of them saw that God was bigger than the obstacles. Ten of the spies came back with nothing but negativity. It is too difficult; the giants are too big. We can’t do it. Joshua and Caleb, on the other hand, didn’t pay too much attention to the giants, because their God made the giants look like little children in comparison. They saw nothing but victory, and the goodness of God in the land that they were to receive.

Let me ask you he question again. What do you see. Do you see the Christan life as something too big or too difficult? Do you see God’s will for your life as impossible for God to do through you. Let me share some verses with you:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – (Philippians 4:13)

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” – (Luke 1:37)

“And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” – (Mark 10:27)

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – (Hebrews 11:6)

God was well pleased with the faith of Joshua and Caleb. They were the only ones that got to go into the Promised Land. Will God be well pleased with your faith?


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We Could Use Some More Spirit-filled Preachers

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Today’s Passage – Numbers 11 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 16 – 18; Proverbs 19; Psalms 96 – 100)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0219 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them! And Moses gat him into the camp, he and the elders of Israel.” (Numbers 11:26-30) 

Today’s reading contains an interesting story about two men, Eldad and Medad. These men were apparently appointed by Moses to be among the seventy that God had called to help him bear the burden of the people of Israel. These seventy men were gathered together at the Tabernacle where the Lord had caused his spirit to rest upon them. However, Eldad and Medad did not go with the seventy to the Tabernacle, but the Lord caused His Spirit to rest upon them in the camp anyway, and they began to prophesy in the camp. Apparently this break in protocol concerned Joshua so he went to Moses and requested that he make them stop. Moses, however, instead rebuked Joshua, and told him that he wished there more than just these two men that were Spirit-filled and speaking for God in the camp.

There is a similar story in the Lukes gospel:

“And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” (Luke 9:49-50)

In this story it is John who is concerned about a man who is casting out devils because he wasn’t one of the twelve disciples. Jesus rebuked John stating that what the man was doing was good, and that because he wasn’t working against the cause of Christ, he was actually advancing it.

Sometimes we become a little envious, and even skeptical of other groups within Christianity who don’t dot their I’s and cross their T’s exactly the way we do. They may not run in the same circles, and they may not belong to the same denomination or fellowship, but they are doing a work for God. They may not do things the same way we do, but if they are doing something for God, we shouldn’t try to hinder them. We ought to applaud anyone who is advancing the cause of Christ. We need more people who are Spirit-filled, and preaching the Word of God.


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Don’t Move Until God Tells You To

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Today’s Passage – Numbers 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 13 – 15; Proverbs 18; Psalms 91 – 95)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua 1:8

Read the “0218 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.” – (Numbers 9:23)

In Numbers 9, the Bible tells us that the children of Israel only moved when God moved. They followed the cloud by day, and the fire by night. If the cloud rested, they stayed in one spot; if the the cloud moved, they followed it. This kept life pretty simple for them. They did not have to make a decision about where they were going to go, they just followed God.

We can do the same thing today when deciding where we are going to go, or what we are going to do. We can simply follow God. Determining the will of God in our time is just as easy as it was in Bible times. God guides us through his Word, through prayer, and through counsel. Let’s say you are contemplating a move to a new geographic location. You need to check out what the Bible says about that place. Is there a good, Bible believing church for your family? The Bible says a lot about people moving. Abraham moved into Egypt after being told that Canaan was the place of God’s blessing. He had some problems in his life as a result of that move. There are many other examples and principles in the Bible that will help you to make a decision. One thing is for sure, you do not want to move simply for financial reasons, or because you think the grass will be greener somewhere else. Lot moved because the grass near Sodom looked good, but he ended up losing everything, including most of his family.

Prayer and counsel are also important steps in determining a desicion. All three need to be in agreement, however; and you know what the Bible says about a three-fold chord, right? It’s not easily broken, is it? Pray about your decision, but be aware that God will never reveal in prayer something that goes against the principles found in the Word of God. Then you need to get counsel. Have some people in your life that you can go to for advice. People who will be honest with you. People that won’t tell you just want you want to hear. Don’t “shop” for counsel, either. People often will go from person to person until they find someone who will agree with them. That’s not counsel. Ask your pastor, ask your parents, or ask some godly person in your life who will tell you the truth.

When are you going to move, and where? Who are you going to marry, and when? Where will you go to college? Which church will you attend? Where will you work? These are all important decisions. You don’t have to decide these for yourself. Follow God. He will direct your path and He will light the way. I promise if you follow God all the way, you will be pleased with what He does with your life.


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A Job For Everybody

Help Wanted sign held by man.

Today’s Passage – Numbers 3 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 4 – 6; Proverbs 15; Psalms 76 – 80

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1

Read the “0215 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him.” (Numbers 3:6)

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” – (Romans 12:3-8)

In chapters 3 and 4 of the Book of Numbers we see God’s instructions to the families of the tribe of Levi. They were placed in charge of the ministry of the Tabernacle. Aaron and his sons were the priests, and they were put in charge of the service of the other families. The Gershonites were responsible for the setting up, taking down, and transportation of all of the curtains and coverings of the Tabernacle with the exception of the vail. Only Aaron and his sons were to remove the vail, and it was to be placed upon the Ark of the Covenant. The Kohathites were responsible to transport all of the furniture in the Tabernacle, though they were not permitted to touch any of the “holy things”, or even be present when they were being covered by Aaron and his sons. The Merarites were responsible to set up and transport all of the boards and bars that served as the framework of the Tabernacle. Each family had their responsibility, and each family had their place where they were to camp around the Tabernacle.

The thought I had this morning regarding this passage is this: what if one of the Merarites didn’t want to transport bars and boards? Maybe he wanted to transport coverings instead like the sons of Gershon. The point is that these people were not given the choice about what they wanted to do. They were assigned a task by God and were expected to do it. It is sort of like the military. They don’t really care about what you want to do, but they are going to assign you a duty and you will be expected to do it.

It is not at all like this in the local church today. We tell people that they can do whatever they want to do. We tell them that they have the liberty to choose where, why, and how they can serve the Lord. But, should it really be that way? Shouldn’t we still be seeking to discover what the Lord’s will is regarding who will serve and in what capacity. There are many guidelines given in the Bible regarding service within the local church, and that certainly is where we should start the process, but we also ought to be very careful that we are very prayerful about what each person is given to do within the body. We also need to be careful about just sticking people in positions simply because there is nobody else to do it. We see a perceived need, so we place anybody we can find in the position. I believe that if the need is genuine, God will supply the right person. Maybe we are creating needs and positions that are not of God. I remember at one church we were serving in years ago, I felt that it was my duty to fill every perceived need that was present. I was working with the youth, junior church, bus ministry, Sunday School, and much more. The problem was that it wasn’t God’s will for me to be doing all of those things, so I began doing them in the flesh, which profited nothing. And maybe somebody else was missing out on their true calling because I was doing too much.

