Monthly Archives: February 2019

February 28; Get Out

Numbers 5-6

Let’s face it. Sometimes Scripture is hard to swallow. Sometimes what we read doesn’t make us feel good about ourselves, and often what Scripture tells us to do seems impossible. Political correctness? Forget about it.

When I read this portion of Scripture telling the Jews to toss all the diseased people out of the camp, I get it. In order to keep the rest of them healthy, the infected ones had to be removed. It was black and white. Are you diseased? Get out.

I imagine there were tears as loved ones were separated. I imagine someone felt it wasn’t fair. But it had to be done to keep the rest of them undefiled.

That makes sense, until I remember that Scripture often likens disease to sin. Putting the spiritual spin on these verses isn’t as black and white, although I guess it should be.

I believe the modern day Church has gotten so far from what God intended. I see us becoming more concerned about people’s feelings instead of their souls. I wonder if we think that if we provide an inviting setting, an exciting experience, a laid back atmosphere, sinners will come into our midst. Do we think that’s a good thing?

Isn’t that the opposite of what we see here in Scripture? “Oh, you have leprosy? Come right in and make yourself comfortable. My healthy skin will just rub off on you.”

It burdens my heart to know the church has in some cases, not only turned a blind eye to sin, it’s welcomed sin into our midst. And don’t use the argument that we live under grace after the cross. Grace is not acceptance of sin. Grace is not even love. Grace is God dealing harshly with sin, forgiving sin through the blood of Jesus which He shed in a very, very painful way.

The New Testament writers continue to tell believers to come out from among the world, to flee sin, to brush the dust off our feet. Yes, God loves sinners. Yes, Jesus ate with sinners. But Jesus went to them. He didn’t bring them into the synagog first to tell them the Gospel.

Matthew Henry reminded me that when Jesus returns He will “gather out of his kingdom all things that offend.” In the new Jerusalem, nothing unclean will enter. (from Rev 11) (Commentary In One Volume; Zondervan Publishing; 1960; page 146) Will there be people who sit in our pews today who will be “gathered out,” fully expecting to be accepted just like they are in those pews?

The assembling of ourselves as a church body is intended to edify believers, strengthen believers, encourage and challenge believers to go into the world to share the Gospel. And, dear one, we must keep it pure, undefiled. It’s not a social club. The Church is an exclusive organization. Only believers in Jesus Christ can be included. You might not think that’s fair. And that might be the problem.

Sin should not be tolerated in the church. Period. But I thank God that, even those diseased Jews who were thrown out of the camp, were welcomed back once they were disease-free. But the healing came before the welcome.

I just think maybe we shouldn’t be so concerned about growing our churches. The number of people attending your church is meaningless. However, the number of new believers who come as a result of someone from your fellowship leading them to the Savior is everything.

Keep the sin outside the camp.

 

 

February 27; Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Numbers 3:1-4:33

I find it significant that when God told Moses to take a census of the eleven tribes of Israel, they were instructed to count all the men twenty and older who were able to serve in the army. Now, when God gave the order to count the Levites, they were to count every male a month old and older.

Obviously, little children were not given jobs for the care of the Tabernacle, any more than the children from the other tribes were expected to go to war. So why count babies at all?

(Side note: in our current climate where murdering babies is applauded, let me remind all of us that life is a gift from God, and every life is precious to Him, and should be to us. God forgive us for what is happening in this country.)

The children born to the Levite clan were going to grow up to be priests, to carry on the work of their fathers as the spiritual leaders of Israel. And I believe they were counted as infants for a reason.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us to train up our children in the truth, in the way they should go. I don’t think it’s ever too early to teach your children the difference between right and wrong. I don’t think a child is ever too young to recognize sin, and experience consequences for sin. I believe children should experience what repentance and forgiveness feel like before they realize their need to go to their Heavenly Father for the same. And I don’t think a child is too young to be used by God in leading someone to the Savior.

A friend of mine shared about a little boy who was standing in the checkout line with his mom at the grocery. The cashier began entering prices into the register, and packing the groceries in bags when the little boy asked her, “Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?”

