Both Moses and Jesus taught us that we are to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. Paul taught the Thessalonians that same principle; meet the needs of those who are your brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. God’s provision for ancient Israel was that if one became hungry while walking to the next destination, you were allowed to enter a neighbor’s grain field and pluck some kernels to eat, but not to collect the grain for another time. Jesus and the disciples followed that principle, but the Pharisees had added to that principle by saying even if hungry, you cannot do that for it is work on the Sabbath.
Today in our fast food society we drive from place to place. We wait in drive-up lanes, not walk through a grain field. So how can we apply the principle today? We continue to have open hearts and eyes to the needs around us remembering the words of Jesus: “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” [Mat 10:42 ] After we have filled our plates, why not purchase an extra dinner for someone behind you in the drive-up lane? Or a cup of coffee?
Be creative today as you go about your busyness. Stop and look where God might be working, and you can be His servant.
Numbers 22 Many preachers and SS teachers use the story of Balaam and the speaking donkey to enthrall audiences, but there is more to this story than just the donkey. God used Balaam in an unlikely manner to reveal his heart and the way Satan uses unbelievers in our lives.
God questioned Balaam about his visitors. “Who are these men? Balaam kept up a dialog with God about them, and on the surface, it seems that he was obeying. However, step by step, Balaam fell headlong into the temptation of earthly riches, which was stronger than obeying God. Like many today, Balaam tried to appear righteous by his answer that he could not curse Israel, but his actions prove the opposite. Balaam sought ways to obey God and yet get the riches the King offered. The last test came when God explicitly tested Balaam when he said: “if” these men have come to call you, get up and go with them. But, Balaam didn’t wait for the “if” clause and instead got up and went.
There are several lessons for us to glean. One is that if you say you must ask God for his wise counsel, you must take a stand and stand firm. A second lesson is God gives us tests to discern if we will obey His voice or our own.
The present-day soap operas and even in our gov’t we find that people are prone to blameshifting rather than taking responsibility for their actions. Satan takes advantage of this behavior because he is a liar and we are weak because we have not studied to show ourselves approved. Thus, we are unable to discern truth from error thus leaving us immature believers.
How easily we forget what God commands just as Eve did. God said: you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die. Satan said: Is it really true?” Then Eve said: God said yes but added just not eat of it but you must not touch it, or else you will die.’ What an opening for Satan!
His response: Surely you will not die! (Liar, liar, pants on fire!)
When God appears on the scene we find Adam blaming Eve! “The woman whom you gave me,” She made me do it did not sit well with God. And when God asked Eve her response was “the serpent tricked me.” We find ourselves in this picture. God commands. Satan seeks to deceive. He is successful and we pass off the responsibility to another.
To protect us we must do as the psalmist said: Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. Then we must meditate upon it day and night! Why do we need to do that? Because of what we know of Satan’s tools and because of what we know of God’s truth: inspired scripture prepares us to be equipped for every good work.
How are you coming in memorizing 2Tim 3:16 so you are prepared?
Did you ever wonder why God Most High showered the shepherds with the gift of His Son? God loves shepherds and His Son would be known as the Good Shepherd. Think back to one starry night so long ago when God looked down from heaven and found a group of shepherds whose hearts were open to His gift. God gave His people the privilege of caring for sheep, the most vulnerable of all animals. Most likely Abel was a shepherd. When the children of Israel sojourned in Egypt the brothers of Joseph were shepherds. God lovingly provided a safe place to raise their flocks along with the Egyptian’s flocks and the flocks prospered under the care of the Israelites. Later, the psalmist sat on a hillside watching the flocks by night just as the shepherds Luke described. He wrote about himself as a sheep in need of peace and quiet–and God provided.
Truly the God Most High is the giver of gifts. He gives liberally and without reprimand. Yet, God does not give to just anyone but those whose hearts are responsive. If we want the gift to see His Son we must ask in faith without doubting because he who doubts is like one caught in the riptides of the sea being tossed to and fro. Perhaps James was considering that when he wrote: All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change.
God’s eye is upon those whose hearts are receptive to His gift of the Savior.
Reading Ezekiel is like listening to the NYT or the Washington Post either in print or online but is surely not like the “good ole’ days.” Today’s big news was the destruction of the oil refineries in Saudi Arabia with Yemen taking credit but Pompeo saying Iran was at fault. Pointing fingers and making accusations is a daily menu item for the Middle East. But, when God unleashes his fury there will be no second-guessing. The entire world will know that He is the Lord.
This chapter speaks from the heart of God to the enemies of His children. God describes Himself: rage in my anger; zeal in the fire of my fury. Peter asks the exiles to whom he was writing what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God? [1Peter 4:17] But, Paul writing to the Romans reminded the believers that nothing can come against God’s children even when God unleashes all of his anger against the unbeliever. Until such time know this truth: Withflaming fire, he will mete outpunishmenton those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus [2Thess 1] but also this: believers are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [1Peter1]
Beloved, when God unleashes his fury where will you be? Will you be sheltered under his wings or experience his wrath?
Job 35-37 We have been following Job and his friends as they respond to his suffering. The young Elihu continues to wax eloquently and finally near the end he poses a question that has been asked for centuries: whom or what do you seek when you are in distress. The world seeks to find help in themselves or other avenues but often leaves God out of the equation. Sometimes they never seek God…read to the end…. It is disheartening when that happens but again we present the truth but the results lay in the hand of the receiver and God.