I believe that God has got a job for everybody to do within the local church, and I also believe that God has got the right person for every need within the body. Leaders need to be admonished to pray earnestly about finding the right, biblically qualified person to do the job; and the people need to be willing to fulfill God’s will for their lives, whether it be teaching people or cleaning toilets. Every task within the church is important, and every worker within the church is equal in the sight of God, as long as they are doing what God has called them to do. The ministry is much more than just preaching and teaching the Word of God. In order for ministry to take place in a local church there are a lot of tasks that need to be performed. God has gifted certain people to perform each of these duties. I believe that all ministers need to be willing to do whatever is necessary in order for the ministry to function, but we also need to be constantly on the lookout for people who will be willing and able to do all of the things that need to be done. Every duty is important, and every person that performs these tasks are also important to the cause of Christ. The janitor that does his job well is just as much in the center of God’s will as the preacher who prepares, prays, and preaches.

What is your job within the local body of believers? What has God equipped you to do? Find your niche within the church, and help your church fulfil the Great Commission.


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A Strong Message

pinchas

Today’s Passage – Numbers 25 – 26 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 5 – 8; Proverbs 24; Psalms 121 – 125)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Proverbs 27:15

Read the “0224 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

 “And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.” – (Numbers 25:6-8)

In Numbers 25, we have a very strange story. It seems that as the people of Israel were sojourning in the land of Moab on their way to the Promised Land, some of the men began to get cozy with the women of Moab. God had a big problem with this for several reasons; but the main reason is that these women were not Jews by birth or by conversion. They were an idolatrous people, having entirely different standards of morality as well as an idolatrous system of worship. It wasn’t long before the people of God began to participate in the sacrifices to these false gods. This was a violation of God’s sternest warning to the people when they left Egypt. The Israelites were to be a separated people. God didn’t want them to fellowship with any other people because He knew that they would eventually turn the Jews away from Him.

God was furious with the people, and He wanted Moses to do something in order to purge this idolatry out of the camp of Israel. Eventually, a strange thing happens. A man took a Midianitish woman into his tent in the sight of Moses. I do not think they were going in there to have a Bible study. Anyway, this was also witnessed by one of the priests: a man named Phinehas; and he, in his zeal for the Lord, went into the tent and thrust a spear through both the man and the woman at the same time. At first glance, we might think that God would not support this kind of action, but on the contrary, He is very pleased with it; and He rewards Phinehas and his family for doing it. Why? Because what Phinehas did served two purposes. First, it appeased the wrath of God, and secondly, it sent a strong message to the people of Israel to stay away from the inhabitants of the land. God is a jealous God.

By the way, these people were from the land of Moab. Remember yesterday’s blog about Balaam. Balak, the king of Moab wanted Balaam to curse the children of Israel. Balaam was unable to do this because God would not allow it, but it appears that the people of Moab were able to as much damage to Israel by fellowshipping with them as they could have done by fighting them. We really need to be careful who we fellowship with. My preacher used to say: “we are now, or we soon will be, who we hang around.” I believe that is a true statement more often than not.

I believe that today our churches are being inundated with sin and compromise. Most of God’s people, including many preachers, are looking the other way. We have almost given up the fight against sin. We need a Phinehas today, that will stand up and send a strong, yet loving message against it. We need some bold Christians that will stand against the incoming tide of immorality and cultural idolatry that is flooding the lives of the people of God.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” – (Ephesians 5:11)

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” – (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

 


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The Voice of God

2010febvoice2

Today’s Passage – Numbers 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 10 – 12; Proverbs 17; Psalms 86 – 90)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 89:1

Read the “0217 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him.” – (Numbers 7:89)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” – (John 10:27)

Chapter 7 of Numbers is certainly a long chapter, and not exactly what I would call great devotional reading. However, as with the rest of the Bible, this is a very important passage. Here we see the heads of the tribes of Israel all presenting to the Lord their offerings at the dedication of the Tabernacle. Each tribe had to offer the same thing which includes some gold and silver; incense and flour; and an assortment of animals. We certainly can see from this passage, and from many other recent chapters that the Israelite were certainly dedicated in the area of giving; but they not only gave what was required, they also gave over and above what was asked of them.

The last verse of this long chapter tells us that after the offering was made, Moses went into the Tabernacle to speak with God, and he heard the voice of God coming out from between the cherubims on top of the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to hear the audible voice of God; to actually hear Him speak personally to my physical ears. I can, however, hear the voice of God today as much as I desire to because He speaks to me through His Word. The Bible is God’s voice. He spoke to me this morning about this dedication offering. He also gave me some wisdom from Proverbs 17. And then he motivated me and stirred me as I read about Peter and and the other apostles and people from Acts.

God speaks to me in other ways also besides the Bible. Sometimes, as I walk and pray in the mornings, God will speak to my heart. Now, we have to be careful about these “still small voices” that we hear in our heads and our hearts. We need to be sure that it is God that is talking to us. Sometimes our flesh and even the devil will put thoughts in our heads that are not of God. One way you can tell if it is actually God talking is if the thing that He tells you is in agreement with the Word of God. He never goes against His Word. It always disturbs me when people tell them that God had told them to do something that was a complete contradiction to His clear revelation from the Bible.

Have you listened for His voice today? Did you open up your Bible this morning, along with your heart and mind, and hear what God has to say to you? Have you waited on Him today in your prayer closet to hear Him speak to you about specific areas of your life? It is not that God is not still speaking today as much as it is that His children are not listening.

 


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Keep Going – Even When It Hurts

Today’s Passage – Numbers 19 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 25 – 28; Proverbs 22; Psalms 111 – 115

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:6

Read last year’s post from this passage – “Look to Jesus

“Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! And why have ye brought up the congregation of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.” – (Numbers 20:1-5)

“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” – (Proverbs 24:16)

“Never, Never, Never Give Up” (Winston Churchill)

“When you’re going through hell, keep going” (Winston Churchill)

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up” (Thomas Edison)

Sometimes life stinks. How is that for a blunt statement. Oh for sure, there also many, many great moments in life, and tremendous blessings; but there are also times when it is difficult to drag yourself out of bed. And, for whatever reason, God chooses to allow us to go through these rough days.

