Deut 23 “Be Creative as you Love Your Neighbor.”
Both Moses and Jesus taught us that we are to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. Paul taught the Thessalonians that same principle; meet the needs of those who are your brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. God’s provision for ancient Israel was that if one became hungry while walking to the next destination, you were allowed to enter a neighbor’s grain field and pluck some kernels to eat, but not to collect the grain for another time. Jesus and the disciples followed that principle, but the Pharisees had added to that principle by saying even if hungry, you cannot do that for it is work on the Sabbath.
Today in our fast food society we drive from place to place. We wait in drive-up lanes, not walk through a grain field. So how can we apply the principle today? We continue to have open hearts and eyes to the needs around us remembering the words of Jesus: “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” [Mat 10:42 ] After we have filled our plates, why not purchase an extra dinner for someone behind you in the drive-up lane? Or a cup of coffee?
Be creative today as you go about your busyness. Stop and look where God might be working, and you can be His servant.
Deut 18: “You must be blameless before the Lord your God.” Blameless means we are innocent or free of blame or one whose life exhibits integrity. Some Synonyms are irreproachable, unimpeachable, irreprehensible, inculpable, faultless, guiltless, unblemished, unspotted, unsullied, undefiled, spotless, stainless, and innocent. So when God says we are to be blameless before the Lord, we could insert any of these synonyms and examine our character.
To help us further, we can turn to the letter to the Romans to learn how to bring about this character quality in our life: “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”[Rom 12:2]
But along the way, we may encounter our past sins, which Satan chooses to rehash. But, that is the marvel of 1John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.” It is then that God looks at us as blameless because the blood of Jesus has covered over those sins, and we can walk in newness of life—blameless or innocent before the Father. “In both Old and New Testament times, God justifies the ungodly, sanctifies the faithful, and rewards their new Spirit-wrought righteousness.” [John Piper]
So where are you in your walk? Are you listening to Satan or the Lord?
Deut 7-8 Isaiah wrote that God is a promise keeper. He opens the eyes of the blind and frees prisoners. That could mean literally or spiritually and perhaps both. Our arch adversary seeks to keep God’s children both blind and imprisoned. But, when God delivers us, we should remember Jesus’ words: do not return to the adversary lest something worse happen. We must destroy the works of the enemy because if we do not, he and his demons will turn away our children from the faith to serve other gods. That was the warning Moses gave the children of Israel.
Secondly, God wants us to remember that he did not set his love upon us or choose us because of anything within us, but only because He loves us. It is because of his love that he promised to keep his oath and redeemed us from the prison of sin. We also need this reminder that within us lies no good thing yet because of His faithfulness He chose us from eternity past for His purpose. “The promise that I make does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. No, it is realized as I desire and is fulfilled as I intend” [Is 55]
So why do we not experience full pardon and freedom to see all that God has for us? It is because we simply do not want to destroy that which binds us utterly. We are comfortable in our sins. Until we come to the place that we desire God more than our sin that we will be free.
So where are you?
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash
Numbers 36 Zelophehad had been a devoted father but his dear wife, who is not mentioned, bore him only daughters and no sons. In fact, she gave birth to five daughters! We know he was faithful because the daughters eulogized him in chapter 27 ““Our father died in the wilderness, although he was not part of the company of those that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah, but he died for his own sin, and he had no sons.” Because the tribal lineage and legacy went through the male line, these daughters learned that their father’s name would be lost from among his family because of this rule of law. So they asked Moses to rule that they would be given them Zelophehad’s inheritance. God agreed with them. Fast forward to chapter 36 and we find that the heads of their tribe came to Moses with a “stickey-wicket” problem of marriage. If these daughters married out of the tribe then their inheritance would be given to the new husband and the new tribe and the land to the new husband. What to do!
Moses concurred with the men that these girls should only marry in their tribe so that in the year of the Jubilee there would not be a problem with the land inheritance. The girls agreed and they went on to marry men of their tribe.
God placed this long tale to remind us of how to honor our leaders. These daughters are a role model for obedience, decisions, and choices. They are mentioned in 3 chapters of Numbers and in Joshua—and always named in their birth order.
Numbers 6: The word blessing has the idea of pronouncing a wish of happiness given by one to another for the divine favor upon them from God. Dr. Constable notes that it is a benediction to the priests to offer for the sanctification for the people. It is often used in our liturgical blessings for people as they prepare to leave a religious service. Within it, the word “you” is noted six times, making it personal and applicable.
God desires to bless His people for their provision but also their protection. God knew they would need this as they traveled on towards the Promised Land. God also desires that His countenance would reflect His care in their lives, as well as His grace. Lastly, God desired that His peace would be upon them as they faced foes within and without. God desired all of this for His people then and now.
As you listen to it this blessing, stop and ponder the words. What is the meaning for me personally? Is there a part of that blessing I can appropriate for me now? How can I share this with another?
May the Lord Bless you and keep you as you read and meditate upon it.
Romans 15 Wisdom
James reminded his readers about two kinds of wisdom, earthly and heavenly. Wisdom requires not just input of facts but also the practical outworking of that in us for many reasons such as being the shepherds, the ones who live out Christ to and before others.
