Only do Not Rebel

Numbers 13-14 and Psalm 44-45

Here we are to chapter 13, and we get to read one of the “fun” stories throughout the book.  Today, we get to read a handful of spies checking out a chunk of land, and it kind of reminds me of a present-day James Bond movie.  The story starts off with Moses sending out 12 spies to check out the land of Canaan.  If we remember from Genesis, the land of Canaan was the land that God promised to Abraham and his descendants.  Therefore, it’s the land that rightfully belongs to the Israelites.  Since they were saved from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites have been making their way back to the Promised Land.  Now they were so close. Before they were ready to enter the Promised Land though, they wanted to receive some intel on the land, and that’s where the 12 spies come into play.

The 12 spies spent 40 days away checking out the land of Canaan.  At the end of the 40 days, they reported to Moses and the Israelites.  All twelve of their reports were similar in the fact that they all agreed the land was good!  The land was flowing with milk and honey – better than some manna and quail.  However, 10 of the 12 spies said that they should not go take the land because it was well defended, as the cities were large and well-fortified.  The other 2 spies, Joshua and Caleb, said that they should go for it because they have the X-factor, God.  What great faith demonstrated by Joshua and Caleb!

The Israelites ultimately listen to the 10 spies unfortunately.  This was very displeasing to God, as they didn’t have faith that He could deliver to them the land that he promised them.  Therefore, God said he was going to strike down the Israelites right then and there, but Moses interceded for them.  God compromised with Moses, and instead of striking them down, God decided that he wouldn’t allow anyone over 20 years old to enter the Promised Land other than Caleb and Joshua.  Spoiler alert, this is precisely why the census at the beginning of the 40 years was about the same as the end of the 40 years.  There would have been a lot of dying and a lot of reproducing at the same time.

At first the Israelites didn’t want to go in the Promised Land when God promised it to them.  However, when God said they couldn’t enter the land, they decided to take matters in their own hand and attempt to enter the land.  You guessed it, that attempt did not go very smoothly for those who tried.

Let’s learn from the example of the Israelites here.  When the Israelites displayed a lack of faith, they were severely punished by God.  Then, when God told them not to enter the land of Canaan, they did that exact thing!  Because of their disobedience, the people who attempted to enter were killed.  Rather than going against God’s direction and will like the Israelites, let’s humbly submit to God and His will for us.  Trust me, it will totally pay off if you follow God rather than rebel against God.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of the book of Numbers, as there are some interesting stories waiting for you all!  Remember, the book is not as boring as the title would suggest.

A note from Psalms:

“For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me,” Psalm 44:6.

The Israelites would have been well off if they considered this verse when they attempted to go to Canaan against God’s direction.  We may not put our trust in a bow or sword; however, it’s very tempting to put our trust in our money and possessions.  When we put our trust in our possessions, we will only be disappointed.  In fact, we will only not be disappointed if we put our trust in God!

-Kyle McClain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Numbers 13-14 and Psalm 44-45

Complaining

Numbers 11-12 and Psalm 42-43

A couple of years prior to Numbers chapter 11, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt.  They were being mistreated by the Egyptians, and they wanted out!  God answered their plea, and he delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians.  It wasn’t an easy process though, as man could not have done it alone.  God had to perform a number of miracles along the way to free the Israelites. 

If we fast forward back to Numbers 11, the Israelites begin to complain because they are hungry.  They complain to Moses who then complains to God.  It’s as if the Israelites completely forgot all of the miracles that God performed in the first place to get them out of Egypt.  When I read about how the Israelites complain time and time again about being hungry, thirsty, or whatever, I get irritated with them.  I ask how in the world could they complain after all that God has done for them?!

Unfortunately, the more I think about the Israelites complaining, the more I realize similarities between them and many of us today, myself included.  God may not have rescued us from the hands of the Egyptians, but He has done so much more than we could ever begin to ask.  God laid down his own Son for us, so that we could have everlasting life in His coming Kingdom.  That’s powerful!  After all that God has done for us, we still have our bad days.  We still have our days in which we complain to God about the current issues we are experiencing in life.

