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

You Are Here

Numbers 33-34

Numbers 33 53 NIV

I like “You Are Here Signs” and I am always pulling up navigation on maps. In a mall or an amusement park, I can quickly see where I am going and how to get back to the place where I parked. The Lord offers us spiritual navigation as well. In James we are told to do what the word says. It states, “whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” We are to look intently into the scriptures (study) and do (apply) what we discover. We are offered blessing from this. So why do we miss out? I am afraid that we are sometimes like the Israelites were. But thankfully we have this account of their lives to be an example to us. We don’t want to imitate this generation of people whose hearts went astray and did not know God’s ways (Psalm 95:10).

In Numbers 33, Moses recorded the Israelites’ journeys at the command of the LORD. You can even find online maps that visually show their journey and wandering.  This 40-year journey could have been traveled in days. It was approximately the distance I currently am from Chattanooga, TN. According to maps, only a 70-hour walk. Moses recorded where they had physically been and God provides direction on what they are to do next. They are to take possession of the land, drive out the inhabitants and settle in it. The next generation was being offered the opportunity to receive the land. The boundaries are established and the leaders are put in place to assign the land (Numbers 34).

The Israelites face the choice of allowing the Canaanite societies steeped in abominable practices like child sacrifice and cult prostitution to remain or to begin a nation that faithfully looks to God and practices His commands.

In our lives today, we are faced with the choice to let society give us our moral standards or to connect so closely with God that He is directing our moral standards. When we fully trust and love our God we can know that He is leading our lives. He shows us where we are and He encourages us to keep moving toward our inheritance of the kingdom of God.

“Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” James 2:5

 

Rebecca Dauksas

 

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+33-34&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 35-36 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

Faithful

Numbers 31-32

Numbers 32 18

In the second half of Numbers, we have seen plenty of dissatisfaction from the people of Israel. Even Moses was fed up with the complaining of the Israelites. As his life was drawing to a close, he had no patience for any more unfaithfulness. So when the tribes of Reuben and Gad requested to take their homes before crossing the Jordan, he assumed the worst. As it turned out, at least in this instance, these tribes had their hearts in the right place. They were actually satisfied with what they already saw, and God honored their request.
Moses’ reaction is understandable given what he has gone through with Israel. After forty years of wandering and waiting to enter Canaan, a request to not enter the land would have been foolish. Similarly, if Reuben and Gad failed to fight alongside their brother tribes, it would have constituted treachery. But the tribes were merely asking the Lord to provide, not complaining about what they didn’t have. And they did prove faithful to their commitment to fight throughout the campaign in Canaan.
For Reuben, Gad, and a segment of Manasseh, the battle began early. They drove out the enemy, an important requirement for faithfully claiming the land. They even changed the names of the cities to remove the stigma of false gods as well as the people who worshiped them.
What Moses originally suspected as a sinful act became a breath of fresh air in the book of Numbers. Where others had complained, these tribes asked from the Lord. Where others served their own interests, these tribes were willing to leave their families in order to serve their brothers. And where others were drawn to false gods and foreign worship, these tribes drove out the enemy. The key difference was faith. These tribes trusted the Lord to give generously to meet their needs, and that faith produced obedience in their hearts and deeds. Even when Israel seemed desperate or disappointing, God was always in complete control. He doesn’t get overwhelmed by anything, even disobedience. Remember that as your faithfulness waivers or your situation worsens, God’s love and faithfulness remains. When you feel like a failure or threatened by anything at all, know that God’s grace is sufficient, and His faithfulness is assured. Your circumstances will change, but your God will not.
Andy Cisneros
Today’s reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+31-32&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 33-34 as we start the 11th week of the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Appointed Time