Paul has spent the greater part of this letter to the Romans with the “facts.” Now he wants his beloved readers to demonstrate the truth of those “facts.” It takes great perseverance to live out the “facts.” Because of that Paul begins chapter 15 with these words: “But we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak.” But why and how do we accomplish that? We investigate how Jesus did as he served the disciples for over 3 yrs. He patiently helped them to learn that both Jews and Gentiles were deserving of faith that leads to salvation. He taught them that to be blessed means that you seek opportunities to serve as He did for Peter’s mother or as He provided both physical and spiritual food to those in need for the 5000. In these ways, he saw their weaknesses and He provided strength.
But we are still left to answer the question of why. The clue is found in vs 6 “together you may with one voice glorify meaning to bring praise and honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Who in your sphere of influence needs strengthening? How will you assist them? Start today.
Isaiah 61 Have you heard or even voiced: what does God want me to do? I feel like I am spinning wheels and have no direction. Messiah didn’t have that problem so why do we? Perhaps the key is in knowing that you have been anointed – selected, elected for the service of the Lord. Peter writes: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. John wrote: Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One, [1Jo 2:20]
Messiah knew his calling, his anointing, the reason God chose Him. He was sent to see into the hearts of men the desperate need for healing of the soul, mind and the body too. You, as His child, are also anointed to fulfill these same areas of need in the lives of those around you. It might be a mother who sees a child who has made a wrong choice, a father who has lost his job, a pastor who is drained from the heavy responsibilities of his position, a missionary in a far off land that is lonely.
Remember, if Jesus needed the Holy Spirit’s anointing so do we so we can fulfill the great commission. You are anointed precious believer!
Psalm 60 Taking time to just read and meditate unearths many questions. Why is David writing this? Who is against him? Where did this happen? Why is Edom mentioned? To unearth all of this we need to backtrack to 2Samuel 8. It is here that we read: Perhaps while Israel was at war with the Arameans, the Edomites seized the opportunity to invade Israel and proceeded toward Israel as far as the Valley of Salt (a.k.a. the Dead Sea.) There is a lesson here for us; when we are busy doing God’s work, the enemy seizes the opportunity to surreptitiously enter our space.
Evidently, David feels like God has rejected them but he isn’t sure why. He begs for restoration! He begs for the land to be repaired! He begs God to deliver them by His power so that they might be safe! It is as if we are reading today’s headlines for there are many who are begging for help and restoration; perhaps even you.
Abruptly in the middle, God speaks. I will be the conqueror over Israel’s enemies, not you. This is another lesson for us; when we face enemies God will restore, repair and deliver because He is the triumphant warrior for His children. And that my friend is why “rabbit trailing” through the scriptures encourages us to hang in there when life is tough and questions abound. God is the answer! He is our triumphant warrior!
There are many TV shows that trace a fledgling law firm which seeks to help those who are less fortunate navigate the judicial system. Some come out with what seems perfect justice but sometimes the evidence seems rather sketchy and even a stretch. Only God knows the truth and only an individual who will stand before God knows his heart.
Psalm 16-18 Innocent: When you see this word what comes to mind? The Hebrew defines that word as what is right, rightness, justness. Hmm, seems kind of a muddy definition and especially so when we look at David’s life and see his sin of adultery, his faithlessness in disciplining his son for rape. We cry foul! God cries innocent! Does that seem rather contradictory? It is then that we must stop pointing fingers and look at what David and we know if we are believers.
Truth: God looks not at outward appearances but at the heart. We judge by what we see, God judges by what we do not see.
Outwardly we see a failing individual but inwardly God sees a man fully consecrated to Him. Outwardly we see a man who seems to be faltering but God sees a man who chooses to reject worthless idols because of faith. Outwardly we see a man who pours out his heart to the living God but God sees a man who chooses to trust Him. We see a man who reveals his heart but God sees a man who allows Him to examine him during the night hours while the world swirled around him.
No matter how the world sees you, (or you see yourself), know this, the Everlasting God sees you and your heart. Our question then is when He looks into our heart what does He see?
Psalm 9 -12 I don’t know about you but life seems to be at warp speed these days. The internet keeps us focused for a fraction of time and authors come and go with lightning speed. We name a name and others look at us with eyes glazed over and ask “Who? Who? Who?” When that happens, come apart and sit with the psalmist. Let his words speak to you, not like the storm-tossed sea, but as a gently rolling wave bringing new truths with each wave. Let the beacon of His lighthouse sweep across you and reveal His love.
We don’t know where or when the psalmist wrote these words of scripture but as we slowly ponder them we come away knowing that the God we have chosen to serve and worship knows each of us. He knows us because we are crafted in his image. He knows those who will bow the knee and serve him as and he also knows those who will rebel at each argument and command. Yet, in His mercy and for His name’s sake he has chosen to allow the righteous and the wicked to live side by side much like the parable of the tares and wheat.
Today as you live and move in this world be refreshed: God provides safety for the oppressed. God does not abandon those who reach out for help. God hears our cries for mercy. God rules forever. God’s words are absolutely reliable, untainted as silver that has been refined and purified in the furnace.