From the outside looking in, the problems that the Israelites faced seemed like such small issues in the big picture, and the truth of the matter is that they were.  The same could be said about many of the small issues that we face on a daily basis and have the audacity to complain to God about after all He has done for us.  I’m all for being honest with God and expressing our real, raw feelings to God, so I don’t think that’s the issue.  Rather, maybe we shouldn’t let the small issues that we may experience affect us so much.  We need to put all the temporary issues that we experience into perspective.  Most of the issues that a lot of us, myself included, may complain about aren’t even worth complaining about in the first place! 

A small bump in the road may seem like a giant mountain when we are going through it, but hindsight is often able to put those issues into perspective.  Let’s work on putting those small issues into perspective in the moment, which is a lot easier said than done.  If we do this, then our positive attitudes will uplift us and those around us.

A note from Psalms:

“Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!” Psalm 43:3

This ties directly in to our conversation yesterday about being led by God.  Pray for God to send out his light and truth to us to lead us where He sees fit.

-Kyle McClain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Numbers 11-12 and Psalm 42-43

God Guides

When you Look for It

Numbers 9-10 and Psalm 40-41

I always love a good celebration with my friends and family!  The Israelites had a number of different celebrations, but arguably the most important one to them was the Passover.  The Passover was in commemoration of God sparing the Israelite firstborn sons during the tenth and final plague to free the Israelites from Egypt.  All of the Israelite households who spread the blood of the lamb on their doorposts had their firstborn sons spared, but everyone else did not.  In chapter nine of Numbers, God instructs the Israelites, through Moses, to celebrate the Passover.  This is a vital celebration that the Israelites struggled to remember to celebrate later on.

It would be cool to see the whole nation of Israel gather together to celebrate the Passover.  Truth be told, there are a ton of events recorded in the Bible that would be flat out awesome to see firsthand!  Of all the awesome things to see, Numbers chapter 9 records one of the top 10 things that I would have liked to have witnessed firsthand – maybe top 5.  That awesome thing recorded is the pillar of fire that guided the Israelites where to go at night.  During the day, a pillar of cloud guided them, but at night it had the appearance of fire.  How cool would it be to see the pillar of fire in the sky at night?!  I would say top 10 throughout the whole Bible!  Our God is incredible, and he is capable of some awesome feats.

I don’t think many of us are going to be led by a pillar of cloud or fire.  However, similar to the Israelites, we can and should still be guided by God.  There’s a very good chance that the guidance that God provides you will not be as obvious as the pillar of cloud or fire.  Therefore, we really need to be in tune with God and keep our eyes, ears, heart, and mind open to His guidance.  There are a number of ways in which God can lead us, so we should be ready at all times.  If we are actively seeking God’s guidance, then we are much more likely to see it.  That has to do with our Reticular Activating System in our brains.  If you don’t know what that is, then look it up on Google or YouTube.  You’ll be amazed.

 I would encourage you all to pray to God to help you become susceptible to God’s guidance.  You may be surprised with all the ways that God attempts to guide you.

A note from Psalm:

“Blessed is the one who considers the poor!  In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him,” Psalm 41:1.

Let this serve as a reminder to be generous with everything that God provides us with.  If we consider the poor with our resources, then God will deliver us!

-Kyle McClain

Links to today’s Bible verses – Numbers 9-10 and Psalm 40-41

Giving and Serving

Numbers 7-8 and Psalm 38-39

The Tabernacle played a very important role for the Jews before the Temple era.  The Tabernacle served as the central area where the Jews worshiped God.  Therefore, it was important that the Tabernacle was well taken care of.  We discussed two days ago that the Levites were responsible for the upkeep of the Tabernacle.  Although not all the tribes participated in the actual work of the upkeep of the Tabernacle, the tribes did provide gifts for the Tabernacle.  When we think about the church today, we may not all partake in the physical upkeep of the church building.  However, we should follow the example set in Numbers 7, and everyone should provide for the needs of the church.