Think about the things that Moses had to deal with as the leader of God’s people here in Numbers 20. The chapter opens up with the death of his sister. When a loved one dies, it can certainly be a time of discouragement. I am sure that Moses was more than a little sad at the passing of his sister. However, it does not stop there. The very next verse tells us that at that time there was another shortage of water, which caused the people to “chide” with Moses. Didn’t they understand that he had just buried his sister? I mean, give the guy a break, will ya. Give him some time to mourn.

God next told Moses to speak to the rock in order for the people to get water, but the next thing we find out is that Moses lost his temper, and smote the rock, instead of just speaking to it. God was not happy with Moses, and Moses lost his ticket to the Promised Land as a result. I feel bad for the guy, and I can understand the way he felt, as well as the way he acted. There have been many times when I have used poor judgment, and have acted rashly when the pressure was on in my life.

The chapter closes out with another tragedy, the death of his brother, Aaron, seemingly also a result God’s judgment for Moses’ striking the rock. So, in one chapter Moses loses his sister, his brother, his future leadership position in Canaan; not to mention the fact that the people were ticked off at him. I would have quit. Moses didn’t. He kept going – even though it hurt. Read the next chapter, and you will find Moses continuing in leadership, and fighting battles for the Lord.

I don’t know what you are facing today, but I know that you need to keep going. Moses didn’t quit, and neither should you.


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The Choice Is Yours

choice

Note – The post for today’s reading passage was mistakenly placed on the site yesterday. This post was actually supposed to be for yesterday. The reading schedules, however, are correct for both days.

Today’s Passage – Numbers 1 – 2 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click hereto view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 1 – 3Proverbs 14Psalms 71 – 75)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 51

Read the “0214 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read “Ten Ways to Extend Grace to Hurting People” by Pastor Paul Chappell

“If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;” – (Leviticus 26:3)

“But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;” – (Leviticus 26:14)

In our passage today, in Leviticus 26, the Lord places a choice before His people. In verses 3 – 13, God promises all kinds of wonderful things to His people if they would continue to love Him, and be faithful to Him. Beginning in verse 14, the Lord explains what will happen to them if they forsake Him. You will notice that the latter portion is much larger than the former. God goes to much greater lengths to clearly explain and warn the people of what would happen to them if they were to disobey.

First, let’s look at the blessings. God promised to:

1 Provide for them.

“Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.” – (Leviticus 26:4-5)

Everything they needed, and even much of what they could desire, God promised to give them.

2  Protect them from their enemies, and from natural calamities.

“And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.” – (Leviticus 26:6-8)

3  They would proliferate (multiply)

“For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.” – (Leviticus 26:9)

4  They would be in partnership with God.

“And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new. And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.” – (Leviticus 26:10-13)

Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Almost sounds too good to be true, but it was. God held up to His end of the bargain. Unfortunately, the people of Israel didn’t choose to continue to follow the Lord. Slowly, but surely, they began to get away from the comands of God, and go their own way. Eventually the land was filled with idolatry, apostacy, and immorality; and then God was forced to do the things that are listed in verses 14 – 46. The provision and protection that God had once given them was removed, and the people suffered the consequences of their choices.

God has a lot of the same promises to Christians today. He said that He would meet our needs, and that He would never leave us nor forsake us. Yet, many of His churches and children today are forsaking Him, just as the Israelites did. Why are we so foolish? Let’s draw nigh unto God; let’s love Him and submit ourselves to His will for our lives. He has our best interests in mind. Choose God. He is the wise choice.


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Take Care of the Levites

Today’s Passage –Numbers 34 – 36 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Corinthians 5 – 8;  Proverbs 28Psalms 141 – 150

Scripture Memorization for February – Proverbs 4

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 89:1

Read a previous post from this passage – “The City of Refuge

Read the “Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read “Seven Ways To Balance Your Schedule” by Pastor Paul Chappell

“Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them. And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts.” – (Numbers 35:2-3)

When the children of Israel went in to possess the land that God had given them in Canaan, all of the tribes received a fair portion of the property. However, one tribe, Levi, was not given a section of the country as the other tribes were. Instead, God commanded the other eleven tribes to each give up portions of their territory to be used for cities for the tribe of Levi to live in. The entire congregation of Israel would be responsible for providing a place for the Levites to stay in. Remember, the tribe of Levi was made up of the priests, as well as the men that were responsible for transporting and serving in the tabernacle (and later the Temple). The Levites could not provide for their own families as the other tribes could, because they were busy serving in the ministry. Not only did the other tribes provide them with a place to stay, but they were also responsible to take care of their other material needs.

The same principle applies today. God’s people are responsible to do whatever they can in order to make sure that the people that minister to them are provided for. A preacher that has to work in a secular vocation will simply not be able to do as much for the Lord as one who does not. However, there is also a danger in some cases for preachers to get lazy when they are completely provided for, and when there is little accountibility. I personally know of a few full-time servants who accomplish little with the abundance of time they have available to them. I guess the bottom line to this thought is that the people in the church should do everything that they can do to meet the needs of the preacher and his family, but the preacher must also realize that even though he does not have a human boss watching over him, he must stay busy and work hard for the cause of Christ.

“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” – (1 Timothy 5:17-18)

“If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? … Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” – (1 Corinthians 9:11, 13-14)


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Some Things Have Got To Go

Today’s Passage –Numbers 32 – 33 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Corinthians 1 – 4;  Proverbs 27Psalms 136 – 140

Scripture Memorization for January – Proverbs 4

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 61:1 – 3

Read a previous post from this passage – “Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out

Read the “Evening and Morning” devotion for today.

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places: And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it. … But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.” – (Numbers 33:51-53, 55)

In our reading this morning, we see that God commanded Moses to tell the people of Israel to remove all of the inhabitants that were in the land of Canaan. God knew that if His people were to coexist with the heathen that dwelled in the land they would soon pick up some of their bad habits, and become like them. God wanted His people to be holy, set apart for Himself. He also wanted them to be happy and fruitful, which would be impossible once the sinfulness of the Canaanites had gained a foothold in their lives. In the flesh there is pleasure in sin, at least for a season, but ultimately it only brings pain, misery, and death.

