Numbers 26–The Second Census–Joshua and Caleb Remained

It must have been a daunting feat, and a sad day, when the second census was taken by Moses.  40 years had passed since the Israelites were to enter Canaan; and, now they gathered at the shores of the Jordan once again looking across at Jericho. After the census was done–Moses Joshua and Caleb remained as the only remaining adult cast members.  The liberated slaves had all perished, and now a nation of free people remained.
 
Joshua and Caleb never doubted God, or his ability to clear the land.  They simply had to trust Him that in His time He would deliver on the promise He made to Abraham hundreds of years prior.  Well, the time had finally come, and now as the census was taken Joshua was as strong and fit and ready as he had been 40 years prior.  The amazing thing was that he and Caleb never fell prey to the doubts and sin of the people. They learned and followed God closely. They saw God at His best and the people at their worst.  Now, at the end of the journey, Joshua was ready to lead.
 
We have the same opportunity today as Joshua did with israel.  We can watch the world around us react and rebel to the Lord but, we can also choose to remain strong and faithful  in spite of the behaviors and attitudes we face.  It is never an easy approach, but, it is always the right approach.  With it, there is pain, trial, stress and an innate desire to give up.  If we can continue to follow the Lord in the midst of that, He will honor our faithfulness and, like Joshua, we will find ourselves being one of the last ones standing.  Help us, Father, to be the servants that remain faithful through the trials and the storms.
 
God Bless You

The Lord said to Moses, 53 “The land is to be allotted to them as an inheritance based on the number of names. 54 To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one; each is to receive its inheritance according to the number of those listed. 55 Be sure that the land is distributed by lot. What each group inherits will be according to the names for its ancestral tribe. 56 Each inheritance is to be distributed by lot among the larger and smaller groups.”

57 These were the Levites who were counted by their clans:

through Gershon, the Gershonite clan;

through Kohath, the Kohathite clan;

through Merari, the Merarite clan.

58 These also were Levite clans:

the Libnite clan,

the Hebronite clan,

the Mahlite clan,

the Mushite clan,

the Korahite clan.

(Kohath was the forefather of Amram; 59 the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the Levites[e] in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister Miriam.60 Aaron was the father of Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.61 But Nadab and Abihu died when they made an offering before the Lord with unauthorized fire.)

62 All the male Levites a month old or more numbered 23,000. They were not counted along with the other Israelites because they received no inheritance among them.

63 These are the ones counted by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they counted the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. 64 Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai.65 For the Lord had told those Israelites they would surely die in the wilderness, and not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.

Ruth 3-Part 1–Listen and Humbly Follow

Ruth did not understand the customs of Israel.  She was focused upon the care of her sweet mother-in-law, Naomi.  Naomi was equally selfless in her heart for Ruth. So Naomi prepared Ruth to meet Boaz at the threshing floor. She knew as the family’s Kinsman Redeemer He would be the one to find her a husband. So she prepared Ruth for what to wear and how to respond. Ruth followed her instructions and began an adventure that would literally change the world.
 
In our lives, we are faced with opportunities to trust God. They seem odd, certainly not in our plan. But, if we will listen and selflessly follow the Lord, there is no telling what adventure the Lord has in store.  What is more, we have no idea what impact on others we will have.  We simply need to remain humble and faithful and allow God to do the things He needs to do to make our lives what He has planned.  If we will, the Bible tells us that we can literally be a part of the plan to change the world.  We can at least be part of the plan to change our lives and draw those we love to Him.
 
God Bless You

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings[a] over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 10 And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.

2 Samuel 6 Part 1–Reverence

David was bringing the kingdom back in line with God’s plan.  He had already reestablished Israel as a nation under God’s lead. Now the King set out to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. Sadly, on the journey, one of the men caring for the ark reached out and grabbed it to hold it steady–when he did, he died.  David was furious and scared all at once.  He decided to park the Ark at a place right there.  The Ark was sacred. God was clear, no one was to touch it. So when the Uzzah did, no matter his intention, the response from God was also clear–he died.  
 