After 88 verses describing the different gifts that the tribes presented to the Tabernacle, Moses communicates with God.  Moses went into the tent of meeting (the Tabernacle), and God spoke to Moses from above the mercy seat that was on the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God to the Israelites, and it was an extremely important artifact for the Israelites.  I, along with Indiana Jones, have often wondered where in the world the Ark of the Covenant is located today. 

Chapter eight talks more about the responsibilities of the Levites.  Not only were the Levites responsible for the upkeep of the Tabernacle, but they were responsible for serving the people of Israel at the Tabernacle.  The upkeep of the Tabernacle and the upkeep of our church buildings are important, but it is all for naught if we neglect the people of God.  Therefore, let these two chapters serve as a reminder to provide for our church buildings, but also more importantly to care for the people of God.

A note from Psalms:

“But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.” Psalm 38:15

Praise God that we serve a good God who hears and answers our prayers.  God may not always answer our prayers the way we want or expect to, but he will provide an answer.  Sometimes, we need to remember to wait on the LORD.

-Kyle McClain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Numbers 7-8 and Psalm 38-39

Set Apart

Numbers 5-6 and Psalm 37

            This past year has been quite the crazy one to say the least!  The main contributor to this for many was COVID-19 and how we responded to it.  Many governments throughout the world encouraged their citizens to quarantine because of the virus.  These decisions received a lot of support and a lot of backlash at the same time (you’re never going to be able to please everybody!).  I’m not here to provide support or backlash for these decisions, but I am here to inform you that this was nothing new.  In Numbers chapter 5 verses 2-3, God commanded the Israelites to “quarantine” the “unclean” people.  The word “quarantine” isn’t found in any translations that I found, but that is precisely what was taking place.  Now obviously the circumstances are by far and away vastly different in Numbers chapter 5 compared to the year 2020.  Therefore, take this bit of information for what it is worth in comparison to our past year’s circumstances.

            Chapter 5 also describes a test to see if a woman has committed adultery against her husband.  Sex outside of marriage was not something that the nation of Israel took very lightly, as God had very strict rules for them in this regard.  It’s a shame that our society does not value the sanctity of marriage like the Israelites in the Old Testament.  Our society teaches us that the physical benefits of marriage are for everyone, whether married or not, and that hinders many marriages.  Let’s revisit and exemplify the positive values demonstrated by the Israelites and live a sanctified life.

            Speaking of living a sanctified life, there were some Israelites who took this concept above and beyond.  Those Israelites took on the Nazirite vow.  The purpose of the Nazirite vow was to “separate himself to the LORD,” (Numbers 6:2).  There were a number of different rules revolving around the Nazirite vow, but the two most well-known ones are abstaining from alcohol and cutting your hair.  Some may recall that the judge Samson took on the Nazirite vow, and he did not cut his hair – until a lady came in and ruined it for him.  We don’t necessarily need to take on the Nazirite vow ourselves, however, we shall strive to live lives that are set apart from the rest of the world – the purpose of the Nazirite vow. 

A note from Psalms:

“The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever.” Psalm 37:29

What a glorious hope that we have!  If we live a sanctified life, then we can inherit the land forever and ever!

-Kyle McClain

Links to today’s Bible devotions – Numbers 5-6 and Psalm 37

Belonging to the Lord

Numbers 3-4 and Psalm 35-36

            Today, we get to talk about the Levites.  We should already basically be pros on the Levites, as we just finished the book of Leviticus.  Just a refresher though, the Levites descended from Levi, the son of Jacob.  If we remember from Exodus, God saved the Israelites and spared their firstborn sons through the Passover.  Therefore, rather than God taking the oldest son of each family, the descendants of Levi would be dedicated to God.  We can read about that in Numbers 3:11-13, as God says, “They shall be mine: I am the LORD.”  Moses and Aaron were both Levites as well who belonged to the LORD.

            The Levites had a number of jobs, but they are mostly known for being priests.  Aaron himself was one of the Levite priests, and his descendants followed in his footsteps.  No matter what job a Levite had, they were to be used for God’s glory and sake.

