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Showing posts from February, 2020

“Under Pressure?”

BIBLE READING:Deuteronomy Joshua 1-4
“Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over the Jordan…” -Joshua 1.2 Do you remember those first day jitters you had before the first day of school or the first day of a new job?As I recall, those feeling were a combination of excitement and fear.It seemed to always put me under a great deal of pressure.Based on the reading for the day, I am convinced that Joshua felt the same way before he took on his new position as the leader of the nation of Israel.As I re-read that passage, I often wonder if it was early in the morning after the death of Moses that God calls Joshua, because God said “arise”.We know that Moses had already informed Joshua that God had selected him to be Moses’ successor in Deuteronomy 31, but with Moses now dead, reality was about to set in.Memories of his journey throughout the land of Canaan must have haunted him for the last forty years they had wandered.He was so convinced, along with Caleb, that the land was alrea…

“It is Our Responsibility”

BIBLE READING:Deuteronomy 31-34
As the book of Deuteronomy is about to conclude, I think it is very important to remember just what the book of is about.The word “Deuteronomy” simply means a “repetition of instructions”.The instructions that are to be repeated to the Israelites is the Word of God, or simply put, the Law.In Deuteronomy 31.9-13, Moses writes the Law down and gives it to the priest and the elders of Israel.He then commands them at the end of every seven years, at the Feast of Booths, all people were to appear before the Levites and Priest to hear the Law read aloud.Moses is very specific “Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess." (Deuteronomy 31:12-1…

“Is it Really that Simple?”

BIBLE READING:Deuteronomy 28-30 "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish…”-Deuteronomy 30:15-18 When you strip away all the details and distractions, life really comes down to one simple question with only two possible options.The question is “What do you want “life and good” or “death and evil”?Although we sometimes like to think that there are a lot of gray areas in life, as to whether something is right or wrong, God is revealing to us that when you really boil it down, life re…

“Are we living up to our Vow?”

BIBLE READING:Deuteronomy 24-27
Police officers, secret-service agents, and soldiers make oaths that they will put their lives on the line, if necessary. Losing one’s life in the course of such duty is honorable, but it’s painful for those who remain behind.In today’s passage, Moses teaches Israel to put its life on the line. Once they are in the promise land, they will pronounce the blessings and curses of the covenant-blessings for faithful living, curses for disloyalty. The Levites will pronounce the curses, and the people will say, “Amen!” Pronouncing these blessings and curses amounts to making a vow, a promise to be loyal to God and enjoy his benefits, or to pay the penalty for disloyalty. We must admit that the curse on sin is valid for us all. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God’s judgment is what we have coming, but in his mercy, God offers his blessings as a gift. Christians put their lives on the line not because it’s their job but because…

“Deuteronomy 23. 24-25”

BIBLE READING:Deuteronomy 20-23
This verse sounds familiar to us because Jesus’ disciples did this very thing in Matthew: “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” (Matt. 12:1–2). According to the law of God, the disciples had done nothing wrong. It was not illegal to pick grain and eat it by hand, on any day of the week. The religious leaders (Pharisees and scribes) had added this prohibition that it was illegal on the Sabbath, which was itself sin, as they were adding to the Word of God. They were making their traditions equal to God’s word. That is the problem with religion. Religion is what man does for God, whereas the gospel is what God has done for man. Religion is man’s attempt at outer reformation, while the gospel is God’s work of inner transformation in the…

“Who is this New Prophet?”

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BIBLE READING:Deuteronomy 16-19
Moses prophesied that the day would come when Jehovah would raise up, from within the nation of Israel, a prophet who would be like him in many respects. This coming prophet would speak divine words, and those who refused to hear his words would give account for such rebellion (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).One does not have to speculate on the fulfillment of this prediction. The coming prophet was none other than Jesus Christ, as Peter affirms when he quotes this Old Testament passage in his great sermon in Acts 3 (see vv. 22,23).The fact is, there were many similarities between Moses and Christ. -Wayne Jackson

“God’s Waiting Room”