The cashier burst into tears. Uncontrolled weeping caught the attention of everyone around, including the manger who quickly came and took the cashier aside. The mom and boy followed.

Right there, in that grocery store, the cashier prayed to receive what Jesus died to give her. And so did the manager!

Out of the mouths of babes.

I think God made a distinction between the census of the eleven tribes and that of the Levites for a reason. A child is too young to wield a sword in battle. But when he is older, he must become a warrior. There will be battles to fight.

But a child is never too young to wield the Sword of the Spirit. We must be teaching our children about God, reading to our children from the Bible, talking to our children about God, leading our children to God’s saving grace, and equipping our children to share Jesus with others. Because God can use a child as much as He can use you and me.

 

February 26; Encamped Around

Numbers 1-2

There are many verses in the Bible that refer to believers as a kingdom of priests. Exodus 19:6; I Peter 2:5&9; Revelation 1:6, 5:10 are only a few that liken our privileges and responsibilities as God’s children to that of a priesthood.

So I think it’s important for us to pay attention to what Scripture has to say about Old Testament priests. God uses them to draw us a picture as an example of what we are to look like this side of the cross.

Like here in Numbers 1:47-53. It’s a short paragraph, but it says so much. What it describes is the Levites’ responsibilty to protect and care for the Tabernacle of the Testimony. Not just the structure, but every utensil, every bowl, every thing concerning the sanctuary.

And (I love this picture) they were to pitch their own tents around the tabernacle. They became a human shield, not only to protect the holy structure, but to protect the people from encroaching on holy ground.

Anyone else who goes near it (the tabernacle) shall be put to death.

We know that the Tabernacle was the place where God lived on Earth until the Temple was built, and until Jesus’ death on the cross ripped the veil in two so that we have access to God. It was the job of the priests to protect the Presence, to care for that which represented the Truth.

Today, that responsibility falls on our shoulders. How do you think we are doing as a kingdom of priests, God’s Church in 2019? Are we protecting the Truth of who God is? Have we become a human shield that keeps Satan’s lies out of our midst? Do we even care if God is being misrepresented, maligned, and ignored in our world?

If we allow the world, non-priests (which are non-believers) to infiltrate our churches with their watered down versions of Scripture, or their lies, we are opening them up to be put to death. A serious, devastating eternal death. And we will not have done our job.

May we become that human shield, encamped around the Truth, defending it with fierce determination. God has not changed since He visited Earth in that Tabernacle of the Testimony. He is still Holy. He is still True. His ways are still the only way. May we be faithful to protect it with our eternal souls.

February 25; Choice: The Two Sided Coin

Leviticus 26-27

I’m so glad God is Who He is. I love the fact He created us with the ability to choose, although it would have been easier if we couldn’t help but obey Him. Sometimes that gift of choice is a curse.

I love the fact that God is never one and done. Look at how many chances God gave the Old Testament Jews. He blessed, they’d disobey, He’d punish, they’d repent, He blessed, they’d disobey, He’d punish, they’d repent, etc., etc., etc.

God is in the business of second chances (and third, and fourth…). Sometimes those chances look like the things described in these last chapters of Leviticus. Sometimes chances look like sudden terror, wasting diseases… Sometimes like famine both spiritually and materially. Sometimes those chances look like plagues and devastation.

But I love the fact that God won’t give up on any of us. Yes, His discipline meant to drop us to our knees might hurt. Yes, we might have to suffer loss before we humble ourselves. Sometimes we choose to disobey and have to pay the consequences our choices require.

But verses 40-45 remind us that there is another side to that coin. God is only as far away as a repentant heart. The choice to confess sin comes with so much blessing!

If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

Here’s the choice: reject God and suffer the consequences. Receive what Jesus died to give you and be blessed.

The choice seems obvious to me.

February 24; Road Trip

Leviticus 24-25

Many moons ago, children, if you were going on a road trip, and if you belonged to AAA, you could go and get what we called a TripTik. An agent would sit down with you, map and highlighter in hand, and help you plan your route.