Canaan is a picture of the Spirit-filled Christian life. When a man trusts Christ as his Saviour today, if he wants to enjoy the abundant life that God desires for him, he will have to remove some things from his life as well. God intends for His people to be separate from the world, and there is certainly a lot about this world that is inconsistent with a spirit-filled Christian life. I once heard the great radio preacher, J. Vernon McGee tell a caller on his radio show that a Christian can do many things in life, but if that Christian wants to shine for the Lord, he will have to refrain from doing some things. There is a lot of wisdom in that. God knows what is best for us, for our happiness, and for His kingdom. Let’s try to stay far away from the things that this sinful world has to offer. There will simply be some things (and possibly some people) in our lives that will have to go if we are to be all that God wants us to be.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” – (1 John 2:15-17)

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:1-2)

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” – (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)


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A Strong Message

Today’s Passage – Numbers 25 – 26 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 5 – 8Proverbs 24Psalms 121 – 125

Scripture Memorization for January – Proverbs 4

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 48:1 & 2

Read “’Ministries’ that Kill Real Ministry” by Pastor Cary Schmidt

“And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.” – (Numbers 25:6-8)

In Numbers 25, we have a very strange story. It seems that as the people of Israel were sojourning in the land of Moab on their way to the Promised Land, some of the men began to get cozy with the women of Moab. God had a big problem with this for several reasons; but the main reason is that these women were not Jews by birth or by conversion. They were an idolatrous people, having entirely different standards of morality as well as an idolatrous system of worship. It wasn’t long before the people of God began to participate in the sacrifices to these false gods. This was a violation of God’s sternest warning to the people when they left Egypt. The Israelites were to be a separated people. God didn’t want them to fellowship with any other people because He knew that they would eventually turn the Jews away from Him.

God was furious with the people; and He wanted Moses to do something in order to purge this idolatry out of the camp of Israel. Eventually, a strange thing happens. A man took a Midianitish woman into his tent in the sight of Moses. I do not think they were going in there to have a Bible study. Anyway, this was also witnessed by one of the priests: a man named Phinehas; and he, in his zeal for the Lord, went into the tent and thrust a spear through both the man and the woman at the same time. At first glance, we might think that God would not support this kind of action; but on the contrary, He is very pleased with it; and He rewards Phinehas, and his family for doing it. Why? Because what Phinehas did served two purposes. First, it appeased the wrath of God; and secondly, it sent a strong message to the people of Israel to stay away from the inhabitants of the land. God is a jealous God.

By the way, these people were from the land of Moab. Remember yesterday’s blog about Balaam. Balak, the king of Moab wanted Balaam to curse the children of Israel. Balaam was unable to do this because God would not allow it, but it appears that the people of Moab were able to as much damage to Israel by fellowshipping with them as they could have done by fighting them. We really need to be careful who we fellowship with. My preacher used to say: “we are now, or we soon will be, who we hang around.” I believe that is a true statement more often than not.

I believe that today our churches are being inundated with sin and compromise. Most of God’s people, including many preachers, are looking the other way. We have almost given up the fight against sin. We need a Phinehas today, that will stand up and send a strong, yet loving message against it. We need some bold Christians that will stand against the incoming tide of immorality and cultural idolatry that is flooding the lives of the people of God.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” – (Ephesians 5:11)

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” – (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)


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Which One Is The Jackass?

Today’s Passage – Numbers 22 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 1 – 4Proverbs 23Psalms 116 – 120

Scripture Memorization for January – Proverbs 4

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 47:1

Read “’Ministries’ that Kill Real Ministry” by Pastor Cary Schmidt

“And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.” (Numbers 22:12)

“And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?” – (Numbers 22:28)

“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.” – (2 Peter 2:15 – 16)

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” – (Jude 1:11)

Chapter 22 of the Book of Numbers presents a very interesting and familiar story of a mule that was given by God the ability to speak audibly to her owner, Balaam. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to carefully read the passage in order to get the most out of what I am about to say. Besides, what God says in His Word is far more important that what I will say in this blog, so don’t skip the reading.

Anyway, in this passage we have the prophet Balaam, who is living in the land of the Moabites. Why he lived there and not with the people of God is a mystery. The king of the Moabites is watching very closely the nation of Israel as they are sojourning very close to his border. He wants them out, so he goes to the man of God and asks him to place a curse upon Israel. He doesn’t go himself, however, he sends some of his princes to do his bidding. After hearing their request, Balaam inquires of the Lord, and the Lord tells him not to go with these men, and not to speak anything against Israel because they are a nation blessed by God. Balaam the prophet goes to the men and gives them God’s answer. The men return a short while later and press him to reconsider. Now this is where Balaam begins to err. He already asked God, and God had already said no; but the princes promise him if that he would go with him, their king would give him great honor and a lot of money. Now, he should have just repeated what God had already told him; but instead he tells them that he will go back and ask God again. He wanted God to give him what he had already been told that he wasn’t going to get. Balaam’s problem is that he really wants God to curse the Israelites, because it would meany that he would receive great riches from this Moabite king. God is not at all pleased with Balaam, but he allows him to go. He permits him to do what is in his heart. He was not permitted to curse Israel, but he was permitted to cozy up with the enemies of Israel, and receive the rewards that came with it. So, I ask you the question: which one was the real jackass?

This is not the only time in the Bible that God has permitted things that were against His will. He gave Israel a king because they kept asking for one, even though He knew that it wasn’t what was best for them. Notice another example of God granting the continual request of a complaining people when the Israelites complained to God as they wandered in the wilderness:

“They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:13-15)

I know many people today who keep asking God for things that are clearly against His will. Why don’t we just take “no” for an answer. God knows what is best for us. Don’t keep pestering him to give you what He has already closed the door on. Too many Christians are practically breaking doors down that God has chosen to keep closed.


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Standing Between the Living and the Dead

Today’s Passage – Numbers 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 22 – 24Proverbs 21Psalms 106 – 110

Scripture Memorization for January – Proverbs 4

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34

Read last year’s post from this passage – “The Earth Swallowed Them Up

Read “The Ministry Multiplier You Forgot” by Pastor Paul Chappell

“And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.” – (Numbers 16:48)

The passages of Scripture that we have been reading the past few days tell the story of the Nation of Israel as they travelled through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. The trip should have taken them only a few weeks, but because of their lack of faith in God, they were sentenced to wander for 40 long years until those that doubted the power of God were weeded out. In fact, only two of the original group of adults that left Egypt would actually cross over into the the land Canaan. This travelling group of Israelites was not only fearful and faithless, they were also very “fed up”; and their discontentment caused them to grumble. Now grumbling is a sin which the Lord absolutely hates. In fact, I think if you were to carefully study the Bible, you would discover that God killed more of His people for grumbling and griping than He did for any other reason.

