Miracles of Jesus

Miracles of Jesus

40 Days in the Wilderness

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Day 35 (Numbers 35)

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

In the 35th chapter we continue the discussion over how the promised land was to be divided. In this chapter we find what the Levites were given. Though they didn't get a portion of the land as did the rest other tribes, they were given 48 cities. 6 of those cities would be known as "cities of refuge" to be a place for those who had killed another accidentally. They could flee and find safety in these cities.

There's something to that thought - finding a refuge, a place of safety. That's an image which is found throughout the OT - God is our refuge (Ps. 46:1; Ps. 61:3; Ps. 91:9; 2 Sam 22:3; Ruth 2:12; etc.). A refuge is a place one goes for protection, for security, for comfort, for strength. So often we make things such as money, possessions, occupations, success, family and friends our refuge - just like building a house upon the sand. When the storms of life hit (and they will), that house will come crashing down. The house that stands is the house built upon the rock (Matt. 7:24-29). It's the one who makes his God his refuge. He turns to God for strength, for comfort, for security, for joy. He looks to God's words for guidance. He models his life after Christ's example.

Do you have a place to turn when the hard times come? Do you have one to turn to for comfort when your heart breaks? Do you have a place you go for safety, security, and hope? Let God be your refuge. Put your trust in Him. He will not fail. When it seems like everything is crumbling and falling to pieces, turn to God. Give your life to God. Seek shelter under His wings - a life led by His wisdom and guidance - There's hope. There's comfort. There's confidence. God has provided a city of refuge - come make your home in Him!

Great God and Father, I praise You this morning for all that You are, and all You have provided. I wake the dawn singing Your goodness, amazed at all You are to me. You are my Strength, my Rock. You are my Shield, my Strong Tower. You are my Help, my Redeemer. You are my Safety, my City of Refuge. You are my Salvation. You are my Hope. You are my Source of Joy, the Smile on my face. You are the Song that I sing. You are Love. You are Good, and the Giver of all that is Good. You are my Father, My King, My Creator, My Friend, My God. Thank You for giving me all that I have - for giving my life meaning, purpose, joy, comfort, and hope. I give You this day, my wonderful God. I give you my words, my thoughts, the best I have to give. I love You and praise You - my Lord and my God!

Day 34 (Numbers 34)

Monday, March 06, 2017

God Offers

In ancient days there were no survey crews with instruments for determining property lines. People cited towns and geographical features to identify boundaries. The children of Israel are ready to enter the land and Moses now gives them the boundaries of the land they will possess (Numbers 34). At the beginning Moses had appointed twelve men to help him with the census. Now he appoints ten men to help Joshua and Eleazar with dividing the land for the people to live in.
First, notice God left nothing to chance. How many times do families squabble over inheritance? No room for that here. God is specific about who gets what. God had planned and promised. How many times do we live our lives catch-as-catch can? How often do we get up and wherever the wind blows us that day is the direction we go? Is there a lesson to be learned of the value of planning and preparation? Is there a lesson to be learned about the value of boundaries in one’s life? Certainly we are not able to plan for every contingency and the unknown that comes. But, for that which we can, why not imitate what God has done?
Second, God had promised the land, a large portion, to the Israelites. Wherever they put their foot they would claim the land. God offers us great spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3-13). Do we leave them unclaimed? God offers us the opportunity of prayer. Do we leave that great privilege laying on the table?  He offers us the encouragement of each other. Do we claim the blessing we can receive from each other? How many times do we, like Israel, leave unclaimed all God has promised and offered to us? Are we putting our feet on the promises of God?
I am impressed as we have worked through this book about how God plans, purposes and defines what He gives and wants. It is no different today. We operate at our best when we live as God designed for us to live. There is great peace, confidence and harmony in our lives and the lives of others with whom we interact.

Day 33 (Numbers 33)

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Israel has reached the Promised Land. They are camped on the other side of the Jordan, about to cross and begin their conquest. Numbers 33 gives us a recap over Israel's journeys up to this point - how they came from Egypt and arrived here 40 years later. The chapter ends with God's instructions for when they cross into the land. They were to drive out the inhabitants. God knew the other nations would influence Israel for evil (v. 55), and continue to be a source of pain. So God instructed them to clear out the nations, destroy any idol and high places they found (v. 52), and then settle and distribute the land (v. 53-54).

A song came to mind as I read through this chapter today - "On the road again...". For 40 years Israel was on the move, constantly on the go. Did you notice all the places they visited? Yet in all their wandering they didn't stay put. They didn't set up houses in the wilderness. They kept on moving. They kept on traveling, following their God who led them. God had a destination for His people. He had a land in store for Israel. Though their sin slowed down the journey, God intended for His people (the next generation) to claim that promised land. Numbers 33 helps us appreciate terms such as, "pilgrim" or "sojourner." Think about that - for 40 years they didn't have a place to call home. They'd arrive at a place, but before too long they'd be on the road again - on the move towards the promised land.

What difference would it make for Christians to see ourselves as "pilgrims"? As sojourners? As a people who are "on the road again?" It would help us realize, as we sing, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through." We may not be so consumed with laying up treasures on earth, as we would be laying up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-20). I read a great quote the other day which said, "Let's not be so enamored with the concerns of earth that we fail to focus on the realities of heaven." In other words - this life with all it's joys and pleasures, with all it's pains and heartaches, it's not the promised land. We're on the road. We're seeking a heavenly country. We're pressing on to higher ground. We're headed home.

