Just So You Know

Joshua 3-4 & Psalm 53-55

Yesterday, Makayla wrote about God’s plan and how perfectly Jesus accepted and fulfilled his part in allowing his body to be sacrificed and overcome by death – for 3 days. And she challenged us to consider how we will each respond, how will we play our part in the unfolding of God’s plan and His will. For each generation, and indeed each individual throughout history has the opportunity to choose how they will respond. Some have chosen very wisely.

Since January first our Old Testament reading has been in one of the first 5 books of the Bible – the Pentateuch, the Books of Moses. We have seen God’s plan unfold from His spectacular creation, the beginnings of life, to the the flood, the rainbow, and the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We saw how God provided for every generation including food during famine and a miraculous family reunion for Jacob and Joseph. And that was all just in the book of Genesis. Next came 4 books and 120 years of God leading and protecting His people through His man Moses – from the basket in the river to the Pharaoh’s palace, from Moses’ stumbling speech at the burning bush to the far side (the safe side) of the Red Sea, from the gift of the Ten Commandments to that wretched Golden Calf, from the mountaintop to the tabernacle God has shown His faithfulness and how He deserves to be followed. He led the Israelites right to the door of the Promised Land, but then ten of the twelve spies chickened out and the people forfeited their chance to be led by God into the land flowing with milk and honey. Instead, that generation would die in the next 40 years as they were wandering in the desert wilderness. Meanwhile, their children were growing up, preparing to wear their dead parents’ sandals (the same ones God made sure didn’t wear out) into the good land promised to the grandchildren of Abraham. Every generation, every individual gets to choose their response to God and His faithfulness.

So, here we are reading the first book of the Old Testament books of History – the book of Joshua. Moses has just died and the reigns of leadership have been passed on to the man who has been Moses’ sidekick for years. Before Moses’ death he had written out the early history of God’s people and God’s laws so that Joshua and those who would follow would know and remember. Moses and God had instilled into Joshua the need to return daily (day and night) to God’s Word as recorded by Moses: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-9 NIV)

This, too, is the key to our response. Stay daily in God’s Word (all 66 books now – what a treasure trove). The world is still a scary place, just as the 12 spies discovered. And, without a daily dose of God’s Word it is easy to lose sight of God’s provision and lose the strength and courage that comes only from a solid foundation in God’s power and promise.

As Joshua leads the people into the Promised Land it is still the land of giants and fortified cities that had scared away the generation that came before him. But, armed with God’s Word he has the courage to go with God. And God does not disappoint. The first obstacle is the Jordan River at flood stage. Not a problem. Once the feet of the priests touch the water’s edge the waters stop flowing and the people walk across on dry ground. God has Joshua select one man from each tribe to carry out a rock from the middle of the Jordan and these 12 stones are erected to form a monument to God’s miraculous provision, so they can remember and tell the next generation.

It is part of our response to His goodness. Remember. And tell the next generation. I have never seen that pile of rock. But I have seen God at work in my life and at work in the generations before me. And, I have a great gift that lasts longer than the greatest pile of rock – God’s Word. It has been given that I might know the Almighty Father and what He has done. Without it, my memory fails me, and I am fearful. Without it, I lose my courage in a scary world of giants. But, with it, I am armed with strength and courage that only God can – and has – provided. In a scary world – turn to His Word daily.

In our Bible reading today we also have a portion of the Psalms written by David. It reminds us everyone won’t have a wise response to courageously step out and follow God’s plan in a scary world. Every generation also has the fools who say in their hearts that there is no God. (Psalm 53:1) The noise of evil can be loud and distracting and scary, but like David and Joshua and Jesus and every generation and individual we have a choice who we listen to and how we respond. Be in His Word and follow His Way. He knows the way into the Promised Land and He knows how to do the impossible. There is no obstacle too great for our God. Arm yourself with His Word daily. Remember. And tell the next generation.

-Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway – Joshua 3-4 and Psalm 53-55

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

Seek His Face

Leviticus 21-22 and Psalm 27-28

You may have noticed that the SeekGrowLove blog features a key verse: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” from Jeremiah 29:13. The LORD confirms that our seeking is worth it, because ultimately, we will find Him. However, there is an important requirement; we need to seek with all our heart. What does this phrase “with all our heart” really look like? How can we seek “with all our heart”? Perhaps “with all our heart” seeking is completely and sincerely devoted. Maybe determined and enthusiastic. This type of seeking is relentless, full of passion for what is right. It can’t be stopped. Psalm 27:4 states, “The one thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Verse 8 continues, “My heart says of you, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.’” You can hear the determination in that statement. The writer wants to be in the presence of the LORD. They are completely and sincerely devoted. Enthusiastic for the presence of the LORD. They are pursuing him ‘with all their heart.’

This is what the LORD desires for us. “The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” (Psalm 14:2) He wants us to seek him wholeheartedly. Passionately. Relentlessly. In life, we can be distracted with many pursuits, desires, and distractions. However, we can choose to refocus on the one who matters. We can choose to seek “with all our heart.” The benefits of this type of “with all our heart” seeking is great. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” This desire to be close to God will be rewarded.  We are rewarded today with our close loving relationship with God and later when we see Him face to face. So, if you start to feel discouraged or distracted, remember who our seeking will lead to: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3,4)

-Rebecca Dauksas

Links to today’s Bible passages – Leviticus 21-22 and Psalm 27-28

Boundaries for the Sheep

Leviticus 17-18 and Psalm 23-24

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” These words are so well known that most Christians immediately recognize this first line of Psalm 23. But there are so many truths that we can begin to understand from this simple phrase.

 The LORD is called MY shepherd.

The sheep has accepted the shepherd and as a result the sheep “lack nothing.”  The Psalm goes on to explain the ways that the LORD provides, cares for, and guides His sheep, but all of this is possible because He is Our Shepherd. There has to be a relationship.

We have to have trust in the shepherd and we need to stay in the Shepherd’s boundaries. From Leviticus 18 we are learning that God is establishing decrees and laws to govern the Israelites’ behavior including sexual relations. If we truly accept our relationship with God as the director of our lives and the overseer of our well-being, we can trust Him with all areas of our lives including our sexuality. We can trust that His commands on sexuality are right. We can personally follow them. For instance, he placed restrictions on certain sexual activity like incest. No sexual relations between relatives. This makes perfect sense.  God has designed the marriage relationship as the place where sex is one expression of love. Other family relationships need to be cultivated in nonsexual ways. We love through acceptance, encouragement, kindness, patience, …and so many other actions. This creates a safe, nurturing and sound family atmosphere.

God’s commands are given to keep us healthy physically and whole relationally while He nourishes us to produce spiritual fruit.  So as we read through Leviticus, we are learning that God’s commands are life-giving boundaries for us-His sheep. Our shepherd guides us so we are nourished, safe and loved.  

-Rebecca Dauksas

Links to today’s Bible reading – Leviticus 17-18 and Psalm 23-24