Numbers 28-30

Numbers 28 2 NIV
Numbers 28:2-2″Give this command to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Make sure that you present to me at the appointed time my food offerings, as an aroma pleasing to me.’
In this and the next chapter, we have a repetition of the laws concerning the great religious observances of the nation. This repetition is an orderly statement covering the whole year, and thus showing its relationship throughout to spiritual things. It was set forth new and repeated on the eve of their entering upon possession of the land, in order that the arrangements for worship might be duly carried out.
First, we find the religious rites connected with the smaller time divisions, those of the days, and the weeks, and the months (28. 1-15). Then we have those associated with the year, those of the Spring-time, Passover, and Pentecost (28. 16-31), and finally those of the Autumn, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles (29). The words we have emphasized are those which, introducing this section, reveal the value of these rites. In the first phase, the food offering is the Hebrew word Korban. It always refers to the present which secures admittance. Today in the East it is called the Face-offering. In all of this, we see the meaning of these religious rites. They recognized the relation of men to God and their need for Him for all life. They need Him every day, every week, every month, every year. Because all time is arranged for and in Divine relationship. So also, is all activity. If the time is redeemed, all activity is sanctified. Here is a question.  Have you set aside regular time to be with, express love, listen to God?  Is there a rhythm to what you are doing for the LORD? A pattern?  Or are you acting, saying, doing things for God sporadically? When you feel like it? It’s time for you to recognize God wants you all the time, in every situation, for HIM.
Andy Cisneros
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+28-30&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 31-32 on our2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Daughters of God

Numbers 26-27

Numbers 27 7 NIV
In our passage today, in Numbers 27:1-11, the five daughters of Zelophehad (what a name) face issues concerning land inheritance. Upon the death of their father, Zelophehad, the five sisters boldly approached Moses and other leaders to ask for the property that rightly belonged to their father’s clan (vv. 2-4). Moses brought their case before the Lord, who said the women are “right.” He proceeded to establish the legal requirement for handling such cases in the future (vv. 6-11). At first glance, this may seem to be a slow and boring account of how property rights for women were established among the Israelites in the ancient Near East, but there is a lot to learn here.
Land is among God’s promises to Abraham (see Gen. 12:113:14-1715:7). It’s an inheritance of God’s children, an expression of their covenantal relationship with Yahweh. There are theological implications for the daughters of Zelophehad and anyone who might disinherit their land. For their “father’s name to disappear from his clan” (v. 4) is to be cut off from the Lord’s covenant community. This explains why the five sisters are “right” in their request.
The case of the daughters of Zelophehad sets the precedent for future Hebrew families without male heirs. The Lord’s response reminds readers that He is always making a way for women to have full rights to His covenant community and His blessings. God the Father watches over the socially vulnerable and cares for them as His children. If you ever feel vulnerable just know that God will always fight to keep you in His covenantal love just as He did for the women of that time.
Andy Cisneros
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+26-27&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 28-30 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Trust

Numbers 23-25

Numbers 23 19 NIV
Numbers 23:19 describes a foundational aspect of God’s character, his faithfulness. Scripture says, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” As believers, we need a revelation of God’s faithfulness. Being able to fully trust God is the beginning of living an abundant life. If you don’t fully believe that God is faithful to lead you into the best possible life you could live, then you won’t seek out his will, trust him with your possessions, or be able to fully enjoy his presence.
God’s word promises us in Numbers 23:19 that God is perfectly faithful, steadfast, and true. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Romans 8:28 promises, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Your God is faithful to you. No matter what you do, he will be there for you. His faithfulness isn’t dependent upon your works. All he requires is a willing heart to bring about the fruit of the Spirit in your life.
You aren’t meant to live life apart from the knowledge of God’s faithfulness. You aren’t meant to live with the weight of doing life on your own. Man may fail you, but your God will not. Family and friends may not be there when you need them, but your God will always be there for you.
Where do you feel on your own? In what ways do you need a fresh revelation of God’s faithfulness? He promises to be true to you. He promises to see you through any situation you find yourself in. Isaiah 54:10 says, “‘For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Faithfulness is foundational to the very character of God.
Respond to God’s faithfulness today. Let His promises calm the parts of your life that feel unsure. Think about the things you’ve put your trust in. Remember, God promises that His faithfulness will outlast anything you see. May your affections for him be more today. May you respond to his faithfulness with your own. And may you experience the love and joy of a Father who loves you perfectly and completely.
Andy Cisneros
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+23-25&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 26-27 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Formula