Not only did they complain because of their discontentment, they also challenged the God-given leadership of Moses and Aaron. They thought Moses “[took] too much upon [him]”, meaning that Moses was making himself a lord over God’s heritage. I dealt with this rebellion of Korah and others in last year’s post. (Click here to view last year’s post)

My thought this morning, however, is found in verse 48 of chapter 16. Notice there that it says that Moses stood between the living and the dead. It seems that no matter how bad the people got in their lack of faith, their fear, and their discontented complaining, Moses never stopped interceding to God on their behalf. There were times that God wanted to wipe them all out and start over again building a new nation from the seed of Moses; but Moses always reminded God of His covenant with Israel, and He always begged God to forgive them. He reminds me of another man, named Jesus, Who years later was rejected, beaten, and hung on a Cross, yet the one of the last phrases that came out of His mouth was “forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”. And then later there was a man, named Stephen who was preaching Christ to the Israelites who in turn stoned him to death; but here again, this man interceded on their behalf and said, “lay not this sin to their charge”. These men all stood between the living and the dead.

We get a chance to stand between the living and the dead in this generation also. We can intercede to God through prayer on behalf of a people that do not yet know Him. We can also go to them bringing the truth of the Gospel, which if received will restore their broken relationship with God. Oh that we would be more like Moses, Stephen, and especially Jesus, and stand for the Lord in middle of a generation of people who are dead, spiritually, interceding for them, and proclaiming to them the Truth that will bring them life.


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Remember The Sabbath

Today’s Passage – Numbers 14 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 19 – 21Proverbs 20Psalms 101 – 105

Scripture Memorization for January – Proverbs 4

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read a previous post from this passage – “Fear Not

Read “8 Ministry Lessons I’ve Learned” by Pastor Chappell

“And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.” – (Numbers 15:32-36)

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” – (Exodus 20:8-11)

“And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:” – (Mark 2:27)

In Numbers 15 there is a very interesting story about a man that was caught “gathering sticks” on the Sabbath day. The congregation was not sure what they should do to this man for his violation of the Law, so they went to Moses. Moses wasn’t sure, either, so he went to the Lord, and the Lord declared that the man should be put to death. That’s a pretty harsh punishment for working on Sunday. (I know the Sabbath was on Saturday, but you get my point.) Every time that I have read this story I have thought to myself that the punishment that was inflicted upon this man was too severe for the crime he committed. I think the key to understanding why God did what He did is found in the preceding verses:

“But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.” – (Numbers 15:30-31)

God made a distinction between sins of ignorance, and sins of presumption. The word “presumptuous” in the passage literally means to “raise high”, or to “exalt”. This means that the person guilty of presumptuous sins was exalting himself above the law, and in reality, above God Himself. This man was guilty of willful disobedience. In my home there were only three offenses that one of my children could commit which would warrant them a spanking, and one of them was willful disobedience. By the way, the other two were disrespecting an adult, and lying. Anyway, this man in Numbers 15 blatantly ignored the will of God. He lifted himself above God, and above the leadership that God put in place. God wanted to set an example with this man in order to demonstrate to the congregation that a blatant violation of His law was very serious.

There are many lessons that we can learn from this passage, but I will share only two thoughts:

1  God is pretty serious about the Sabbath, meaning that He thinks it is best for us to take one day out of seven, and dedicate it to rest and spiritual refreshment. I relaize that we are no longer under Law regarding the Sabbath, and I also realize that there are occasions where we will be unable to rest or attend church, but the principle of one day out of seven still applies. Be careful about presumptuously ignoring this principle that was designed by God for your own good.

2  God is also pretty serious about willful disobedience (sinning presumptuously). All sin is bad, but there is something more serious about boldly and proudly doing what we know to be wrong. I do not believe that God will kill us today (in most cases) for presumptuous sins, but I do believe that He will eventually chasten severely the child of His that blatantly ignores His will.

We live in the day and time where Christians have the idea that “everything goes”. This is simply not true. Though we have experienced through faith the grace and mercy of God needed because of our falling short of His commands, this does not give us liscence to ignore the will of God. God is still God, and He has the right to order the affairs of our lives. Do not be guilty of exalting yourself above His will by presumptuously ignoring and violating His commands.


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The Voice of God

Today’s Passage – Numbers 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 10 – 12Proverbs 17Psalms 86 – 90

Scripture Memorization for January – Proverbs 4

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Deuteronomy 32:4

Read “8 Ministry Lessons I’ve Learned” by Pastor Chappell

“And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him.” – (Numbers 7:89)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” – (John 10:27)

Chapter 7 of Numbers is certainly a long chapter, and not exactly what I would call great devotional reading. However, as with the rest of the Bible, this is a very important passage. Here we see the heads of the tribes of Israel all presenting to the Lord their offerings at the dedication of the Tabernacle. Each tribe had to offer the same thing which includes some gold and silver; incense and flour; and an assortment of animals. We certainly can see from this passage, and from many other recent chapters that the Israelite were certainly dedicated in the area of giving; but they not only gave what was required, they also gave over and above what was asked of them.

The last verse of this long chapters tells us that after the offering was made, Moses went into the Tabernacle to speak with God, and he heard the voice of God coming out from between the cherubims on top of the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to hear the audible voice of God; to actually hear Him speak personally to my physical ears. I can, however, hear the voice of God today as much as I desire to because He speaks to me through His Word. The Bible is God’s voice. He spoke to me this morning about this dedication offering. He also gave me some wisdom from Proverbs 17. And then he motivated me and stirred me as I read about Peter and John and the other apostles and deacons from Acts 4 – 6. By the way, if you also read that passage from Acts you saw that there was a special offering given there as well. Unfortunately, two of the people giving offerings, Annanias and Saphira, decided to lie to God about their offering and as a result were put to death.

I digress. My intention is not to focus on offerings this morning, but talk about God’s voice. God speaks to me in other ways also besides the Bible. This morning as I was walking and praying God spoke to my heart about a few of the things that I was praying about. Now, we have to be careful about these “still small voices” that we hear in our heads and our hearts. We need to be sure that it is God that is talking to us. Sometimes our flesh and even the devil will put thoughts in our heads that are not of God. One way you can tell if it is actually God talking is if the thing that He tells you is in agreement with the Word of God. He never goes against His Word. It always disturbs me when people tell them that God had told them to do something that was a complete contradiction to His clear revelation from the Bible.

Have you listened for His voice today? Did you open up your Bible this morning, along with your heart and mind, and hear what God has to say to you? Have you waited on Him today in your prayer closet to hear Him speak to you about specific areas of your life? It is not that God is not still speaking today as much as it is that His children are not listening.