Elihu says it really doesn’t matter, God is God and He is not at all bothered about whether we do good or bad. At that, we want to stop and say “whoa!”Not affected? Doesn’t care? What presumption! Elihu is wrong on both accounts and we need look no further than Ezekiel chapter 20 and you get a very different picture. There the elders come to Ezekiel inquiring about life and wanting to know when this exile will end. What they got must have been a deafening wake-up call. God answers their inquiry with this: “I will not allow you to inquire of Me.” God was definitely affected. He told Ezekiel that when men leave God out of the equation He is grieved and broken-hearted—especially when He has called you. Rejecting God has serious consequences and without Him, you are bereft as a boat without a sail.
Elihu is right about one thing: Storms come that we may seek His face and His understanding. He is also right in his description about God: He is all of splendor and more. We cannot attain to Him. God is God and man is man.
The question is will you seek Him or will you be like my neighbor who said, I never needed God in all of my life and I don’t need him now—as he breathed his last. I thought it was hard enough to hear my grandmother say that but then when my neighbor said that my heart felt like it had been run over with a bulldozer. Men choose their destiny…don’t ever forget that.When you need God don’t be like these two examples. Seek Him while He may be found!
Parents play a key role in the lives of their children. The impact is generational and profound. What will you leave your child/children? Although my parents were fairly committed to church-going it was my SS teachers that impacted me the most. You may be the same. I was also in Pioneer Girls who challenged me to learn verses. I don’t remember where or when I memorized Psalm 119:105 but it was the first verse I memorized and has held true all of my life even as I am now in my “senior” years. You too may have learned a verse that has held true all your life as I did. Psalm 78 reminds us that we are to pass on to the next generation God’s Word and the principles of godly living.
2Chron 17-19 “A Historical Record.” Asa may have not been the perfect king but it seems he did one thing right; he raised a godly son who took his place. While each of us is responsible for our own spiritual path and our choice to follow God or not but our parents have much to do with our path. Jehoshaphat seems to have chosen this path directly or indirectly because his father at some point lived a righteous life, for the most part. The scriptures don’t tell us about Jehoshaphat’s heart so we have to look at his fruit. “a tree is known by its fruit.”[Matt 12]
Jehoshaphat was known for: fortifying his kingdom, cleansing the land of idolatry, and sending out priests and Levites to teach the people throughout his kingdom. Because of this the land was free of war and was blessed by God.
We are again reminded of these verses: “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”[Prov 22:6] and “We will tell the next generation about the Lord’s praiseworthy acts, about his strength and the amazing things he has done… so that the next generation, children yet to be born, might know about them.” [Ps 78]
Deut 15 Jesus told the crowd that we would always have the poor with us. Moses reiterated this idea in Deuteronomy 15 as well. Jesus and Moses remind us that there should not be any poor among us because, as God’s children, He will bless us so we can bless others in return.
So why do we still have the poor among us?
It is because of our sin nature, our poor choices and sometimes circumstances out of our control.
We should abide by the counsel of Moses, Jesus, and the early church; when faced with those in need, reach out and provide for them—as the Spirit leads. Why should we do that? Moses reminded the children of Israel that they were a slave in the land of Egypt and the Lord God redeemed them. Therefore, he commanded them to do this thing not only in the future but presently. We also were enslaved, not to a harsh taskmaster, but to sin and Jesus redeemed us. Now we must seek to provide and redeem those in need.
Remember the Good Samaritan? He gave out of his abundance to help a needy person in sharp contrast to the Levite and the Priest. [You can read his story in Luke 10]We who are blessed should exemplify the Samaritan and use our gifts to help the less fortunate among us. The principle is: return God’s blessings on others so you may be blessed in return.
A generous person will be blessed, for he has given some of his food to the poor. [Pro 22:9]
Government has been instituted by God; He placed it to keep anarchy from reigning supreme. Not all leaders will be honorable as history attests. If we resist governing authorities we are in essence resisting God for He established and allowed each to exist for His purposes. We must not fear governing authorities for God will use them to bring wrath upon those who do evil—even if it seems that God is delaying. Go read Psalm 73:17 to see what Asaph gleaned from his time wondering about this topic.
How do we submit and obey when we are faced with governing authorities who are evil? Joseph submitted yet Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego resisted. God blessed them each lived under brutal dictatorships. The key is this given by the prophet Daniel “It is He [God] who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings”
Some principles to remember: “We must obey God rather than men” [Acts 5] and especially so when it becomes an instrument for evil, violating the explicit will of God as outlined in Scripture…” [G. Herrick.] Ask yourself, are you praying for the governing authorities God has placed over you? Also, remember we are not to revile them no matter how evil they may be: “Do not curse a king even in your thoughts.”[Eccl 10:20] Follow the example of Christ who when reviled did not revile in return. Lastly, leave the results to God so that He alone gets the glory for His plan is perfect.
We know that we are living in the last days and oppression and wickedness will continue to escalate. We must pray not only for ourselves but for those in nations that are exceedingly opposed to Christianity. How faithful are we to pray and are we prepared?