Don't let where you are, or where you've been distract you from where you're going. Remember - you're a pilgrim. We're headed home. Share that joy with those around you - they need to know about heaven. When your days are dark and you're feeling burdened with the cares and problems of today - remember heaven. There's a place prepared for you. There's a home that's ready for you. There's a Savior waiting for you. Press on pilgrim!

Our amazing God, You are our Leader, our Shepherd, the Light to our path, our Guide through this life. Where You lead, we will follow. You are the source of joy and goodness, we know that our greatest desires find their fulfillment in You. What a hope You've given to us - the forgiveness of our sins, eternal life, a home prepared, to dwell in heaven with You. Oh Father we long for heaven. We dream of heaven. We sing of heaven. We can't wait for the day we see You, and reach that promised land of rest. Thank You for giving Your Son, the source of hope, the One who made this hope possible, the One who prepared the way to You. Help us to remember we are pilgrims. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on You, to set them on things above, not on the things below. On this Lord's Day we worship You as our Savior, Redeemer, our Hope, our Rock. You Father, are our home. We long for the day we worship face to face with You. Living in Your home for all eternity - thank You for that blessed hope!

Day 32 (Numbers 32)

Saturday, March 04, 2017

A successful community or nation depends not only on keeping our word and trust in God for victory, it also depends on the loyalty of people to each other. Patriotism is the word that best describes this attitude.
The time has come for Israel to enter the land (Numbers 32). The children of Gad and Reuben requested to stay on the other side of the Jordan. When they made this request it looked as though they were not going to enter the land and fight with their brethren.  They are called a “brood of sinners” (Numbers 32:14). They carefully explained to Moses that they would fulfill their obligation to their brethren to fight alongside of them as they conquered Canaan. Only after that was done would they then settle on the other side of the river.
At first their patriotism was questioned. Perhaps they worded their request poorly. Perhaps other jumped to conclusions. It was important that they fulfill their obligation. It is not an exact parallel but how loyal are we to the people of God with whom we have fellowship? Is there a feeling of patriotism? Is that filial devotion to help each attain the goal important to us?
We live in a world that values independence. Yet, in God’s family the emphasis is on loyalty to God and each other. The metaphor used often is that of the body. The point is, that every member of the body is important and has a part to play. The body depends on the loyalty of other members to fulfill their role. When the members of the body begin to fight against each other there is sickness. In some cases death when the body turns on itself.
Just as Israel needed Reuben and Gad to fight alongside their brothers, so we need each other to help us in our struggle to conquer Satan. We need each other to fight side by side. We need each other to lift up one another when down. When injured we need each other to carry one another.
Patriotism for our Lord and for one another is so very important. How patriotic am I?

Day 31 (Numbers 31)

Friday, March 03, 2017

Our context today describes the slaughter of the Midianites. They were destroyed by Israel as punishment for their role in Israel’s sin with Baal (Numbers 25). At the end of that story, God had told the Israelites to “Be hostile to the Midianites and strike them” (25:17). The command needed to be carried out before they crossed over into the promised land.

At God’s command 12,000 men destroyed the Midianites. But some of the soldiers brought home Midianite women and boys. Moses became angry, and ordered that these captors should also be killed, only the young females were allowed to live. The virgin girls could become servants, daughters, and wives to the Israelites and become Israelites themselves (see Deuteronomy 21:10-14).
The scene is bleak – as are war scenes. Such chapters remind us of the wretchedness of sin. This whole battle came out of a response of what Midian had done to Israel, leading them into sin and away from God. 24,000 Israelites had died for their sin with Midianite women (25:9). But this vengeance was not merely from Israel – it was from God (v. 3). Israel belonged to God – thus to oppose Israel was to oppose God.

While this may cause us to think about the justice of God and His righteous judgment, here’s a thought I took away from today – don’t be like Midian. They didn’t attack Israel, they influenced Israel. They didn’t steal their gold, they stole their hearts. They led the people away from God into sin.

Listen to what Jesus would say about this: “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). To personally sin is bad, but to lead another into sin is very bad. So bad, that drowning is preferable to causing another to stumble. I have the ability to influence others for good or evil. I need to ensure that I don’t cause another to stumble – whether through a bad influence (like Midian), or through causing someone to violate their conscience (see Rom. 14:15). These little ones believe in Jesus (v. 6). Don’t weaken their faith. Don’t cause them to question or doubt their faith. Don’t burden them with your personal opinions and judgments. Don’t push them away from Christ.

Build them. Strengthen them. Be patient with them. Thank God for new Christians – both young in faith and young in age. Be a source of encouragement and help for them. Mentor them. Help train them. Notice if they get discouraged or confused and help ease their minds. Be a source for good. Who knows – they may be the mature Christian teaching a new generation of babes in Christ – all because you helped them mature and grow along the way.

Holy Father, we know from our reading today that You take sin seriously. Help us to see sin as You see sin – to see temptation as You see temptation – and to be devoted to living the holy, pure lives You’ve called us to live. Forgive us if we’ve caused another to stumble through our words or attitudes. Help us to pay attention to our influence, and to resolve to be a source of strength to others, especially for the young in faith. Thank You Father for the babes in Christ – what a blessing they are. Thank You for their decision, their commitment, their curiosity for truth. Help us to help them – to be patient with them as others were with us. Help us to strengthen these young in faith, that they one day may be the mature – leading and teaching a new generation of babes in Christ. And all the good that may be done, and continue to be done, is for Your glory – our gracious Lord, the Giver of all that is good! 

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