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Numbers 3–The Levites, God’s Firstborn

The Levitical tribe had a unique place in Israel.  They were set apart to perform all the duties related to the spiritual functions of the nation.  They were in charge of the Tabernacle and the tent of meeting.  They would care for the furnishings and the Ark of the Covenant.  They would be the priests of the tribes and always be spread through the tribes and not left on their own.

But, the Lord said something unique to Moses–These are to be the replacement for the 1st born males from every Israelite woman that I lost in Egypt.  God had not forgotten the horrible act Pharaoh had ordered.  The Levites were to replace the first born males lost to Israel–the ones that would normally be committed to God. What a seat of honor–to be truly set apart as a tribe, to replace such a grievous loss.  The men of Levi would hold that distinction from then on.

In our lives, God set us apart as well.  We are to be his chosen.  We are to be his ambassadors among the people of the world.  We are to wear the LORD’S name boldly as we live our daily lives.  God treasured the Levitical order; just as He treasures us. We simply need to live as His people, It is as great an honor to live as God’s ambassadors while we walk among those we know each day!

God Bless You

The Lord said to Moses, “Bring the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him. They are to perform duties for him and for the whole community at the tent of meeting by doing the work of the tabernacle. They are to take care of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, fulfilling the obligations of the Israelites by doing the work of the tabernacle. Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to him.[a] 10 Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary is to be put to death.”

11 The Lord also said to Moses, 12 “I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, 13 for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.”

I Corinthians 2 Part 1–The Spirit’s Power

It is often the greatest challenge of faith to rely upon God’s spirit for direction. When Christ died, He bore our sins–a huge burden. But when He rose from the dead, the Lord not only gave us the opportunity to live again, spiritually, he also made way for the Holy Spirit of God to indwell and direct our lives. Prior to Christ’s resurrection, the Spirit was given to prophets, priests, and kings. When they were anointed by God, His Spirit would come upon them and they would be guided and directed by God’s hand. After the resurrection, The Holy Spirit became available to all that truly believed and followed the Lord.
 
We, God’s chosen,  are given the Holy Spirit to lead, comfort, guide and direct our journey.  It is an amazing thing to sense God’s direction in our lives. What is more, God desires nothing more than to reveal himself to us.  His word, fellowship, and prayer all help to reveal the Spirit’s leading in our lives. Our relationship with God is a personal one, and His Spirit works individually in each of our lives to transform us into God’s image and prepare us for an eternity with Him.  We can never underestimate the power of God as He reveals Himself to us in our daily journey with Him. We need to be sensitive to God’s leading and ask humbly for daily direction as we follow the Lord.
 
The walk with God is a spiritual one, so we must always rely upon His Holy Spirit to make it complete. Thank You, Lord, for sending your Spirit to guide and direct us. 
 
God Bless You

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[b]
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

I Corinthians 1 Part 3–Men Simply Do Not Get IT!

Throughout the generations, men have attempted time and again to show how foolish it is to trust the Lord and honor Him with our lives. Men have tried to prove that God does not exist and that God should have no part in the daily affairs of men’s lives. They have persecuted, martyred and attempted to wipe God’s name from any and everything the public may see.  Still, thousands of years and dozens of fallen kingdoms and empires later–God is still standing.  His word is still the basis of the legal system we enjoy. He is still named on every coin, and history is divided by the coming of the Savior. 
 
The reality is that men will always try to replace God with their own version of supremacy. Science, art, philosophy, wealth, entertainment or just plain old chaos–men always think that their ways are better than God’s. They see spiritual truth as foolishness. They see followers of our Lord as simpletons and crazy people. Still, God remains large and in charge. His ways are still the best and walking with Him still is the only true source of peace and purpose.  The world unnerved by our confidence and faith–because they simply can’t understand.  Truth is, that is not our problem.  We speak the truth and hope that they come to know Christ.  We are selfless and God-seekers! We know the truth and as the verse plainly states, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32
 
God Bless You

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord

I Corinthians 1 Part 2–Divide and Conquered!