BIBLE READING:Deuteronomy 8-11
“God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart” (Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV). If every prayer were answered immediately, if every need were instantly met, and if every problem were automatically solved, your faith would never be stretched. You’d be spoiled. You’d have no need for faith! We’re humans, and we don’t like to wait. We hate it! We don’t like to wait in a doctor’s office or in a grocery store line or at stop signs. And you’d better not make us wait for our food at a restaurant! But life is full of waiting. The Israelites had to learn this reality. Deuteronomy 8:2 says, “God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart” (NIV). The journey the Israelites made from Egypt to Israel should have only taken a few weeks. But it took them 40 years! They wandered around and around because of their disobedience to G…

“So Easy Even a Kid can Understand it”

BIBLE READING:Deuteronomy 5-7
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way” -Deuteronomy 6:7 During the Protestant Reformation, the Reformers worked hard to put God’s Word into the hands of the people. Prior to the Reformation, the Bible was accessible mostly to the clergy alone, shut up in the monasteries and churches and written in Latin, a foreign tongue to the uneducated masses. Many worked before this time to translate the Scriptures into the vernacular, but it was the Reformers’ stress on the importance of studying the Word of God (as well as the printing press) that led eventually to the widespread availability of the Bible in all different languages today.Prior to the Reformation, the church was uncomfortable with the laity interpreting the Bible for themselves, mainly because they were afraid that the study would open the floodgates of iniquity and lead to all manner of sects and heresies. Thi…

“Diligently Keep…”

BIBLE READING:Deuteronomy 3-4
As the Children of Israel are about to embark on the last leg of their long journey into the land of Promise, Moses offers them some very helpful advice to ensure they don’t allow themselves to suffer the same fate as their predecessors."…take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children…” (Deuteronomy 4:9). Our minds can only imagine all the miraculous things that they have seen and experienced.The manna, the water from the rock, the defeat of their enemies; all wonderful things that God had done for them to get them thus far on their journey.The words that Moses chose to help them to remember is very interesting.The word “keep”, means to “tend or to watch over” as one would with sheep.It is the same word that was used of Adam and Eve and how they were to “keep” the Garden of Ed…

“You Have Been Here Long Enough”

BIBLE READING:Deuteronomy 1-2
“I will start my new diet tomorrow.” “When things slow down, I begin that new exercise program” “This will be the last time I do this, after this one time I will never do it again.” “I’m going to wait till the semester is over before I begin getting back involved at church.” “I am so busy with work and the kids; we just don’t have time to go to church on Wednesday.We will start back again after the season” How many times have we all said something along those lines?We all want that better lifestyle, that better body, that more productive Christian life and in our minds, we will achieve it, it will just happen later.The children of Israel knew that at some point they would go into the Promise Land.God had already given it to them, but because of their disobedience they had to wander in the wilderness.Now it is time for them to make their entrance.God says to the nation in Deuteronomy 2.3, “you have been traveling around this mountain long enough…”.Today, we all …

“Places of Refuge”

BIBLE READING:Numbers 34-36 As we end our journey through the book of Numbers, we see a different side of God from what we saw in His execution of vengeance on the Midianites.Before the Children of Israel enter the land of promise, God has a few more instructions to give them. After they enter the land, they were to choose cities which will give a person who had killed another person unintentionally a place to flee from those who would want to avenge the death of their relative. When I read about the cities which God established as a refuge for those who unintentionally killed any person, I am again reminded of the graciousness of God. God is a God of Justice and vengeance as we saw in Numbers 31, but He is also a kind and compassionate God. In His laws for the Children of Israel, He offered ways in which His people would be protected from those who sought out vengeance. The relatives of the person who died had the right to take vengeance upon the one who killed their relative (Exodus …

“The Vengeance of God”

BIBLE READING:Numbers 31-33
In the book of Romans, Paul warned that the early Christians should never look to repay evil with evil to anyone. In fact, Paul taught us to do just the opposite “To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:20-21).Yet in today’s reading in Numbers 31.2, God is telling Moses to “Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites”.Certainly, God isn’t commanding Moses to do something that He condemned in Romans 12?Not at all.In fact, if we continue reading into the book of Numbers, we will find it isn’t Moses or the Israelites taking vengeance at all.Numbers 31.3 says for the Israelites to “execute the LORD’s vengeance on Midian”.This wasn’t Moses and the Israelite seeking out revenge, this vengeance was coming straight from God.According to Romans 12.19 “Vengeance is mine, I …