One of the main responsibilities of the Levites were to care and provide for the Tabernacle.  I like to refer to the Tabernacle as a “portable temple”.  The Israelites were constantly moving around in the wilderness.  Therefore, they had to build the Tabernacle out of curtains so that they could move it around easily. 

            Chapter four talks about the Kohathites, and they are a clan within the Levites.  Their jobs specifically revolved around the Tabernacle.  The Kohathites were in charge of setting it up and breaking it down each time.  It reminds me a lot of the last day at a church camp, and we all have to pitch in to put away all the equipment.  It’s a tough job that we sometimes forget about.

All in all, the Levites were a very important group of people in the Old Testament, as they ultimately belonged to God.

A note from Psalms:

“Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in his salvation.” Psalm 35:9

Let this serve as a joyful reminder that we should constantly be rejoicing in the LORD.  We serve a good, good God who provides each of us the opportunity to partake in his salvation!  Hallelujah!  Praise God!  Amen!

-Kyle McClain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Numbers 3-4 and Psalm 35-36

Counting

Numbers 1-2 and Psalm 33-34

            We have made it to the book of Numbers – yay!  I’m sure not many of you are celebrating being to the book of Numbers, as it is notoriously known for being one of the most boring books of the Bible, if not the most boring.  However, I think it’s a false representation.  I think the false representation comes from the name of the book – Numbers.  The title “Numbers” isn’t a book that just screams to be read.  However, we have to understand where this name comes from. 

The reason that the book is entitled Numbers is because the nation of Israel took a census at the beginning of the book and near the end.  In other words, the book is entitled Numbers because of 2 chapters out of 36.  That’s it!  The book of Numbers actually has a lot of really cool, unique stories. It’s a book that consists of a talking donkey, spies, the earth eating people, and more!  Therefore, I’d encourage you to celebrate the book of Numbers!  There’s a lot more in it than just two censuses.  Whether this is your first-time reading Numbers, your second, or fiftieth, I hope that you can learn something from this fun, yes fun, book.

            Well, let’s get down to it and take a look at the first two chapters of Numbers.  The book starts off with one of the previously mentioned censuses.  Their objective was to count all of the men who were able to fight in war.  The number came out to be 603,550 men.  This census was taken in just the second year after the Israelites escaped from Egypt.  This number also only includes the number of fighting men, so one could assume that Israel had about 2 million people.  That’s a huge increase from 400 years prior, as they were just the family of Jacob.  That’s a lot of multiplying taking place in 400 years to say the least!

A note from Psalms:

            Each day this week I would like to include a verse from the reading in Psalms as well, and provide a very brief note.  Here is today’s verse:

“Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!” (Psalm 33:8).  Let’s remember to have that healthy fear for God and just be in awe of His great wonders.

-Kyle McClain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Numbers 1-2 and Psalm 33-34

Learning from Obedience & Disobedience

Deuteronomy 3 & 4

Deut 4 9 NIV

We live near apple country. In the fall we have driven to the mountains and visited apple orchards. The taste of ripe apples from the tree is amazing. The apple trees are pretty hanging with the delicious varieties of apples and the views are really beautiful. In Deuteronomy 3, Moses is told that he can “Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes to the west and north and south and east, and see it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan.” Imagine Moses standing on the mountain looking at the Promised Land. He would not enter the land because of his former disobedience. I think this consequence was important for the Israelites. Moses was so close to God and was an example for the entire Israelite community. He was their appointed leader and they followed his example. They could also learn from his disobedience. Experiencing this consequence of not entering the land probably made a big impact on the Israelites and Joshua. In fact, God tells Moses to “charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see.”

I grew up with siblings. I had an older brother and sister and I learned from their example. If they did something good at school or church, they were rewarded with awards and praise. It was great because I learned what I should do by their example.

In Deuteronomy 4, Moses is giving his all to make the people understand the importance of obedience to the LORD. Not only will the Israelites and their children be blessed by obeying, but if they keep the decrees and laws they will have wisdom and understanding. They will set an example for other nations. People will hear these statutes and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?”

Our personal obedience to God can be a positive example for others. Obedience leads to blessings for us and for others.