He or she would look into their files and even tell you where you might run into road construction and delays. He or she would re-route you around busy city streets, tell you about tourist attractions you might want to see. And when it was all said and done, you would walk out with a highlighted map, books on restaurants, motels, and sites to see, and the spiral-bound TripTik itself, including fold-outs with detailed city maps.

You can’t know how fun and how satisfying it was to turn a page after the first 50 miles, then another, and another as your trip progressed. Guess you had to be there. But trust me, glancing at your phone is just not the same.

I read today how Moses, when an Egyptian/Jew blasphemed God, had the young man put in prison until God told Moses what to do. The law was plain about a Jewish person who blasphemed the Name. You stone him to death. But there was no specific direction for a guilty half/Jew. So Moses waited until he got the word from God.

I’ve often considered my Bible a roadmap. But when you think about it, it isn’t really. It’s not like a TripTik that gives you inch by inch directions, including detours. Warren Wiersbe tells us the Bible is more of a compass. It keeps us going in the right direction while we, “…walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) (Be Holy; Published by David C. Cook; 1994; page 143)

My Bible is not a road map. But in its pages are everything we need for our journey. Everything we face in this life is addressed in Scripture. Every decision you need to make has a parallel in the Bible. But you have to know what the Bible says.

It takes a bit of maturity to recognize the treasure that is ours in the Bible. It’s not a quick-fix. It’s not a step by step instruction manual. It’s much more than that. It’s the living Word of God.

We have got to be prayerfully in God’s Word every day, listening to the direction God wants us to hear. It takes patience and intentionality. We may be detoured occasionally as God points out other truths He doesn’t want us to miss. But if we read it, if we use it, it will get us where we are going on this road trip called life.

And we’ll enjoy the journey!

 

 

 

February 23; Prepared

Leviticus 22-23

As a Sunday School teacher, and a Bible teacher for our Good News Club, I need to be careful. What a privilege I have to be entrusted with sharing the Word of God. But as I read God’s instructions to Aaron, I am reminded that God demands I take care of sin in my own life before I stand before anyone I plan to teach. I’m reminded that my obedience must come before my service.

If I take a position of leadership, I need to be sure my offering is not tainted by sin, like an Old Testament Jew offering a deformed animal to God. I’m not talking about a monetary tithe. I’m talking about the offering of my time as I study God’s Word and prepare a lesson. I’m talking about the time I spend in prayer concerning the lesson. I’m talking about those Sunday mornings and Tuesday afternoons when I share what God has laid on my heart.

If you are a pastor, a teacher, a nursery worker, a song leader I would suggest you approach your responsibilities with the same intentionality as Aaron did. And, really, the same goes for any of us who dare to share the Gospel with people we come in contact with. May we search our hearts and confess sin as God reveals it. And may our ministries be blessed because we did it God’s way. May Jesus be glorified in each of us.

February 22; Sacrificing Children

Leviticus 19-21

As I read this today I got to thinking about moms and dads sacrificing their babies to a pretend god called Molech. The pagan people in the neighborhood practiced this cruel ritual. But here in Leviticus God is telling His own people not to do it, and what the rest of the Jews should do to the one who throws their child into the fire. It makes me so sad.

When I read what Scripture has to say about idolatry I admit I tend to think of weird looking carvings sitting on someone’s bedside table, or a huge likeness of a demon with fire coming out of its mouth perched on the side of a mountain. But today God seems to be asking me to consider another, more subtle form of idolatry.

Can a job become an idol? Can a relationship? Is there such a thing as a popularity, or a success idol? Can an idol look like my “self?” We in a civilized society don’t throw our children into a fire to appease an idol. But I wonder if we don’t sacrifice our children in other ways.

I wonder how many children are sacrificed for the job idol, or the self idol. I wonder how many little ball players keep glancing toward the stands to find the face of a parent who sacrificed that little one to appease a boss, or a pilates class. I wonder how many children have been sacrificed to the god of alcohol and drugs.

Homes and families have imploded because of the idol of self, or success. And the children are the first casualties. We may shake our head and say confidently that we would never allow our child to be thrown into the fire as a sacrifice to an idol.

But I wonder if that is true.

God declares repeatedly that, “I am the Lord your God.” I pray that He is your God, and that your children are blessed because He is.