It is critical to understand that God is and does command reverence.  We tend to want to claim God’s gifts and favor–but, we refuse to honor His deity.  God is God he is powerful beyond measure. He deserves reverence.  We, as His children need to show that reverence in our lives. It is not that God will strike us down if we do not, but, we lose so much in our relationship with God if we fail to honor the Lord for who He is.  Reverence is critical! 
 
God Bless You

 David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. He and all his men went to Baalah[a] in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name,[b] the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it,[c] and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets,[d] harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.[e]

Psalm 132–David’s Heir will Occupy the Throne

God was clear, David’s heir will occupy the throne of God’s chosen people. God keeps His word. What the psalmist may not have known–but correctly prophesied, was that the throne of Zion would be forever occupied by Jesus.

 When Christ came, as the ancestor of David, it was no accident. God knew from the dawn of time that the throne was an eternal one; and, His son would occupy it.  It was, however, this prophecy that caused confusion among the Jews– when Jesus came.  The Jewish people were looking for a physical champion to come and lead Israel back to a place of national prominence.

God’s plan for Israel was so much higher. He was not setting up a physical throne; for a warrior king, to rule the world. Instead, he was building an alter for a Messiah–to restore the nation of priests, and bring fellowship back between God and men. He was preparing to empty Himself of Himself; so that he could make the only lasting sacrifice–to save men from themselves and their sin. Jesus was that sacrifice. 

  When Christ died that horrible death–it was simply to rise as the source of redemption for us all. When He rose, he defeated the final enemies of men–death and sin.  Once that was completed–Paul says it best, “Then God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him a name that was above every name.  So, that at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow; in heaven, on earth and below the earth; and, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord–to the Glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11.  

The Lord swore an oath to David–a sure oath that He will not revoke!

God Bless You

For the sake of your servant David,
do not reject your anointed one.

11 The Lord swore an oath to David,
a sure oath he will not revoke:
“One of your own descendants
I will place on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
and the statutes I teach them,
then their sons will sit
on your throne for ever and ever.”

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion,
he has desired it for his dwelling, saying,
14 “This is my resting place for ever and ever;
here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.
15 I will bless her with abundant provisions;
her poor I will satisfy with food.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.

17 “Here I will make a horn[b] grow for David
and set up a lamp for my anointed one

Psalm 87–The City of God

Since Abraham left and entered Canaan, the area that grew to be Israel’s capitol city has become the center of attention for peoples and nations around the world. Abraham met the High priest Melchizedek, King of Salem there. God had Abraham submit to sacrifice Isaac there. Ultimately God made the center of national worship there. Kings rose, temples rose, and the world became exposed to Adonai, there.

Still today, Jeru-Salem (city of God) is being recognized as Israel’s capitol. Many that hate Israel recognize its placement as the nation’s capital is also a recognition that this is again God’s chosen people. God built the nation to be a nation of priests and the evangelists to the world that there is only one true God. While the reminder of the nation being “God’s chosen people”is ever present, the hatred for the nation and God grows ever powerful each day.

All of us that know Christ are ever grateful that God chose Israel. We are ardent supporters of his people and recognize their place in God’s order of things. Still, we are also glad the Messiah came, died and rose so that we could become adopted into the family of God by simply following the resurrected Messiah, Jesus as our Lord ad Savior. Thank you, Lord for your people, your city and your sacrifice that allows those of us who know Christ–to enjoy eternity with you!