One of the enemy’s best tools to render the church ineffective is the ability to divide the church over petty issues.  Paul was grieved that this growing and vibrant church was suffering because they were divided over whom they would follow.  Some were following Paul’s leadership, others were following Peter, still others Apollos and then there were those that said Hey I am following Christ!  In truth, all the named leaders were following Christ.
The pride that came from saying they were following the right leader, was the same pride that inspired Eve to eat from the tree, inspired men to build the tower of Babel, inspired the Jewish leaders to crucify Jesus and inspires people every day to think themselves the center of the universe.  
 
As a body of believers, we need to be united in spirit and in truth.  We need to seek first the Kingdom of God and not our own interests. Modern denominational divisions are as prevalent as ever in history; but, Christians need not dwell on the denominational differences, they need to dwell on the person of Jesus Christ. As we dwell on Christ–He can help us to discern what is best and he can help us to walk in a life of victory and purpose. We will be concerned about honoring God rather than being right.  Jesus said it best, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you!” Matthew 6:33. 
 
 As a family, let’s strive to unite and not divide our family. Then, God wins and we do as well.
 
God Bless You

 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Church Divided Over Leaders

10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

I Corinthians 1–Introduction

 Paul was a Scholar, a lawyer, an apostle and a pioneer for the church. He left the comfort of being a rising star among the Jewish leadership to become the most prolific author in the New Testament. In God’s way, the Lord took the least likely candidate for evangelism to the Gentile world and used him to not only begin the church movement but to completely change the focus of Christianity to save the world. Paul started the church at Corinth during his first missionary journey and it had taken off.  But like most churches, it had its share of growing pains and problems. Over the next several weeks we will look at the church at Corinth and see that many issues they faced, we still face today.  
 
God Bless You

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Church Divided Over Leaders

10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas;beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

2 Samuel 24–David’s Senseless Census

Truly one of the strangest stories of David’s reign. God incites David to Take a census of Israel’s troops and then punishes him for doing it! Over the objections of His trusted advisors, he had the census taken. When completed, David was struck with the gravity of the sin–He was putting his trust in the numbers, not in the Lord.  The backlash was great, 70K people died from the plague, but, God in His mercy relented after only 1 day of a 3-day plague.
 
David knew what he had done was wrong.  He would never again put his trust in what he had before him, instead, he would put his trust in God! That was why David had the most amazing reign of all of the kings of Israel and Judah.  It was never about the numbers or the weapons, instead, it was about leadership and lordship!  David learned from the time of Goliath that God wins the victories, not skill, might, or volume of troops.  That is what made this story so memorable. David, of all kinds, learned early that it was God that provides. So when David acted like every other king, it was both senseless and out of character.
 
In our lives, no matter how well we know the Lord, or how many times he has shown himself amazing in our lives; we are often faced with the opportunity and sadly choose to trust our own power rather than fully relying upon God. When that happens, it can be catastrophic for us and others.  In those times, often we must own our sin and repent. then trust in His mercy and restoration. God simply loves us and wants for us a full and meaningful life.  When he leads, we see amazing things and often find he has accomplished exceedingly and abundantly more than we could hope or dream. 
 
In short, we must rely upon God no matter how easy it is to count our own tools and troops. There is no army so large or nation so great, that God, that uses the earth as a footstool, could not wipe it out in an instant!
 
God Bless You

Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”

So the king said to Joab and the army commanders[a] with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”

But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”

The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel…

Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: 12 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’”

13 So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come on you three[b] years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”

14 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”

15 So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died…

Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”

“To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”

22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood.23 Your Majesty, Araunah[d] gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the Lord your God accept you.”

24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels[e] of silver for them.25 David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.