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The Lord Bless Thee

Today’s Passage – Numbers 5 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 7 – 9Proverbs 16Psalms 81 – 85

Scripture Memorization for January – Proverbs 4

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 4:7 & 8

Read  “Random Stuff About Blizzards“, by Pastor Cary Schmidt

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”  (Numbers 6:24-26)

In chapters 5 of the Book of Numbers, God is instructing the children of Israel about what they should do if a man suspects that his wife has been unfaithful to him. The Bible talks about “the spirit of jealousy” that comes upon a man if there is something going on behind his back. I believe the same holds true for the wife. I know that today we don’t often think of jealousy as being a good thing; but interestingly, the Bible records that God is very jealous over his children. I do not think it is wrong either for their to be a healthy dose of jealousy within the marriage either. A man should love his wife to the extent that he cannot bear the thought of her being with anyone else. The same applies to the wife. Jealousy is, I believe, a God-given emotion. Now it must be controlled, just as all of our other emotions; and we cannot let it cause us to sin, but I believe it to be a good thing nonetheless.

Chapter 6 primarily deals with the rules concerning the vow of the Nazarite. When a person took this special vow of consecration in Old Testament days, he would not cut his hair or his beard, and he was not permitted to touch any alcohol, or come near anything (or anybody) that was dead. This vow was a vow of “separation unto the Lord”. The person that took this vow was declaring that his or her life was wholly dedicated to God. Usually, a person would be under this oath of separation for a period of time, not for his entire life. By the way, don’t confuse a Nazarite with a Nazarene, which is a person that comes from the city of Nazareth. Jesus was a Nazarene.

I was captivated this morning by the prayer of blessing found at the end of chapter 6. It seemed almost strange for this beautiful prayer to be place in this particular place. I mean, we have been reading a lot here lately about a bunch of commandments, sacrifices, rules, etc. Here, God tells Aaron that he wants him to pronounce this prayer  of blessing over the people. I think God just wanted to remind the people that he loved them and that He was for them. I think we can learn a couple of lessons from this as well. First, we need to be reminded that God loves us and wants nothing but the best for us. We often will think about God as this angry, cold dictator that is ready to pounce upon us when we do wrong. That is not God. He loves us and He wants to give us the richest blessings, and a life full of abundance.

The second lesson that we should learn from this is that when we are trying to teach our children, we need to remember to let them know often that we love them. Yes, we need to give them all of the rules, commandments, and instructions; and yes we ought to discipline them when they do wrong; but we also need to make sure that they know that we (and especially God) are in their corner, and that we want nothing but the richest blessings for their lives. This would be a good lesson for preachers and other mentors to learn as well. In our zeal to instruct, we sometimes come across as being uncaring and unloving. You have heard the old saying: “People do not care about what you know, until they know that you really care.” Well, we ought to really care, and we ought also to express that love and care often to the people that we are trying to help.


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In the Midst of the Camp

Today’s Passage – Numbers 1 – 2 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 1 – 3Proverbs 14Psalms 71 – 75

Scripture Memorization for January – Proverbs 4

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –1 Timothy 1:17

Read “Friendship, Dating, and Preparing for Marriage“, by Pastor Paul Chappell

“Then the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp: as they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place by their standards.” – (Numbers 2:17)

In Numbers chapter 2, God gives us a description of what the camp of Israel looked like when they were not on the move. A careful reading of this chapter will reveal that the nation of Israel was divided into 13 different groups, which included 11 of the original 12 tribes; and also the two half-tribes of Joseph (Manasseh and Ephraim). These groups were all strategically placed around the tabernacle. Immediately surrounding the tent on all four sides was the tribe of Levi. They were placed there as closely as possible to the tabernacle because that was their place of service. They were the ministers and priests of the Lord. Beyond the Levites the remaining twelve tribes and half-tribes were positioned by threes in each direction. For instance, on the east side of the tabernacle, beyond the Levites, were the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon. There were also three tribes on the west, south, and north. The thought that I am trying to develop here, however, is that the tabernacle was in the very center of the congregation. The tabernacle was the place where God dwelt, between the cherubims on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. God, and His designated place of worship, was the very center of the lives of the people of Israel.

Now let’s fast forward a few thousands years to the time of the local church. I realize that today God dwells in the hearts of His children, but the local church is God’s designated place for corporate worship, and it is the place where we are to be organized and mobilized for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” – (1 Timothy 3:15)

God should still be at the center of our lives; and the local church should be at the center of the life of our family. I have been a pastor now for over eleven years, and I have been involved in God’s work for twenty-three. I have observed that the families who place a high value on the local church, recognizing it’s importance, tend to be stronger and happier than the families that do not. Don’t misunderstand, I do not think that the church has a higher priority than the home; but I do believe that successful homes are built around a strong, Bible believing, New Testament church. The churches’ role is critical to healthy marriages and to the spiritual development of our children.

Take a moment to consider the role that the local church plays in your life; and then consider the role that you play in your local church. We need to keep our local churches strong, and I believe that there are many ways that you can help:

1  Participate in the local church – attend the services and find something that you can do that will serve others. God has uniquely equipped you in certain areas that can be used in the local church.

2  Pray for your church, and your pastors and leaders. The ministry can be very discouraging, but you can be an encouragement to the people that minister to you simply by lifting them up in prayer. It wouldn’t hurt for you to let them know on occassion that you are praying for them.

3  Support your church with your tithes and offerings. The work of God cannot go forward without the tithes of God’s people. When you don’t give you are telling God and the church that they have no place of value in your life. You can also support the church by not bashing it. Let people know where you stand. If you are for the ministry, speak out for it, and don’t let others run it down in your presence. Negativity and complaining are like cancers inside the church that will destroy it from within.

Is the local church important to you, or isn’t it? God says that it should be. Remember, He died for the church. It’s His body. He places a great value on it, and so should we.


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The City of Refuge

Today’s Passage – Numbers 34 – 36

(Second Milers also read – Romans 9 – 12; Proverbs 28; Psalms 136 – 140)

Scripture Memory for February – Psalm 100

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Ephesians 4:32

“Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment. And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge. Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge. These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.” – (Numbers 35:11-15)

I was the youngest of four brothers, and because I was the baby, I was favored by my maternal grandmother who lived with us while I was growing up. I would go and pick a fight with one of my older and bigger brothers, and when they came after me, I went and hid behind my grandmother who always protected me. She was my city of refuge. No one could hurt me as long as I was with Grandma.

In our passage this morning in Numbers 35, we read about the Cities of Refuge. These were six cities of the 48 Levitical cities that were strategically placed throughout the land of Israel. I believe there were three on one side of the Jordan River, and three on the other. Anyway, these cities were places that a person could flee to if he were “on the run”. Let’s say that a two men got into a fight, and one of the men unintentionally kills the other man. Even though in this case, this was not considered to be murder, the family of the man killed could legally exact vengeance upon the “slayer”, unless the slayer escaped into one of the six cities of refuge. Inside the city, the man could not be touched.

There is a great example of this in 2 Samuel 3. It is a long story, but in it a man named Joab kills a man named Abner because Abner had killed Joab’s brother in a battle. But in order to get his revenge, Joab has to lure him out of the city, because Abner was located safely inside the city of Hebron, which was one of the six cities of refuge. It really is a fascinating story and a great example of how this system worked.

We have a city of refuge today in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, we too are all guilty before God and we are all deserving of judgment; and we also have an avenger and an accuser coming after us. The devil is seeking our souls, and he wants to sift our lives like wheat. But Christ offers us refuge. As far as our eternal destiny is concerned, Christ is our city of refuge; and even as far as our earthly lives are concerned, the will of Christ is our place of protection. We are all guilty. We could all be destroyed by the avenger of blood, but praise God, we have a Place to run to: a Person to run to, who not only wants to save us, but also wants to protect and provide for us, and give us a purpose in this life.


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Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out

Today’s Passage –Numbers 32 – 33

Second Milers also read – Romans 6 – 8; Proverbs 27; Psalms 131 – 135

Scripture Reading for February – Psalm 100

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Matthew 6:33

“And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war, And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him, And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” – (Numbers 32:20-23)

I have used the phrase “be sure your sin will find you out” many times as a parent, as a school teacher, and as a preacher. I usually use it as a warning to people who are in a situation where there are no human eyes on their conduct in order to try to keep them from the temptation of yielding to sin. For example, in our little Christian school, I have often had to walk out of the room when the students were taking a test. I would remind them that cheating is a sin, and that they could be sure that somehow I would find out about it, and even if I never did, God knows what they are up to. I remember telling my children when they became young adults that I could not be everywhere they were, monitoring their every move; but God saw everything that they were doing.

It is interesting, however, that I have never used this phrase exactly in the same way that Moses used it in the context of Numbers 32. In our text this morning, we see the tribes of Reuben and Gad asking permission of Moses to let them possess and develop the land that was on the eastern side of the Jordan River. This particular area was not originally supposed to be inhabited by Israel, at least not yet. Israel was instructed by God to cross the Jordan, and take possession of the land that was on the west side. Moses, at first objects to their request, because he says that the tribes of Reuben and Gad were needed to fight along with the other ten tribes as they took possession of the land on the other side of the river. Moses actually compares the situation to when the 12 men went in to spy out the land; ten of them returning with “an evil report”, which discouraged the people. Moses told Reuben and Gad that their absence from the battles will cause the other tribes to become discouraged as they finished the job of removing the inhabitants of the land of Canaan.  An agreement is finally reached when the men of the tribes of Reuben and Gad offer to go with the other tribes across the Jordan, and remain with them until all of the enemies of Israel have been removed from the land, and then when the job was done, they would then cross back over to their families and cattle waiting on the other side. However, Moses warns them that if they don’t follow through on what they promise to do, their sin will find them out.

Perhaps the best way to apply this principle to us today is to use it the way Moses used it. Let me explain. God has given us an assignment today just as he had given the children of Israel. Our job is not, however, to invade the land and remove people. Our job today is to invade the land and save people. Well, we don’t save them, but we can introduce them to the One who can. Then we are to train these people through the teaching and preaching of the Word of God so that they can become less like the Canaanite world around them, and more like the Lord Jesus Christ; and as they become more Christlike, they then begin to influence the people around them. So, how does this relate to what Moses warned the people of Gad and Reuben about? Moses was concerned that the lack of participation on the part of these two tribes would discourage the rest of the congregation from doing what they were called to do. Are you getting it? When we don’t participate in the Great Commission: when we don’t support the services, the studies, the Sunday School, and the soul winning programs of the church with our presence and participation, it discourages others, and may cause them to want to stop coming as well. When we don’t participate in giving our tithes to the local church, and our offerings to special projects like world missions, it can be very discouraging to the others in the congregation. Our support is not only commanded, it is very necessary. When more of God’s people are involved, it encourages, and motivates the rest of the church to get more involved as well. But, if we don’t do our part, we are indeed sinning against the Lord, and that sin will come back to haunt us eventually. Get involved. Find ways to increase your participation in the ministries of the local church. Your involvement will encourage your pastor tremendously, and it will also stir up the people around you to get on board as well.


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A Strong Message

Today’s Passage – Numbers 25 – 26

(Second Milers also read – Acts 25 – 27; Proverbs 24; Psalms 116 – 118)

Scripture Memory for February – Psalm 100

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 51:11

And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. – (Numbers 25:6-8)

In Numbers 25, we have a very strange story. It seems that as the people of Israel were sojourning in the land of Moab on their way to the Promised Land, some of the men began to get cozy with the women of Moab. God had a big problem with this for several reasons; but the main reason is that these women were not Jews by birth or by conversion. They were an idolatrous people, having entirely different standards of morality as well as an idolatrous system of worship. It wasn’t long before the people of God began to participate in the sacrifices to these false gods. This was a violation of God’s sternest warning to the people when they left Egypt. The Israelites were to be a separated people. God didn’t want them to fellowship with any other people because He knew that they would eventually turn the Jews away from Him.

God was furious with the people; and He wanted Moses to do something in order to purge this idolatry out of the camp of Israel. Eventually, a strange thing happens. A man took a Midianitish woman into his tent in the sight of Moses. I do not think they were going in there to have a Bible study. Anyway, this was also witnessed by one of the priests: a man named Phinehas; and he, in his zeal for the Lord, went into the tent and thrust a spear through both the man and the woman at the same time. At first glance, we might think that God would not support this kind of action; but on the contrary, He is very pleased with it; and He rewards Phinehas, and his family for doing it. Why? Because what Phinehas did served two purposes. First, it appeased the wrath of God; and secondly, it sent a strong message to the people of Israel to stay away from the inhabitants of the land. God is a jealous God.

By the way, these people were from the land of Moab. Remember yesterday’s blog about Balaam. Balak, the king of Moab wanted Balaam to curse the children of Israel. Balaam was unable to do this because God would not allow it, but it appears that the people of Moab were able to as much damage to Israel by fellowshipping with them as they could have done by fighting them. We really need to be careful who we fellowship with. My preacher used to say: “we are now, or we soon will be, who we hang around.” I believe that is a true statement more often than not.

I believe that today our churches are being inundated with sin and compromise. Most of God’s people, including many preachers, are looking the other way. We have almost given up the fight against sin. We need a Phinehas today, that will stand up and send a strong, yet loving message against it. We need some bold Christians that will stand against the incoming tide of immorality and cultural idolatry that is flooding the lives of the people of God.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” – (Ephesians 5:11)
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” – (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

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Which One Is The Jackass?

Today’s Passage –Numbers 22 – 24

(Second Milers also read – Acts 22 – 24; Proverbs 23; Psalms 111 – 115)

Scripture Memory for February – Psalm 100

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Isaiah 40:31

“And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.” (Numbers 22:12)

“And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?” – (Numbers 22:28)

“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.” – (2 Peter 2:15 – 16)

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” – (Jude 1:11)

Chapter 22 of the Book of Numbers presents a very interesting and familiar story of a mule that was given by God the ability to speak audibly to her owner, Balaam. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to carefully read the passage in order to get the most out of what I am about to say. Besides, what God says in His Word is far more important that what I will say in this blog, so don’t skip the reading.

Anyway, in this passage we have the prophet Balaam, who is living in the land of the Moabites. Why he lived there and not with the people of God is a mystery. The king of the Moabites is watching very closely the nation of Israel as they are sojourning very close to his border. He wants them out, so he goes to the man of God and asks him to place a curse upon Israel. He doesn’t go himself, however, he sends some of his princes to do his bidding. After hearing their request, Balaam inquires of the Lord, and the Lord tells him not to go with these men, and not to speak anything against Israel because they are a nation blessed by God. Balaam the prophet goes to the men and gives them God’s answer. The men return a short while later and press him to reconsider. Now this is where Balaam begins to err. He already asked God, and God has already said no; but the princes promise him if that he would go with him, their king would give him great honor and a lot of money. Now, he should have just repeated what God had already told him; but instead he tells them that he will go back and ask God again. He wanted God to give him what he had already been told that he wasn’t going to get. Balaam’s problem is that he really wants God to curse the Israelites, because it would meany that he would receive great riches from this Moabite king. God is ot at all pleased with Balaam, but he allows him to go. He permits him to do what is in his heart. He was not permitted to curse Israel, but he was permitted to cozy up with the enemies of Israel, and receive the rewards that came with it. So, I ask you the question: which one was the real jackass?

This is not the only time in the Bible that God has permitted things that were against His will. He gave Israel a king because they kept asking for one, even though He knew that it wasn’t what was best for them. Notice another example of God granting the continual request of a complaining people when the Israelites complained to God as they wandered in the wilderness:

“They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:13-15)

I know many people today who keep asking God for things that are clearly against His will. Why don’t we just take no for an answer. God knows what is best for us. Don’t keep pestering him to give you what He has already closed the door on. Too many Christians are practically breaking doors down that God has chosen to keep closed.


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The Earth Opened Her Mouth, and Swallowed Them Up

Today’s Passage – Numbers 16 – 18

(Second Milers also read – Acts 16 – 18; Proverbs 21; Psalms 101 – 105)

“Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?” – (Numbers 16:9)

“And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.” – (Numbers 16:31-33)

In chapter 16, we see a group within the congregation of the children of Israel who were rebelling against the God ordained leadership. One of the leaders of this insurrection was Korah, who was a Kohathite. The Kohathites were part of the tribe of Levi, but their specific responsibility involved transporting the ark and the other pieces of furniture and instruments that were used in the service of the Tabernacle. They were not priests, but they were servants for the Lord in the Tabernacle. In the verse above (v 9), Moses rebukes Korah for not being content with the job that the Lord had given him. Korah wanted more. He wanted to grab some of the glory that he saw Moses and Aaron getting. It reminds us of Lucifer, who was not content guarding the holiness of God. He wanted more too. This rebellion resulted in the death of Korah, along with the other men involved and their families. Further, many more people from the congregation perished the next day after they complained about the death of Korah and his bunch.

We see this same type of behavior today in our local churches. God puts in place leadership for the congregation, but there will always be some Korah’s within the congregation who will attempt to gain control. The process usually begins with murmuring and complaining about the job that the pastor, and, or deacons are doing. They will often grab the ears of other disgruntled people and try to bring them in with them. Before you know it, there is a group of people within the congregation who are gaining power, working against what the leadership is trying to do. It won’t be long before it comes to a head. Somebody will have to go. Sometimes it’s the pastor. Sometimes it will be Korah; but when he leaves, he usually pulls a bunch of people out with him.

Why can’t we just trust the leadership system that God has set up. He calls a man to a ministry. That calling is then confirmed by a vote of the congregation. The congregation still has the power to remove the man if there are serious enough issues in his ministry. But unless there is something immoral, heretical, or seriously unethical, the congregation should rally behind the pastor, pray for him, and work with him as he leads the congregation in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

Don’t be a Korah. Support your pastor, and the other leaders that God has placed in your church. Work with him. Help him as he tries to win souls and disciple the converts. Pray for him and his family. Love him.


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Fear Not

Today’s Passage – Numbers 14 – 15

(Second Milers also read – Acts 13 – 15; Proverbs 20; Psalms 96 – 100)

Scripture Memory for February – Psalm 100

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

“If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.” – (Numbers 14:8-9)

Perhaps the most often repeated commandment in all of Scripture is the little phrase, “Fear not”. Humans are very fearful by nature. Let me ask you, what do see when problems or trials come your way? Do see the trial, or do you see the God Who is much bigger than your trial. How about obstacles? Is your God bigger than your obstacles? In Numbers 13 and 14 we see the twelve spies going into the land of promise to check it out. It is amazing how that all twelve witnesssed the same things, but only two of them saw that God was bigger than the obstacles. Ten of the spies came back with nothing but negativity. It is too difficult; the giants are too big. We can’t do it. Joshua and Caleb, on the other hand, didn’t pay too much attention to the giants, because their God made the giants look like little children in comparison. They saw nothing but victory, and the goodness of God in the land that they were to receive.

Let me ask you he question again. What do you see. Do you see the Christan life as something too big or too difficult? Do you see God’s will for your life as impossible for God to do through you. Let me share some verses with you:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – (Philippians 4:13)

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” – (Luke 1:37)

“And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” – (Mark 10:27)

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – (Hebrews 11:6)

God was well pleased with the faith of Joshua and Caleb. Their faith overcame their fear and as a result they were the only ones that got to go into the Promised Land. Will God be well pleased with your faith?


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