God Bless You

He has founded his city on the holy mountain.
2 The Lord loves the gates of Zion
more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are said of you,
city of God:[a]
4 “I will record Rahab[b] and Babylon
among those who acknowledge me—
Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush[c]—
and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’”[d]
5 Indeed, of Zion it will be said,
“This one and that one were born in her,
and the Most High himself will establish her.”
6 The Lord will write in the register of the peoples:
“This one was born in Zion.”
7 As they make music they will sing,
“All my fountains are in you

The Illusion of Control–Proverbs 27 Part 1

Life is a funny thing—We so want to plan and control every aspect, but, control is simply an illusion. As children, my friend George and I went through a period that we became very interested in ants.  George had an ant farm and we started to investigate ant hills.  One game that we would play, was to watch the lines of ants as they worked their way back to the hill.  

We would set up obstacles along the way.  What amazed us most– was that the ants would stay in their lines and quickly adapt to the obstacles.  They climbed over or moved around each obstacle and remained focused on the goal the small opening at the top of the ant hill. For the ants, they were not interested in controlling the circumstances, they were simply focused on getting home.

As Christians, we should value the lesson of the ants. We need to grasp the notion that control is not near as important as destination.  If we simply follow God’s lead, he will lead us toward home over and around each obstacle we face–to a final goal of eternity at his side.  Paul said it best—“I fought the good fight, I have finished the race and kept the faith—Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will award me on that day.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8

God Bless You

 

Do not boast about tomorrow,     for you do not know what a day may bring.

Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;     an outsider, and not your own lips.

Stone is heavy and sand a burden,     but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,     but who can stand before jealousy?

Better is open rebuke     than hidden love.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,     but an enemy multiplies kisses.

One who is full loathes honey from the comb,     but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

Like a bird that flees its nest     is anyone who flees from home.

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,     and the pleasantness of a friend     springs from their heartfelt advice.

10 Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family,     and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you—     better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.

Ladies and Gentlemen-Proverbs 26 Part 2

 

We have come to an age and culture that is in anarchy and chaos.  With endless law and regulations recorded in the courts across the world, we see less order and unity now than we have in ages.  Sadly, it is not difficult to tell what the source of change is. A simple review of history across the world shows the same common theme, as nations move away from God, their cultures become less stable.

In our current culture, it is much too easy to weigh in on every difference of opinion.  The web has given us social media; which in turn has somehow licensed the world and especially this country to drop all semblance of manners and decorum and weigh in on all matters of opinion. And since such intervention is two dimensional, we have no fear of reprisal beyond being blocked from another’s account.

As God’s chosen people—wholly and dearly loved, we ought to heed Solomon’s warning—mind your own business and be honest.  Watch your mouth, don’t use filthy language, spread gossip or be a source of conflict. 20 years ago, most would agree. Now, such behavior and restraint makes people seem aloof, out of touch and somehow socially irresponsible.  Funny thing, though—those who practice social grace and restraint grow to be loved and trusted. It is so rare, that over time such people become the most attractive and needed people in the community.  We need to choose to be those that stand out as ladies and gentlemen—it could literally be the source of revival. 

God Bless You

Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears     is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.

18 Like a maniac shooting     flaming arrows of death 19 is one who deceives their neighbor     and says, “I was only joking!”

20 Without wood a fire goes out;     without a gossip a quarrel dies down. 21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,     so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. 22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;     they go down to the inmost parts.

23 Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware     are fervent lips with an evil heart. 24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,     but in their hearts they harbor deceit. 25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,     for seven abominations fill their hearts. 26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,     but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. 27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;     if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them. 28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts,     and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Top Notched People–Proverbs 24 final

There is a common theme—Top notched people have certain like characteristics.  They speak the truth, they work hard and they look out for others and their interests—not just their own.  One of the greatest attributes of our creator and Lord is his use of paradox.  All through the Bible we learn that walking with him is a series of counter intuitive steps of faith that produce a rich, full and meaningful life—one that leaves a legacy beyond themselves and for generations after.

Knowing that, we have to fight the urge to be like everyone else.  We have to stand strong and live a life that is selfless and substantial.  As we do, we will reap the blessing of the Lord and we will change lives daily.  Never give up, never give in—stand firm in the Lord and allow him to shape your life for his glory.