2 Samuel 23 Part 2–David’s Mighty Men

In a word, David was an amazing king. But, he would not have been as amazing, had it not been for the mighty men God gave him for support. This passage in Samuel lays out the exploits of the loyal guards of David. Of the hundreds of thousands of troops that served the king, these men rose to the top. Among the group were three that were so amazing, they were called, “The Three”. And beyond them were an additional 34 men that served David without question and risked their lives without any thought to their own safety or honor.  These men were all placed in God’s “Hall of Fame” because of their devotion to God and their king. One name that appears–Uriah the Hittite, was the man David had killed to take Bathsheba. Uriah was a man of honor!
 
None of us can do life alone.  We seek the Lord, but, he kindly puts folks in our lives to support us and carry us through the peaks and valleys we face. As we look back at the people God has given to us as our “Mighty Men”, none enter our lives to build a name for themselves. They all walk alongside and do what is necessary to be a friend simply out of love and devotion. We can never be grateful enough for the mighty men in our lives. we simply need to remember them, honor them and know that it was God that gave them to us. We remain thankful to Him for such an amazing gift. I am so grateful for the mighty men God has placed in my life. Many of you read this and know who you are. So please accept this note as a note of thanks and know I am forever grateful for you being a part of my amazing journey.
 
God Bless You

Josheb-Basshebeth,[a] a Tahkemonite,[b] was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed[c] in one encounter.

Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim[d] for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory…

Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three.[e] He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three.19 Was he not held in greater honor than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them.

20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. 21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. 23 He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.

24 Among the Thirty were:

Asahel the brother of Joab,

Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem,

25 Shammah the Harodite,

Elika the Harodite,

26 Helez the Paltite,

Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa,

27 Abiezer from Anathoth,

Sibbekai[f] the Hushathite,

28 Zalmon the Ahohite,

Maharai the Netophathite,

29 Heled[g] son of Baanah the Netophathite,

Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin,

30 Benaiah the Pirathonite,

Hiddai[h] from the ravines of Gaash,

31 Abi-Albon the Arbathite,

Azmaveth the Barhumite,

32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite,

the sons of Jashen,

Jonathan 33 son of[i] Shammah the Hararite,

Ahiam son of Sharar[j] the Hararite,

34 Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maakathite,

Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,

35 Hezro the Carmelite,

Paarai the Arbite,

36 Igal son of Nathan from Zobah,

the son of Hagri,[k]

37 Zelek the Ammonite,

Naharai the Beerothite, the armor-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah,

38 Ira the Ithrite,

Gareb the Ithrite

39 and Uriah the Hittite.

There were thirty-seven in all

2 Samuel 23 Part 1–David’s Last Words

It is all about the legacy we leave. As David’s days were coming to an end, he told his son that it is, in fact, one’s legacy that defines his life. David’s time as king was defined by the uniting of the nation, and the establishment of Israel as a power in the world.  By the end of David’s reign, Israel was the leader. They collected tribute from most of the surrounding nations and had outposts at every vulnerable place that surrounded them.  They had a well-established army and were known among the other nations as a kingdom whose God was powerful and in charge.  David sought to bring glory to God and in doing so, he was to become known as one of the greatest leaders of all time.
 
It is always true; if one places God first, He will establish everything else. The Lord never promised to make life easy, He simply promised to lead, guide and direct us through.  One needs to trust God through the greatest and worst of times in order to see his amazing hand of mercy and to experience His provision, protection, and preparation. There will be trials, temptations, and disappointments throughout, but, there will also be amazing adventures and lasting legacies to carry the day. Like David, we need to trust God, follow His lead and give the Lord the glory for the things God accomplishes in our lives. David did that and was established as a man after God’s own heart.
 
God Bless You

These are the last words of David:

“The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse,
the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High,
the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
the hero of Israel’s songs:

“The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;
his word was on my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke,
the Rock of Israel said to me:
‘When one rules over people in righteousness,
when he rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of morning at sunrise
on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
that brings grass from the earth.’

“If my house were not right with God,
surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant,
arranged and secured in every part;
surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation
and grant me my every desire.
But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns,
which are not gathered with the hand.
Whoever touches thorns
uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear;
they are burned up where they lie.”