Numbers 32 –Walking as a Free People

The tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh liked the lands and cities they had just captured from the Amorites and Midianites. The leaders approached Moses with an offer–Hey Moses, this has been fun and all, but really we would just as soon not cross the Jordan for our lands, these Lands that have already been cleared seem plenty fine for us!  Moses almost went through the roof.  After languishing in the desert for 40 years, these people thought they would just skip clearing the promised land??!!

In truth, this was a different people.  They quickly made it clear to Moses–“We will build our cities here, but all the men who can fight–will cross over and clear the lands until all of Israel is placed in the lands for which they are promised.  What a different attitude, men would leave wives and family to help their people–not the thinking of a slave.  Moses was surprised and agreeable.  Israel had a track record, however, of promising one thing and then doing another–so Moses made it clear. If you fail to keep your word your sin will find you out!

The great news is that they did as they promised. In Joshua 22 it reads,”Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh and said to them, “You have done all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded. For a long time now—to this very day—you have not deserted your fellow Israelites but have carried out the mission the Lord your God gave you. Now that the Lord your God has given them rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan. But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”


God only requires we walk as free people. Trust Him, honor Him and follow his leadership.  If one is willing to do that, He will bless us far beyond our expectations.  God gave the tribes the land they wanted and actually expanded Israel’s inheritance.  That is what God wants to do in our lives as well.  We simply need to trust Him, honor Him and follow the Lord. Then we can also walk as free people and claim the inheritance that awaits us!


God Bless You


The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock. So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said, “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon,Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon— the land the Lord subdued before the people of Israel—are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.”…

Then Moses said to them, “If you will do this—if you will arm yourselves before the Lord for battle 21 and if all of you who are armed cross over the Jordan before the Lord until he has driven his enemies out before him— 22 then when the land is subdued before the Lord, you may return and be free from your obligation to the Lord and to Israel. And this land will be your possession before the Lord.

23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. 24 Build cities for your women and children, and pens for your flocks,but do what you have promised.”

25 The Gadites and Reubenites said to Moses, “We your servants will do as our lord commands.26 Our children and wives, our flocks and herds will remain here in the cities of Gilead. 27 But your servants, every man who is armed for battle, will cross over to fight before the Lord, just as our lord says.”

Then to Ceasar You Will Go–Acts 25 Part 2

The plan was to change the world.  Paul had traveled Europe and Asia for years–preaching the Gospel and turning both Jew and non-Jew to the Lord.  Still, after literal years of incarceration and being tried in Jewish and Roman courts–never adjudged guilty of anything–Paul stood before another governor pleading his innocence. Outside the court, the enemies of Paul waited to have him released so that they could kill him.
 
Paul claimed his rights a Roman–to appear and plead his case to the Emperor. In most cases, such a request would be laughed at–but Paul was not most cases!  God had a plan to have him inhabit the very palace of Caesar. There he could change the very inner workings of an Empire.  There, Paul would be safe from his “would be”  assassins and finally be able to encourage and disciple the Romans that already knew Christ.
 
Tough circumstances are never easily or eagerly welcomed by God’s people.  Personally, I like rainbows and unicorns.  I hate the trials, temptations and tragedies we have to face on this journey.  If, however, as his chosen people, we can use each event to somehow advance his kingdom, then, looking back–we will see his plan unfold and our legacy increase.  There is neither possessions enough or power enough to replace an eternal legacy. 
Paul said it best in Philippians 3–, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!” 
 
God calls us to face the journey with our legacy in mind–if we will, then we will experience a full and meaningful life. 
 
God Bless You
Then Paul made his defense: “I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.”Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?”

10 Paul answered: “I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. 11 If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!”

12 After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!”

Let the Expansion Begin–Acts 10 Final

 God has reminded us from the beginning that he holds our future and the timing of our future.  All through Bible history, God implemented his plan in times and through people that the average person would never expect.  Peter was simply minding his own business, when God sent him to meet with Cornelius, the Centurion. Cornelius had spent a lifetime honoring God—even without any real means of knowing him personally.  Then, Christ appeared and everything changed.

God sent Peter, his lead apostle to start the expansion.  He prepared Cornelius and is family to hear the message and he blessed and anointed the meeting with his spirit—to leave no doubt about his personal stamp of approval. At the close, the family was baptized and the church expanded past the Jewish population and began its march across the world.

I am sure that Cornelius was ready to be saved much sooner than Peter appeared.  He had been seeking God for some time. God had a plan and had to put all the pieces together, however, prior to its implementation. Paul was ready to evangelize, Peter was established as a leader and Cornelius and his family longed to know God. Let the ministry begin.

We are reaping the benefit of God’s perfect timing.  We often seek God on our terms—as did Cornelius, only to find that he always operates in his time and through his plan.  It is often maddening for us to have to wait on him, and yet, when he executes his plan, there is never a doubt that his plan was right and his execution flawless.  God told us in Jeremiah—“I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you—plans to give you a hope and a future!” Jeremiah 29:11.

God Bless You

 

Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”

34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Your Choices Will Determine Your Fate–Proverbs 4 Part 3

It is every parent’s dream—a child that follows his leadership.  No good parent wakes up in the morning thinking, “How can I lead my child to destruction?” Parents want to train their kids to be successful and wise, making good choices with their lives. Proper diet, proper dress, appropriate respect for adults and authority are all things parents try to pound into their kids so they will function in a meaningful way when they become adults.

 Sadly, the counter influences in their lives push kids away from traditional values, norms and attitudes about adults and authority.  The result is an increasing mistrust and mistreatment of all types of authority including their own parents.  History teaches us (at least those of us that study history) that each generation starts its deviance where the last generation left off.

 That is why, as parents, it is incumbent on us to lead our kids toward Jesus.   Reverence for God helps build a reverence for authority, a selfless heart and a spirit of wisdom and humility that will bring us and our kids head and shoulders above the world standard.  From that vantage point they can see clearly and shape the generations to come; and maybe even save our civilization. It would be a bold effort, but it would end very well.

 God Bless You

 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

God Provides Leadership–Joshua 3 Part 1

After following a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night  for more than 40 years, God was ready to give the chosen people of Israel their inheritance.  As they crossed over to their land, God made a significant change—He told the people to follow the priests and the Ark of the covenant.  This change may seem minor, but, it was as much a doctrinal change as it was physical.

This was a wandering people—they  traveled in a group, camped in a group and lived in a group.  They only needed one leader and one priest. Now, as they were crossing over they would each settle on their own place. Each tribe would have its own land, each family their own home—settled and  defined.  So the role of the Levitical priests changed , they would now be the spiritual leaders of their communities.  God made sure as  the people passed into the land, they would follow his ark and his priests.

Fast forward to today, We live in a culture that has tried to eradicate God from the country.  Yet, each community is filled with men and women called by God to lead his folks.  If the people listen and trust God, and his leaders, as God told Joshua—then  God will do amazing things among them. He will do amazing things  among us.  That  is why  it says–If we trust in the Lord with all our hearts, lean not on our own  understanding, and acknowledge him in all our ways—then he will make our paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

God Bless You

Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits[a] between you and the ark; do not go near it.”

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.

And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”

The Plague Of Blood–Exodus 7 Continued

There was little doubt about the outcome of Moses’ demand to free the Israelites. Both the Egyptians and the Israelites knew that It would take beyond amazing to change the heart of Pharaoh. Still the plague of blood was a stage setting event to say the least. If we remember that God was not nearly as interested in Pharaoh’s reaction as he was in the reaction of the Canaanite world for years to come, then the message of each plague rings clearer for us.

 The Nile was a great river—a sweet river. The water was known as wonderful around the known world. So for the entire supply to be destroyed, for the fish to die, such an event hit the Egyptian nation at their most crucial core—survival. every sense was affected. Hunger, thirst, smell, sight and mind were completely rattled—No matter where they turned—there was no relief.

 Meanwhile, the Israelites had water. God prepared them for the plague and they were unaffected. God wanted to set his chosen apart and make sure that the people of Egypt knew that they were no longer in charge of his people—HE was. The growing thirst had to exacerbate their jealousy and fear. The worst news for the people of Egypt—“They ain’t seen nothing yet.”

 God makes his messages clear. Early submission to his lead will always beat a hardened heart. In addition, as with Pharaoh—we have to remember that our choices impact so many others. We as a people should live to honor God, if for no other reason , because it will change lives. Failure to do so will also change lives. Sadly, as Pharaoh showed the world—that kind of change will neither be well received nor well remembered.

God Bless You

  Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16 Then say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. 17 This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.’”

Wow You Are Not Kidding!–Genesis 15 Final

There Abram stood looking at the Stars and listening to God promise him the Land of Canaan and many descendants…and he asked the most transparent question imaginable–So how do I know what you promise will really happen…?  God says, “Son go get a Heifer, a goat and a lamb!”  Covenants, in those days, were not nicely drafted components of a contract.  Instead, Covenants were life and death promises that required absolute performance or absolute sacrifice. 

Specifically, the parties would cut an animal into quarters and lay them out on the ground walk between the quarters to signify that failure to perform on the covenant would require like treatment of the failing party! Ouch! Here God took 3 animals as if to say not only me, but the entire trinity makes this covenant.  The Heifer representing the father, the lamb representing the son and the Goat (Scape goat) representing the Holy spirit! God was serious.

That is the same level of commitment God has made to us.  If we will follow him he promises to redeem us from the sin we are enslaved to and restore us to a family relationship with him.  Take comfort, believer–God is not kidding!!!

God Bless You

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”

So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”

10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[e] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”