God Bless You

To show partiality in judging is not good: 24 Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,”     will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. 25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty,     and rich blessing will come on them.

26 An honest answer     is like a kiss on the lips.

27 Put your outdoor work in order     and get your fields ready;     after that, build your house.

28 Do not testify against your neighbor without cause—     would you use your lips to mislead? 29 Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me;     I’ll pay them back for what they did.”

30 I went past the field of a sluggard,     past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; 31 thorns had come up everywhere,     the ground was covered with weeds,     and the stone wall was in ruins. 32 I applied my heart to what I observed     and learned a lesson from what I saw: 33 A little sleep, a little slumber,     a little folding of the hands to rest— 34 and poverty will come on you like a thief     and scarcity like an armed man.

Wisdom the Bridesmaid???–Proverbs 1 Continued

We have all met them.  Perfectly lovely people who have for one reason or another not been able to connect with another.  We all pull for them and want so badly for someone to scoop them up and love them—and yet, alas, it never seems to happen.  That is Solomon’s illustration for wisdom.  So many people say they want to be wise and insightful.  We want the answers to life’s difficult questions and issues.  Solomon indicates that it is us–not wisdom.  Like the girl never picked at the dance, no one is willing to partner with wisdom.  Some would say it’s just too weird—wisdom is not their type.  They prefer sarcasm and google.  Others shy away feeling they are not worthy to have such an amazing partner.  Still others flirt with wisdom but just want what it will give them not caring instead what it will make them.

Wisdom, like the beautiful maiden, stands arms outstretched longing to be embraced.  But, we have to want to be wise and not simply knowledgeable.  What’s more, wisdom does not share the stage with base emotion and trash thought—She expects a desire to remain humble and to diligently seek God.  Finally, wisdom requires faith in God and his timing in order to be the lasting influence in our lives—This ain’t no one night stand. It is a covenant relationship that comes with age and commitment to service.  James 1 sums it up quite nicely—“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God who give generously and without judgment.  But when He asks let him ask in faith—or he will be like aa double—minded man.

If you have not begun, yet; today is the best day to court and win the hand of Wisdom in your life.

God Bless You

20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; 21 on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech:

22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? 23 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. 24 But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, 25 since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, 26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you—

A Lifetime Pursuit–Joshua 23

If there was ever a group of people that could testify of God’s greatness and provision, It would be the free people that God returned to Israel.  They were merely children of slaves and nomads wondering the desert—but, in their wonderings they saw daily God’s provision, protection and preparation to be his chosen nation.  That preparation was specific and complete and the distinction has lasted more than 4000 years.

Joshua gave sound advice to his people.  He knew God was a jealous God—not envious of others, but watchful of his own.  He knew that if they followed God’s teachings, they would not be exposed to the traps, snares and improper influences a godless world would constantly apply.  He knew that the journey in this world was difficult at best and their failure to pay attention to his leadership would never end well.  So he gave them training, instruction and protection to make it possible to remain separate from the world’s influences and culture.

Fortunately, he does the same for us today.  He gave us his word, this Bible, to lead us and direct us on how to live, to honor him and how to treat others. He also gave us the model of the Church to provide training, fellowship and support to live in the chaos of our Godless world.  Finally, he gave us the ability to pray and seek him directly, so that we remember his relationship with us is personal and real.  Like Joshua, after a lifetime of pursuit, there can be no other common sense move than to simply trust and follow the Lord humbly and closely.  Please join me in that daily pursuit.

God Bless You

You have seen everything the Lord your God has done for you during my lifetime. The Lord your God has fought for you against your enemies. I have allotted to you as your homeland all the land of the nations yet unconquered, as well as the land of those we have already conquered—from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea[a] in the west. This land will be yours, for the Lord your God will himself drive out all the people living there now. You will take possession of their land, just as the Lord your God promised you.

“So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.

“For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. 10 Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised. 11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God.