God of Comfort and God of Judgement

Wednesday February 14, 2018 – God of Comfort and God of Judgement
Numbers 7

God is a loving Father, but it does us well not to forget that He will be our ultimate judge.  Fortunately for all of us He will judge us through the saving grace that Jesus has offered to each of us, but it is important that we also worship and serve God Almighty!   C.S. Lewis said the following in Mere Christianity that I thought was a great observation.   God is the only comfort. He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger—according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way. . . Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay.

On Valentine’s Day it is important to see God as love because it is only through God that we are really able to love, but there is also the reality of God as the ruler of the Universe.

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The Real Price for When You Have Wronged

Tuesday February 13, 2018 – The Real Price for When You Have Wronged
Numbers 5-6

Consider what it used to be like when you wronged someone in any way.   Numbers 5: 6 ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty 7 and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged.

With all the people who are complaining about how they have been wronged it would create a completely different set of circumstances if our system was even somewhat close to what is described here in Numbers.   I think it would change how people considered others if the consequences of wronging others were more significant.

I am going to close today with this blessing from Numbers 6, 24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’

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No Needy Among Them!

Monday February 12, 2018 – No Needy Among Them!
Numbers 3-4

The devotional today actually focused on Ananias and Sapphira who were deceitful about the money they had given to God’s service and paid the price with their lives.   The previous chapter is where I wanted to focus today since it focused on what we should do with our money and possessions.   32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

This idea of the group sharing and carrying the burden for the whole is a great concept.   Wouldn’t it be nice if we could still live with that type of charity and caring?

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A Different Perspective on Death

Sunday February 11, 2018 –  A Different Perspective on Death
Numbers 1-2

This morning I read a small excerpt from a book by Lysa TerKeurst on Adam and Eve and the consequences of sin.  Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the forbidden tree, and they ushered sin into the world. God handed down the consequences of their actions, which included banishment from the Garden of Eden.

Whenever I’d read that story, I’d thought they had to leave paradise because God was tired of them, angry or plain out mad!. But I was wrong. Their relocation was not a place of abandonment; it was a place of grace.

You see, there were two special trees in the Garden of Eden. One was the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” This tree was the one with the forbidden fruit. The other tree was the “tree of life.” This was the tree that gave Adam and Eve perpetual life.

And this tree of life is why they had to leave. For if they’d been allowed to stay, they would have eaten from the tree of life and lived forever (see Genesis 3:22)—wallowing in sin, wallowing in all the brokenness sin brings with it. And God couldn’t stand that for the people he loved.

So it was his love that made them leave. And allowed them to die. So that they could experience the resurrected life his Son would one day provide.

God did not run out of grace at the dawn of humankind. And, he will not run out of grace for you or for me. That’s a perspective that I had never taken before.

Taken in part from Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire With God, Not Food

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Another Message on Patience

Saturday February 10, 2018 – Another Message on Patience
Leviticus 26-27

Once again I feel that God is sending me specific encouragement while I wait for His guidance and leadning.   When I say the following title “What to Remember When You Feel God Is Not Listening (1 Peter 1:6–7)”  I thought that here is another message from God to encourage my heart.  The text was so good that I had to include it despite the length.

 “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Habakkuk 1:2).

Have you ever felt, like Habakkuk, that your cries to God are falling on deaf ears?

Does God seem distant? Do you feel he’s abandoned you in your time of need? What should we think and how should we react when God seems distant?

Here are four things to remember when enduring God’s silence:

  1. You’re not alone—Giants of the faith, from Martin Luther to C. S. Lewis, have written about the spiritual crises they’ve endured after seeking God’s comfort and feeling his absence. And in the Bible we find kings, from David to Jesus, feeling similarly forsaken by the Father (see Psalm 22:1 and Matthew 27:46). We can take comfort in knowing that we’re not the only ones who have gone through such experiences, and that the silence is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of our faith or our relationship with God.
  2. It’s temporary—Feelings of distance from God are a temporary trial. As Peter said, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Peter 1:6).
  3. It’s for a reason—Peter also says trials come so they can prove the genuineness of our faith (see 1 Peter 1:7). God puts us through trials to test and strengthen our faith and our reliance on his mercy. As John MacArthur says: “As one of God’s children, you are promised His presence, though for now you feel alone and without help. Rest in knowing God your Father has good reasons for bringing you into your trial. He is committed to making you holy, even if it means taking away your happiness for a time.”*
  4. You’re being heard—Even when God seems to be a million miles away he is always closer than our breath. He hears you, so don’t be afraid to be bold and ask, like Habakkuk, why your cries are going unanswered. Keep praying and know God’s silence won’t last forever.

PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY: Our suffering under God’s silence has a purpose and can be used to help us grow in faith and obedience.

So I read the text above in my normal devotional and then the following scripture was also part of the devotional reading from Leviticus 26, 3 “‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4 I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. 5 Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.

6 “‘I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country. 7 You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. 8 Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.

9 “‘I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.

I think waiting for God to respond will be much easier in light of what He said today to me through His word.

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The Waiting Dance

Friday February 9, 2018 – The Waiting Dance
Leviticus 24-25

Waiting on God for answers is a difficult task.  The Israelites discovered this truth firsthand. God led them through the wilderness, but not always at the pace they had hoped for. Yet God expected the people to obey regardless of the wait.  I am sure that God is trying to get me to understand the importance of being patient.

It’s not hard to imagine how difficult it must have been for the Israelites to be patient and obedient, because I am sure that you all experience this in your own life in one way or the other. Maybe you’re waiting for an answer to prayer. You know that God’s answer is critical, yet he doesn’t seem to be responding. You’re in a hurry, but God isn’t.

And while the hardest part may be the waiting, learning to trust God in the middle of it all is no picnic either. Yet Proverbs 3:5–6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

I read an interesting observation from C.S. Lewis that complemented this thought well and he provided his own perspective on this on-going trust relationship with God.  “And that, by the way, is perhaps the most important difference between Christianity and all other religions: that in Christianity God is not a static thing—not even a person—but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.”  That dance is one where we know that God is always there, but His guidance in the “dance” almost happens without our knowing it because of how closely we are joined.

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Deep and Wide – It’s Not The Fountain

Thursday February 8, 2018 – Deep and Wide – It’s Not the Fountain
Leviticus 22-23

I think most people have heard the kids song, “Deep and Wide”.   Deep and wide is repeated several times in the song with the motion of deep and wide at the corresponding time and then the final verse is “there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide!”   Well I am not totally sure where the fountain is that flows deep and wide, but I have found the following reference to deep and wide that I think is a much more fitting deep and wide.   Ephesians 3:17-18 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

What is deep and wide is the love of Christ!  n these verses from Ephesians, Paul describes Jesus’ love as being “wide and long and high and deep.” The idea is that it is infinite—you will never come to the end of it. God loved you before he created you. He loves you right this minute. And he will love you for eternity. We cannot possibly understand how much Jesus loves us. We don’t have to. All we have to do is accept it.

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Keeping it Simple

Wednesday February 7, 2018 – Keeping it Simple
Leviticus 19-21

Leviticus has a significant amount of chapters dedicated to passing on instructions on the law.   There are many chapters and verses that include the things that we should not do so when I read the following portion of scripture in Leviticus 19 I was struck by the brevity and simplicity.  18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. 19 “‘Keep my decrees.

Doesn’t that last one just make it very simple.  Keep my decrees, but when I look at our society today it is hard not to think that much of our issues with hatred and divisiveness would be overcome if we could just learn to love our neighbor as ourselves.

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Even Heartaches Come From God

Tuesday February 6, 2018 – Even Heartaches Come From God
Leviticus 16-18

Part of my devotional reading includes a devotional from C.S. Lewis.   It often has a small sample of part of his reading and today this came from his book called the 4 Loves.   We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.  None of us wants our hearts to be broken, but the great news is that God always has a plan in everything we experience, including heartache.

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Preparing to Celebrate A Victory

Monday February 5, 2018 – Preparing to Celebrate A Victory
Leviticus 14-15

It is always fun to celebrate a victory.  Yesterday the Super Bow was a closely contested game with the Eagles emerging as the victor.  The Israelites had waited 40 years to shout the victory cry and then for six days they had followed God’s commands and had marched silently around Jericho, with only the sounds of trumpets blown by the priests. After 7 days God gave the go-ahead to sound the trumpets; shout for victory, and the walls of the city will collapse. The Israelites conquered the city of Jericho, finally claiming their rightful place in the promised land.

The Israelites must have felt so relieved to claim a victory after so many years of waiting and preparing. Can you relate?  I know that I have and even though I have felt I am in a holding pattern and circumstances are not changing I know that God is working even while I am waiting. Today I read that I should think of this time of waiting as a process that will eventually culminate in a victory. In the meantime, I pray that you, together with I, remain faithful and know that God is there with you, preparing you for the battles, goals and victories to come.

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