God Tests Balaam & Us

God tests our heart motives

Numbers 22  Just as we test metals to determine their worth, so God tests our hearts to know it’s worth, and as Paul prayed, so should we: That “our God will make [us] worthy of His calling.” [2Thess 1:11] Enter Balaam, the son of Beor, a false diviner whose worth will be proven. When the Moabite King sent a delegation, God intervened by asking Balaam,  “Who are these men?” Balaam kept up a dialog with God about them, and on the surface, it seems that he was obeying. However, as we see, Balaam fell headlong into the temptation of earthly riches, which was more potent than obeying God. Like many today, Balaam tried to appear righteous by his answer that he could not curse Israel, but his actions prove the opposite. Balaam sought ways to obey God and yet get the riches the King offered.

The last test came when God explicitly tested Balaam when he said: “if” these men have come to call you, get up and go with them. But Balaam didn’t wait for the “if” clause and instead got up and went.

Today God tests our hearts just as He did Balaam’s. Therefore, we must ask God for his wise counsel and we must stand firm.  God gives us tests to discern if we will obey His voice or our own.

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“The Priesthood: a Gift for Service”

Service is a gift of love

Numbers 18 What is our responsibility as NT believers? Peter tells us:  “you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [1Pe 2:5] It is because of the gift and sacrifice of Jesus that we are given this unique role. But, it was not so in the OT. Only here in Number 18:7 and Lev 10:8 does God speak directly to Aaron. He alone was given the gift of the priesthood, but the gift was the same as for us: “I give you the priesthood as a gift for service.” [Num 18:7]

Our service is to start here: “to present our bodies as a sacrifice, alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is our reasonable service.” [Rom 12:1] Beyond that, our service gifts are to attend to the body of Christ in whatever ways Christ places before us. We are to meet the needs of the congregation. Paul told the Corinthians that: their “abundance will meet their need, so that one day their abundance may also meet your need, and thus there be equality.” [2Cor 8:14]  So service goes both ways.

Today who in your congregation has a need? Step up and meet it according to your abundance.

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True or False Humility

Humility

Numbers 16 As children, we played a game called follow the leader, where the followers mimic the leader’s actions. Elimination happens when you fail to comply. God calls it rebellion in Numbers 16. Korah challenged the leadership of Moses. He sought to usurp the leadership by placing himself in the “I” position. When “I” gets in the way, the ego is puffed up. “I know better!” This same scenario took place in the Garden of Eden, and men have yet to learn from that lesson.

God had already chosen, anointed, and proven that Moses was the leader, yet Korah was unsatisfied. He wanted to be the new leader of the Israelites. Gathering the Reubenites to join him, he began murmuring, which escalated into a full roar of mutiny. Sound familiar? How often do we allow others to lead us astray? Satan loves it when we grumble and better when we gather others to follow us. Jude describes the scenario. They dream and defile the flesh in their rejection of authority. They are divisive and devoid of the Spirit.

Moses, a man of humility, “fell down with his face to the ground.” Korah, a rebel, “fell when the earth opened up and swallowed him and his family.” And it was all because he failed to honor God’s anointed.

Where are you “falling” due to failure to honor God’s anointed?

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Are You Living a Facebook Life?

God's Word is eternal

Numbers 14/Psalm 90 We live in an instant gratification society which is evidenced by the amount of time we spend on Facebook. Somehow we feel that we can post something and go off to do other things and return later to see how others responded. The truth of the matter is that our Facebook posts last but for a moment in time. If you click off and return to the post you were reading, it might be there, but more often, it has disappeared into cyberspace.

God gave the Israelites a promise of land filled with honey and sent twelves spies to check his truthfulness. Ten of the spies sent to scout out the Promised Land were living as if their life was like FB! Their words show they had forgotten the beauty and God’s promises entirely. Their report was “yes…but” and brought eternal consequences. Only Joshua and Caleb lived to tell about it for 40 yrs.

Psalm 90 reminds us of the permanence of God and the frailty of men. The psalmist’s words are clear: “So teach us to consider our mortality, so that we might live wisely” Also, pray that what we do is successful so that one day we will hear “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

 Are you living a FB life today? Are you preparing to end well?

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The Antidote to Complaining

Be ye grateful

Numbers 11 Are you a complainer? Complaining is another way of saying we are ungrateful. The Israelites had left Egypt with an abundance of materials of gold and silver and leaders that led them faithfully. Yet, the people began to be weary and with weariness began complaining. Complaining is like a plague; it infects the whole lot.

Complaining only selectively remembers the past. The Israelites began to recall the past of their lives in Egypt. Complaining is Satan’s favorite tool. He offers the sweet without the sour. He taints our memory to say it was not so bad. He wants you to remember the glory without the ugliness. That is Satan’s tool. It is what we call the selective memory syndrome. Your memory only remembers the good, and glorifies the bad. These Israelites began to think slavery was not so bad after all and began to remember the delicious foods that were abundant.  Like them, we forget the ugliness of our sin and forget the price Jesus paid to release us from that sin. Beware of Satan’s tools; don’t fall into his trap and begin to whine with the “oh, woe is me” prayer.  

The next time you feel a complaining infection setting in, go to God. Seek His face, seek his forgiveness for your complaining and then watch Him work.  

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A Prayer for Traveling

Praying for God's Blessings

Numbers 10 This pandemic has put our traveling plans on hold; for the time being. But looking ahead, we can take a lesson from this chapter about those plans. Usually, we plan our trip, pack our bags, and set off but do we take a moment to pray for a safe journey?  Moses was following God’s plan to start the journey to the Promised Land. He took time to prepare the Israelites by praying:

 “Rise up, O LORD! And let Your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate You flee before You.” When the Ark came to rest at their next stop, he prayed: “Return, O Lord, to the many thousands of Israel!”  [Num 10:35 and 36]

When we start out, do we ask God to be with us? When we reach our destination, do we stop and thank God for being with us in our travels? Just like Moses prayed over them as they began and when they ended, we all need prayer as we start and when we arrive.

But why do we wait until we take a trip; why not begin and end each day asking God to go before us and thanking Him when our day ends. What a great lesson for all of us for beginning and ending our days and our trips.

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“A Heart For God’s Work”

Giving to the work of the ministry

Numbers 7 As the Israelites were generous in their giving of materials and wealth to build the Tabernacle, they are abundant in their giving for the dedication. The Lord told Moses that each gift was to be received and then used to do the work of the tent of meeting. How practical is our God! God loves a cheerful giver and then loves to share those gifts for the work of the ministry. There is a lesson here for us, giving of our best begins in the heart. What is my best that I can give my Lord and His church?

Their offerings were acceptable because they came from a heart that was dedicated first to God. The riches of Egypt have been transformed into the riches for the Tabernacle and His work. If only they had remained that way, but as we turn to Malachi, we see a lack of reverence and a lack of a pure heart. God says to them, “I will no longer accept an offering from you.” What happened? Were the people not generous? Did their heart change? It seems that was the very reason in contrast to the offerings for the Tabernacle. In the time of Malachi, they only saw them as wearisome. [Malachi 1:7-9]This is a lesson for us.

Do we see our offerings as “wearisome?” Or do we see them as a privilege? We are called to be holy and live a holy life in reverence and sharing out of our abundance.

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The Proof Tests

Gods Word is our standard

Numbers 5 &6: Why so much given to the innocence or guilt of the woman and not the man? Is this not one-sided? But to help us see the bigger picture we must recall the warning in Prov 6:34. Men are more prone to retaliation than women. Second, her womb must be preserved; unlike today. Thirdly, God has put into place that which will protect her from the accusations from her husband. Lastly, is the warning from Eccl 5: if you make a vow, be sure to keep it otherwise you are seen as a fool. [Eccl 5:4]

Fast forward to the NT and we see how Jesus used this law to protect the Samaritan woman  [John 4] who had been used by unscrupulous men, even up to 5 of them! Then the woman caught in adultery [John 8:10] and the Pharisees in their self-righteousness are exposed because they too were “jealous” and their sin exposed as Jesus wrote on the sand. Did he write this passage? We don’t know but one by one they left beginning with the eldest to the youngest. Jesus asked her where are your accusers and she said there is no one. In his most gracious and loving way he said, neither do I condemn you, but go and sin no more. He acknowledged her sin but forgave her.

So what is our takeaway? Purity is held to a high standard in God’s eyes. Be ye pure so God can bless you. We are cleansed by Jesus.  It is interesting that Numbers  6 includes the Aaronic Blessing which is in summary form was what Jesus offered to the woman caught in adultery. 

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Service for the Lord

Whatever role you play you need pray

Numbers 3 and 4 God is a God of order and it is revealed in these two chapters how He has chosen the clan of the Levites to surround the Holy Tabernacle. After Moses selected the Levites to surround the Tabernacle; he gave them a place of service. They were responsible to care for the sanctuary. Who in our churches today is responsible for our sanctuaries? What jobs do they have? Do we stop and thank them for their work?

 The tribe of Levi was responsible to serve Aaron; to care for his needs by attending to the service of the tabernacle. Today there is great responsibility in our churches where elders and deacons attend to the leadership of our churches. These who have “served well gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith..” [selected words 1Tim 3:13] Today stop and pray for them for they carry a great weight on their shoulders and one day will stand before God for their service.

 God wanted the children of Israel to remember that all work in the kingdom of God is royal service, whether up front or behind the scenes. The psalmist noted: “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of the wickedness.” [Ps 84:10]

What role brings joy and gladness to your heart because you see yourself as a servant for the Lord?

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“God Has a Plan and It includes You

God has a plan

Numbers 1-2 It has been two full years and still, the people are no closer to the Promised Land than the last experience of the Passover night or their exodus from Egypt. Yet, God’s plan is to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land. As part of that plan, He has Moses begin numbering the men twenty years and older to be His servants in peacetime and in war. What we lack in comprehension, the Holy Spirit reveals to us in our understanding. God wants us to know that He is a God of details. He knows when a sparrow falls; He knows each hair on your head. God has a plan, and your name was on it from eternity past.

God knew that Moses needed others to serve, and God devised a plan for His people. From every tribe, men were to be ready to serve in whatever capacity God had planned. That was then, and it is the same today. God cares for you, and He has chosen you for His kingdom’s work. He calls you His servant. A servant serves others even when inconvenient, whether he or she dislikes the duty.  The circumstances are unimportant. God is looking at our heart’s attitude towards His work.

 In eternity past, He chose you and me for His work, and God did all of that so men who are in spiritual darkness will hear the good news. He uses people like you and me. Amazingly God wants to be glorified through us. Stop and think about that today and praise God for His lovingkindness that He chose you for His work. It is called evangelism.

What work are you doing today that will glorify Him?

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