Numbers 21-22

Numbers 21 7 NIV

In today’s reading, the Israelites needed a spiritual “blood transfusion.” Their sinful and rebellious attitude had shown itself in impatience, complaints about hardships, ingratitude for manna, and a lack of faith in God’s leader, Moses. This faithlessness resulted in a deadly plague of snakes that were killing the people.
The Israelites repented and asked Moses to intercede for them. God’s response required them to show their repentance by a simple act of faith. Moses made a bronze serpent and lifted it up on a pole. To be healed, people had to look at the serpent. If they didn’t believe God’s words, they wouldn’t look up and would therefore die. Only through faith could they be saved.
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.
This type of medicine is used 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 Israelites, but on this occasion, his prayers were prompted by a recognition of their sin that Israel hadn’t shown before. They realized on their own why the snakes were sent, and they confessed their sin. In that way, this was a spiritual breakthrough for Israel!
If God had followed the formula we’ve seen so far, we might expect Him to demand a sacrifice of some kind, like a lamb without defect. But the Lord told Moses to put a bronze snake, a picture of judgment, on a pole for all to see. He directed the people’s eyes, not to an image of purity, but to a symbol of wrath.
For healing to take place, the people had to close the loop of repentance. They sinned, confessed, and asked for mercy. The last step was to accept God’s remedy by faith and follow His instructions.
We often picture Christ as the perfect sacrifice, and that he is. But He also took upon Himself the shame of sin and the full penalty of wrath. In His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus compared His upcoming crucifixion to the lifting up of the serpent in the desert. Let’s confess our sins, seek His mercy and turn our eyes to him, who not only gave his life but also received our punishment. Thank Him in word and in deed today.
Andy Cisneros
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+21-22&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 23-25 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Satisfaction and Sin

Numbers 18 29 NIV

Numbers 18

Everything in Israel that is devoted to the Lord is yours. – Numbers 18:14
The old saying to “save the best for last” might be our natural inclination as people, but when it comes to giving to God, the best should always come first. That was what God demanded of Israel. As the chosen servants of God, the Levites received that offering, the very best, as their own.
1st of all, the Levites enjoyed a distinguished role. They were God’s gift to Aaron. There should have been no confusion about Aaron’s authority over them; instead, they should have appreciated the fact that God had wanted them for His service.
That service was part of its unique responsibility. No one else in Israel could come so close to the Lord’s dwelling as the Levites. They were given the opportunity to care for and handle the holiest dwelling in the whole land. They were employed in the service of the Almighty.
God blessed them with material gifts as well. In exchange for their service to God, the Levites received the tithe offered by the entire community, the best that Israel had to offer.
For any among the Levites to have been unhappy, they must have been deceived or deluded about their stance with God. The proper response to all that He had given them was to give Him a tenth of what they received—not just any part of it, but the very best of the best. Instead, they demanded more. People who are not satisfied with the best, can never really be satisfied. Do you recognize what God has blessed you with?

Numbers 19

If a [unclean] person does not purify himself, he must be cut off from the community, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. – Numbers 19:20
It was very easy to become unclean without realizing it. To touch a corpse, to be in the same room as the dead, to stumble over a grave, was enough to defile the Israelite, and excommunicate him from the Tabernacle with its holy rites. Could anything more graphic give us a clear picture of sin? We cannot be in contact with people who are blatantly sinning, or using foul language, or watching movies or tv that express the evil of this world.
This is the reason why, at the end of the day, we often feel unable to pray, or hold fellowship with God: we are excluded from the Most Holy Place, because of this defilement. There is only one way of escaping it, and that is in being covered, sealed, by the Spirit of God. “In whom you were sealed until the day of redemption.”
Andy Cisneros
Today’s Bible reading, Numbers 18-20 can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+18-20&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 21-22 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan