Monthly Archives: February 2013

February 28

Numbers 5&6

After giving the Israelites some pretty hard-to-hear instructions concerning infectious disease, jealousy, and vows of separation, God gives a beautiful benediction.

The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his fact to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

These precious words are often used at the end of church services and many of us can probably quote it. But let’s think a minute about what it’s saying to us today.

Yes, we want the Lord to bless us and we certainly want him to keep us safe. We have the Creator God looking out for us. Is there a greater blessing?

We thank God for grace, his lavish gift of forgiveness when we don’t deserve it. Grace that is greater than all our sin. Amazing.

But this is what jumped out at me this morning. “the Lord turn his face toward you.” Do I really want that when I hold on to a sin and refuse to repent of it? Are there things in my life I would rather God turn a blind eye to and just ignored? Does the thought of a holy God turning his face toward me cause me to feel guilty about thoughts I think or little lies I tell or any disobedience in my life?

When I was a kid we loved to play outside. Sometimes our parents would take us to the lake or walking on a nature trail. We loved monkey bars and giant slides. I experienced a sense of freedom as I ran up hills or climbed as high as I could.

But I can’t tell you how often I would glance toward my mom or dad during my adventures. There was a sense of well-being, safety as I was reminded that they were right there. I rarely ventured beyond their line of vision. They let me play freely and I could be Wonder Woman or a mountain climber if I wanted. But I could be at peace as I explored the world around me with the assurance that they were watching out for me.

That’s what God wants us to know about him. He wants us to venture out into this world and be the people he wants us to be. He wants us to try new things, and spread our wings. And he wants us to welcome his face turned toward us. To be able to do that we must repent of sin.

Can you look into his face and know peace? That’s my prayer for you… for me today.

February 27

Numbers 3&4

The Levites had a lot of responsibility caring for the Temple and all that went with it. The sons of Levi were chosen by God to be priests through which the nation of Israel would have access to God. So they were responsible for the material church and the spiritual health of the Jewish people.

Peter calls us a royal priesthood in I Peter 2:5&9. We who have received mercy have the responsibility to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called (us) out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

So when I read about the duties of the Old Testament priests I try to make a connection to what God intends for us today. After all, there really is a spiritual parallel for us in the day to day lives recorded in the Old Testament.

I noticed that each family had specific requirements. It was all very organized. No one person did everything and none were exempt.

A healthy New Testament church is like that, too. As a kingdom of priests, a royal priesthood, each of us should be actively involved in a body of believers, using our gifts and talents for the building up of saints to equip us to share the gospel with our neighbors and friends.

God has a job for each of us to do within His church. I pray that He will give each of us opportunities to serve Him and that He will find us faithful.

Father, I thank you for your Church. I thank you that we have the privilege of gathering together as a body of believers to worship you, to learn from your word, and to encourage one another. Help each of us to find our place within that congregation of Bible believing worshipers. And may your Church be healthy because each of us has obeyed your call to action.

February 26

Numbers 1-2

The first part of the book of Numbers is about family. Counting families. Positioning families. Recounting families.

I love my family. My sisters and I were so blessed to have the parents we had. They weren’t perfect, of course, but they loved us and raised us to love each other. We often comment that our parents gave us forever friends.

My sisters’ children were raised to be friends with each other, too. The relationship of ‘cousin’ is as strong and loving as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ to them.

And now a new generation is among us. I am excited to see what God has in store for these little ones as well.

I know “family” means different things to different people. I hope you have precious memories of yours and that you enjoy precious relationships with them today.

If you don’t have your own flesh and blood family you are close to I hope you reach out to a church family or a group of Christian friends with whom you can let your hair down and just be yourself, knowing they are going to love you anyway!  God created us with a need for one another.

It has been said that one of the greatest gifts a father can give his children is to love their mother. Or mothers love their fathers. Parents, I know you know how blessed you are to have those children in your home. I pray that you will raise them to be friends with one another, to experience unconditional love, and to take pride in your family unit.

So as we read the book of Numbers together, let’s celebrate family. The verses can get tedious but in each verse is someone’s life. Someone’s mother or father, brother or sister. Real people with real hopes and dreams, struggles and grief.

Just like ours.

February 25

Leviticus 26&27

God promised that if the Israelites obeyed his commands they would be blessed. They would have rain when they needed it and they would eat all the food they wanted. They would live safely in their land and God would look favorably upon them.

But if they disobeyed there would be consequences. Crops would fail. If that didn’t get their attention wild animals would kill livestock and children. God gave them a long progression of horrible things that would happen as long as they continued in disobedience.

Then in verse 40 of chapter 26 God says… BUT. All he asked of Israel is that they repent. Confess their sins in humility and pay for their sins with the blood sacrifice.

God didn’t want to punish them. He wanted to bless them. And it’s the same today.

God takes no joy in seeing any of his children suffer. He wants to bless us in the sight of the nations as he did the early Jews. But if we don’t, there are consequences.

People are always saying… things are so much worse than when I was young. And it’s true. And it will continue to be true according to God’s Word. When we read Leviticus we get a glimpse into the mind of God who demands obedience. And who is very honest with the fact that if we don’t obey, things will continue to get worse. There is a long progression of horrible things that will happen as long as we ignore God.

Just as it was during the time the Jews were in the desert, God wants us to come to him with humbled hearts and confess our sins. The big difference between then and now is that our sins are already paid for by the precious blood of Jesus. We need only to accept it.

How much worse will our lives get? I guess that depends on us who know the truth and how willing we are to obey. It will depend on whether or not we are living holy lives and leading others to Jesus.

Dear God, give us humble hearts. May you find your children obedient, holy as you are holy. And may we be about the work you’ve chosen us for… revealing you to a lost world.

February 24

Leviticus 24-25

In the middle of giving the law, the writer of Leviticus stops to tell a story about a man who blasphemed the Name with a curse. In the heat of anger, the man used God’s name in vain. The result? God told the Israelites to take the man outside the camp and stone him. The Israelites obeyed.

I want to suggest that we need to watch our own mouths. OMG should never be a part of a Christian’s vocabulary in any form. Using God’s name like that is a sin and, in the Old Testament, punishable by death. God demands we respect everything about him, including his name.

When I worked in the middle school and a child would say, “Jesus”, or “God” in a curse I often said,  “Please don’t talk about my friend like that.” I don’t know if that was the right thing to say but more than not I would get an apology. Sometimes, though, the child didn’t even know they had said it, it was such a part of their vocabulary.

Dear Christian, let’s honor God with the respect that is due him. Let’s be careful not to use his precious name like unsaved people do.

February 23

Leviticus 22&23

I remember as a young girl, when faced with an invitation to do something or drink something I knew I shouldn’t… even if the argument was, “it’s harmless”, “live a little”, “everybody’s doing it”… my answer would often be, “No way! My dad would kill me if he found out.”

I loved my dad. I golfed with him, joked with him, talked to him, hugged him. I knew he loved me. But I also had a healthy fear of disobeying or disappointing him.

Leviticus 22:31-33 says: Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord. Do not profane my name. I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord, who makes you holy and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord.

God must be acknowledged as holy. He wants his people to fear him. Not the cowering kind of fear that makes us shy away from his presence. But a healthy fear. One that doesn’t want to disappoint. One that realizes what my sin cost him.

Does my life acknowledge God as holy? Do I obey him out of love and respect?

Dear God, you are holy. And you’ve made me holy, too, by the blood of your Son. Help me to acknowledge you in my life so others can see you for who you really are.

February 22

Leviticus 19-21

As God was giving the details of his law to the Israelites he said, “I am the Lord your God” at least a dozen times in these chapters alone. He also reminded them several times to be holy, to accept his holiness, because He is holy.

The rules God gave his people were not given to kill their fun. The rules were given so that God could bless them and the world would want to follow Him, too.

We are under grace in 2013. We know that salvation is not found in following rules. But the reading of these rules today reminded me that they are not about earning salvation. Read these rules again and think about it. If we lived accordingly there would be happier marriages, healthier people, peace and honest dealings. If Christians alone lived accordingly, wouldn’t unbelievers be drawn to us?

Again I’m reminded to be holy because God is holy… and He is the Lord our God.

Father, I pray that your people… that I… would live lives that set us apart from the world. May we obey you, to live holy lives because You have forgiven us. May others see You in us.

February 21

Leviticus 16-18

This passage sure is not politically correct, is it? Chapter 18 lists all kinds of sexual acts God considers detestable, including incest, homosexuality, and sex with animals.

Saying these things doesn’t make me hateful or intolerant. It’s what the Bible says.

Dear Christian, let’s not be afraid to speak the truth as recorded in the Bible. But let’s be careful to speak that truth lovingly from the heart of God. Let’s remember that God loves sinners. He loved them (us) so much he sent his son to die for all of us.

God loves people who steal paperclips from work and he loves murderers. He loves gossips and homosexuals. And he is asking us not to condemn them… that’s his job… but to point them to the Savior. It’s ok to hate the sin but it is never ok to hate the person who sins.

We can’t ignore Leviticus 18. But hitting someone over the head with it won’t make them change. Your love and honesty, however, just might introduce them to the God who can change them.

Father, sometimes it’s hard to thank you for some of the passages in your Word. These days it’s hard to stand for the truth when Satan’s lies have become the norm. Help us to not be ashamed of the gospel, to proclaim your truth as we have opportunity. But help us to do that after we’ve prayed and with the same love you showed us. I pray that sinners of every sort will want to come to our Savior because we have loved them and shown them the better way.

February 20

Leviticus 13:47-15:33

Where’s a good bottle of Clorox when you need it? Most of us in this country have it so much easier to be clean than the Israelites had in the desert. Most of us have hot water we can run right in our homes. Our cabinets have multiple bottles of cleaning supplies. Our clothes come out clean with the use of detergent in our washers. And our dishes are sanitized each time we run the dishwasher.

There really is no excuse for most of us to be dirty.

Do we take cleanliness for granted? I’m not saying we should get rid of any of our conveniences. I’m going to do laundry today and I’m not going to take it to the river. But don’t we kind of take for granted that the person whose hand we just shook is clean?

Spiritually speaking, it is much easier for us today to be cleansed of sin. No animal sacrifice is required. Seven days aren’t required for purification. We need only to repent, to ask Jesus to come into our lives and just like that… our sins are forgiven, we are whiter than snow before a Holy God.

Let’s not assume, however, that the person whose hand we just shook… even as we greet him in church… has been cleansed from sin. There are many good people who are lost because they haven’t made a decision to accept Christ.

And let’s not assume that that person the Lord has laid on our hearts knows Jesus as Savior. We need to be about letting unclean people know how to be cleaned up by the One who loves them so very much. We know it’s there for the asking.

God, I pray that you will point us toward someone who needs a cleansing today. Help us as we introduce them to You and show them how easy it is to be washed in the blood. May  each of us begin this day allowing you to clean us up, too and make us ready to serve you.

February 19

Leviticus 11-13:46

God gave Moses instructions for healthy living. The Israelites were taught what foods to eat and not eat, what to do with dead animals, when to bathe and wash clothes, and how to treat diseases. God wanted the nation of Israel to be the cleanest, healthiest, most civilized nation in the world.

To us, much of what is written here is common sense. But it wasn’t so common back then.

I’m sitting here wondering what God would say to me today through His Word. Maybe He would like His people to in 2013 to be the cleanest, healthiest, most civilized people on earth. Not that we can’t eat a pork chop or enjoy shrimp if we want. And with modern medicines we don’t have to get out of town when we’re sick.

But in God’s spiritual kingdom He is calling us to be holy because He is holy. He wants us to be free from sin, cleansed, pure. He wants our thought life, our daily tasks, our conversations to be healthy. And he wants us to be careful about what kinds of things we put in our minds and in our hearts.

God, thank you for your Word and the privilege we have of reading it this morning. Help us, as Christians, to be holy as You are holy. Teach us how to keep our minds and hearts free from all that is unclean. And may You find us faithful.