“God’s Faithfulness”

BIBLE READING:Numbers 24-26
In Numbers 1, God commanded Moses to take a census of the people, and then 38 years later, in chapter 26, God commanded him to take another one. In both, all men 20 years of age and older who were fit for military service were counted. The census was used to determine the size of each tribe’s inheritance in the Promised Land, while casting lots determined their geographic location. After the spies went into the land in chapter 14 and the people lamented the size and perceived threat of the people already living there, God said, “they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it” (Num. 14:23). When these 2 censuses are compared, we see that the number of Hebrews had remained almost exactly the same, showing God’s faithfulness. As the older generation was passing away, a new generation was being brought up. Caleb and Joshua were the only two males blessed by God and allowed to go into the Prom…

“Lifted Up”

BIBLE READING:Numbers 21-23
Homeopathic medicine is the practice of curing likes with likes. The patient receives diluted doses of substances that, at full strength, cause the same symptoms the patient already has. Shakespeare stated the idea well in Romeo and Juliet: “In the infant rind of this small flower, poison hath residence and medicine power.” Homeopathic medicine is prevalent in many parts of the world, though it remains controversial among medical experts. In this instance, God prescribed a similar remedy for Israel, treating snake bites with a replica of a snake. Going a step further, God undid the effects of the plague through an image of the curse itself. Today's story begins with the people grumbling … again. It was the same old story: we're dying, we're starving, we don't like the miraculous food, and we're sorry we ever left Egypt. But this incident is unique; this time, the people repented. In past events, Moses had asked God for mercy on behalf of the…

“Thank God for His Grace & Mercy”

BIBLE READING:Numbers 18-20
Sin is a term that has been defined as “missing the mark”.If the “mark” is the sinless life of Christ, then we are all subjected to committing sin because we all fall short of that “mark”.In fact, the Bible is very clear in that “we call sin and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.23).It isn’t enough that we must struggle with sin, we also are forced to deal with the consequences of our sin.Sometimes the consequences are small and somewhat insignificant to our eyes and then sometimes those consequences are very big and noticeable.Today we read about one of those big and noticeable consequences of Moses’ sin.The Israelites have again found themselves in a state of murmuring and complaining because they had no water to drink.God instructs Moses on what to do to remedy the situation.In Numbers 20.10-13, the Bible describes that Moses took a few liberties in following God’s commands.Although these liberties might have seemed small and insignificant on the …

“Aaron’s Magic Rod”

BIBLE READING:Numbers 15-17
After disciplining Korah for leading a rebellion challenging Israel’s leadership (Numbers 16:1-50), God reiterated his decision for the Levites to inherit the priesthood by holding an open casting call (Numbers 17:1-5). Each of Israel’s twelve tribes submitted a personalized rod to be housed overnight in the tent of meeting. The location is significant because it was “where I [God] meet with you” (Numbers 17:4 NASB). God would be making the decision as to who would lead the people and the tribe whose rod bloomed would guide the priesthood (Numbers 17:2-5). In Israel, the rod was much more than a walking stick. It was a symbol of power and authority (Psalm 2:989:32Isaiah 10:2411:4Ezekiel 20:37). Leaders would even take oaths by means of their staffs. In fact, in Hebrew the word for “staff” (matteh) is the same as “tribe” as a tribe’s chief would lead via the staff. At God’s invitation, Aaron donated his rod to the cause and it was selected (Numbers 17:3

“Just Submit…”

BIBLE READING:Numbers 12-14                 As a minister I am always looking for lessons in every aspect of my life. It might be in a drive thru, at the ball game or simply something that happens at home; regardless I feel that life offers many lessons that we can learn.  That is why I wasn’t surprised at the life lesson that I witnessed when I got a haircut.  When I arrived to receive my biweekly trim, I had to wait in line for a young toddler who was ahead of me.  The little boy was not happy about having to get his hair cut.  He was fighting and screaming with his parents and the hairdresser causing a pretty big scene.  Ultimately the hairdresser just allowed the young boy to sit in the floor with her and play with his toys.  Then when he wasn’t quite aware of what was happening, she would very patiently slip in a snip-snip here and snip-snip there until viola…mission accomplished.  The lesson is this, all the young boy had to do was just sit there; the hairdresser did all the work…