Walking Through Ephesians

Walking Through Ephesians

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Day 11 (Numbers 11)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

This reading shows us a low point for God’s people. They’ve started up their journey towards Canaan, surrounded by the blessings of God – the God who was leading them, providing their food and protection, even their shoes and clothes were not wearing out. Despite all these blessings Israel begins to complain. The main complaint in this chapter is over food – more specifically meat (v. 4). This wasn’t a humble request for a different type of food. These words were words of greed (v. 4, 34), words of ingratitude towards God and His deliverance (v. 20). Their lack of faith in God to provide and care for them even rubbed off on Moses who wondered how God would provide meat for so much people (v. 21-22). Verse 23 is worth remembering – “Is the Lord’s power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.”

There was a situation in Mark 5 like this. Jarius had a daughter that was dying, and before Jesus could arrive she died. Jarius was told, “Your daughter has died, why trouble the Teacher anymore?” It’s too late, you weren’t quick enough, this is beyond Jesus, why bother. Jesus responds, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.” (Mark 5:35).

Here’s your question for today – who’s voice are you listening to? Are you listening to the voice of doubt that says, “it’s too late, I can never recover, I can’t change, things can’t improve, my marriage is doomed, my children are too far gone, etc.? Or are you hearing the voice of God who says, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.” Paul reminds us God is able to do beyond what we ask or think (Eph. 3:20-21). Don’t listen to the voice of doubt, the voice of ingratitude, of envy or jealousy. Satan’s lie is that you can never be satisfied where you are with what you have. Paul said He knows the secret of contentment, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). If God could rescue Israel from Egypt, provide a path through the sea when the way seemed lost; if God could guide and care for His people in times past, I know He can satisfy the desires of my heart, and provide for my every need.

Gracious and patient Lord, thank You for all You have done for me. You have rescued my soul, forgiven me of my sins through the blood of Your Son. You have given me all that I have, and have cared for me. All that I have and am is through You. Forgive me of when I listen to the voice of doubt which questions Your goodness, Your will, Your power. You have shown through Your word that You are the almighty, all-powerful creator of the world, and that You provide and care for Your people. You are my strength and my song. You are my hearts desire. Help me to find my satisfaction in You.

Day 10 (Numbers 10)

Friday, February 10, 2017

God’s Guidance
In Numbers 10 the people of Israel camped at Mt. Sinai for eleven months. During that time, God’s law had been announced and the tabernacle had been constructed and dedicated. Moses had consecrated the priests and Levites, counted the soldiers and organized the tribes. Israel is now ready for action.
However, for the next thirty-eight years because of their rebellion, they would wander in the wilderness leaving behind a trail of graves.  In contrast, the first ten chapters of numbers record how the nation obeyed the Lord. In obeying the Lord Israel had everything to gain and nothing to lose, yet, they refused to trust Him and follow him.
The children of Israel have been comfortable for nearly a year, but now with the cloud over the tabernacle moving, the priests blew their trumpets and the Levites dismantled the tabernacle. And the people were ready to march. It was time for them to move.
The more comfortable we become the less we welcome change; and yet there is no growth without change. Comfort leads to complacency and complacency is the enemy of character and spiritual growth.
Further, the tribes had their leaders so all the priests had to do was sound the trumpet and signal when each tribe would move out.  The Ark of the Covenant led the way. It was carried by the Levites following the cloud. Where each tribe marched in procession was not an option; it was an obligation from God.
The sound of the trumpet was a call to assemble. It was a call to action. It was also to warn and to be a reminder. Paul describes the coming of the Lord with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the sound of the trumpet. When the trumpet sounds it will be a call for all of God’s people to assemble in that general assembly (Heb. 12:23). It will serve as a reminder of how God has saved all His people. The trumpet will call for us to offer sacrifice to the Lord and remember “I am the Lord your God. It will be a warning, as when the sound of the trumpet at Sinai and the voice of words terrified the people (Heb. 12:18-21). It will be a reminder of how fearful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Finally, it will be a call to action. When the trumpet sounds there will be none that are idle. All those who are His will be called to meet Him in the air. The trumpet sound will be clear. There will be no mistaking the sound.
Finally, Moses prayed to God for guidance and victory. When the nation stopped to camp, he prayed that God’s presence would again rest with His people at the tabernacle.  No matter how many times the Israelites started and stopped Moses repeated these prayers. He wanted the people to know that God, not Moses, was in charge of the nation, and that Israel was dependent on the Lord for victory. Moses put God first in the life of the people. Had the people paid attention to this, they would have avoided the sins that later brought them much sorrow. 

