Seek

Numbers14-15 cain

No matter how many times I read the story, it is hard for me to digest the betrayal of the Israelites in chapter 14. After they saw the land that He promised them, they wanted to return to being slaves in Egypt? What shocks me even more is that we do the same thing today. What do you think Jesus meant when he said this in Luke 9:62, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”? This is alluding to a plow man tilling the ground to prepare it for planting. If the plow man were to look back behind him the rows would be crooked and off course. Jesus is saying that we are like plow men and if we look back and do a poor job then we aren’t fit for the kingdom. What does this have to do with Numbers 14? We can look back today the same way the Israelites did in Numbers 14. They were liberated from slavery in Egypt and given the promise of a new land that was “exceedingly good”. We were liberated from slavery under sin and given the promise of a perfect new earth. The Israelites looked back at their life in slavery and wanted its comforts once again, even knowing they would return to slavery. We can look back at our life of sin and wish we could go back to it, even if we know it will kill us in the end. Sometimes our desires can turn from God and pull us towards a life of sin.

The last two verses of chapter 15 tell us exactly what God desires from us. “Remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord your God.” Replace the phrase “land of Egypt” with “sin” and apply this to our lives today. Let’s not miss out on our promises because we want to look back to our old life of sin and return to slavery. Let’s keep our eyes on the goal of the kingdom and remember the God who saved us from sin and is bringing us to an “exceedingly good land.” I enjoy looking at the big picture in scripture and seeing how God works on a grand scale. Like how we see God working out the same goal for us and for the ancient Israelites.

Psalm 90 is a chapter that gives us a big picture view of the world and plainly relays potentially complex ideas into understandable language. When I read Psalm 90, a few things are clear to me. God is eternal. He views time differently than us. He sees our sin and He loves us despite our sin. Sometimes we need reminding of these big picture ideas because they help us understand the world and make us realize what is actually important. We can easily get lost in our everyday activities and bury our minds in worry, but in reality, God is still in control and willing to show us His favor.

Thank you for reading our devotions on Numbers this week. Hopefully we walked away with a renewed respect for God’s holiness, an awe for the awesome work He did in the people of Israel, and a reassurance that He is leading us towards a promise that is better than anything we can imagine. Numbers may sound like a boring math book, but in reality it is a rich record of God’s dealings with His people. As you continue to read through the book of Numbers, see how God deals with His people and make a connection to your life. Where God’s word and application meet, there is life change and understanding.

Josiah Cain

 

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+14-15%2C+Psalm+90&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 16-17 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Poor in Spirit

Free Theme – Beatitudes – Matthew 5:3

Matthew 5 3 niv

Having just finished Revelation I thought it would be beneficial to revisit Jesus’ teaching for the next six days. There really is no better place to do this than the Sermon on the Mount. In my opinion this is the most important teaching that Jesus gave us. We will be expanding on six of these beatitudes over the course of the next week. Hopefully, a beatitude a day will keep the doctor away and make us spiritually healthy. And yes, my corniness knows no bounds.

So today let’s explore the first beatitude found in Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Let’s start with this first word “Blessed”. What does blessed actually mean? The debate over this topic is varied but I think we can generally assume it simply means happy. I don’t think it means momentary happiness. I believe what Jesus is aiming at here is long term, lasting happiness, the kind of happiness where you know all you are doing and being is worth it.

Now, for the command “poor in spirit”. For the longest time, like longer than a decade, this phrase left me confused. I have talked to all sorts of different pastors and people seeking an explanation but always walked away unsatisfied. I was left feeling like their definition was somehow incomplete. Finally, I heard it defined as spiritual brokenness and this finally made sense. But what does that really mean, right? This story may help.

When I was twenty years old my sister and I swapped vehicles because I was doing a lot of driving and had a truck with terrible gas mileage. My little sister wasn’t driving a lot and she wanted to drive my truck because well, it was really awesome. It was jacked up with a wicked exhaust system. Basically, it was every teenage boy/country girl’s dream truck. One super early Saturday morning my dad woke me up saying “There is something wrong with your truck” and hands me his cell phone with my sister on the line. He then left the room and probably went back to bed.

Much to my surprise on the other end was my now “frantic and scared for her life” sister. She explained to me how the truck had just stopped moving. Even though the engine was still running. Now this probably wouldn’t have been an issue if it was a normal situation but it wasn’t. The truck broke down during the middle of morning traffic on one of the few bridges that stretches for miles across the Hudson River with no shoulder or pull off at all. Even this would have been fine if it had been bumper to bumper traffic which is typical in New York City but it wasn’t. Traffic was moving well, really well actually and cars were flying past her at 60+ mph. She was stuck in the right hand lane of traffic literally praying to God that they would miss the truck.

In this moment she was experiencing the hopelessness of my truck’s brokenness with danger coming fast directly behind her. It is the same way with spiritual brokenness. Without God we are spiritually broken and helpless. The honest truth is that we are in danger and that without God and Christ our “trucks” are not moving on the middle of a highway, that if we were to stay there – it would end in our deaths.

We adopt this attitude of being “poor in spirit” when we realize how much we need God, his son’s sacrifice and how broken we are without him. We acknowledge God’s holiness and that we don’t deserve his grace or his love. We realize there was/is nothing we can do to earn any of what he has done for us. This isn’t condemnation for the sake of making ourselves feel ashamed or worthless rather it is acknowledgement of how much we need him and all that he has done for us. You can look at your sin and say “I suck” or you can look at your sin and say “I have a great, merciful God who loves me more than I understand.”

This is summarized well in the quote “Those who feel their spiritual need.” by Goodspeed.

So, let’s adopt this attitude of brokenness and helplessness before God because not only will we be happy but we will also have the kingdom of God as well.

 

Dan Wall