Taking Care of the Preachers

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 – 145

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 89

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.

“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. And, because he is not in it for compensation (“not for filthy lucre” – 1 Peter 5:2), he must be willing to do whatever is needed in order to effectively minister to God’s flock whether he is paid or not. God will ultimately care for his needs anyway, regardless of whether or not the church can.

“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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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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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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The Voice of God

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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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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 Strong Message

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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 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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Look to Jesus

2016 Theme Looking Unto Jesus with logo and date

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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