Day 9 (Numbers 9)

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Our reading today is broken into two sections yet conveys one thought – follow the commandments of God. It begins with the Sabbath and how Israel was to continue to keep the Sabbath. God has specific regulations regarding the Sabbath described in Exodus 12 & 13. In our context a question arose about someone who was unclean. Some men had become unclean due to contact with a dead person, yet they knew they needed to keep the Passover. Notice, instead of just acting, supposing their decision was right, they came to Moses for direction. And Moses didn’t just give them his best opinion on the law, he went to God for guidance (v. 8).

The chapter ends with a description as to how Israel knew when to depart, and when to stay put. God’s presence would rest over the Tabernacle as a cloud by day and fire by night (v. 16). Whenever the cloud rested over the Tabernacle, Israel stayed put. Whenever it lifted, they journeyed on. Notice v. 23 – “At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out; they kept the Lord’s charge, according to the command of the Lord through Moses.” In other words, they acted only by the command of God.

What a necessary reminder for us. Their steps were directed by God. It reminds us of the hymn we sing, “Where He leads, I’ll follow.” Instead of assuming God would be pleased with our desired course of action, we must learn to wait and listen to what the Lord will command (v. 8) through studying His words. If we speak, let them be God’s words (1 Pet. 4:11). If we act, let them be in keeping/following His words (1 John 2:3-6). May it be said of us what is said of those in Revelation 14:4, “…These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes…”

“Loving Shepherd, our Leader and Guide, thank You for leading us in paths of righteousness, to the green pastures of life. Even though we travel through the wilderness, the places where our faith is tested, we walk with confidence knowing You are with us, always. We are like sheep and tend to go our own way, thinking we know best. Forgive us. Be patient with us. Help us to surrender our will, and to follow the Lamb wherever He may go.”

Day 8 (Numbers 8)

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

God And His Pattern

Numbers chapter 8 can be summarized as giving instruction concerning how God wanted the lampstand made and arranged. Also, how the priest were to cleanse themselves before they offered sacrifices. Further, how the Levites were to be separated from the rest of the children of Israel.
God is very concerned that His children follow His pattern. Instruction about how the lampstand was to be crafted had been given by Moses. It was to be crafted after that pattern. Also, it was to be arranged in a particular way. It is important that we, regardless of the time in which we live, pay attention to how God wants things arranged and follow His pattern.  That is true in our individual life as well as the collective relationship we have. Following God’s pattern is not new. It is not an invention of men. God made the pattern for our lives and the church. We must follow His pattern.
Second, the priests were to cleanse themselves before offering sacrifices. As we offer the sacrifice of our life we must be clean. We must be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Our sins must be washed away.
Third, this vow was voluntary. A person who desired to consecrate himself to the Lord in a special way, would make the vow either for life or for a certain period of time (Numbers 6:1-21).  The rules were:
He could not taste the fruit of the vineyard in any manner.
He could not cut his hair.
He could not come in contact with any dead person.
The most famous Old Testament Nazarite was Samson (Judges 13:7).  It is very possible that John the Baptist also took the Nazarite vow to dedicate himself to the task of preparing the way of the Lord.  It is possible that Paul voluntarily took this vow himself (Acts 18:19; Acts 21:23).
The Nazarite vow may be an illustration of a Christian.  It is a voluntary vow one makes to consecrate their life to God’s work.  When one becomes a Christian they present their bodies as instruments of righteousness to be used in God’s service (Romans 6:1-23).  What is to typify Christians is seen in perfection in Christ, “Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” (Hebrews 7:26).

Day 7 (Numbers 7)

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

This chapter describes the offerings of the leaders for the altar when it was anointed. The leaders of the twelve tribes brought identical gifts. One leader brought his gifts on the first day, another on the second, another on the third, etc. Thus collectively Israel was supporting and endorsing the altar, which would be used on behalf of the people in atonement for their sins.

There’s a few thoughts I had for us consider today. One, each tribe, large or small, had a special day to give. Each tribe brought the same gift. All of the tribes, despite their size or strength, were equally important. Secondly, since every day’s gift was added to what had been given the day before, the overall result was impressive (v. 84-88). On our own our efforts might seem small and insignificant, but when joined with the efforts of my fellow workers in the Kingdom, great things are accomplished. Isn’t that what Paul said in Ephesians 4:14-16? The growth of the body comes from the “proper working of each individual part.” Some may plant. Others may water. Some work with words, others with their hands. And in the end of the day, great things are done as we each do our part in God’s work. We’re stronger together than apart. We accomplish more together than we would alone. Thank the Lord for workers in His kingdom!

“Gracious Father, thank You for our collective group. Thank you for the family we share in You – our brothers and sisters, those who are part of our Campbell Road family, and the saints we’ve yet to meet scattered by distance and time. It’s a blessing to pull our efforts together for a single purpose – furthering the gospel, and pointing others to Your greatness. Bless our work. Help us to work as a team. Help us see that each role is important, no matter how small it may seem. In all that we do, we do for Your glory.”

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