Rebecca Dauksas

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+3-4&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Deuteronomy 5-7 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

Most Important Message to Pass On

Deuteronomy 1 & 2

Deut 1 3 NIV

If you only had a short time to live, what would you communicate to those in your circle of influence? I know that is a tough question. I think most of us would want to express our love for special people in our lives, our thanks to those that helped us in life, we might share what we found to be valuable and important in life, we would want to give encouragement and insight…at the top of our list-we would want others to know the importance of a loving, close relationship with God through Christ.

Moses is close to the end of his life as Deuteronomy begins and he has much to convey to the Israelites.  He wants them to learn from the past, he wants them to be prepared for what lies ahead and most importantly, he wants them to rely on God. In the book of Deuteronomy, the title of “the LORD our God” together with “the LORD your God” occurs almost 300 times along with many uses of “the LORD”. Moses wants the Israelites to rely on the LORD. He reminds them that in the wilderness they saw how the “LORD your God” carried you just as a man carries his son. He reminds them that the “LORD your God” went before them to lead the way and gave them places to camp. He was there in fire by night and cloud by day to show them the way to go. Moses wants the Israelites to trust God.

Unfortunately, my dad and mom are no longer living, but one of their messages to me was to trust God. I am eternally grateful for that message. We may lose loved ones through life, but God is always with us and we can trust Him.

Rebecca Dauksas

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+1-2&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s passage will be Deuteronomy 3-4 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Living Like a Levite

Numbers 35 & 36

Rebecca Mon pic

Imagine that today is your regular day of worship at your local church. You grab your Bible and head out to the church. You walk into the Social Hall and there is the guy who usually arrives early setting up folding chairs. You place your Bible on the table and begin unfolding the chairs while talking with him. Another person enters and starts making the coffee and turns on the heat. The room already feels warm which is nice on this chilly day. The Pastor walks in from his office and asks how your day has been so far. Soon people start arriving. A few Youth Workers enter carrying some bags filled with crafts for the kids to make. They are headed toward the Youth Room. The room begins to fill up as more people enter. A couple of praise team members smile as they walk through carrying guitars and making their way to the sanctuary. People sip coffee and others just sit, talk and laugh. Everyone settles in as the Pastor hands out a list of prayer needs and praises. A couple of people share updates on the Missions collection and the food drive. After prayer, the teacher begins to share a lesson about the importance of the Levites. You discover that the Levites served the LORD in many ways including taking care of the Tabernacle and the Temple. The Levites from the family line of Aaron served as the priests for the Israelites. Some were in charge of the treasures of the house of God and dedicated gifts. Some served as guards and others were musicians and singers. They were also the only Israelite tribe that received cities, but were not allowed to be landowners “because the Lord the God of Israel Himself was their inheritance”.

 

Ok, so why imagine this scenario? Because our reading is about the Levites and as servants of God, we have a lot in common with them. This special tribe was chosen to serve the Lord. These servants used their God-given talents to serve the LORD in their community. How amazing that we have this same opportunity today. We are gifted in different ways and possess different talents, but all of these can be used in our service to God. Our willingness to serve is evidence of our love for God and others.

God honored this tribe in Numbers 35. The Lord told Moses to command the Israelites to give the Levites towns to live in, pasturelands for their cattle and all their other animals. The Levites received forty-eight towns with six of the towns as cities of refuge, to which a person who killed someone could flee. God displays His provision and grace not only to the tribe of Levi, but for all those in the Israelite community. Hebrews and foreigners could flee to the city of refuge for protection and justice. The LORD also provides protection for the inheritance of the individual tribes in Chapter 36. In the example of Zelophehad’s daughters we see that God valued the individual inheritance of each tribe. When we see how God’s commands and regulations were offering provision and grace to the community and the individual, it makes us realize how awesome He is. It makes us want to give of ourselves. It makes us want to serve, to live like the Levites.

Rebecca Dauksas

 

Today’s Bible passage, the last two chapters of Numbers, can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+35-36&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s reading will be the first two chapters of Deuteronomy as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan