A Tithe of a Tithe

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)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

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

Read a previous post from this passage – Standing Between the Living and the Dead”

“25 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 26 Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe. 27 And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress. 28 Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD’S heave offering to Aaron the priest. 29 Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the LORD, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it. 30 Therefore thou shalt say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor, and as the increase of the winepress. 31 And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation. 32 And ye shall bear no sin by reason of it, when ye have heaved from it the best of it: neither shall ye pollute the holy things of the children of Israel, lest ye die.” (Numbers 18:25-32)

Did you know that the Levites who received their support from the tithes and offerings from God’s people, were also supposed to give a portion of that which they received back to the Lord. It was literally a tithe of a tithe. The Israelites presented their tithes to the priests, which was then distributed to all the Levites to feed their families. The Levites then took ten percent of what was given to them and offered it back to the Lord. It was actually then given specifically to the family of Aaron who served as the priests. Remember, the tribe of Levi was made up of three families: Kohath, Merari, and Gershom. These families had different responsibilities as servants within the Tabernacle (and later in the Temple). From the family of Kohath came Moses and his brother Aaron. Aaron and his sons were given the special distinction of serving as the priests within the Tabernacle.

This offering from the Levites was referred to a few times in vs. 27 – 29 as an “heave offering.” The “heave offering” (תְּרוּמָה – tᵊrûmâ) was first mentioned in Exodus 29:27 and is mentioned twenty other times after that. Bakers Encyclopedia of the Bible describes this offering as: “portions of the sacrifices and offerings set aside for the Lord and for the priests.”[1]

My thought this morning is that these servants of God who received their support from the offerings of God’s people were also expected to participate in the giving of offerings themselves. It almost seems to not make sense. If God is giving the money (or in this particular case, food) to the ministers from the offering, then why should they have to give it back to the offering. Maybe, they should only be given ninety percent of the tithe so that they would not have to go through the process of giving back the other ten percent. But God set it up this way for a couple of reasons:

  • There is great joy in giving.

“35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

People who are inside the will of God and filled with His Spirit receive tremendous pleasure out of giving to God. All of God’s people love to give, and God’s ministers are no different.

  • By giving back the Levites were being examples to the people.

In that great passage for pastors written by Peter, he exhorts them to be examples to the flock:

“1 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: 2 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; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 5:1-4)

It has been my observation that some preachers are a little stingy in their giving. I must confess that this is a “pet peeve” of mine. I have heard about preachers who did not give any offerings at all to their churches. Who am I to judge them their motivation in neglecting this basic duty, but I can judge the wrongness of the action itself. Preacher, if we are going to encourage the congregation to give, we had better lead the way in giving. By the way, preachers should not be stingy in other ways, either. Pick up the tab once in a while when eating out with church members; give a generous tip to the waitress; give gifts at Christmas and birthdays, etc.

  • Giving demonstrated their love for the Lord.

Paul told the Church at Corinth that their freewill offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem would prove the sincerity of their love for the Lord:

“1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. 7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-9)

  • Giving demonstrated their faith in God.

By participating in this process, the Levites were demonstrating that they believed that God was going to continue to meet every need that they had:

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)

[1] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Heave Offering,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 941.


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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 and more powerful 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 witnessed the same things but only two of them saw that God was bigger than the obstacles and challenges that Israel would face when going into the land. Ten of the spies came back with nothing but negativity. It is too difficult; the giants are too big; we just 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 challenges and trials of the Christan life too big or too difficult for God to handle? 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)

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

“And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.” (1 Chronicles 28:20)

God has got all of your situations and obstacles under His control. You can trust that He is much bigger than any obstacle you might face as you are serving the Lord according to His will.

God was well pleased with the faith of Joshua and Caleb 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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And When the People Complained…

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 – 18Proverbs 19Psalms 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.

And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.” (Numbers 11:1)

Boy, I hope that you enjoyed today’s reading as much as I did! Sometimes when we read these Old Testament passages, especially the chapters containing the genealogies, they can be less interesting and lacking of action, but that was certainly not the case for Numbers 11 – 13.

In Numbers 11, we have an account of the people of God murmuring and complaining, which is something they did often, and God hated it. Anyway, here in chapter eleven they are complaining about the manna that God provided for them everyday. Imagine not having to work for your food but simply going out every morning and gathering it up from off of the ground. We do not know exactly what manna tasted like but I’d bet it was good, and since it came directly from God as bread from Heaven, I can guarantee that it provided perfect nutrition. Yet, the people were tired of manna every day. Keith Green wrote a great song that described the frustration of the Israelites with their day to day wander in the wilderness and their lack of desire for manna. Here is a portion of “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt:”

Well there’s nothing do but travel
And we sure travel a lot
‘Cause it’s hard to keep your feet from moving
When the sand gets so hot
And in the morning it’s manna hotcakes
We snack on manna all day
And we sure had a winner last night for dinner
Flaming manna souffle

Well we once complained for something new to munch
The ground opened up and had some of us for lunch
Ooh, such fire and smoke
Can’t God even take a joke? Huh? NO!

Oh, Moses, put down your pen!
What? Oh no, manna again?

Oh, manna waffles
Manna burgers
Manna bagels
Fillet of manna
Manna patty
BaManna bread!

I think the main reason that the people complained was because they were on a different timetable than God. I know I am. I want what I want, when I want it, which is usually immediately. The people liked the manna at first but they got tired of it. I am sure that God knew that they needed a little more variety in their diet but He wasn’t providing it as fast as the people wanted. So what did they do? They griped and complained. They wanted MEAT! And, they wanted it NOW! They more than desired it; they lusted after it. So, what did God do? He gave it to them in the form of quails. So many of them that they were piled up three feet deep in a large area surrounding the camp. They ate so much of it that it came out of their nostrils. They loved the quail that God provided at first but they would soon tire of it as well.

Why is it that God’s people get tired of the good things that He provides for them. Why is it that we always want more; we are never satisfied, never content.

In chapter twelve, we see that the complaints were not limited to just the lay people. Apparently Aaron and Miriam were upset about the fact that Moses had chosen an African wife. God was not pleased with their criticism either, and Miriam was stricken (at least temporarily) with leprosy.

Then in chapter thirteen, God sent twelve spies in to check out the land of Canaan. He didn’t want them to figure out how God was going to bring them in to defeat the Canaanites, He just wanted them to see how beautiful and abundant the land was so they could get a vision for what God had in store for them. Instead of coming back excited, they came back scared. They did not believe that their God was able to defeat the Canaanites and they, too, griped and complained.

When are we going to learn? Why can’t God’s people see that their cups are overflowing with blessings, instead of always viewing them as half-empty. Is this the way you see things? Do you tend to see the negative side of everything? Learn from all of these examples from Numbers 11 – 13. God is good and He is very good to His children. He has dealt with us far better than we could ever deserve.


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Wait Until I Pray

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 – 15Proverbs 18Psalms 91 – 95)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua One and Verse Eight

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

Read a previous post from today’s reading – “Don’t Move

“And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you.” (Numbers 9:8)

In our text today, a group of men come to Moses with a problem: they wanted to observe the Passover, but they were ceremonially unclean because they had come in contact with a dead body. Moses did not just give them an answer based upon what he thought would be right. He told them to wait until he prayed about it, and then he would give them God’s answer. The Lord determined that these men should wait exactly one month and then observe the Passover. The Lord also revealed to Moses that this would also be the rule for people who were on a journey when the Passover was being observed. They would just wait a month and observe it in the second month. 

A similar situation happened in Numbers 27. The daughters of Zelophehad had a question about their inheritance, but Moses did not give them his answer: “… Moses brought their cause before the LORD.” (Numbers 27:5)

My thought this morning is that we need to make sure the counsel that we give other people, and even the decisions that we make for ourselves, are all bathed in prayer. People come to me all of the time for advice, or perhaps to ask me about some new thing that they would like to do in their ministry within the church. Oftentimes, I tell them what I think they should do without first checking with the Lord. That is not a wise thing to do. I should have an automatic reply similar to what Moses said: “Wait until I pray about it.” Of course, we should also seek answers for them from the Word of God as well. Waiting to pray and seek God’s will will ensure that good counsel is given and bad decisions are not made. Take time to pray before you tell somebody else what they should do, and also before you do something yourself. 

“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4)

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:18)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)


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The Nazarite Vow

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)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm Sixty-One and Verses One – Three

Read the “0216 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Lord Bless Thee”

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.” (Numbers 6:2 – 3)

Numbers 6 discusses the Nazarite vow. (Note – don’t confuse Nazarite with Nazarene. Jesus was a Nazarene from Nazareth in Galilee)

The vow of a Nazarite involved these three things:

  1. Abstinence from wine or anything from the vine, including grapes or raisins.
  2. Hair could not be cut.
  3. No contact whatever with a dead body, or even a dead animal.

This vow was a temporary vow of separation in most cases, though there were a few who were Nazarites from birth:

  1. Samson (Judges 13:5 – 7; 16:17) Samson violated his vow by breaking all three of the restrictions of the Nazarite vow. He went to the vineyards, He touched a dead body, and he cut his hair)
  2. Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11)
  3. John the Baptist (Luke 1:15 – though the Scriptures only mention that John would not drink wine or strong drink, but he was definitely separated unto the Lord).

When the Apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey, he may have been participating in a Nazarite vow by paying the offering for four men who were coming out of their time of separation (see Acts 21:24).

There was no mandate that anybody take part in this season of separation: it was the free-will choice of whoever desired to do it. The application that we can make concerning this vow is that during the time of this vow, the person was to be completely separated from sin and devoted to the Lord. That is a good thing for us to be at all times, but there may be seasons in our lives and ministries where we may want to refrain from certain entertainments and activities and, perhaps even, fast from food. During this period, we could also extend our time in prayer and Bible study.

According to Manners and Customs of the Bible:

This institution was a symbol of a life devoted to God and separated from all sin—a holy life (Numbers 6:2–21).

When the period of the continuance of the vow came to an end, the Nazarite had to present himself at the door of the sanctuary with three things.

  1. A male lamb of the first year for a burnt-offering.
  2. A ewe lamb of the first year for a sin-offering.
  3. A ram for a peace-offering.

After these sacrifices were offered by the priest, the Nazarite cut off his hair at the door and threw it into the fire under the peace-offering.

As to the duration of a Nazarite’s vow, everyone was left at liberty to fix his own time. There is mention made in the Scriptures of only three who were Nazarites for life, Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist (Judges 13:4, 5; 1 Samuel 1:11, Luke 1:15). In its ordinary form, however, the Nazarite’s vow lasted only thirty and, at most, one hundred, days.[1]


[1] Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & Customs of the Bible (pp. 533–535). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.


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A Job For Everybody

 

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 permitted 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 they 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. 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. 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 the Great Commission to be fulfilled within 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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The Center 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 – 3; Proverbs 14; Psalms 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.

“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 chosen place of worship was the very center of the lives of the people of Israel.

Now let’s fast forward a few thousand 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 chosen place for corporate worship, and it is also the place where we are to be organized in 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 families. I have been a pastor now for many years and I have been involved in God’s work as a layman even longer. 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 church’s 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 within 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 within the local church.
  2. Pray for your church and your pastors and leaders. The ministry can be very discouraging at times for your leaders 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 occasion that you are praying for them.
  3. Support your church with your tithes and offerings. The work of God cannot go forward without the financial support of God’s people. When you don’t give financially to the church 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 by verbally commending the church and its ministers to others. 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 Choice is Yours

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 26 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 19 – 21; Proverbs 13; Psalms 66 – 70)

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

Read the “0213 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s passage – “First Things First

“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 Israel 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 wasn’t. 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 commands 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 conditional promises to Christians today. He said that He would meet our needs if we were to put Him first in our lives (Matthew 6:33). 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 and 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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Rest for the Land

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 24 – 25 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 17 – 18Proverbs 12Psalms 61 – 65)

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

Read the “0212 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading – “The Mind of the Lord.”

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD. Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.” (Leviticus 25:2-4)

The image above is of a scene typical in the southern plains during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, which afflicted parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. There were many contributing factors that caused the barren and desert-like conditions covering this huge land mass of once fruitful grassland, including a severe shortage of rain over and extended period of time. However, one of the components that added to the problem was a serious lack of intelligent land management. The government had encouraged and had given incentives for people to move to this area and farm the land; but, they over-farmed it and stripped the land of its topsoil and nutrients. In Egan Timothy’s book, The Worst of Times, Melt White from Texas was quoted as saying, “God didn’t create this land around here to be plowed up, He created it for Indians and buffalo. Folks raped this land. Raped it bad.”[1]

J. Vernon McGee refers to a similar “dust bowl” of sorts that he experienced as a young boy: “The southland where I was reared has learned, to its sorrow, that one should let the land lie fallow. A great deal of the land has been worn out by planting cotton every year, year after year. The Sabbatical year was actually a good agricultural principle which God gave to them. It is quite interesting that God knows all about farming, isn’t it?”[2]

Thousands of years before the Dust Bowl hit America, God had commanded His people to let their land “rest” one year out of seven in order for the land to be replenished with the nutrients it needs. The people could cultivate, plant, and reap their fields for six years, but on the seventh year they were forbidden to do so. On that seventh year, the people could go out in the field and eat of the fruits that grew on their own, but they could not harvest what had grown to be sold in the market. The poor and the wild beasts were also permitted to eat of anything that grew on its own in the year of rest. By resting their fields one year out of seven, God also replenished the nutrients that were taken from them during the six years. This way, the fields would continue to produce.

Unfortunately, it seems that Israel did not obey God and let their land rest one year out of seven as He commanded them. According to 2 Chronicles 36, God sent His people into Babylonian captivity for seventy years, and during that time He gave the land in Israel time to rest in proportion to the number of years that they did not voluntarily rest the land when they lived there:

“To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.” (2 Chronicles 36:21 – See also Jeremiah 25:8 – 11)

Though I am certainly not an expert on agricultural matters, I am told that many farmers today will rotate their fields in order that they can “rest” one year out of seven. Some farmers will actually plant something in the seventh year that they will not harvest. Then, they will plow it all back into the field returning the nutrients to the soil. The bottom line, is that farmers have learned that they cannot keep taking from the ground, without allowing it to be replenished.

A spiritual application that we can make from this is that neither can we keep selfishly taking what God has provided without every once in a while giving back. Just a thought.

[1] Egan, Timothy. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (p. 9). HMH Books. Kindle Edition.

[2] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed., vol. 1 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 437.


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Take Time To Remember

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 22 – 23 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 15 – 16; Proverbs 11; Psalms 56 – 60

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6  verse 33

Read the “0211 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.” – (Leviticus 23:4)

In chapter 23 in the Book of Leviticus, we see the Lord giving His instructions regarding special days that would be set apart from other days. On these holy days, or “holidays” the people were commanded to stop their normal routine, and refrain from doing any kind of work. God wanted their focus to be on Him during these days. The special days (or in some cases weeks) listed in the chapter were as follows:

1  The Sabbath – every Saturday the people were to take a break from their work in order to rest. God rested the seventh day after He created the earth, so in some ways the Sabbath was memorial of God’s work at creation.

2  The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread – a memorial to God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt. It seems to be that God wants us to remember some things. We are quick to forget the provision and protection that God has given us.

3  The Feast of First fruits – this Feast took place on the day after the Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast was an acknowledgement that the whole barley harvest belonged to the Lord.

4  The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost – This was a dedication of the wheat harvest. It took place in May/June 50 days after the Sabbath before the Feast of First fruits.

5  The Feast of Trumpets – 1st day of seventh month – it consecrated the entire seventh month as a Sabbatical month.

6  The Day of Atonement – 10th day of the seventh month – this was the day the priest went in to the Holy of Holies to offer for his own sins, and the sins of the nation.

7  The Feast of Tabernacles (also called Booths or Ingathering) – beginning on the 15th day of the seventh month – commemorated the time that God provided for Israel as they wandered the wilderness in tents after being delivered from Egypt. This feast is also a celebration of the fall harvest.

All of these special days and feasts were designed to help the children of Israel to remember things that should be important to them. God wants His children to remember all of the wonderful things that He has done for us. We tend to get very discontented when we forget all of the blessings that God has provided in our lives.

I believe it is important to continue these traditions in our lives today. We may not observe the same days, but there ought to be some special days in our lives where we take time out to remember. And, I believe we should be very careful to come apart on the Lord’s Day – Sunday –  that one day out of seven for the purpose of resting the body, and reflection upon Christ. We are all busy people, or at least, we should be; but we need to take time out to remember. We need to take time to remember God on a daily basis by spending time with in our devotions. We also need to keep the Lord’s day holy and separated from the normal routines of the week. And there also needs to be some special days in the calendar year when we set apart time to remember important blessings from God.

There also ought to be special days that we set apart time for reasons other than spiritual. Families should observe special days, like birthdays and anniversaries. We ought to go out of our way to remember the important events and people in our lives.

Added Thought from the passage

“And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.” – (Leviticus 23:22)

In the middle of this passage dealing with special days and feasts, God instructs the people of Israel to remember the poor. They were to intentionally leave some of the fruit from the harvest in the fields so that poor folks could come by and gather it. Today, we need to also remember that there are people less fortunate than ourselves that need some help. God has blessed many of us tremendously with financial blessings, and we need to remember to share some of what the Lord has given us with others. Just a thought.


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